One of the areas that more and more
businesses are exploring as a way
to be more competitive and profitable is IP telephony.
“IP telephony is an up and coming technology that is going to be the standard in
a few years,” says Mike Bond, CCIE, senior network VoIP engineer at Pomeroy IT
Solutions. “You can improve communications with increased mobility and receive
the added benefit of disaster recovery.”
Smart Business spoke with Bond for
more information on IP telephony.
What is IP telephony?
It is taking your phone and fax and
moving it into your Internet protocol
through your computer. Telephony runs
off your traditional network and passes
packets of information back and forth.
Besides internal networks, it can work
through external networks. It exchanges
voice, fax and other forms of information
that have traditionally been carried over
the dedicated circuit-switched connections of the public switched telephone
Why should I consider IP telephony?
With IP telephony, there is a return on
investment over a period of time. For one
thing, you can set up a virtual office
If you have multiple offices or locations, you can have a centralized system
to manage all of your communications. If
there is a problem with a line, you have a
backup built in that allows you to continue to communicate. It helps with remote
office workers. They can have their desk
phone literally sitting on their computer
and it functions as though they were in
Another advantage is that you can add
more employees without the expense of
more office space and equipment.
Are there potential pitfalls with IP telephony?
There are several, but with proper planning, they can be avoided or minimized.
If you lose power and have no backup, you lose communications. You must have
a backup plan. One option is to have a
backup generator to run your power. You
can also use a UPS backup system.
Whichever form of backup you utilize,
you must make sure that it matches up
with your system. Setting up your system
is a lot like building a house. You have to
have your foundation in place. Your network has to be optimized. If not, you
won’t be happy with the service. Make
sure that all parts of the system match
and work with each other.
You should implement quality of service appropriately. For seamless communications, you need to mark your voice
packets with a higher priority than data
packets and alleviate the network congestion to assure that voice is the highest
priority traffic on your network. You
should also adhere to a regular maintenance schedule that includes the communications servers, VoIP equipment
and the backup systems.
What are the costs?
It depends on the equipment you have
and on what you need or want. You may have some of the equipment on-site that
can be used. If you have to start from
scratch with all new equipment your
costs are going to go up. The cost can
run from $10,000 to $50,000, or more. It
also depends on the extras that you want
To get the best value, talk over all
aspects with your solutions provider. Let
them know all of your wants, but keep in
mind your needs and consider all the
pluses and minuses of each. Cabling
costs also need to be kept in mind.
How do the benefits offset the costs?
You can centralize your administration.
You will be bundling your computer and
telephone needs into one system. You
will only need one set of cabling as it
eliminates the need for separate PBX
cabling. Your LAN or network cable and
communications cabling are all now one
and the same. You can also eliminate
long distance charges. You will save time
in contacting those within the system.
Instead of punching 1 plus the 10-digit
number, you can punch in only the three-or five-digit extension number.
Moves, adds and changes (MACs) are
much less complicated and cost considerably less with VoIP than a traditional
PBX system. A PBX phone move is usually handled by an administrator or the
service provider. When moving a VoIP
phone, most of the time, the user can
pick up the phone and move it him or
herself to another networked port. Or,
when moving to a new physical location,
an administrator would only have to
modify a few fields. With a traditional
PBX, MACs could cost hundreds of
MIKE BOND, CCIE #17963 (Voice), is a senior network VoIP engineer at Pomeroy IT Solutions. Reach him at (615) 399-0404 or by
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.