“Voice over Internet Protocol has been around a couple of years,” says John Curry, owner of Curry IP Solutions. “If you are happy with your existing telephone equipment, you need an ATA (analog telephone adapter) that converts the signals. Or you can upgrade to an IP PBX or an IP telephone, neither of which requires the ATA device.”
Smart Business discussed current and future VoIP technology with Curry.
How does VoIP operate?
If I were to use an IP telephone, I would plug it directly into the high-speed broadband service and I would plug my computer into the telephone. That will deliver a quality of service that prioritizes the voice in front of your data connection.
Depending on what signal your VoIP service provider is using, the voice service will take 64 kb or 9 kb of space per live conversation. But by having the telephone as the first preference to the broadband connection, you will have excellent quality of service. Most people don’t notice any change in the quality of voice transmissions, due to bandwidth used by the data. If you do use large amounts of data, you may want to consider a separate dedicated broadband connection or Ethernet service.
What are some advantages of VoIP?
You can lower your costs by having your broadband connection provide your voice services. If you shop around, you can get unlimited nationwide calling on business packages that equal the basic packages from local phone companies. It can come with every feature imaginable, including a find-me-follow-me feature, which will ring your desk phone, then ring your cell phone past the caller ID, so you can see if you want to answer the call. It can then pass the call to your voicemail box, and it will e-mail the call to you in a wave file.
Mobile commuters or telecommuters can unplug their telephone from their desks and plug it into any broadband connection, including their home or hotel connection, and whoever dials them will find them.
It’s a wonderful product for the virtual office. For example, if you have sales people working at distant locations, you can view their activity in real time if you want.
VoIP is an excellent training tool as well. I could, in theory, have a person working in Philadelphia or South Florida and provide ‘soft coaching’ on the line during a sales call, so that whomever they’re speaking to doesn’t hear me.
Last year, our company realized that we didn’t need a building, so we moved our equipment to a carrier hotel and everyone works out of their homes. We’ve embraced the instant messenger, e-mail and VoIP worlds. It’s all basically the same thing.
What about emergency assistance?
Emergency assistance (9-1-1) is currently available, but limited. We ask for the local phone number of the police that you would typically call from your area and hardcode your phone to dial that number. The pitfall is that if you move the phone to another locale, you have to go online and change that emergency number. Another option would bundle a fax line into your VoIP service, so if 911 was dialed from your physical location it would be routed out your fax line.
Newer technology will triangulate the location of the 911 caller similar to our cell phones but that technology is in beta testing and is extremely expensive now.
Some reports say that security and encryption are a problem because you’re running through the Internet. Is this true?
A Voice VPN solution provides secure voice for enterprise VoIP networks by applying IPSec encryption to the digitized voice stream. Our company, for instance, encrypts our voice in and out of our soft switch.
Remember, though, that anything can be hacked even your local phone, which is easily available in your basement or right outside your home.
Is VoIP for everyone?
No. If you wish to remain in the 19th century, this technology not for you. If you want to take advantage of a robust telecommunications service and improve productivity, it’s for you.
It’s evolving as we speak: the quality, the features available, the equipment. The future is bright.