Since Alexander Graham Bell made the first phone call to his assistant Watson, the phone has come a long way. And now thanks to Internet technology, it’s possible to make phone calls over the Internet using VoIP technology or voice over Internet Protocol (IP).
While there are a number of advantages to a VoIP system over a standard phone system, the biggest reason companies switch is to save money. It’s not uncommon for a company making a lot of long distance calls to save 50% or more on their phone bill. Of course, there’s no guarantee of this since there are a lot of different VoIP systems and the amount of money that you will save really just depends on which system you buy – and in some cases, no savings will make up for poor sound quality or dropped calls. So what are the pros and cons?
The upside is that most business class VoIP systems will offer you the same features you’re used to with your current phone system, including call forwarding, call waiting, conferencing, voice mail, and (depending on what your current phone system is) additional features like the ability to share data, applications and even transmit video in addition to voice so that you can see and hear the person that you are talking to.
Of course, there are some downsides you need to consider before jumping on the VoIP bandwagon. The biggest problem with VoIP systems is the sound quality. In some cases, it’s a bandwidth issue that will cause problems, but it’s not the only one. Since the voice data is being broken up into a series of packets and transmitted over the Internet, there could be moments of silence, broken voice patterns, echoes, delays and static sounds. Sound quality is the #1 complaint most VoIP users have about the service.
Another issue is that VoIP systems cannot be used if there is a power or Internet outage. A traditional phone can function during a power outage because the phone company transmits electricity over the phone line. This electricity is used to power the phone (cordless phones being the exception). That way, even if the power goes out, the phone will usually still work because the phone’s power is coming from a different source.