VOIP – How to rethink your phone callsRoddy Bergeron
More than likely you have heard of Voice over IP (VOIP). You hear buzz words like convergence, flexibility, resiliency, and business continuity. But what does that all mean for your business and how can you benefit from all of these buzz words? We can start bybreaking down what VOIP actually is and the benefits over a traditional phone system.
So what is VOIP?
VOIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. Fancy sounding name and a little confusing. To make VOIP a little easier to understand. Let’s talk about how traditional phones work. In the past, you would get a physical line from your phone company that went to a physical phone. Someone called your phone number, the phone rang, and you answered it. Simple and it works. But what happens if that phone line has an issue or you aren’t at home? Nobody can reach you. Same things happen with businesses. You may have some phone lines or a phone trunk that provides you with a “dial tone”. That service goes down or your business gets hit with a natural disaster. and you cannot make/receive calls. Over the years, piecemeal solutions have been put in place. It made the issues better but sometimes can be complicated to put in place or costly.
Enter VOIP. VOIP was designed from the ground up to be able to use the same infrastructure that computers use and integrate with your desktop/laptop/tablet/mobile phone. That’s what we call convergence. This makes should make us stop thinking that phones are separate devices and to think of them as a needed part of our data networks. VOIP is data in the same sense that web traffic , streaming a movie, or opening a file on a server is data. To us IT guys, VOIP is just data. It uses the same infrastructure as your computer and can use your internet connection to place calls. When using VOIP, think of your phone as a computer that does one thing really well (making calls).
So Why Use VOIP?
Since VOIP uses the same underlying infrastructure as your computer, they are cheaper to deploy. No more separate wiring just for phones. Most phones use existing wiring and even allow a computer to share the same physical wire as the phone. They also allow 3 things that we in South Louisiana should take notice. Since we are subject to hurricanes, tornados, and severe weather, VOIP allows us to be flexible, resilient, and to allow our business to continue running.
Since VOIP is essentially data traveling on the internet, it allows us to be flexible. Calls can be manipulated very easy to allow your calls to ring to your desk, cell phone, house phone, receptionist, baby sitter, wife or whoever you want it to. It isn’t as rigid as traditional phone service. Think about email. Back before my computer days(1989 for me), email wasn’t very flexible. You had a terminal you sat at and received email at that one terminal. Nowadays, you can get email at your desk, home, cell phone, and even on your TV. It’s very flexible. VOIP is built to be flexible and to allow convergence (buzzword) between your devices.
Resiliency and Business Continuity
The reason behind ARPANet (the precursor of the Internet) was to allow communication between university and government facilities that could survive if one node was completely taken away. This technology eventually became the infrastructure that we know as the Internet. The Internet is very resilient. If you lose internet at your home, you can go to a friend’s house and the internet works. VOIP has that built in resiliency. If your business goes down due to a natural disaster or power issues, your phone calls don’t stop because they are not reliant on that single internet connection. Your calls can ring at your cell phone almost immediately without any intervention on your behalf. In the case of a natural disaster, you can rent office space in a nearby town or across state lines. As soon as you plug in your VOIP phone to the Internet, your calls start ringing there. You can continue business with little disruption or technical expertise to get your phones ringing again.
At EDC, we provide a hosted VOIP solution that adds further resiliency and can lower costs
in most situations. Our VOIP provider has datacenters all over the US, Canada, Mexico, and in Europe. Their current uptime is around 99.997% or about 16 minutes of downtime a year. They provide applications for your computer and cell phone to allow calls to your office phone to seamlessly ring those devices as well. In most cases, we can save our clients money and provide them a business continuity measure that they currently don’t have. With our VOIP solutions, we can allow you to get back to the business of doing business.