Last month we took a look at some of the basic capabilities and differences between “hosted” and “premise-based” voice over IP solutions. For a quick refresher, you can click here to refer back to last month’s post.
In summary, these 2 contemporary “phone systems” both have very similar and yet very different characteristics, despite the fact that they are both members of the voice over IP family. They each fill a need, yet there are many times when one is clearly better than the other. In this context, clearly is defined as “an evaluation by someone that’s impartial and experienced in deploying hosted and premise-based VoIP solutions.” This doesn’t include the erroneous VoIP comparisons and advertisements that flood your email and Google searches every day. So it becomes all about what’s going to work best for you, and what’s not; and therefore can not be based simply on a financial comparison of the 2 very different platforms.
By the way, if you are planning to evaluate and install a new phone system, voice over IP (VoIP) is really the only type you should be considering. All others, including traditional digital systems, or what are promoted as “new hybrid systems” that allow you to support both legacy digital and IP telephones should be avoided at all cost as they are quickly being discontinued by their manufacturers like the dinosaur became extinct.
At IDeACOM, we deal with VoIP every day. Whether it’s recommending or deploying a VoIP solution, training users on how to get the most out of their new VoIP system, working with other IT vendors, troubleshooting LAN / WAN network issues, educating existing clients and new prospective clients on how a VoIP solution will dramatically improve results and productivity while significantly reducing monthly recurring costs… The list of what we do goes on and on, but the point here is that we have become VoIP Specialists in this ever-changing world of technology and telecommunications.
Something else on our “list” of what we do is becoming more common unfortunately. And that is cleaning up VoIP installations that were improperly sold or inappropriately installed. VoIP vendors are a dime a dozen. There are many experienced, caring and dependable companies that will do the right thing for you and deliver a quality product that works as it’s supposed to. But guess what, there are at least twice as many inexperienced; or worse, unethical “hacks” that will gladly entice you with a great price and then lock you up in a long term contract. And good luck when it doesn’t work. Ever hear the term ‘plug-n-play’? How about ‘plug-n-pray?
So our crusade has evolved into an educational role to help you understand as much as possible about voice over IP including the pros & the cons, the benefits and the potential gotcha’s, and full disclosure about the things you need to know as you do your own research to identify what’s best for your organization. And this crusade developed out of both demand from repeated requests for help and disgust about how some of our competitors are taking advantage of people.
One of the many things I’ve learned from Darren Hardy is that it’s not always about what you love that can or should motivate you. Sometimes it’s about what you hate. Like injustice and inequality; violence and crime; lackluster and shoddy service. In this case, our fight is to protect you from all of the unethical hacks in the VoIP industry that continue to mislead and take advantage of trusting clients like you.
So we left off last month that we would continue this month’s discussion about some of the truths that VoIP vendors are stretching, and what you can do to educate and protect yourself.
Here’s a serious one that you need to be aware of: They’ll tell you “You can use your existing data cable and “daisy-chain” your phone and computer”. Really? Well, all VoIP phones do actually have a 2-port Ethernet switch built into them; however, that doesn’t mean that you can or should use it this way, and here’s why. In most cases, your network was not designed to have voice riding on it. And it’s typically not the voice riding on it that’s the problem. After all, a voice call will only consume about 100KB of bandwidth, which by today’s standards is miniscule. It’s what happens to the voice packets on your network that’s the problem. Data in the form of an email, a web page, or a document can be re-transmitted if there’s an issue. What does that mean to you? It means you get to stare at the hourglass for an extra second or two. But with a voice call, it’s commonly known as delay, jitter, or packet loss which has a major negative consequence on voice quality. It’s like the other person turns into Darth Vader or Michael Phelps under water, or the call gets very choppy. It could also mean one-way audio or no audio, which is extremely frustrating and makes it impossible to communicate.
These symptoms can be due to many different issues. But they always point to a network issue, which is one of the main reasons why you need to keep your voice separate from your data. There are other valid reasons why you should keep your voice and data separate which we’ll cover next month, but quality of service (QoS) is one of the biggest reasons.
We’ll continue this conversation next month and I’ll share a solution with you that will allow you to run a separate, parallel voice network without needing to re-wire your office. Stay tuned next month for one of the most valuable VoIP appliances that you need in your VoIP deployment plan. And by the way, if you have experience deploying VoIP solutions or you’ve been the victim of a VoIP hack’s installation gone bad, please join in on the conversation. We invite you to comment below.
You say that you should not use the same cables for voice and data. This is true if you do not have a decent network infrastructure. With a proper design and a dedicated voice VLAN, my experience has been quite good. Granted if you go in without proper care and attempt to use unmanaged switches, disasters may (will?) occur.
Mitchell, your point is well taken and I appreciate you joining the conversation. Unfortunately only about 15 to 20% of the data networks that we’re deploying a VoIP solution with would be safe in a daisy-chain topology. We’ve seen too many companies have to endure the negative effects of an improperly installed VoIP solution (both hosted and premise-based) because their vendor misinformed them about daisy-chaining their phones just to get a sale, with no regard for the outcome or well-being of the client. In fact, we’ve become the go to VoIP clean up guys after the **** has hit the fan from other people’s bad VoIP installs. And those problems are usually something related to the client’s data network. So my main point in writing about this is to raise awareness and help end user companies and IT vendors understand that it’s rarely plug-n-play unless some “VoIP Readiness” steps are taken. And even then, I can still make the argument in many cases to run parallel voice & data networks. I firmly believe that voice over IP is great technology, with tremendous benefits. But the frustrating part for me is that a lot of the VoIP marketing & advertising that people are seeing (and some of the things my competitors are saying – or not saying) is misleading and inaccurate. And that’s not right!