How to implement VoIP and live to tell about it

Posted on December 23, 2013 by

The thought of switching to VoIP is still intimidating for some businesses. With this concern in mind, Software Advice, a company that reviews business phone software, decided to develop a post that shares three strategies to help businesses avoid telephone service interruption, even when their Internet connection is lost.

To find out how businesses can prevent their VoIP service from going down with the Internet, we caught up with Software Advice’s Telephony Analyst, Craig Borowski. Here is what Borowski had to offer:

How are fears of losing their VoIP connection holding companies back?

Fears of a VoIP connection going down are definitely keeping some companies from making the switch to VoIP. And while there are some legitimate concerns in this regard, there is also some psychological baggage getting in the way.

Everyone has faced software, hardware and Internet connection difficulties at some point in the past and many people are just plain gunshy of computers and computer issues. Nobody wants to feel like they’re putting all their communication eggs in one basket, especially not if that basket may also contain the Blue Screen of Death. However, with a properly designed business VoIP service, those fears shouldn’t get in the way of the many benefits VoIP has to offer.

Why do Internet connections typically go down and are there any steps companies can take to prevent lost connections?

When most people talk about an Internet connection going down, what they’re usually talking about is a dropped connection, which is a slightly different (and much more common) problem. Dropped connections are common to residential networks, but in business settings are less common. If they’re happening often in a business setting, then it’s something the IT department needs to address.

A true ‘down’ connection happens when the Internet/data service to an entire building fails. It usually means a component in the outside infrastructure has failed. These can be physical problems caused by natural events or networking problems caused by technical mistakes. In either case, it’s the ISP’s responsibility.

Is it necessary to have a backup power generator?

It’s not always necessary to have a backup generator, but depending on a business’s size and needs, it might be the most cost-effective backup solution. Traditional telephones on the Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) carry their own electrical current on the same wires they transmit the voice data, so they can often be used in a general power outage.

But VoIP systems are more complex, relying on a variety of components like modems, routers, hardphones, computers. Depending on which components are in use in a particular VoIP system, backup power might need to be arranged for everything. There are also Power over Ethernet systems that can be used to keep some components like VoIP hardphones powered up during an outage.

How do you advise companies to go about choosing an ISP when they’re looking to implement a VoIP system?

You’ll want to spend time comparing all your ISP options and the details of the various packages they offer. Be very careful of just picking the cheapest option. They’re often cheapest for a reason.

If you’re in an area with limited service options then the choice should be fairly easy to make. If you’re in an area with lots of choices, then do a little asking around to see what providers have the happiest customers. You should also examine any online reviews you can find.

General points to consider when making comparisons are: Call quality and reliability, Service Level Agreements (SLAs), Backup and Recovery options, and whether the service is hosted or on-premise.

Switching to VoIP can be intimidating.

Digitizing anything dumps a brand new pile of stability concerns on your plate. The reassuring fact about VoIP is that it’s not new. Very smart people have been making the technology more stable since the 1990s. And it will probably help you feel even better to read Borowski’s three tips for keeping your VoIP connection up when the Internet goes down, here.

Plus, you can learn even more about keeping your phone system working in spite of network, hardware, and service failure in our blog post all about that.