Deployment of voice over IP (VOIP) can be quick and easy, especially when your VOIP service is in the cloud. For most implementations, you can be live in a matter of days.
Before you implement cloud-based VOIP for your business there are a few considerations you must first address. Switching from traditional telephone service to VOIP requires sufficient bandwidth, a proper router for the equipment on your internal network, and the right hardware to go with your cloud based service.
Determining how much bandwidth you will need for voice-over-IP in your office is step one.
VOIP needs a certain amount of bandwidth to keep your conversations clear and free of disruptions. You will need to have a high speed (broadband) connection to use VOIP. A typical business DSL connection may work. However, DSL typically provides limited upload speeds. Your best bet is to look for the higher speeds provided by business grade ISP.
If you don’t want to over-purchase internet connectivity, you could determine how many people in your office are likely to be using the phone at the same time. For instance, having ten people on the phone will require ten times as much bandwidth as having one person on the phone. Below is a chart which will help you calculate how many people can be on the phone at one time:
Ask your VOIP service provider what audio codecs they offer, as there is a trade off between audio quality and bandwidth usage.
- Full Quality Audio (G711 Codec)\- Uses 87 kbps for each concurrent phone call
- Compressed Audio (G729 Codec)\- Uses 33 kbps for each concurrent phone call
So the calculation for a slower DSL connection would be:
- DSL: 600 kbps upload / 5000 kbps download
- Delivers: (Full Quality): 600 kbps / 87 kbps = 6 concurrent calls
- Delivers: (Compressed Quality): 600 kbps / 33 kbps = 18 concurrent calls
Choosing a low quality or under performing router is a costly mistake which will degrade your call quality.
Your router is an often overlooked piece of the puzzle that can have a major impact on the success or failure of your VOIP implementation. Your router needs to be powerful enough to handle the number of phones you will have in your office and should also have enough bandwidth to handle your other internet traffic. You may want to discuss your router choice with your VOIP service provider.
You will also want to ensure your router is VOIP compliant. Other questions to ask concerning your router:
- How many voice-over-IP phones will you be connecting to the router? More phones will require a more powerful router.
- Will your VOIP phones have their own dedicated Internet connection? If not, a router with a quality of service (QoS) setting to prioritize voice traffic over regular traffic is must have. Without QoS you will encounter poor quality telephone calls on a regular basis.
There are many digital office phones, soft phones, headsets and telephone adapters on the market to choose from.
- Digital IP Phones – These types of phones look just like regular multi-line business telephones except that they connect directly to your internet connection using a network cable.
- Soft Phones – A soft phone is a software program running on your computer that looks and feels just like a real telephone. This requires you to purchase a headset which connects to your desktop or laptop so you can make and receive calls.
There are other factors to consider as well. If you need a new number, you will need to purchase one either from your VOIP provider. If you plan to use an existing number, it will need to be “ported” to your new VOIP provider.
Considering all of these, you could be up and running in as little as a couple of days if the actions listed above area already completed. Converting to VoIP is a small investment which can quickly save you money and open you up to services not available from traditional telephony companies and on-premise phone equipment.