Just because something is the latest technology doesn’t mean it is in your best interest. Hosted IP telephones seem to have some advantages over traditional telephone systems. However upon close examination you may find the trade-offs for these advantages may not be to your advantage.
Your computer and phone share one connection to your network may sound like a great advantage for an IP phone system. The fact that your phones and your computers now share the same network also means they will share in the same network issues. Over time data networks degrade, employees add splitters, fix their own cable damage and new bandwidth applications can cause telephony issues. Some customers have found themselves running a second network in their business just for their phones. That may have been one of the reasons you bought the IP system to begin with?
It takes more bandwidth to give you a compariable call quality with an IP service. A T-1’s worth of IP telephone service at 80K will only give your business 19 simultaneous phone calls. In the traditional telephony world a T-1 will give you 24 or 23, with a PRI, simultaneous phone calls.
Your phone service is only as good as your IP connection. If you lose your Internet frequently or if your internet is a shared service like DSL or cable hosted then your phone calls are going to resemble a cell phone going out of range. If you are using a hosted service, MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching is preferred in order to prioritize your voice packets over the network. Recently I was on a conference call with an engineer for one of the hosted telephony companies. This particular engineer works out of his home and on the call he said “let me send you that document”, immediately the call disrupted because he was sending an acrobat document.
Your telephone service can only be as good as the connection between the incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) and the new hosted provider. If you have local customers calling you, the calls first go to the ILEC and there is a local hand-off point where the ILEC gives the calls to your hosted provider. Many times the IP Providers switch is located hundreds of miles from the hand off point. If your IP Provider has unreliable connection to the ILEC, your phones do not receive the calls and your customers are greeted with that wonderful fast busy signal. To add insult to injury your hosted provider never received any calls to enable to troubleshoot the issue. They may tell you "there are no calls are hitting our switch, the local company must be having problems." They may ask you to have your customers call their telephone company to tell them that they can’t call you. Those are not the type of communications you want to have with your customers.
The power to route your calls real time with a simple GUI interface sounds really good until someone erases the customer service departments hunt group. Make sure that the employees have the access to the features they need without giving them power to disrupt your entire business.
A hosted service may be the best communication tool your business has ever implemented. At Doctor Telco Inc. we want you to make a fully informed decision knowing the benefits as well as any possible pitfalls for any telecommunication services you are considering for your business. Please call us and we can help you weight all your options and at no cost to your business.