How to Choose the Right VoIP Connectivity Solution
We have previously covered the benefits of VoIP technology and how you should prepare your network for VoIP to smoothly undertake the convergence of data and Voice. In this article we’ll cover the possible VoIP connectivity solutions and as well as the benefits of using software IP PBX within a company’s premises instead of a hardware proprietary IP PBX. I will avoid the obvious and bore you with the million advantages of IP PBXs over traditional PBX systems.
Is VoIP a Necessity or Superficiality?
Recently, a private company manager asked me a reasonable question: “Why do I need to change my company’s phone system if I’m happy with it?” Well, if you are happy with your existing phone system or even if you do not have a phone system but you are still happy with your voice connectivity, it’s probably because you haven’t heard about VoIP or seen what it’s capable of. Is there a company manager that does not want to reduce maintenance, management and voice call costs?
It is obvious that investment in VoIP is a necessity not only for new companies but also for existing ones that already have a mature and well served telephony system.
VoIP Connectivity Solutions
Let’s take a closer look at 3 VoIP connectivity solutions that will fit the needs of any company.
• Simple VoIP Connectivity
Small companies or individuals that have one or two telephone lines can easily switch to VoIP without loosing their existing phone numbers. Moreover they can benefit from the concept of virtual numbering and acquire extra numbers within a reasonable cost. Most VoIP providers offer four or even eight telephone numbers through a single connection line which means immediately 50% or even 75% reduction in monthly fixed costs. All you need to do is to choose your VoIP provider and leave the rest to them. They usually install an Integrated Access Device (IAD) at your premise where you can attach your existing telephone equipment or your new VoIP devices and that’s it. Furthermore, most VoIP providers offer attractive call offer schemes like for example free local calls to landline numbers or free minutes of specific international calls. Nevertheless the bottom line is that you reduce both your monthly fixed costs and ongoing voice call expenses.
• Upgrade Traditional PBX Connectivity
For the companies that already possess a traditional telephone system of their own there is a way to keep their existing system and at the same time reduce their costs and enhance their service with VoIP. A VoIP gateway can be used to interconnect the existing telephone system with the VoIP world. There are VoIP providers that offer PSTN or ISDN gateways where customers can connect their existing analogue phones, ISDN phones, analogue PBXs or ISDN PBXs with the VoIP Provider’s network. You existing numbering plan can be maintained and fixed monthly costs and call charges are reduced while at the same time value-added services that the VoIP provider is offering can now be used by the traditional telephony world.
• IP PBX Integration into VoIP Solution
For the demanding users and those that foresee the future, a full IP PBX solution is the ideal solution. I am not talking about a hardware PBX system. I am really talking about a software PBX solution where the PBX software is installed on one of the network servers or just a standalone PC. All users (IP terminals directly and analogue devices through an ATA adapter) are registered on the IP PBX, connected to the VoIP provider’s network through a VoIP trunk connection. More advanced services can be offered, even services that VoIP providers have not yet implemented. The enhanced service perception along with the reduction of running costs are the main benefits of this solution.
5 Benefits of Software PBX for VoIP
I have identified 5 main benefits of using software PBX for VoIP:
- Cost Reduction: Software IP PBXs are much cheaper than hardware IP PBXs. The installation costs as well as maintenance and upgrade costs are significantly reduced. Software IP PBXs use the open SIP standard, therefore they can interoperate with all major VoIP client manufacturers in contrast with hardware proprietary IP PBXs which interoperate with specific terminal equipment. Therefore, the cost plan depends upon the customers’ selection of terminal equipment.
- Scalability: Software IP PBXs are powerful in terms of call capacity (Calls per second) and extension support (local terminals or VoIP lines). Therefore, network expansion is not an issue with Software IP PBXs while proprietary hardware systems easily reach their service limits and usually require extra hardware modules to support growing needs.
- Installation: Software IP PBXs can be easily installed and configured even on Window workstations without the need of having professional expertise to do so. The configuration of VoIP phones as well as software phones installed on personal computers is also an easy to do task.
- Advanced Customer Service: Because of the software-based nature of the PBX, new features and advanced services can be easily incorporated to deliver better customer service. Not to mention the short time needed to implement a new service and incorporate it into the whole system.
- Ease of Management: Software PBXs can be managed via a user friendly Graphical User Interface (GUI) which allows system administrators to easily configure new extensions and apply services to extensions without the need of proprietary, difficult to use interfaces. Even if the software PBX does not offer a GUI for management, its file structure and content can be manipulated very easily.
From any perspective you take, VoIP connectivity constitutes a proven necessity for the business and home users. As for the PBXs, it is definitely an ideal solution for the business customers with many extensions or scattered remote branches. Sophisticated services can be delivered to end-users as well as free phone calls within the company premises or between the company’s branches could be achieved.
I personally vote in favor of software IP PBXs; I believe that their scalability and ease of installation are their strongest points. If you want to learn how to install and configure your own software IP PBX, stay tuned. In my next article I will show you step-by-step how to build your own PBX and start reducing your monthly call costs.