Is VolP Phone Service Reliable Enough for Your Business?
Posted by Amanda DiSilvestro on March 7, 2012 in Business Start Up Advice, VoIP [ 2 Comments ]
Despite the lure of lower phone bills, many business owners have been reluctant to make the switch to VoIP phone systems because of concerns about call reliability and quality.
But the promise of 4G service might cause some small business owners to take a second look at VoIP phone service.
4G Wireless Broadband Expanding
Mobile VoIP users could be benefiting from the expansion of 4G broadband by the end of the year, according to an article on Telappliant.com.
The increased bandwidth should improve call quality and connectivity for those who use a mobile device — like a cell phone or tablet — to make VoIP calls. (Although at least one blogger was quick to remind us that 4G wireless broadband still has less bandwidth than next generation broadband).
While access to a super-speedy 4G network will appeal to on-the-go VoIP users, this development doesn’t change the connectivity pitfalls of traditional VoIP.
Reliability Problems With VoIP
If you have questions about whether VoIP is reliable enough for your business, consider the following:
1. Potential hang-ups
It is imperative that you have a reliable broadband connection (dial up is too slow for VoIP – especially for businesses) before committing your business to VoIP – otherwise you can run into an array of problems including:
- Call delays
- Strange noises
- Voice distortion
- Lost calls
- Inability to make calls
Since VoIP relies on an internet connection, when your internet service is down, so is your phone service. The same is true if you lose power – unless you have battery backup.
2. Overloaded connections
Your broadband connection will probably be used for more than just making phone calls. Things like e-mail, downloads and chat all function through the same connection as VoIP. And multiple users making calls and using the connection for other purposes – especially during peak business hours – can tax your connection and make call quality suffer.
VoIP Gaining Popularity
Despite the concerns about the quality of service, the number of businesses that use VoIP has grown quickly. A study by Heavy Reading predicts that by 2015 66.5 percent of North American businesses will use VoIP-based lines (compared with the 31 percent using it currently) and that the number of traditional landlines will drop to 33.5 percent.
The growing number of VoIP users has caused the FCC to take notice. Last month, the commission created a rule that requires reports of interconnected VoIP outages that affect 911 service. While this is a step toward greater consumer safety (the FCC estimates that 25 million U.S. residents use VoIP services at home), there is currently no rule in place concerning broadband outages.
With no central organization tracking how often VoIP users experience an outage, it’s even more important for business owners to thoroughly research potential providers before switching.
Reviews of Providers
When using VoIP, your service will only be as good as your internet service provider and your VoIP provider. Depending on the size of the business and the expected amount of broadband use, the first step to switching to VoIP might be upgrading to a T1 line, which will significantly improve call reliability.
In the realm of VoIP, there are plenty of choices — ranging from major telecom companies like Verizon and AT&T to small startups.
Keep in mind that, when it comes to selecting your provider, bigger isn’t always better. The well-known providers aren’t without hiccups in service.
In May 2010, AT&T’s U-Verse Voice VoIP service experienced a four-hour outage affecting 1 million customers across 22 states.
A survey by consumersearch.com found that cable VoIP outranked other VoIP providers when it came to call quality and reliability – although cable tends to cost more and customers don’t always have as many choices for cable providers.
When it comes to smaller providers, there are several that cater to professionals. Business owners should make a list of their needs and compare them to what’s offered by different providers. Providers like Vocalocity, Jive and Improcom all scored glowing reviews on voipreviews.com for reliability and customer service.
Of course, you can always compare prices and quotes from business VoIP providers right here on ResourceNation.com!