Top five VoIP mistakes
Choosing Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) for your business can be a great decision for your business, but it has the potential to go wrong if you’re not prepared. Make sure you don’t fall victim to these common VoIP mistakes. See also: how to write your company’s IT security policy
Top 5 VoIP mistakes
Yes, the biggest advantage of VoIP is also the biggest disadvantage. Your PC network may present all the signs of being in tip-top nick, and could have seemed that way for years, but voice traffic will mercilessly expose shortcomings, any under-specified switches or cheap, capped-bandwidth internet links. One VoIP-addicted business I’ve been advising was more than a little surprised to find it was using 175GB of data per month, including hundreds of phone calls a week, across a small, extremely “converged” LAN.
Even the toughest LAN-based phone system design will exhibit computer-style failure modes. Very few hard disks interrupted the operation of a World War II-era field telephone, since they don’t need all that malarkey to function. Buying a system priced “because it’s VoIP” and assuming it will be immune to all those computer niggles because it’s physically separate from your network isn’t going to put you in the good books of the board after the next big virus day/snowstorm/power outage.
3. Any old router will do
Big, metal VoIP systems have their place, as do the best of the bottom-end systems, and they may even use the same protocols and present the same services inside your LAN. However, you can still pick one that doesn’t sit well with the size, call volumes and business priorities of your enterprise. “Left uncontrolled, traffic becomes congested and VoIP becomes unreliable, resulting in lost calls or unintelligible conversations,” explains DrayTek’s Julian Hubble. “A business-class router with a feature called Quality of Service (QoS) will give all VoIP calls the right level of priority to help ensure other users don’t affect the smooth running of the VoIP service.” So, make sure you choose right. I remember visiting a business that was using a tiny home-office router to run 30 users, three VPN tunnels, two Wi-Fi networks and half a dozen SIP provider gateway definitions.
4. Not all internet services are the same
This is a problem that consistently hits smaller businesses, as Hubble says: “There are many low-cost broadband services available, which, largely, are fine for general internet access. However, many factors associated with the provision of your internet service can affect voice quality when using VoIP, so it’s essential to check that you have a broadband connection capable of running VoIP. Your selected ITSP should be able to provide such a service or recommend a suitable partner organisation that can.”
5. Mistaking an IT project for a phone project
A tenth of a second blip in a stream of audio is grounds for a minuted meeting of the board, whereas a two-second delay in a web page loading doesn’t even raise a grumble. If you come into a VoIP project imagining that all this adoption of “your” technology (as a nerd) means that the other parts of the piece – the ones you take for granted – are going to come across, too, you’ll be in for a shock. Computers engage with the intellect; phones engage with the emotions. If you feel like claiming immunity from the other drawbacks, please, I implore you: don’t ignore this one.