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Entries in VoIP (1)


When Technologists Inhibit Technology – a VoIP Case Study

I am a Voice over Internet Protocal (VoIP) bigot. It works, it is cost effective, and it allows fast deployments of advanced capabilities. I have installed in numerous US cities, as well as Japan, China (Beijing and HK), Singapore, Australia, and the UK.

With a solid network (and this is key) you can hear a pin drop.

Yet some are still buying (new) installs of TDM phones (Time Division Multiplexing A technology transmitting multiple signals simultaneously over a single transmission path.) I can understand expansions of existing systems, but am struggling with why a new implementation wouldn’t be solely VoIP.

Let’s look at what you can do.

VoIP uses your dial-up, broadband connection or corporate network to make telephone calls over the internet or your corporate network.

Some people argue it’s not reduced to practice.

Let’s look at some business cases. This post is being written in late November, 2009. At this writing, there are 18, 224,622 users online with Skype. By comparison, EBay claims 88 Million active users. Active vs total isn’t a good comparison, suffice to say Skype has mass. Full disclosure, EBay just sold Skype for a deal valuing the business $2.75 billion. Around the same time, Avaya announced it was selected to acquire Nortel Enterprise Solutions for US $900 million.

During the third quarter of 2004, VoIP surpassed TDM phones 1.796 million VoIP lines were shipped compared to 1.793 million TDM lines. Somebody is using this stuff, and it must be successfully used or people wouldn’t still be using it.

In a corporate environment, a well designed network allows for calls to be routed to a local point of presence, saving on long distance toll charges.

With VoIP, “soft phones” are easily used. A soft phone is software running on a PC. In my business, we use an outsourced Asterisk PBX, with Polycom phones. My PC has CounterPath’s Bria softphone. Whenever I have a network connection wherever I am in the world, calls can be made and received on the PC. As a road warrior this functionality is invaluable.

VoIP systems generally all allow more advanced features, such as meet-me teleconferencing, and simultaneous ringing of multiple devices.

So what is the hesitation of some technologists to use VoIP?

I was at a car dealer today who had recently installed a newer generation Avaya TDM system. When asked why he didn’t buy a VoIP system, the dealer owner said he went with the recommendation of his technology vendor.

Hence the issue.

Some technologists are holding back on new technologies preferring to ‘go with what they know’ rather than getting into newer technologies. Yes, VoIP requires a solid network, and preferably one with Quality of Service (QoS) enabled (a networking technology prioritizing network traffic so ‘voice’ calls are not interrupted by general purpose network traffic.) Without a solid network environment, VoIP can be troublesome. I’m sure the car dealer rarely has phone issues with an older style TDM system, however they are paying more than needed.

When someone calls the “phone company” with a small business need, the data and voice sides of the house are often different. So compensation plans work against implementing an overall best in class service.

So technologists must think in terms of what they know, what they can support, and what’s best for their client. To be clear, I am not suggesting blanket installation of bleeding edge technologies. To the contrary, we need to provide solid technologies. Back at the car dealer, a simultaneous ring of the desk and cell phone is a win:win for the sales team (who might be out on the lot) and the customer (who probably doesn’t prefer voice mail.)

In the case of VoIP, leading companies are now working on unified communications strategy. Unified communications (UC) is the integration of communication services such as instant messaging, presence information, VoIP, video conferencing, call control and speech recognition with communication services such as unified messaging (integrated voicemail, e-mail, SMS and fax).

Technologists need to consider where technology is going, and make sure the building blocks being implemented are beneficial to their clients.