Whether you are already using VoIP or are contemplating switching to a new VoIP provider, it is important to acknowledge that whilst there are numerous benefits of adopting this technology, there are some issues/disadvantages that you may not be aware of. VoIP providers will rarely mention these – understandably focusing on the numerous positives.
Ideally, you want the call quality over VoIP to exceed that of traditional landlines. This is achievable but it depends on a number of things such as broadband connection, bandwidth, hardware and VoIP provider.
VoIP technology may not be as robust as PSTN. This is because the data is compressed and split into transferable ‘voice packets’ to be sent and these then have to be ‘unpacked’ at the other end. All this has to be done in a matter of milliseconds and if this is made harder by a poor connection or substandard hardware, the call quality suffers. This can manifest itself as echo, delay or latency.
Total reliance on your broadband connection
VoIP is totally dependent on your broadband connection – meaning that if your broadband connection goes down for any reason, you will lose your phone lines too. This can be catastrophic for a business. Some service providers will offer a backup facility or you may want to install a spare broadband line that acts as an emergency fall-back.
VoIP needs power
Unlike PSTN phones, you need to plug your modem, router or other VoIP hardware into the power supply for it to work. Clearly, this means that if there is a power failure, your phones go down. A UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) can help if you lose your primary power source as it will kick-in and keep your system running.
In a business context, it is likely that you will be deploying VoIP over a broadband connection that is also used for other things such as server connectivity, email and downloads. This means that VoIP will only be allocated a share of your total bandwidth and may suffer at peak times, resulting in lower call quality.
It can be tricky to ensure adequate bandwidth is always available so it is a good idea to try not to use your internet connection for things other than VoIP when you are actually on a call. In addition, some businesses will opt for a dedicated line for VoIP so that there is no conflict. There are other priority and QoS (quality of service) mechanisms which can assist here.
As with other internet-based systems and technologies, security is a significant concern when it comes to VoIP. The most relevant security issues concerning VoIP are viruses, malware, denial of service attacks, identity/service theft, phishing, and call tampering.
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