Voice termination – what’s driving VoIP growth?

The technology behind VoIP has been around for 20 years or so, but it’s only comparatively recently that it’s started to take off in a big way in the business world. Why is it gaining popularity now and what factors are driving its expansion?

Nice idea but…

When it was first introduced, many people were suspicious about the benefits of VoIP. Splitting voice calls up into data packets and sending them over the internet sounded good in theory, but there were concerns over reliability and calls dropping out.

Those who adopted VoIP in this pioneering era were right to be concerned. The issues were largely attributable to the internet technology of the day; most people were still using broadband over copper connections. This meant that the available bandwidth was limited and while one to one calls over VoIP were of an acceptable standard, businesses with several people making calls at the same time would push the limits of the connection.

Added fibre

Improvements in the telecoms infrastructure in the past decade or so mean that more people and businesses are now connected to the internet via fibre optic links. Fibre, whether using broadband or an Ethernet leased line offers a more reliable connection with greater bandwidth, so using VoIP becomes far more practical and reliable. Quality of service is improved and it’s possible to have multiple users without compromising on the connection.

As a result, increasing numbers of businesses are turning to VoIP as a replacement for older PSTN telephone systems. Reliability and call quality are now on a par and there are considerable savings to be made both in call costs and in infrastructure costs by making the switch.

Increased mobility in voice termination

Other factors are driving the adoption of VoIP too and these go beyond the internet technology. Part of the reason for its increased popularity is greater mobility of the workforce. According to research from IDC, over 70 percent of the workforce will be mobile by 2020.

People are no longer tied to their office desk for most of the working day. Affordable, powerful mobile devices mean that it’s now possible to work from anywhere, accessing data and services from the cloud. VoIP is no exception to this; it means that you can effectively be on your office phone wherever you are, provided that you have an internet connection. Incoming calls can always find you and you can make outgoing calls via your business number at low cost without using the mobile network.

Coupled with this is the rise in BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) in which employees are allowed to use their own mobile devices for work purposes. Enabling staff to use business applications and data on their own devices boosts productivity and provides for more flexible working, leading to improved work/life balance. Adding VoIP to this equation means your people have access to their business phone system too, ensuring that they can make calls at reduced rates, receive important calls wherever they are and take advantage of services such as voice mail and call diversion.

Hotspot coverage

Of course, to use VoIP you need access to the internet. That’s not a problem in the office or at home, but it used to be challenging when you were out and about. This is no longer the case. More and more locations now offer wireless hotspots so it’s relatively easy to get connected. Even traditional dead areas such as the London tube are now starting to provide wireless coverage.

Even if you can’t get Wi-Fi, mobile data coverage has radically improved. As 5G begins to roll out in cities and urban areas, so the 3G and 4G network coverage will be extended into more rural locations. 5G will offer gigabyte speeds which will mean sufficient bandwidth for VoIP and even video calling, equivalent to the home broadband speeds of just a few years ago.

Increasingly, the key to a successful business in the modern world is agility. You need to be able to react fast to events and that means having a communications system that can keep you and your staff in touch wherever they are. VoIP solutions from a mature provider such as IDT are a key part of this, freeing business from the constraints of the older PSTN telephone systems and allowing them to offer a better service to their customers.

There is little doubt that there will be further improvements to come as artificial intelligence and machine learning begin to make their presence felt in the communications sector. However, there is no reason why you shouldn’t look to upgrade to VoIP now. The benefits in terms of cost alone are significant, the quality is undeniable, and you will be giving your business a degree of flexibility that will provide a competitive edge.