With the NBN rollout in full swing it’s not a case of if you upgrade to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) but when. VoIP actually brings increased flexibility and reduced cost and, when it is done right, is highly reliable with great call quality. A successful conversion does need some careful planning. There are several key components you should consider to make a successful shift.
If you’ve already started the upgrading process to VoIP, or are currently considering it, here is are 5 tips to make the upgrade as easy as possible.
1. Make Sure Your Network is Ready for VoIP
The quality of VoIP voice calls is heavily dependent on the network. VoIP traffic is routed over the same connection as your data transmission, so any slow traffic on the internet or low bandwidth has an impact on call quality. In all but the smallest deployments ADSL, unless it is dedicated just for the VoIP, is not going to be adequate.
Generally, it’s suggested to run a network speed test to evaluate your current IP network and determine if it is robust enough to handle your current and future voice and data traffic. Allow 100Kbps of bandwidth per call as a rule of thumb then multiply by the number of lines you need based on call volume. If you are on an ISDN10/20/30 but only need 23 lines rather than 30 it is possible to get 23 lines.
For smaller customers with modest requirements; 6 users, 4 lines and very little data consumption then a 4G connection works very successfully in many cases.
2. Get the Right Phone Equipment for Your Business
VoIP technology opens up many choices. Do you go for a cloud-based system or do you have a system on site? In a cloud-band system do you go for a fully hosted system or do you have your own system located in a data centre?
If you desire, you can go fully mobile using a client app in your mobile or on your PC/Mac/tablet. You may choose to have some physical phones. Physical phones are recommended for receptionists since the softphone is not designed for a volume of calls. PC-based operator consoles are also available to ease the direction of calls.
3. Prioritise or Segment Your Voice Traffic
The cutting edge of VoIP technology is that it routes voice over the same network used by other applications. But this can also become a problem since your voice traffic is now competing for bandwidth with other types of sources including video and web browser. As such, the performance of your business applications, especially those sensitive to time delays like VoIP, can be negatively impacted. This means that your phone calls can possibly suffer when you start streaming a video.
There are two common methods to solve this traffic issue. One is to segmenting your voice traffic using a VLAN (Virtual Local Area Network). It allows you to split your voice traffic from overall network capacity and offer more efficient responsiveness to VoIP calls. The other is to prioritise your voice traffic with appropriate QoS (Quality of Service) settings. The QoS traffic dispersal makes it possible for your IT administrators to assign priorities – or a guaranteed percentage of your overall pipe capacity – to your VoIP applications. This will free your voice traffic from network congestion and improve overall call quality.
4. Consider An Internet Backup or failover
VoIP relies on the Internet to function, so if there is an unexpected internet outrage, your voice service will drop out and depending on how the phone system is configures you may not even be able to make calls within the office. Having a backup plan or alternative internet service can help. Consider the following two methods to minimise internet disruption and maximise business continuity.
- Investing in a 4G LTE failover solution or, if you have adequate budget, a second Internet connection from a different ISP (Internet Service Provider). This will allow you to program the backup internet to take over immediately when your primary connection goes down, making your phone system to stay functional over network outage.
- Conditional failover is available to either a second VoIP line or to a mobile. Bear in mind that if you have a large quantity of numbers then all numbers will point to single mobile.
Besides the Internet problem, unexpected PBX phone system server outrage can also paralyse your business communication. If you are considering a hosted VoIP solution, look for a provider that has multiple geographically dispersed data centres. This provides the reliability that your voice traffic will be rerouted to a working data center in case of any failure. If you are considering an on-premises VoIP solution, it is possible to have a second system in hot standby for all the phones to re-register to.
5. Choose the Right Deployment Model and Solution
It almost goes without saying but if approached in the wrong manner, things can get more complicated or even detrimental. While evaluating whether a cloud-based or on-premises VoIP solution, ask tough questions and make the business case for what a new system will solve in all aspects of its usage: functionality, scalability, redundancy, maintenance and upgrade, upfront and ongoing costs.
A technology upgrade such as this can enable increased functionality such as offering unified communications to your workforce. Other functionality such as audio and video conferencing can be incorporated to improve interaction between employees – especially in remote offices. Would CRM integration be of any benefit?
Painless Upgrading to VoIP
Upgrading to VoIP doesn’t have to be complicated and difficult. The most importation part is to make sure you have a provider that guides you every step of the way. If you have any questions about how VoIP will impact your business, or would like help to make a seamless upgrade, free free to contact us.