While VoIP can be scaled down to serve even small businesses of four or five people, the long-distance call savings might not be enough to make the cost of an implementation make sense. If an end-user is switching to VoIP, it’s likely because they need options for features like remote interfacing, call monitoring, or an auto-attendant that just become a hassle with analog phone systems. How does VoIP provide those features differently, and what does that innovation mean for technicians?
How VoIP Works
The “IP” in VoIP stands for “Internet Protocol.” Internet Protocol is essentially the foundation of the internet—it’s the rules for the way data has to be configured to get transmitted online. You have undoubtedly heard of a computer’s IP address, which is basically how data of the most common configuration, TCP/IP, gets routed there. An IP address is unique to each computer, and sometimes even changes if a computer connects to a new Internet connection—though for VoIP purposes, the IP address needs to be static no matter what, even if the Internet goes down.
Without getting too complex, we’ll say the VoIP system transforms the recorded voice of the user into packets of data sent over the Internet into the ear of the caller, and translates returning sound from the caller into packets played back to the user. This includes calls coming in from analog phones, cell phones, and other VoIP systems, and can include calls made from analog and cell phones as well, with the right adapters or apps. Whether the employee in an office with VoIP is receiving a call on the system or making one with it, the kind of phone on the other end doesn’t matter.
Data Packet Delay
If all that packet transmission sounds like it might cause a delay, it’s because sometimes it does. In most well-functioning networks this delay is only around 100ms, but up to 400ms is considered acceptable, and in the end, that’s only 2/5ths of a second, something most users will never even notice. However, “jitter,” or a variation in the lengths of delay, is something all VoIP carriers try to correct for with what’s known as a jitter buffer, an algorithm that calculates how many data packets should be buffered up before playback to account for that delay. This buffer calculates on both ends of the call and can increase or decrease even during a single conversation.
What VoIP Requires
Since VoIP calls take place over the Internet, they of course rely on the Internet. That’s one of the reasons DiverseNet takes such care to coordinate with the end-user’s ISP on every installation we do. Often, VoIP users will establish a dedicated server for their phone system, both for the sake of security and of bandwidth allocation. If the VoIP is on the same server as the office’s computer browsers, the potential for delay might increase. This is an option their ISP will need to be heavily involved in, so collaboration with them by the technician installing the system is critical. Technicians deploying VoIP systems for the first time also need to check hardware like wiring and data ports to ensure compatibility.
VoIP systems also require training of the end-user’s staff, something it’s best for a proprietarily trained technical expert to provide to whomever will be the system’s day-to-day administrator. It’s not harder to set up a new voicemail or conference line through a VoIP carrier—in fact, it can be a lot easier—but someone has to show even an experienced end user how, as each system is different.
VoIP carriers all aim to provide modern, fast, reliable communications solutions to their users. For that to happen, those solutions have to be installed correctly, and any hidden factors which might complicate success need to be addressed in advance.
IF YOU’RE A VoIP DEALER OR RETAILER LOOKING FOR TECHNICIANS WHO APPRECIATE THE COMPLEXITY OF YOUR PRODUCT, CONTACT DIVERSENET TODAY. IN THE MEANTIME, DOWNLOAD A FREE COPY OF OUR LATEST EBOOK, THE FIELD SERVICES DEPLOYMENT AUDIT, AND LEARN HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR VENDORS AND TECHNICIANS.