Pros and Cons: Business VoIP

By Neil Zawacki
Updated: January 27, 2011

One of the most common decisions that businesses have to face these days is whether to switch to VoIP. The phone system is a direct line between the company and its customers, as well as between the employees themselves, so the wrong choice can have strong deleterious effects.

Pros

There are numerous reasons for a business to use VoIP:

The most substantial advantage is the money saved over time. The majority of VoIP plans tend to cost between $14.99 and $39.99 a month per line. You can often get free nationwide calling as part of these packages, a great boon for companies who make a sizeable number of phone calls.

You can also save money on equipment since you often only need one cable for the voice and data network. This adds up considerably for companies who possess a large number of desktop units. Furthermore, calls made within the company don’t have to be directed through a public switched network, saving even more money.

VoIP is rich with features that are useful for businesses. Most of the standard packages come with caller ID, voice mail, call waiting, conference calls, speed dialing, and call forwarding. You can also obtain special features like videoconferencing, virtual phone numbers and advanced call distribution for a small fee.

Mobility is another notable benefit. Employees can travel anywhere in the world and use VoIP to connect their computer to the internet. If they need to make or take a phone call, they simply use the same system.

Companies also gain a great deal of technical flexibility when using VoIP. Administrators can add, change, or delete users to the system with ease, and don’t require a technician to do so. This frees up the IT department for other tasks and helps to improve the overall productivity of the office.

Cons

There are a few potential drawbacks to switching to VoIP:

First and foremost, VoIP requires a great deal of bandwidth to function. If your company doesn’t have enough available, there may be problems with sound quality due to latency issues. Under certain setups, you may also want computers with high processing power to prevent occasional echoes during phone calls.

The initial setup and training costs can be somewhat prohibitive to smaller businesses. You can generally circumvent this by using a hosted service, but it will still require a preliminary investment.

Unlike a traditional phone system, you can face security threats from computer viruses and hackers. If an employee clicks on the wrong email attachment, it could bring down the whole system. It is thus even more important than normal to make sure that your antivirus software and security protocols are top notch.

The VoIP system also needs an external power source to remain operational. A power outage or rolling blackouts in your area can disrupt your phone capabilities right when you need them most. One potential solution for this is to purchase a portable generator for the main office.

Overall

Overall, the benefits for adopting VoIP greatly exceed the drawbacks. The company will need to make sure the proper infrastructure is in place to ensure quality of service, but the money the company will save in the long run and increased productivity over time will more than make up for this.

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