VoIP – a Question of Quality

Paul Taylor of VoiceFlex told Comms Business Magazine that as businesses strive to cut costs, the concept of VoIP is not hard to sell, but many businesses are reluctant to make a full change and reap the benefits of internet telephony.

“Although many can see the vast cost savings which can be made when compared with traditional call methods, one of the major areas holding people back seems to be quality of service (QOS). Understandably, this is something to be aware of but it should not make or break your decision to switch to VoIP, argues Paul Taylor, sales and marketing director at VoiceFlex. Educating businesses on the benefits over and above cost savings will be key in shifting the mindset of sceptical end users and changing buying behaviour.

A perceived major issue in VoIP communications is QOS, as high quality telephone calls across a traditional telephone network are now taken for granted. But what many people seem to have forgotten is that when telephone communications were first developed, the same concerns about quality and reliability existed.

We must also remember that although a much hyped application, millions of domestic users around the world are already using the Internet as a cost-effective alternative to traditional telephony. VoIP is in the middle of the early adopter stage in the UK with new functionality being developed all the time and, as with any new technology, it will take time to learn and understand. Latency, packet loss and network jitters among other things all contribute to QOS but they are factors which are largely controllable, providing you have the correct knowledge.

Take mobile phones as an example. When they first came onto the market, handsets were cumbersome and no one had even heard of texting. But in today’s society they are now common place for both business and personal use, but bad reception and unreliable connections which still exist haven’t put people off relying on them for day-to-day communications. In this case, occasional issues with QOS have become widely accepted. There is no reason why the same won’t happen with VoIP – after all, the potential cost savings to be had make it a far more attractive proposition when compared with the fact that if QOS is bad on your mobile you still pay the monthly fees and call charges. In fact, when ISDN services where first launched we had to go through exactly the same learning curve that we are experiencing now with internet telephony.

The quality of voice across a broadband connection can be guaranteed but currently at a cost. Like mobile phone service providers, broadband providers will bring out more feature rich offerings to combat the problem, driving down the cost for the end user. With the number of broadband connections in the UK set to reach 20 million over the next five years, increased competition between providers will only be good news, resulting in decreased costs and improved functionality.

Another reason for experiencing problems with QOS can be that not all data networks are voice ready. If this is the case, simple changes can be made to the network such as adjusting firewall settings to improve the integrity of voice traffic across the broadband connection.

Rather than worrying about call quality, businesses should be focusing on the benefits that VoIP can provide over traditional telephony in addition to large cost savings. Implementing a VoIP solution can be a relatively quick and painless process. Number portability is also a key selling point and is not location dependent. The flexibility of the solution is the main benefit over ISDN lines, making it suitable for small businesses and enterprises alike. Technology is all about change, so we should have reached a stage today where we aren’t afraid to try something new.”