Do the positives of a hosted VoIP network outweigh the negatives?

Every once in a while VoIP make an appearance on the forum. It all started two years ago when one member asked why doesn’t every business use VoIP telephony?

It seemed so obvious, here was a low cost way to make calls to anywhere in the world. So what stops cost-conscious companies from taking the plunge?

“This is a fast evolving market and maybe consumer adoption of VoIP is ahead of business adoption,” suggested Steve Cox. “From personal experience, when I travel VoIP is a must. Using Skype for the iPhone and our corporate VoIP system make most of my business and personal calls free or very, very cheap.”

Simon West suggested it comes down to legacy systems. “I guess one reason why more companies don’t move to VoIP is that they have an existing infrastructure, it works and it’s too much hassle and a perceived high risk of something going wrong for them to change.”

Or could it simply be down to existing telephony infrastructure? Mike Briercliffe suggested you need at least 2mb broadband speed for VoIP to be effective. Simon West added: “VoIP requires a continuous connection and that as most consumer broadband is contended 50:1, you are going to experience irregular connection at peak times.”

So, VoIP was not looking that enticing back in 2010, but how has VoIP progressed? “Has anyone moved to a hosted VoIP system? I am trying to understand the pros and cons of using hosted networks,” asked Steven Parker.

“VoIP is an excellent, proven technology,” said Bert Max. “However, the best thing about VoIP as a hosted system is that the reliability and administration is the vendor’s responsibility. With the right SLA’s in place, it’s much more cost effective and efficient than doing it yourself.”

“A hosted VoIP system is very mobile, such as having an office presence while working from home or when employees move from one side of the office to another, there is no re-programming, just plug and play,” said Michael O’Brien.

He added: “Most VoIP providers provide a portal where you can monitor your extension inbound and outbound as well as which voicemail message you would like to have active, user pass-codes, extension management, etc. Update and replacement are not a concern to you.”

However, he said hosted VoIP networks require more bandwidth. “The voice and system is sent over your internet connection, causing more traffic, so you may need to upgrade your data connection to keep up with the demand of both internet traffic and the phone system.”

Andre Kostadinov agreed it was a wise move. “Apart from the obvious (significant) savings, the ease of managing all users/extensions/queues/traffic flow via an online admin portal is superb.”

Yet he too highlighted some down sides to managed VoIP networks. “You’ll need to provide a solid network (router/firewall) setup as that is crucial for good quality. And your circuits better be good (speed and bandwidth) or you are risking dropped packets = dropped calls. Not to mention redundancy (what if your primary internet feed goes down, do you have a secondary..?).”

He warned: “Your VoIP hosting provider can only deliver so much to you, the customer needs to ensure a solid back-end and own infrastructure in order for everything to work as advertised.”

In your opinion, do the positives of such a hosted VoIP network outweigh the negatives?

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