Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP): Is it right for my small business?
                                          A White ...
According to a Consumer Reports survey, almost one-third of VoIP users had at least one dropped call or
difficulty in maki...
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Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP): Is it right for my small ...

  1. 1. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP): Is it right for my small business? A White Paper from BellSouth Voice over Internet Protocol, or (VoIP), is a fast-growing alternative to traditional telephone service. It is a digital technology that allows customers to make telephone calls using a broadband Internet connection such as cable- modem or DSL instead of a regular (analog) phone line. How does VoIP work? VoIP converts analog phone signals into digital data packets and sends them over the same broadband connection used for e-mails or web browsing. The packets are decoded back into voice when the recipient answers the call. To achieve the analog to digital signal conversion, customers either need special IP phones or an analog telephone adapter. A network device – typically a router – is also required for the broadband line. The recipient does not need special equipment to receive a VoIP call. Telephone Wiring at the Office Router Wall Jack Telephone Adapters TA Internet TA Local Telephone Company The Future of VoIP VoIP has been touted as a “revolution” in the telecommunications industry. Tech Trends predicts there will be more than 19 million VoiP access lines by 2007. (1) By combining voice and data over the same network, the service may help businesses reduce long-distance charges and enhance operating efficiency. With voice and data converged on one network, VoIP can also offer new features and benefits such as: Features • Online feature management – change feature preferences online, while away from phone • Online call logs – keep track of all incoming, outgoing and received calls • Call filtering – create special rules for certain incoming calls, including forwarding to voice mail or another line • User profiles – set up unique user profiles for individual lines or the same line allowing various call filtering rules and other feature preferences • Additional phone numbers – assign additional phone numbers to one phone line • Virtual phone numbers – assign out of area code phone numbers to one phone line Benefits • Mobility – users can take their ATAs with them, and plug into any broadband connection. Once set up, can use phone line as if it were in the office • Cheaper Long Distance – in the VoIP space, a minute is a minute. No more unique billing for local vs. long distance Is VoIP right for my small business? While VoIP can provide additional features and benefits to businesses, it is a new technology with some limitations. All calls -- local, interstate and intrastate -- will travel over the Internet as packets of data. As a result the technology will deliver a dial tone, but the quality and reliability will be more like cellular service. Sometimes the transmission may be garbled, or calls may be dropped.
  2. 2. According to a Consumer Reports survey, almost one-third of VoIP users had at least one dropped call or difficulty in making or receiving calls within a week of the study. Some also had occasional problems hearing callers or being heard. (2) An additional consideration should be 911 service availability. Although the U.S government required all VoIP providers have fully functioning 911 service by September 2005, many companies have requested an extension. If you purchase VoIP, make sure you know if your service will work in emergency situations. If you have an alarm system in your place of business, VoIP may also interfere with its monitoring abilities. Most monitoring systems use technology that requires a land line to communicate from the customer premise to the alarm company. In addition, if it does work over VoIP and the power goes down, so will the security system. Be a smart shopper… If you decide that VoIP is right for your small business, it pays to be a smart shopper. Look carefully at each provider’s offering and determine exactly what is included in packages and bundles. Most important, before making a purchase decision, evaluate the total cost of ownership, and determine the impact on your customer service if quality and reliability are compromised. What are some advantages of VoIP? What are some limitations? • The service can lower costs by • Phone service will be lost during a power bypassing long-distance and other outage or if DSL Broadband Internet charges access is interrupted • Customers may increase business • Broadband users may experience efficiency through the use of new dropped calls or voice quality not on par features and applications on a with their current service converged network • 911 service not always available in all areas • Many security companies require a traditional phone line for the security system service to work Summary By converging voice and data over one network, VoIP can help some small businesses lower their operating costs, increase productivity and benefit from new applications. The decision to purchase VoIP should be weighed carefully against the need for quality and reliability found with traditional telephone lines. For additional information, contact your BellSouth account representative. April 10, 2006 _____________________________________________________________ 1 VoIP Begins to Take Off, TIA’s TechTrends, May 2004. 2 “Best Phone & Plan For You.” Consumer Reports, January 2006; 29.