VoIP is big news for growing businesses. The cost savings, convenience and features are well-known, but there are a few drawbacks that you should be aware of. The good news is that many of these issues can be dealt with through proper planning and implementation.
"The biggest downside is reliability. [VoIP] requires smart network design," says Robin Gareiss, principal research officer with Nemertes Research, a New York City tech research firm. Gareiss has been studying VoIP and listening to business concerns as the technology becomes mainstream. Businesses must have power over Ethernet capabilities and a large enough UPS to handle the combined data and voice network. If the power goes out and you don't have a proper UPS, your phones can go down. Fortunately, you can save by investing in one large UPS rather than in two smaller ones for voice and data.
Another concern is the lack of 911 services from VoIP phones. This is a problem for employees using IP softphones from home or remote locations. "It's not as huge of an issue as it seems," Gareiss says.
Yet another potential problem spot is not being included in the local phone book. An easy solution to this advertising issue is to hang on to a traditional phone line for backup purposes.
Concerns about call quality have dissipated. Gareiss says problems in this area are usually the result of poor implementation that can be avoided by setting up your VoIP network correctly in the first place.
VoIP spam is also beginning to rear its head, so watch for ways to deal with it proactively as they develop. All these issues are worth keeping an eye on. Smart planning and advances in the technology will help minimize the risk.