‘If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,’ is an adage that’s often trotted out as a reason for not adopting a new idea or technology. That is undoubtedly common sense when there is no advantage to making a change, or indeed when the trouble and complexity of doing that outweighs the benefits that it will bring.
This is certainly not the case when it comes to hosted Voice over IP (VoIP) services. The advantages to be gained are utterly convincing, even for the smallest of businesses.
When assessing whether or not it is worth adopting a new product or service, business decision-makers will look at a range of factors, such as performance, quality, reliability, value and of course, the advantages that they will bring.
On the first four criteria, today’s VoIP services are easily on a par with fixed line services. For most businesses the only thing that matters with respect to voice is that it works – and of course, both fixed line and VoIP can tick that box.
Fixed line services can be lost of course – if there is a physical fault or break in the line, or a major equipment failure in an exchange. These things rarely, if ever, happen, so fixed line voice is very reliable.
A VoIP service runs across the Internet, so it’s not as dependent on any specific physical infrastructure. Although, in most cases, it will still reach a business premises via the same physical route as a fixed line analogue service – the copper wire that runs between the green junction box out on the street and the telephone socket inside the building. This will not necessarily be the case if you have an FTTP (fibre to the premises) connection, but not too many organisations have those just yet.
What you can get with the Internet that you can’t get with fixed lines, is a fail-over service that will cut in automatically should the IP connection disappear for some reason. This again is rare, but it can happen and contingency against that possibility can be provided very simply and inexpensively using a 4G. This will also provide back-up for data connections of course, which is very useful.
It may occur to you that, if you are using 4G as a backup for your voice services, you could just use a mobile phone to replace your VoIP service? Well, yes you could, but then you would not be on the same number, so incoming calls to the ‘switchboard’ would not come through unless redirected (which is also possible with VoIP).
But the benefits that VoIP delivers are what make it worthwhile. With hosted voice you can have many more features than a fixed line service could offer – and at a lower overall cost. You can get detailed reporting that goes down to individual callers for example.
A business VoIP service is also much more flexible; it is easy and inexpensive to add new lines and users; staff can be reached on and use the same number wherever they are located, so they can work at home or remotely as normal. The whole VoIP system can be relocated at any time – as long as you gave Internet access, you can use the voice service from anywhere. In that sense, it comes as a built-in part of a disaster recovery plan.
You can have multiple numbers in multiple locations and call costs will be much lower than with a fixed line, especially when it comes to international calls.
The benefits of VoIP are so compelling it is easy to see why many businesses are making the switch. They are doing this even though the fixed line service is not broken. In this respect, VoIP breaks the old rule – nothing needs to be ‘fixed’ as it were, but VoIP simply has much more to offer.