by Jeremy Miller, Technician
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is the general term used for transmitting two-way voice communication over a network.
This can work on any network, whether it be at home or work, connected to the Internet. VoIP can also be used for internal communications and do not necessarily need to be transmitted out to the Internet.
Plain old telephone system (POTS) is the traditional phone service that everyone is used to, and it is commonly known as a home phone.
This system is designed to run on dedicated electronic circuits and is transmitted using analog signals where VoIP uses digital.
There are many reasons that you should use VoIP over POTS many of which include cost and expansion. Where ever you have a network connection, VoIP can be implemented. POTS often are much more costly.
As I said before POTS requires a dedicated circuit to transmit on. This means every time you add a new phone you would have to run a phone line and a network drop.
POTS can become quite expensive for an office building if you have to run phone lines to each person’s office.
In the event of expansion POTS will require costly hardware upgrades and provisioning of new lines. VoIP will only require more bandwidth and possibly software upgrades which are generally inexpensive and very easy to do.
There is much more competition in the VoIP market. Where POTS may have a few providers to choose from in your area, VoIP will have hundreds to choose from on the Internet.
When using VoIP you have control over the traffic of the phone calls as well. This makes it easy to manage, record, and maintain all phone calls.
A few benefits of VoIP
Many of the features such as call waiting, conference calling, music on hold, multiple extensions and voice mailboxes are all free with VoIP. These features have always come at a premium when using POTS.
VoIP does not limit you to what you can transmit over its call. For instance you can make a video call or a voice call using VoIP. While in your call you can send over an attachment which is quite similar to email.
There are downsides to using VoIP as well, but most of them can be mitigated. The first is unpredictable quality of service. You may not always get great sound or video quality.
This is usually dictated by the available bandwidth. If you notice your quality is not as good as you like, then you may need to upgrade your Internet speed or you network equipment.
VoIP may not always get you to the correct 911 responder in the event of an emergency. They are not centralized like POTS. The traffic could be routed around the world.
Since VoIP relies on the Internet and the Internet relies on electricity, you will lose your VoIP service if either Internet or electricity goes down.
This can be avoided by having a redundant Internet connection and battery backups for your network equipment.
You can also install an IP based private automatic branch exchange (PABX) which will allow you to integrate your POTS with VoIP so you can take advantage of VoIP and not lose the benefits of POTS.
If you are looking into VoIP or have any questions we would be happy to help.