By Rory J. Thompson, Web Editor
In doing research on VoIP and how well it is (or isn’t…the jury’s still out) being accepted by businesses, one point stands clear: everyone’s nervous about it. Oh, there are a few hardy souls that have plunged in headfirst and are already reaping the benefits. The rest? They’re pacing the sidelines, trying to read the tea-leaves and waiting for some magic sign that NOW is the time.
Guess what? It’s 2014. It is indeed the time for some new changes, new ideas and new ways of doing things. One of those ways might well be the idea of simply chucking your old POTS landlines in the office trash and getting onboard the VoIP bandwagon.
If you’ve been on the fence about making the switch, you’re not alone. As a matter of fact, a quick online search showed that as far back as 2005, when few people had even heard of VoIP, fear was rampant.
According to the online site NewScientist.com, the fears back then weren’t much different from the ones expressed today.
“Security experts are warning that a rush to adopt the exciting new technology could be a mistake. VoIP makes phones vulnerable to viruses, denial of service (DOS) attacks, malicious re-routing of calls, toll fraud, ID spoofing and eavesdropping, according to reports published over the past year,” the website NewScientist reported in 2005. “In addition, ‘Security concerns are being left behind because of the speed at which VoIP is being adopted,’ said Dipak Ghosal, a computer security researcher at the University of California in Davis, US. ‘We are getting powerful new systems but hackers are getting powerful new tools.’”
Yet we’ve come a long way in nine years. A careful look at all that VoIP has to offer shows that it presents more options at lesser cost than the traditional office phone currently sitting on your desk at work.
“The most attractive feature of VoIP is its cost-saving potential,” says Patrick Park in his new book, Voice over IP Security. “When we move away from public switched telephone networks, long-distance phone calls become inexpensive. Instead of being processed across conventional commercial telecommunications line configurations, voice traffic travels on the Internet or over private data network lines.”
But that’s not all. Park also notes, “For the enterprise, VoIP reduces cost for equipment, lines, manpower, and maintenance. All of an organization's voice and data traffic is integrated into one physical network, bypassing the need for separate PBX (News - Alert) tie lines. Although there is a significant initial setup cost, significant net savings can result from managing only one network and not needing to sustain a legacy telephony system in an increasingly digital and data-centered world.”
Then there’s also the mobility aspect to be considered. With VoIP, workers can now take their phone with them, thereby eliminating the possibility of that cringe-worthy “missed call.” After all, you can’t really “miss” a call when your phone is in your hand.
“In traditional phone systems, companies would assign a phone number with a concrete line. In general, a phone number could not move from place to place if so desired,” according to a recent update on TexasCom.net. “The process for updating a phone number to a new location (a common concept for growing businesses) is oftentimes inconvenient and cumbersome. However, with hosted VoIP services, phones can use the same number regardless of location so long as the IP connectivity is appropriate. Businesses are also converting their mobile phone applications to VoIP services that connect with the same servers as the office phones. The context of mobility goes as much for the service as it does for the phone itself with VoIP -- wherever the phone might be, there the service and features are also.”
It was a giant leap forward that Entrepreneur.com – unlike its contemporary, NewScientist – recognized, also back in 2005.
“With VoIP service, your phone calls travel over the Internet as data, just as e-mail does. This type of service can dramatically lower your telecommunications costs while increasing your productivity,” Entrepreneur noted, adding, “The truth is, VoIP's benefits far outweigh any potential drawbacks.”
So here we are, 14 years into this new Millennium, but some are still being ruled by fears raised almost a decade ago. If you think it’s time to let go of the past and make a leap of faith toward the future, you could do a lot worse than embracing VoIP.
It’s like Morpheus said in The Matrix: “You have to let it all go, Neo. Fear, doubt, and disbelief. Free your mind.”