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IP Phones - The Pros and Cons of Switching to VoIP Phone Services
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June 26, 2013
The Pros and Cons of Switching to VoIP Phone Services
By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

The decision for a business or individual to switch to a VoIP phone service should be carefully made. It has both pros and cons.

A VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone – or IP phone – uses an IP network, like the Internet, instead of the traditional public switched telephone network (PSTN). The PSTN, on the other hand, uses circuit-switched telephone networks, including the typical telephone copper lines.

There are many benefits to VoIP phones over the more traditional type of phones. One clear advantage for businesses is that VoIP phones provide more features than traditional phones.

Not only is there call forwarding or voicemail, there are also such features as being able to turn voice messages into e-mail messages. Or businesses can hold video conferencing – no matter where the participants may be located. That is a clear time- and cost-saver. These added features mean improved convenience and productivity. For instance, an agent can find out the background on a potential customer which will help to make a sale. With an IP PBX, businesses can provide agents a customer’s record when he/she calls. That means better customer service and the agent spends less time on a call.

When it comes to the bottom line, VoIP is often a less expensive way to make calls than with traditional phones. It’s also convenient for businesses because it’s so portable. A business or employee can move the phone anywhere and keep the same number – whether it’s at a branch office or at a worker’s home.

In addition, VoIP is also beneficial for personal use. It leads to lower costs and VoIP services can be easily installed in a residence or on a mobile device.

“By sending voice data over the Internet, making a phone call becomes as cheap as sending an e-mail. For this reason, almost all VoIP providers offer unlimited nationwide calling, with no long distance fees or roaming charges,” TMCnet’s  Blaise McNamee explained in a recent article. “Moreover, international calls are made extremely cheaper. With VoIP, calls to friends and family overseas or across the border cost a fraction of what they used to using traditional telephony.”

Even IP video conferencing, which is often seen as a benefit for businesses, can be very useful and fun for either relatives or friends sharing important news, key events or holding an important discussion. Even on a smaller scale, video calling is a great advantage for personal or business use. A web-cam lets the participants in a call see the others and talk at the same time over an IP phone.

However, there are some drawbacks with VoIP phones. To use VoIP, users need an Internet connection. If the Internet goes down, they can’t use the phone. They won’t work in a power outage unless there is an alternative energy source like a generator. In addition, with VoIP the system may get viruses or get hacked.

Also, VoIP calls can experience poor quality of service. There can be a delay in the conversation, which is known as latency; parts of a conversation getting missed because of excessive traffic, packet loss; or less-than-desired sound quality, jitter. Jitter can cause unwanted bursts, too.

In addition, IP phones share bandwidth with computers. That means using too much of one can impact the quality of service of the other one.

So weigh the pros and cons carefully – but remember many residences and businesses have already made the switch to IP phones.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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