What Are the Differences Between VoIP and Digital Telephone Systems?

OK, so your company is moving, adding staff, or maybe had some sort of natural event such as a lightening strike, which has affected your telephone system. It’s old. It’s made by a company that is not even in business anymore like Nortel, Comdial, or you-can-insert-name-here xyz company. You’ve heard of VoIP and think it might be able to save you some money or add some functionality, but are not sure where to look to buy a system or what it can even really do for you. I think I can help. I’ve been in this business for more than ten years, but really I have been around telecom for my whole life. I would love you to buy something from me, but that’s not the point here. Hey, you’re reading this article and I don’t even know who you are! Or where you are! This is completely anonymous and you can benefit from a knowledgeable guy without giving me one red cent! Yeah for you!!

First, let me bring you in on one real big secret in the industry- VoIP is generally not cheaper than traditional telephone systems. There, I said it. It’s out there. I feel better, don’t you? So here is the deal with cost savings and VoIP. It can save come businesses money. But there are MANY variables involved in how it does and even more nuances in how it is implemented. If a business has multiple locations, all using stand alone traditional telephone systems, managed separately and utilizing either copper trunks or T-1/ PRI then there is a definite savings available by moving to a networked solution and centralizing the trunks either onto fewer T-1/ PRI or SIP trunks. This is the main savings in VoIP. On the other end of the spectrum, there are very small companies, maybe with 10 or fewer telephone handsets, that can realize a cost savings by moving to a hosted solution where there is no telephone system onsite and they pay what is essentially a rental per telephone. This can save money as well. So, why you ask, would any business not meeting the above criteria move to a VoIP system? The answers are twofold- first, because all reputable manufacturers are moving this direction and only making VoIP systems. Second, is because there are additional features available on VoIP that a traditional digital system can not offer.

So my second point is that most telecom manufacturers have jumped in full bore and are only making VoIP systems. Even companies such as AVAYA who still make digital telephones are actually making VoIP systems and then adding cards to enable digital. We should talk more about that- lets get together again at another time and I would love to discuss how to use digital sets on a VoIP system to save you money. But that’s another time another article. OK, so like I was saying, the top three manufacturers in the world are VoIP now- Cisco, AVAYA, and ShoreTel. Even the little guys all offer pure VoIP systems such as Mitel, NEC, and Samsung. So the truth is the makers of the equipment are driving the transition. Basically, they can make less product, instead concentrating on software, and still charge you the same money. Or maybe less for the hardware, but then they are selling software for more cash. Either way, they are doing better than before!

Third, with VoIP, there are additional features that digital could not offer, at not least not elegantly or simply. Connecting locations is a prime example. Previously, the main way of doing this was with point to point T-1, Tie lines, or other cumbersome avenues. Now, we can still use MPLS, SIP, public internet, or many other ways. So our choices are better and cheaper. Another feature is management. No more command lines or difficult interfaces, the modern VoIP system is a nice GUI that is easy to use, understand, and simply designed. One of my favorite VoIP features is the options for mobility. I have my cell phone tied to my desk telephone so if I am not in my office, I still take calls as if I were, even being able to transfer that call back to my assistant. There are many more features, but you get the point.

So basically, it comes down to you. If you have an application for VoIP, then it may not be cheaper per-se, but the added efficiency and productivity that it can offer will easily offset any additional “cost” that is associated at implementation. Or at least if you need a new telephone system, your options are severely limited if you do not consider VoIP, so you may as well look into it!

Now the sales pitch! If you are in the Tampa, Sarasota, Naples, St. Pete, Austin or San Antonio areas, give me a shout, let’s talk! Our website is http://www.csmsouth.com where you can learn more about what we do and some of the products available in today’s marketplace.