- Balanced Internet Connection
Starting from the outside let’s start with the Internet connection. A solid Internet connection is a must for #Voice Over IP. Latency or packet loss on the Intenet may go unnoticed on your network until you implement VoIP then it becomes blatantly obvious. If your potential VoIP provider is not checking this before the implementation of your circuit, chose a different provider. There is very simple test that can be run on your circuit with a free program called Ping Plotter. I would suggest running the test back to your Host Server so you are testing not just from the site to the local carrier but all the way back to the host server,which may be as many as 20 hops, to determine what the total latency will be.
The second consideration is the up and download speeds. In the Tampa Bay area I always recommend Frontier FIOS as when they tell you it is a 100 mg circuit it is 100 up and down. With Spectrum Cable if they quote a 100 mg circuit it is 100 down but only 10 mg up. If you are in an area that is only serviced by Spectrum then make sure you get as much bandwidth as they offer and having a router that can manage the bandwidth is imperative.
- Quality Router with QOS and Bandwidth Management
The second item on the list is the Router. Nine out of ten small companies are still operating on the router that was supplied by Frontier or Spectrum when their Internet service was originally installed. These routers are not capable of providing Bandwidth Management or QOS (Quality of Service). BWM and QOS are an absolute must. Even though you may have plenty of bandwidth the SIP (Session Initiated Protocol) traffic must be prioritized for you to have great voice quality. This does not mean you need a very expensive router. We recommend the #Ubiquiti Unifi Security Gateway Pro.
- POE (Power Over Ethernet)
The third item is POE (Power Over Ethernet) Switch. Unlike traditional telephone, IP Phones need to be powered by an external source. Often times I see providers supply their phones with inexpensive external power supplies. The problem with these are first it is just more clutter. Second they must be plugged into a Battery Backup on the battery side, which never has room. If not then every time there is a power glitch, like during our summer storms, your phone goes off and then takes a couple of minutes to register to the host. The best practices way is to install a POE Switch which is on a properly sized battery backup. For installations over 25 phones, I would suggest a Layer 3 Gigabit POE Switch so you can create VLANS to separate your VOIP traffic. The Ubiquiti Unifi Managed POE (Power Over Ethernet) Switches are a great value. I will do a review of the Ubiquiti Unifi Series later but I will encourage you to check them out as the remote management of them is fantastic and I haven’t found anything else out there that gives you so much bang for the buck.
- Data Cable
The fourth item concerns the condition of the existing data cable. This is the link between your POE Switch and the IP Phone. I can’t tell you how many rats nest I have seen businesses running their network on. I have learned to tread delicately when it comes to commenting on this to a potential customer. It was usually installed by their brother in law over the weekend or in his spare time. Oh yea and he use to work for GTE as a lineman. Word to the wise. ALWAYS HAVE YOUR DATA CABLE CERTIFIED. Slow running networks with 4 port hubs draped all over is a recipe for disaster. Voice Over IP will not tolerate poorly installed network cable. Every device on the network needs to be home run back to the Ethernet switch. That includes Printers, Copiers, Credit Card Machines, Fax Machines, Wireless Access Points, Cameras and whatever else you can think of that touches your network.
- Gigabyte Phones
The last essential items are Gigabit Phones. This is the last link in the chain before your computer. For those out there not familiar with LAN structure, the cable coming out of the wall to your computer will now plug into your IP Phone and from the phone via a Gigabyte switch port in the phone continue to your computer. They work on the same cable. So if you have Gigabyte switches and then install a regular IP Phones you have just choked the speed to your computer from 1000 mg to 100 mg. Gigabyte Ethernet Switches and PC’s are shipped with Gigabyte Network Cards in them are the norm so don’t get talked into an inexpensive phone the carrier is providing to make their acquisition cost appear low.
If you do all of the above, you will have a VoIP Solution that will work appropriately day in and day out. There are many small businesses out there that I have spoken to that are jaded by a poor installation by someone promising to save them money but in fact all they did was waste the clients time and disrupt their business. Voice Over IP WORKS!!! and it is here to stay. As Howard Hughes said “It is the way of the future.” Of course he was speaking of aviation. If you are looking for a recommendation for a great phone we recommend the #Grandstream GXP 2170 Phones. These phones have more than enough buttons to program are gigabyte, color display and Bluetooth enabled.
Finally, If you are looking for a #Hosted VoIP Solution make sure you have all the bases covered. I have mentioned local companies but no matter where you live in the US or world, the requirements are the same. If you ever need help with a VoIP implementation please feel free to give me a call. 813-838-2933