5 Secrets to Voice Over IP
5 Essentials for Successful Voice Over IP
Upgrading to Voice Over IP Hosted Service can be challenging. Many decisions must be made. It is a good idea to have a clear understanding of the necessary hardware components as well as how the technology interfaces with your network. It is my goal to help guide you through the basic elements which will ensure your Voice Over IP conversion goes well.
The first Item on the list is the Router. If you are using the original router supplied by the Internet provider or one of those little black and blue Linksys routers installed from Best Buy, this will not work. 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. Without this, every time someone downloads a large document which needs a lot of bandwidth, your telephone conversation will sound garbled. The router is the place where your data/voice will bottleneck. The more bandwidth you can afford and the faster the router can process the data the better the quality of the voice.
This does not mean you need to spend thousands of dollars on a router/firewall. There are many in the less than $400.00 range such as the Ubiquiti USG4 Security Gateway or Peplink Balance20.
The thing to take away from this is make sure you address this. If the salesperson does not mention it or address it I would check them off your list. It is #1 on my list for a reason.
POE (Power Over Ethernet) Gigabyte Ethernet Switch
The second item is POE (Power Over Ethernet) Gigabyte Switch. Unlike traditional telephones, IP Phones need to be powered by an external source. Most IP phones come with an inexpensive external power supply. The problem with using this is first, it is just more clutter on and under your desk. Second, the power supply must be plugged into a battery backup on the battery side, which never has room. If not, every time there is a power glitch, like during our summer storms, your phone goes down and then takes a couple of minutes to register to the host again. Best practice is to install a POE Switch which is on a properly sized battery backup. For installations over 25 phones, I would suggest a Layer 2 or 3 Switch so you can create VLANS to separate your VoIP traffic. I should not need to say this but make sure it is a Gigabyte Switch. Just like the router for VoIP to work well you must have a quality network backbone and the POE Gigabyte Ethernet Switch is that backbone.
You do not need to break the bank on these. It just depends on how many ports you will need. I recommend if you need 8 then get 16 and if you need 16 then get 24 and if you need 24 get 48. Everyone tends to forget the WIFI access points and network printers and mail machine etc. More Ports, More Better!!
I recommend the Ubiquiti Unifi Managed POE Switches as they are a lot of bang for the buck. 24 Port Layer 2 Gigabyte POE Switch is usually under $500.00.
Third, Gigabyte 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, continues to your computer. The phone and computer work on the same cable. So if you have a gigabyte switch and then install a non-Gigabyte IP Phone you have just choked the speed to your computer from 1000 Mbt to 100 Mbt. Workstations are shipped with Gigabyte Network Cards in them. Don’t get talked into an inexpensive phone they may offer to make your acquisition cost appear lower than their competition.
Picking The Right Phone!!!
It is important to really understand how the phone functions with the hosted solution you choose. Do not make the mistake of choosing a phone because it looks pretty or based on name brand recognition. If someone says you must use a particular phone with their solution, then you do not want that solution. Insist on a demonstration. Ask them to demonstrate how certain functions work. I am not bashing any phone as they are all pretty good. I will just say that many of the leaders are sometimes not as easy to change button programing or customize. Polycom, Cisco, Digium all make great phones but are somewhat difficult to deal with depending on your Hosted Server. Phones by Yealink and Grandstream have a lot more flexibility. Should you ever part with your original hosted provider for whatever reason, you want to make sure your phones are going to be compatible with any provider you choose. You only want to make these hardware purchases once so choose wisely.
I am going to recommend the Grandstream GXP 2170 phones. You can purchase these for around $125.00. They are Gigabyte, Bluetooth Compatible, USB Port, Color Display with lots of buttons. You can not go wrong with this phone.
The fourth item concerns the condition of the existing data cable. I can’t tell you how many rats nest I have seen businesses running their network on. It is essential that you ALWAYS HAVE YOUR DATA CABLE CERTIFIED. Slow running networks with 4 port hubs hidden 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 a 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.
Cat5e cable was designed for Gigabyte but if you are moving into a new facility and you are installing a new structured wire system then make sure it is Category 6. Make sure it is installed by a Licensed Structured Wire Contractor.
10 Gigabyte Switches are coming down in price and will be the norm before you know it. They require Category 6 cable.
If the Hosted Provider you are considering has not mentioned all the items above then scratch them off the list.
If the Hosted Provider is not a local company with local support, scratch them of the list. There are great national companies, but you can get the same quality product with local onsite support which will save you hours of being on the phone setting up Queues and Auto Attendants and Ring Groups and Call Forwarding and Conferencing and Fax Machines installing Mobility Apps and integration to SalesForce on and on. Calling a national company on your cell phone because your office phones are down, knowing they are not able to dispatch a technician is a scary place to be when your business and customers are counting on you.
Also make sure it is not someone running a hosting server out of their basement. I see it all the time. Just because your IT guy has been serving you well for all these years and is now selling VoIP is no excuse to just trust their input.
If you do the above, you will get a VoIP Solution that will work appropriately day in and day out. Many businesses are jaded by a previous installation. Someone promised to save them money but in fact all they did was waste their time and disrupt business.
Do Not Let This Happen To You.
Voice Over IP WORKS and it is here to stay. As Howard Hughes said, “It is the way of the future”.
If you are searching for a local guide to lead you down this road, Call Me Today. “We Want You To Love Your Phones”.We will Help You Transform The Way You Communicate”.