Digital vs. VoIP Debate – Which is Best For Your Business?

The digital and VoIP ( Voice Over Internet Protocol ) telephone systems are the main types of systems manufactured today! Although VoIP is receiving all the “hype” and is the newest technology platform, VoIP itself is only a new way to transport a call and not the way calls are processed! VoIP technology works by sending voice calls over the internet eliminating plain old telephone service ( POTS ) to make a call. Though calls can now be made over the internet, it does not eliminate the need for a phone service provider ( carriers ) to connect your voice calls to the outside world!

While both digital and voice platforms have their distinctive benefits, a business needs to know and understand how they will best communicate with their customers. How many telephone lines ( service provider ) are needed, how many extensions ( telephone set ) are required, types of features and applications, network/wiring, and infrastructure ( new or existing ). Today’s telephone systems have hundreds of features and applications. Understanding which of these features and applications your business needs will determine the best valued solution.

One of the biggest factors that VoIP manufactures claim to have an advantage in is lowering calling costs. When you take a good look and compare, many find that this claim was truer in the past than it is today. With most new digital systems, VoIP technology can be integrated within the system. However, in doing so additional equipment may be needed that could add additional expenses to the telephone system. Many service providers ( carriers ) now offer SIP trunk integration. In most cases, the carriers will provide the needed equipment for the integration of SIP lines, which enables your digital key or PBX telephone system to use just about any VoIP call transport technology via the internet and still maintaining your feature-rich phone system.

In addition to SIP trunking, most carriers now offer unlimited long distance charges with plain old telephone service lines which is quickly evaporating the cost savings expense of VoIP technology. Many customers still believe that you can’t beat the quality and reliability of traditional Plain Old Telephone Service ( POTS ).

Businesses can also benefit with VoIP technology to seamlessly connect their various business location known as branch offices. This ability is also an advantage with remote workers or employees that work from a home office. Again, this platform eliminates the expense of ( POTS ) lines, but in most cases a service provider ( carrier ) is still needed to place an outside call. Most digital systems can now also provide office to office connects, but might need additional equipment added to do so. Although a real and valuable benefit, most small businesses ( 90% ) are single site businesses and usually can’t take advantage of this benefit. Businesses that have small branch offices might find VoIP a suitable solution.

Features and applications play a major role in how the call processing will be handled to enhance a business. Digital telephone systems are jam packed with call processing features, with many years of experience in design, development, implementation, and working directly with customer’s voice needs. Some VoIP telephone systems are still trying to catch up and will eventually get there. External applications such as a cordless phone, external paging, analog ports, door phones and external ringer, or automatic door lock integration ( a real need for some businesses ) may not exist on some VoIP phone systems yet. Make sure that either type of telephone system has the applications and features needed for your business needs.

Another big feature many businesses are now using is unified messaging, which is the ability to deliver voice mail messages to your e-mail inbox. The integration of VoIP and data make unified messaging a common feature on practically all VoIP systems. However, some new digital telephone systems are now also offering unified messaging as a standard feature, canceling out the huge advantage VoIP system once had over digital phone systems.

Other System Benefits and Considerations

Although there are hundreds of features on today’s phone systems, some of the requirements in purchasing a new system are not just the telephone system, but the connectivity of the system itself. If you’re thinking VoIP, an evaluation may be needed to determine the proper cabling ( wire ) and the network as well as internet speed ( bandwidth ) and will technically handle a new VoIP system.

If the capabilities are not adequate, this could result in multiple problems from conversation cutoffs and interference to a complete re-cabling or network setup that may cost more than the telephone system itself. If you’re thinking of a digital telephone system, then a business needs to know if the phone system will expand and integrate with today’s technology, and at what additional expense to do so. Although these systems are feature rich, some features may be an “add on” cost and not a standard feature within the system.

Many new VoIP customers assume that they will have the same features and more than their old telephone system, only to find out that this is not always the case. Remember, VoIP is a new way to transport a call, not process one! In order for businesses to make a sound decision, all factors must be examined and evaluated for the best value and business solution.

If you have any questions or would like more information email or call me directly and I would be glad to discuss them with you.

Robert McGinley EET,
800.343.6858 Toll Free,
robmcg@tel-comp.com