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VoIP benefits over Traditional Telephony
The better way to understand the benefits a new technology offers is to compare it to the one it is meant to replace. In the following paper I'll try to describe briefly how traditional telephony works in order to highlight the implicit benefits a move to VoIP will bring along.
Traditional telephony is a very old technology, the first phone lines were installed in the United States of America in 1878, and has little changed in the eyes of users over the past few decades. In traditional telephony a company provides the cable transmitting the voice signal, phones and eventually a private phone exchange for a company internal use.
Users are very familiar with the described state of things: they regularly use phones and have some expectations in regard to their actions and the resulting reactions. Every user knows how to use a phone and expects the call to take up the line preventing others to use it. He expects to pay for every call a fee proportional to the distance between speakers. He finally expects for each and every phone additional service like voice mail, teleconference, answering machines, etc. to have a corresponding dedicated device and often additional lines and costs.
Analog telephony is a closed system presenting many disadvantages to users; specially business users in need of advanced features to meet their needs. A standard PBX is usually regarded as very complex hardware device, hard to configure to anyone other than a highly specialized technician in force to the telephone company. It is often impossible to customize the configuration to meet one own needs and often limitations exist to PBX usage, not least costs.
In VoIP technology, an acronym for Voice over IP, the borders of the phone network become less defined and its size increases enormously. Voice is encapsulated in packets which are transmitted through Internet: a network designed for heterogeneous data transmission. Consequently hardware devices are replaced by software programs and voice and data traffic merge. Voice, images, text messages, videos and more are all transmitted in the same way requiring neither dedicated hardware nor a dedicated network.
Phones, answering machines, faxes, PBX vanish replaced by software programs written to convert voice into data to be transmitted through a computer network. You'll switch from a hierarchy made of phones and a PBX or a telephone company, performing PBX functions only in a larger scale, to one made of clients (in place of phones) and a server (in place of the PBX / telephone company). The client is not necessarily a phone. It can be replaced by a PC with a microphone, a headset and a soft-phone: a software emulating a phone. It can be replaced by a smart-phone running an app that when near the PBX / server uses the wireless network in place of the GSM one to make a call. A software fax sending documents directly from your desktop thus eliminating the need for printing. A Bluetooth device using the PC as a bridge to connect to the world.
Forget about the high priced, bulky PBX and its dedicated hardware; it turns into a server connected to the Internet which uses a portion of its bandwidth to transmit calls. A software running on the local network offering a service to some local clients and able to connect to other servers to build a distributed infrastructure highly flexible and easily extensible. Hardware and cabling disappear thus saving space, electrical power, preventing noise and all of the nuisances hopelessly tied to electronic devices.
Uniform Traffic in a Single Infrastructure
When traffic of all kinds is transformed into packets a single network can be used in place of many ones dedicated to specific signals. A reduced quantity of cables and apparatuses. The opportunity to transparently manage vocal calls, faxes, videoconferencing and text messages. With an added safety net: were you in need to connect to an old telephone line, the operation can be performed recurring to a family of products called gateways which permit the digital network to talk to analog telephones, ISDN, GSM, UMTS and more.
All of the apparatuses commonly used to build a computer network can be used to build, grow, enhance the telephone network: antennas, fiber channel, routers, switches, wi-fi, etc.
Ease of Use
Installing a PBX evolves into configuring a network service. A task no more restricted to highly specialized technicians, but made easy and available to advanced users.
Adding a number requires updating the server configuration creating a new user and configuring its contact information.
With traditional telephony a PBX takes notice of a phone or a fax presence the instant it forwards a call to them. With VoIP clients register with the server which keeps track of them and their whereabouts all the time. Moving doesn't mean losing your phone number anymore; bring your phone with you and the server will automatically locate it.
All of the services offered by a modern PBX:
- Conference call.
- Call groups.
- Answering services.
are managed by a single device ready and easily accessible to users and administrators alike.
All of the configuration tasks can be managed updating the proper text file with an editor of choice or, more easily, through a web interface and a common web browser.
A VoIP server can easily connect to other services common in computer networks. That permits to share information making it available in a centralized way to all users. For example it is possible to manage a centralized address book with names, addresses, e-mails, and phone numbers. Every update made by the authorized administrators is immediately available to all users.
Many software, CRM or other customer care applications for example, will be able to interact with the VoIP PBX enabling users to start phone calls from the application intergace or to schedule such calls.
Shared directories can be assigned to voice-mail accounts providing users with a potentially unlimited amount of storage where to record their messages and eventually enhancing data security through scheduled back-ups of their files.
Packet transmission grants a higher level of privacy since it prevents someone missing the proper authorization to listen to phone calls simply connecting to phone cables. The base security level of a VoIP system can be further enhanced recurring to technologies commonly associated to secure data transfer like cryptography or a Virtual Private Network. All of these solutions have many years of development, use and testing and can be added and configured in a way transparent to users.
Obtaining a list of phone calls made and received, their type and duration is not always an easy task in traditional telephony. With a VoIP system all of the information can be retrieved from log files or conveniently through a web interface. Information can be exported and saved for later analysis and processing using spreadsheets or statistics programs. An invaluable source of information to plan solutions and infrastructure developments aimed at phone cost reduction.
The present paper introduced some of the many benefits a VoIP system offers compared to traditional telephony. For more information please contact us using the following contacts.
To contact me or leave me your feedback, Please e-mail at studiosg [at] giustetti [dot] net.
Languages: English - Italiano