What is VoIP and do I need to switch now?

You may have heard the term “VoIP” a lot recently. Especially since the pandemic took the UK economy by surprise, Voice over Internet Protocol has been a vital technology for many businesses operating through lockdown, enabling a seamless work-from-home experience.

You may well be asking yourself whether you need to switch to a VoIP-based service, and in a word, the answer is “Yes”.

But before you start spending your precious earnings, the more pertinent questions you should be asking is should I switch now… and the answer to this question is a bit more complex.

Though, we need to know exactly what VoIP is before we answer that one…

What is VoIP?

In essence, VoIP means transmitting your calls over your internet connection, rather than a specific network meant for calls. Hence the name Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP.

While this may seem counter-intuitive – sending your calls over a network not specifically designed for calls – the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) that you know better as the ‘landline’ is actually being switch off in 2025.

This is because the PSTN is a very old network. Having been in service for decades, the replacement parts required to fix malfunctioning hardware are becoming rarer, and more expensive to source. Plus, the engineers trained in servicing PSTN hardware are becoming fewer and fewer, as businesses focus on more recent technologies like fibre, which will be more useful going forward.

Consider as well, communication is now far more than simple phone calls. There’s video calling, conferencing, instant messaging, webchats and more. And rather than have separate systems for each, a smart business would bundle them all into one system with one mode of transmitting the information.

So, as part of Openreach’s plan to future-proof the entire UK by 2025, all PSTN infrastructure is being replaced with future-proof fibre cables that enable high-speed bandwidths perfect for sending data, calls and any other information from A to B. But for voice data specifically, this is where VoIP comes in.

All told, your internet connection already was, and will remain, the best network to facilitate your calling in the future. But VoIP can come in many names and guises, and we want to make sure you get the right one for your needs.

Should I switch now?

This is a question we hear a lot, and to be honest it completely depends on your goals, budget and 5-year strategy. So, here are our reason for and against switching sooner, rather than later.

Yes, you should switch now…

Many businesses have already switched to an internet-based calling solution, taking advantage of a whole range of modern features, and your competitors may be among them. So, if you want to match the customer service levels of your rivals, you should switch soon.

Ongoing costs are far lower too. You can get rid of lines that are hardly used and leverage free apps for your mobile devices, so everyone is always reachable, no matter where they are. Meaning it’s much easier to implement working from home for your team.

Finally, the longer you leave it, the higher the chance of experiencing delays to getting your new system installed. Just like any deadline, there will be businesses that leave switching to the last minute, and you don’t want to be in that boat, hurrying training and bug fixes that may affect end-user conversations.

These are all compelling points, especially for businesses looking to future proof their operation or enable flexible working post-lockdown, but that doesn’t mean switching is perfect for everybody…

No, you shouldn’t switch…

The main argument for not changing now is the age-old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Especially if you’ve just invested in an on-premise solution then there’s no point throwing it away. In fact, depending on the specific system, it may even be upgradable to a Hosted PBX closer to 2025, when the time is right for you.

Budget is another factor. The last couple of years have been hard for any business, and if you’re still recovering financially, there may be other areas that require further investment first. And you never know, come 2024, prices may be even lower…

What are my options?

As we mentioned, VoIP is a broad term, and while certain vendors refer to VoIP specifically in their services, others may call it by another name and include other functionality. So, check out the options available below:

VoIP
The most cost-effective way to replicate your existing functionality, is with a basic VoIP service, which makes it ideal for sole traders and small businesses with one or two lines. These are typically charged per-line (as previously) and, depending on the provider, may include adapters so you can use your existing deskphones and mobile apps for calling on the go. However, these may be extra costs.

Unified Communications (UC)
Unified Communications solutions bring all your various comms channels together into one application – hence the name – and will be supported across all your devices.

Depending on the service, features like call recording, voicemail to text, Hunt Groups and Auto-attendants may be included or added extras. This means UC is the go-to solution for most medium-sized businesses and those with multiple sites that all still need to stay connected regularly.

Hosted PBX
Typically reserved for large Enterprises, a Hosted PBX is usually maintained within a business’ existing infrastructure, replicated most-if-not-all of the features that UC provides. The main difference is that it’s run from within the business’ infrastructure, rather than through a 3rd party’s service, which is usually required within certain industries to remain compliant with data protection guidelines.

What’s the next step?

We may be slightly biased, but our recommendation would be to give Express Telephony a call!

Our team consists of highly-qualified, experienced engineers that can ensure that we meet all your communications goals, and even surpass them! And we remain patiently diligent, meaning we’ll work at your speed and make sure you understand your options completely before taking the next step.

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