There is a great deal of confusion in the marketplace regarding business technology, which has led to the creation of some common myths about Voice over IP (VoIP) and Unified Communications (UC).  Hosted Authority identifies 10 common ones.

1. VoIP is not a proven technology.

FALSE.  Nearly every call that is made, regardless of whether it is from the latest Polycom IP phone or from a 50 year old rotary dial phone, travels through carriers that use VoIP for their switching architecture.

Therefore, every single call is a VoIP call! VoIP has been around since the early 1990’s, and the technology is proven.  Not every provider is proven, however, and many customer horror stories contribute to this misconception. For more on VoIP reliability, see this blog post.

2. With a hosted VoIP system, if the internet goes down, the phones go down.

FALSE. With a proper hosted VoIP system, phone numbers are always “up” to the caller, even if power/connectivity to their building is lost. The reason is that the numbers reside in redundant switches that are geographically separated, and can be made to follow preset call routing to ensure that calls are always delivered to a proper destination.

Resilient VoIP providers on the east coast were not affected during Hurricane Sandy

Unlike traditional phone systems, true hosted VoIP assures that customers will never hear the dreaded fast busy signal, even in the event of a major disaster.

3. A premise-based PBX offers more control.

FALSE. Just because you can put your hands on the PBX doesn’t mean that you have more control. With hosted PBX, switches are located in carrier hotels in major metropolitan areas with the highest levels of redundancy, physical and network security, and uptime. It is virtually impossible to replicate that level of resilient infrastructure in a premises-based solution. With a unique login, a client always has direct access to the administrative console as well as each one of the users from any web-enabled device. And since the phone vendor and carrier are one, there is no finger-pointing when issues arise. Control and accountability are improved with a hosted PBX.

4. I need to have separate data jacks for the phone and the computer.

FALSE. Most IP phones have a switch port in the back, allowing the phones to plug into a single data jack, and pass internet service through to a PC or Mac.  The use of VLANs allow these connections to not affect call quality.

5. Hosted VoIP is a commodity service, and aside from their prices, providers are all the same.

FALSE. Many customers and partners wrongly assume this to be true because they are used to telecommunications services that they can sort by price. The fact is that VoIP and hosted UC require focus, experience, skill and know-how to properly install and support. The technology itself is proven, but offerings are disparate and many providers lack the experience to implement enterprise-class solutions. Many providers lack acceptable customer service also.  Don’t trust the lifeblood of your business to a glorified Magic Jack provider!

6. The sound quality on VoIP handsets is not as good as traditional phone service.

FALSE. Most good providers use as a standard the G722 CODEC, which is far superior than traditional voice calls. When talking on High Definition (HD) phones, the sound quality is incredibly clear – eliminating the need to say “F as in Frank”, etc., and allowing a much broader range of frequency to pass through. When the user on the other end uses a non-HD phone, the signal reverts to a G711 CODEC, which is still an improvement over traditional phone calls.

7. I don’t need new handsets.  Soft phones (PC calls) are every bit as good quality as those through a hard phone.

FALSE. There is no Quality of Service (QOS) on a soft phone. This means that voice is not prioritized over data, and therefore subject to quality issues when there are conflicts. For more detailed information about this, see my blog post about it.

8. Unified Communications is nothing more than getting your voicemails and faxes in your email box.

FALSE. This is a function of Unified Messaging, not Unified Communications (UC). Unified Messaging is just one component of UC. There are many different features that true Unified Communications provides: voice, IM, video, presence, web/audio conferencing, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application integration are among them. These features allow businesses to tailor their communications services around their business practices, as opposed to adapting their business models to the limitations of their communications services.

9. Unified Communications solutions don’t really make businesses more efficient.

FALSE. A recent study shows that businesses become more efficient and productive by using true Unified Communications. At a glance, workers can see who on their team is available, and layer communication applications to conversations with a click of the mouse. With a hosted system, workers can work from home and will still be every bit as effective and productive as they are when they are in the office.

10. I can’t integrate my business applications with my phone system.

FALSE. Most platforms use open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that allow any database-driven application to integrate into the system. Customers who use Salesforce.com, Sage, ACT, or Gold Mine CRM applications can take advantage of these integrations immediately and perform click-to-call actions or screen pops with their customer account information, without looking up the information separately.  Most proprietary or industry-specific systems can be integrated with the help of a developer.

For more information about VoIP and UC misconceptions, or to learn how new communication technology can benefit your business, please contact us.