So how can an IP PBX, an Internet-based communication system, possibly be more reliable than a traditional TDM phone system?
Well, it really can not be for a number of reasons, mainly because it is designed to run on multiple layers of technology that were not exclusively designed for voice. But it can be made reliable.
The truth is – any system is only as reliable as its weakest component. Here are some tips on making a reliable VoIP system:
- Recognize Your Systems Weakest Link. When it came to TDM trunks or POTS lines, as long as your “last mile” connection was good, you would get highly reliable service. In the world of Voice over IP your “last mile” connection often serves dual purpose of transporting your voice and data. While this may give you economies of scale it certainly does not add a lot in terms of reliability. If your business can afford it – utilize dedicated Internet connection for Voice over IP with a backup from another provider. Securing multiple low cost providers is relatively easy in most metro areas.
- Avoid using point-to-multipoint terrestrial wireless connections as your means of last mile Internet connectivity. While these connections may offer speeds at reasonable price they also carry a full range of RF related issues which can make your network connection bad.
- Use a hosted PBX provider. Hosted PBX is likely to run in a secure datacenter environment with backup power source, cooling, redundant Internet feeds and under constant monitoring and supervision. You are not likely to do this “at home” and even if you do – your recovery time in the event of failure is almost certain to be longer. Account for the geographic mobility factor which may not add to overall system redundancy but will certainly allow your staff answer phone calls from home in the event your office gets stricken by a meteor. Of course your provider may get hit too but they typically prepare for every eventuality.
- Keep it simple. Should you choose to have your IP PBX hosted locally, go for the simplest solution. Redundant systems will not always pay off as anticipated because they add to systems complexity which in turn makes troubleshooting more challenging.
- Secure your network. As a software-driven solution, IP telephony is naturally open to digital attacks. Just like any other piece of software, if compromised an IP telephony solution will be vulnerable to everything from privacy leaks or phreaking to a full system-wide shutdown, both of which (needless to say) are huge concerns as far as reliability goes.
Internet access redundancy and network security measures are two major elements built into every high-quality IP telephony system out there, ensuring these systems are nearly as reliable as any traditional TDM or POTS connections. While it’s perfectly natural to worry about reliability with a new communications system, and while there are definitely some areas of concerns worth asking about due to the online-nature of IP telephony, when it comes down to it the numerous benefits of VoIP offer remarkable opportunities while reliability concerns can be minimized with proper planning.