Eight Tips for Migrating to Enterprise VoIP
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2. I'm afraid that once I switch to a VoIP-based phone system, my E911 dialing will stop working. How can I guarantee that E911 will be available in case of an emergency?

In May, the FCC mandated that all VoIP-based telephone service providers must route emergency 911 calls just as the incumbent phone companies have done for decades. But the technology used to route those 911 calls is different than that of a traditional PBX system.

On an old-school PBX, calls to 911 are routed out the local phone company's telephone lines, and the phone company handles the rest of the work. But because VoIP protocols have no built-in provisions for emergency signaling, folks who choose a VoIP server to replace the old PBX will have to do a few things: program their phone company interface equipment to handle 911 calls properly, or adopt a 911-aware VoIP service provider to connect their VoIP server to the outside world.

It's rather a myth that E911 "doesn't work" with VoIP. But planning for 911 capability is an important step that you don't want to skip when planning your VoIP rollout.

3. I've tried a VoIP service at home, and it had some quality problems. If my business switches to VoIP, will it have the same quality issues?

Because most home broadband connections don't support Quality of Service (QoS) technology (which prioritizes voice traffic over non-voice traffic in order to optimize your calling experience), Vonage, Broadvoice, Lingo, and other residential VoIP providers can't guarantee you won't have drop-outs or disconnected calls.

This is, coincidentally, the reason most businesses who use VoIP telephone service don't use Vonage, Broadvoice, or Lingo. Instead, they use VoIP providers who can provide guaranteed Quality of Service, like the local phone company or another local or national service provider who controls not only the VoIP service, but also the data connection that pipes it to you--usually an internet T1. XO Communications, SBC, and some other large phone companies have begun offering this type of service, and it's far superior to Vonage's broadband VoIP.

You've also got to consider the Quality of Service conditions inside of your own network--if you plan to use IP phones in your private network, all of your network devices must support a common QoS provision, like the simplest and most common: IP Precedence. A qualified VoIP consultant can audit your network devices to see if they have this capability, and program them to use IP Precedence.

For larger networks, more elaborate QoS measures are available. If you want to learn how to evaluate QoS capabilities yourself, I recommend my book, Switching to VoIP, as well as Cisco's hardbound Quality of Service.

4. My telephone consultant said VoIP isn't quite "there yet." Why should I make the switch to VoIP now, instead of waiting?

Usually, when a traditional PBX reseller tells you VoIP isn't there yet, it's because that reseller isn't there yet. The VoIP technology family is ready for prime time, and the industry has made a clear shift towards VoIP--enabling all of the new models of PBX equipment. Though still high, the cost of VoIP-only equipment is dropping, and over the next decade, IP telephony will displace traditional telephony. When this happens, there won't be too many telephone consultants left asking if VoIP is "there yet."

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