Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones are nothing short of revolutionary. VoIP enables small to large businesses to deploy scalable, affordable telecommunications solutions that have a number of logistical and economic advantages over the conventional land line. However, there are a few tradeoffs involved with VoIP. Read on to learn the pros and cons of VoIP.
Pros of VoIP
The biggest advantage of VoIP is the price. On a minute-per-minute basis, VoIP calls cost a fraction of what landline and cell phone calls do. This is particularly true for international calls, but most VoIP callers will save on local calls as well. Furthermore, PC-to-PC calls using VoIP are often free, which makes it very cost-effective for intra-office calls.
Collaboration and Conferencing
Because VoIP is digital, there’s often a wide suite of features that are offered alongside VoIP or as a part of VoIP software. Conference calling, video conferences and webinars can often be executed in much more user-friendly and affordable fashion than through traditional means.
VoIP phones, as well as VoIP software installed on a computer, are also incredibly portable. For example, you’ll be able to retain your same phone number, contacts and voicemail wherever you go and be able to make calls from any location with a broadband connection. Likewise, VoIP systems are incredibly scalable, allowing enterprises to add phones and phone numbers en masse without significant investment or “forklift” upgrades.
Cons of VoIP
The biggest drawback of VoIP is its reliance on digital compression and bandwidth. Just as streaming video, downloads and web browsing are affected by Internet congestion and poor broadband connections, VoIP sound quality can suffer from slow Internet speeds. Conversations may sound static, broken or garbled if the host machine is running slowly or the Internet connection is slow.
Unlike downloads and web browsing, VoIP must be delivered in real time for the best results. Limitations in computer processing power and Internet connection speeds make this difficult, however, and there will occasionally be significant delays. For example, it may take 1 to 2 seconds for the recipient to hear your voice, which may lead to crosstalk and awkward interruptions.
Computer-based VoIP phones will not have the same 911 functionality as cell phones or landline phones. Though you may be able to reach emergency services, responders may not be able to get a fix on your location through VoIP. Furthermore, if you are running VoIP software on your computer, your computer must be on and connected to the Internet in order to receive phone calls. There is also no current standard protocol for PC-to-PC calling with VoIP. For example, Skype users won’t be able to make free calls to other VoIP users unless both machines have the Skype client installed.
Overall, VoIP phones offer a number of benefits for personal and business users—the greatest of which being price. However, the challenges of maintaining strong and fast Internet connections present some limitations and drawbacks for VoIP phones. As technology improves and the infrastructure of the Internet becomes stronger worldwide, these disadvantages will lessen.