BY DAVE MEINTJES, MD, CONNECTION TELECOM
Migrating from the traditional public switched telephone network to Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) offers enterprises many benefits associated with cost, flexibility and sheer powerful functionality.
At the heart of this is the freedom of choice. By reducing their reliance on the traditional public switched telephone network (PSTN), companies are free to choose between multiple providers. The resulting increase in competition has a beneficial effect on pricing as well as technological and service excellence.
The cost benefits come from:
- Lower outbound call costs through the introduction of per second billing as compared to per minute billing yielding at least a 25% saving;
- Lower outbound call costs calls from Telkom cost R1.18 per minute to the mobile operators, while VoIP providers offer rates as low as 64c per minute 45% less than the incumbent;
- No connect charge of 50c;
- Single on-site cabling infrastructure;
- Creating your own community between branches and key suppliers with no charge of calls between the community members;
- Reduced line rental charges e.g. a PRI (30 voice channels) cost approximately R 4000 whereas the same amount would offer you 100 voice channels over a Diginet SIP trunk;
- More enhanced features from cloud-based solutions to effect smarter private call control.
- Less disparate infrastructure at each site.
Most important is the increased freedom of choice between suppliers and more competitive market forces to make an on-going “best buy” decision.
Sizing and planning of staff compliments vary to accommodate business life cycles and economic conditions your IP based PBX is better geared to grow/decrease with those demands. In addition you have a wider choice of open SIP phones with global brands like Polycom, SNOM and Yealink to choose from. Approximately two thirds of the investment into a PBX is into the handsets so the freedom of choice also goes with increased freedom of supplier of the core IP PBX system which represent the other third of the capital cost.
When comparing scalability of a traditional PABX with that of a server-based soft switch, it is evident that lower-end PABXs do not offer easy upgradeability. When smaller businesses grow out of their allocated extensions, they have to replace their entire telephony system. If the system is more advanced, upgradeability is a feature, but often at large increments.
VoIP systems, however – specifically hosted ones – offer seamless, extension-by-extension upgrades. Virtualisation, which ‘decouples’ the software from the physical server, makes it easy to provision extra licensed extensions one by one.
Seamless scalability is one of the many facets of the technological freedom that comes with choosing IP.
Centralisation is another. Architecturally, hosted VoIP systems offer the benefit of centralisation, or treating the enterprise and all its branches and roving employees as one communications ecosystem – which has major associated efficiencies.
Firstly, having a hosted, centrally-managed communications system is in effect an outsourced function. Companies have the benefit of all the functionality with low hassle.
Secondly, hosted and managed systems allow for extensive remote management through standard API connectivity, enabling administrators to provision, monitor and support users and offices from the same system.
Hosted deployments further let companies and service providers keep calls within the enterprise on the VoIP network, which in turn enables zero-rated (no cost) calls. This has the potential to accrue massive savings.
VoIP’s centrality finally also allows unnecessarily centralised business functions to be decentralised – strange as that sounds. For instance, accounts, a centralised function, can have decentralised sub-functions like collections. With VoIP, collections calls can be queued for initiation within branches which extended the credit or made the sale in the first place. This improves customer service and increases efficiencies.
Data from Mars and Voice packets from Venus
Voice packets likes rhythm and routine and no interference whereas data packets and the IP technology can cope with delays and retransmission of data – so the two types of traffic don’t sit naturally together where networks are congested – which they are. So the voice packets require prioritisation and preference either in the compartmentalisation of the network – mostly used or this could be achieved by the use of Vibe technology that prioritises the voice over data packets, manages failover conditions, manages the number of calls that could be presented and offers increased monitoring capability which uses 100% of the available bandwidth. An engineered network is self liquidating through call cost savings if the monthly Telco spend is above R 7500 per month.
It is evident that VoIP’s liberation from the dominance of the traditional old style PSTN service has many facets, and all indications are that it has matured into a viable alternative with good service quality to boot.