The traditional phone systems that we currently use may be old and somewhat ancient according to some, but it is still a robust and fairly bulletproof phone system for the purpose of making calls. We are all dependent on these phone systems, whether we like to admit it or not. They simply work! On the other hand, the modern technology that it rapidly unfolding still remains a little flaky in some aspects. Take the VoIP phone system, for example.
While the VoIP phone system undoubtedly has its advantages over the traditional phone systems, there are some aspects in which they could potentially let you down. Let us be honest, how often do we end up frustrated with our smartphones when the internet is down? How often do we find ourselves panicking when the email server gets down for just a few minutes?
The internet has proved to be a boon at many occasions, but sometimes we all feel that we were better off without it. The same can be said for the VoIP phone system. While it offers a wide array of features and advantages, it also comes with a baggage of problems that weigh it down. One must know everything about the VoIP system before switching over to it. Let us have a closer look at those problems.
1. Large capital investment for setting up
Even though the VoIP phone system does somewhat cut down on calling costs after it is set up, the initial capital investment that it demands is certainly large. Setting up a VoIP phone system includes the purchases of new hardware and software systems. Depending on your phone requirements, you will also need to select and purchase a VoIP pack from your provider that will include the features you need.
To elaborate on the extent of expenses that one needs to bear while setting up a VoIP phone system, let us list out a few things one will need to purchase. First of all, one will need to buy an IP PBX along with some gateway cards, software licenses and IP phones. Depending on how many lines and users you have, the hardware cost will wary. And if you want to avail of some of those extravagant features that are the trademark of a VoIP phone system, then it means more money out of your pockets.
While the larger multi national companies can afford this initial set up cost, this cannot be said for all small and big companies around the world. Most might consider this a futile investment on the grounds of the reliable traditional phone systems that work just fine.
2. Requirement of seasoned in house experts
We all know how to work our way around a traditional phone system. However, the new VoIP phone system is much more complex in its working. Thus, one cannot simply install it on their own. You will require the assistance of an in-house expert who understands the system well.
In case you do not already have such professionals on your IT team, you need to hire them. And you cannot just hire any average Joe for the job! You need to hire seasoned professionals who are capable of dealing with any problems that may arise. Apart from initially setting up the VoIP phone system, they will also be responsible for keeping it up and running throughout.
Your IT team must keep themselves updated with all the new features and upgrades of both the hardware and software systems. You cannot simply depend on your external service provider to help you out with that. And what happens when some new upgrade is launched that is beyond the understanding of your current team! That’s right! You need to yet again hire someone who is well versed with the upgrades.
Another aspect that you need to keep in mind is the security of your VoIP communication network. Since the VoIP phone system accesses the internet to make internet based calls, the communication lines are not very secure and are prone to hacking. You must have experts on your IT team who are capable of handling such security risks and breaches. And then again, what happens when the experts in your IT team are not able to deal with such risks? I think you the answer!
On the other hand, the traditional phone systems do not demand such expert attention for their operation. They are pretty easy to operate and every Tom, Dick and Harry knows how to use one!
3. New expansions and upgrades
While new expansions and upgrades are one of the advantages of the VoIP phone system that keep it up to date and trendy, it is also adds to the list of its many disadvantages. Let us have a look at it one by one.
When you expand your business, you may possibly have to add more users to your VoIP phone system. In this case, adding new users means paying more. The cloud based VoIP phone system is priced according to the number of users, unlike the traditional phone system that does not charge in this manner. It is primarily the cost of new IP phones that makes expanding your in-house phone system more expensive.
As far as new upgrades are concerned, some are paid while some basic upgrades come free of cost. More often than not, one does require an IT expert to help him out with installing these new upgrades. When estimating the rough amount that installing a VoIP phone system will cost you, you must keep aside a fair amount of money to cope with all the software upgrades that come with it.
All in all, one can say that expanding or upgrading your VoIP phone system is no easy and inexpensive feat. It depends on a lot of factors like number of users, call volume, number of features you want to add and so on. Your existing budget and team may not be able to accommodate the expansion. Businesses often need to bring in external consultants and experts to help them cope with the process.
4. Emergency 911 calls become challenging
Believe it or not, with all its advanced features and new technology, the VoIP phone system does not have any provision for making standard emergency 911 calls. Sure, you can dial the number and reach the other end of the server, but the emergency centre will have no way of knowing or accessing your geographic location to send help.
For those of who who are not yet fully aware of how the VoIP phone system works, let me tell you a little bit about it. VoIP makes internet based calls. Hence, VoIP uses IP addressed phone numbers rather than the traditional phone numbers that phone normally use. And as we all know, there is no way of narrowing down the location where the IP addressed number is calling from.
Thus, if the caller is using a VoIP phone system to call for an emergency service, he must be able to explain to the 911 operator where he is calling from. If the caller is unable to explain his location to the operator, then it is pretty much safe to say that he is doomed. In case of VoIP phones, the emergency operators fully rely on the caller to tell them their location.
One must also take into consideration the time interval here. During an emergency, the caller is likely to be in a state of panic. In this state, it will be both difficult and time consuming for him to map out his exact location. It is common knowledge that time is one of the most crucial factors during an emergency.
What happens in case of traditional phones is that the operator can easily track the location of the caller and then route his call to the nearest emergency service provider. Thus, a major drawback of the VoIP phone system is that it proves to be somewhat inefficient in times of crisis.
5. Reliability on an active internet connection
Living in the modern age of technology, we all are well versed with the usage of internet by now. Then we all also know how unreliable and jittery the internet connection can be at times. Even the best of the best broadband services are susceptible to occasional hiccups now and then. But what most of do not know is how even a small hiccup can cost your business significantly.
The VoIP phone system makes internet based calls. As a result, it requires a high speed internet connection at all times. As long as the internet connection is working smoothly, one can make seamless voice calls without any interruptions. But have you ever thought what happens when the internet is down?
Latency, jitters, packet loss and echoes are just a few examples of how a poor internet connection can affect the quality of your call. Phone conversations tend to become distorted and garbled. Sometimes, when the internet server is down, you may not be able to make or receive calls at all! And every businessman knows that a single missed call is equal to a missed business opportunity.
The question that you need to ask yourself is that can you truly afford to risk losing call connectivity or deal with poor call audio every once in a while? After all, the internet servers have proved to be unreliable for constant heavy usage very often. Thus, some kind of stability of the internet data connection needs to be guaranteed before VoIP can truly replace traditional phone systems.
6. Security threats
Since VoIP routes its calls through the internet, the calls are susceptible to hacking, worms and viruses. One has to be extremely careful about their call logs and phone conversations while using VoIP. Unlike the traditional phone systems, VoIP can be hacked into be seasoned hackers who can then access all of the confidential contact information of your business.
While using VoIP, one cannot simply rely on their service provider. They need to take some external safety measures on their own to keep their system protected.
By now, it must be clear to you that the VoIP phone system is not all good and advanced. It does have certain drawbacks which makes one question its utility altogether. Apart from this, it has a certain complexity that makes successful VoIP implementation somewhat difficult. Most feel that they end up paying extra for resources that are under utilised or even unused. This extra money could instead be invested somewhere else more effectively.
The bottom line is, you must consider all these disadvantages of an in house VoIP phone system before you replace your traditional office phones.