VoIP services were first developed in 1995 as a way to provide communication resources that were cheaper than long-distance or international calling. The first company in this space was VocalTec, and it created an Internet phone that anyone could use. As long as you connected the speakers and microphone to your computer and had the same software, then you could speak with each other. By 1998, the company was adding voicemail applications to their services while working with Microsoft to use NetMeeting.
During the first days of this service, users had to listen to advertising before and after their conversations. Longer calls had interruptions to provide marketing messages. That kept the adoption of this technology at low levels, often around 1%.
By the turn of the century, disruptors in this area began to develop a wide range of services and features that made VoIP closer to a traditional phone. As the quality of calls and connections increased, the cost of services decreased when compared to the telephone utility costs at the time.
That history leads us to the modern VoIP advantages and disadvantages that are worth reviewing if you need phone services for your home or business.
List of the Advantages of VoIP
1. VoIP reduces the cost of your overall telephone system.
A VoIP telephone system uses Internet protocols to connect people with each other. Instead of using telephone lines, all of the communication data goes into packets that get sent over the IP network. There is a guaranteed quality of service from your providers network to the one at your office, which means your direct IP connection or one through your service provider can produce high-quality sounds at a lower price.
Using the Internet to place phone calls means that you can avoid sending the data over traditional lines or cellular networks. Many VoIP networks even allow calls within the continental United States to be free.
2. You have more service mobility with VoIP.
If you operate a mobile business, then VoIP services are tremendously beneficial because they can follow you to each destination. When you use a traditional system, a line that runs from your business gets assigned to a specific phone number. Any movement that takes place requires you to remember the correct keys or codes to dial. Then you need to transfer services by contacting the phone utility or provider. All of that hassle goes away when you decide to use the Internet for these services instead.
3. A variety of features is available with VoIP services.
Although the early days of VoIP didn’t provide many features for subscribers, a lot has changed over the years as this technology evolves. These systems allow you to start multitasking with numerous devices, giving you several pathways toward higher levels of productivity. If you are waiting on hold, then this technology allows you to strategize your approach to any calls you might have missed thanks to its transcription services.
You can forward messages with VoIP, send callers to voicemail, or know what number is trying to dial you. If there is something that you want from a traditional provider, then you can typically add that to your services with this option.
4. Conference calls get simplified with VoIP services.
Because VoIP services use converged data instead of dedicated phone lines to create connections, it is much easier to create and participate in a conference call. You don’t need to pay for additional services to host multiple callers or lines to achieve this benefit. You can take advantage of the natural ability of the packets to present conversations in real-time across the Internet.
This advantage also applies to video conference calls if you have the capability within your VoIP services subscription. Images and text are possible on some plans as well.
5. VoIP services give you worldwide access to communication tools.
Many small businesses are discovering that it is possible to save a lot of money by having their staff work from home. The smaller office spaces create lower utility costs, and VoIP services can be part of that package. Telecommuting with this technology gives people the option to remotely use voice and data services through your intranet if that person has access to a data connection.
It is such an efficient technology that VoIP even works with old-fashioned fax-based services. Users can connect from almost any place in the world, and their number follows them to each new office when changes become necessary.
6. There is a lot of network flexibility with VoIP services.
One of the best benefits of VoIP services is that your information technology teams will enjoy the underlying networks ability to function without needing to be part of a specific layout. That means your existing Wi-Fi, ATM, or ethernet is usable as the foundation for these benefits. It can almost eliminate all of the complexities that occur with a traditional telephone network.
That means you can implement new best practices and standards while supporting a variety of unique communication types. VoIP services are much more tolerant of faults, which means it requires less management of its equipment assets.
7. It creates multiple points of contact for each user.
If an office gets connected to a traditional telephone system, then users must be at their desk or a designated location to receive a call. When you use cellular technologies for contact points, then you are relying on each worker’s ability to keep their phone available at all times. With VoIP services, you don’t need to worry about either issue.
One of the best benefits of VoIP is that you can have a single call ring to multiple devices if it goes unanswered. This structure allows for urgent calls to go to mobile phones, laptops, or tablets so that there are fewer opportunities to play phone tag.
8. VoIP is very easy to install for most homes and businesses.
You will find that VoIP services are incredibly easy to install. Even if you aren’t a tech-savvy individual, it is possible to get a phone system up and running without much effort. It’s about as close to a plug-and-play system that you can find for these communication services. Then you can add new users, take advantage of web portals, and use account dashboards to make whatever changes are necessary at any time.
You’re no longer forced to re-route wire or fiddle with other hardware components. If you know how to operate a computer or mobile device, then you can manage your VoIP services with relative ease. It rarely needs professional interventions.
9. It is a highly reliable technology to use.
One of the most common objections to VoIP services is that the quality of the call seems to be worse over the Internet than it would be over a landline or cellular connection. This idea came up in the early days of the technology when speeds were still barely above dial-up. With today’s broadband access, many connections are better when using the IP network because of the direct nature of each contact.
If you’re familiar with the headset features of online gaming, then you know what VoIP services are like when placing a call. And if your ISP connection goes down for some reason, you can automatically route incoming calls to a mobile phone or another device. Weather conditions and power outages don’t present the same challenges as they did in the past.
10. VoIP services offer high levels of scalability.
Highly efficient business systems offer scalability when the needs of the organization change. If you’re operating with a traditional phone system, then this benefit is difficult to achieve. When you’re using VoIP services instead, then the technology does an excellent job of supporting your productivity without changing your efficiency levels. It continues to remain a cost-effective service simultaneously, allowing you to add or eliminate lines with ease. You only ever pay for what you need with this service.
11. You can easily integrate VoIP services into your other business systems.
Most companies today use various technologies and systems to enhance internal efficiencies. You’ll discover that VoIP will quickly integrate into a variety of these structures. That means the average agency doesn’t need to worry about modifying their existing IT infrastructure or applications to experience these advantages. You can place an outbound call through your email system, view company records immediately with inbound calls, or use a variety of platforms to ensure that you can remain productive through each task.
List of the Disadvantages of VoIP
1. Your infrastructure might have inadequate equipment to support VoIP services.
Poor VoIP service quality typically occurs when a building uses outdated equipment to access the internet. This happens most often when the firewalls, routers, or cable modems are outdated. If you experience this issue while on a call, then it is a solvable problem. You can update router software, replace the equipment, or reconfigure your network gear.
You can examine each network element in your laptop or VoIP device to isolate the older components that require replacement or updating.
2. Security issues can sometimes impact VoIP systems.
Several security concerns surround the modern VoIP structure. This disadvantage applies to almost everything that uses the Internet, but it is still an issue that requires attention. You could experience malware, viruses, denial of service attacks, and identity theft when using this technology. Call tampering and phishing attacks happen at times as well, even when your service provider takes measures to eliminate vulnerabilities.
You should report any suspicious activity that happens to your VoIP provider immediately. If you see unusual call traffic, then this could be an indication that you’re encountering this particular disadvantage.
3. You might not have the option to register your softphone.
If you operate a softphone on your laptop, there could be an issue registering it with the server from where your VoIP service originates. When this disadvantage occurs, then you won’t have the option to take or make phone calls. You’ll need to use a firewall testing tool to check the UDP ports that the VoIP service uses to see if the data packets are going through it. If you fail a basic connectivity test, then you’ll need to correct those issues before trying to identify a blocked port.
4. Some VoIP systems can provide a poor call quality at times.
When you experience a poor voice quality issue with a VoIP system, it usually is due to packet loss or a jittery connection. The phone call will have echoes, noise, or strange sounds when this issue occurs. It is even possible to have a moment of silence or a dropped call in this situation. It is a similar problem to what cellular phones encounter when they lose a connection with a tower.
Since a packet loss means the information with your voice never arrives, entire conversation gaps can occur because of this disadvantage. Your provider will recommend tools that can improve your connection. It also helps to use a VoIP SIP test to review your connections for packet loss and jitter.
5. It is possible to overload your Internet connection.
Even if you have a broadband connection, it is typically a shared community resource. Multiple people on the line at the same time will reduce the speed and quality of services that you receive locally. Peak hours can create overloads on the system that can lead to a lack of adequate bandwidth for VoIP services. This issue leads to poor call quality.
When you experience a bad connection without a bandwidth issue, then you might have other programs or apps that are stealing resources from you. Try to minimize the use of your Internet for other tasks when you have a VoIP conversation happening. It may be necessary to resize your connection to provide for the actual resources that you use during peak times.
6. Low Internet bandwidth will create problems with your system.
Some issues with the Internet might fall outside of your control. The typical VoIP connection with a G711 codec requires about 80k for each call. Other codecs have different requirements to manage, so you’ll need to check with your provider and Internet speed tests to ensure you have enough resources available. A simple online connection test should provide you with enough information to let you know if you can avoid this disadvantage.
7. Emergency calls can be an issue with some VoIP providers.
Some countries don’t regulate VoIP services in the same way they do the standard telephone systems. That means there isn’t the same requirement to offer emergency contact services by dialing a three-digit number. A few companies out there don’t offer that service since it isn’t a mandatory requirement. Most agencies do provide for emergency calls, but you’ll need to take a look at the terms and conditions of your contract to ensure that this issue doesn’t impact you adversely.
8. You need power and ISP availability to use VoIP services.
You must plug your equipment into a power resource so that you can use VoIP services. If you have an interruption of power, then you’re unable to use this communications tool. Some people can get around this disadvantage by using an uninterruptible power supply, but that option only provides help for a few minutes at a time.
The same issue applies to your ISP if it loses power or drops its connection to your home or business. You have the option to redirect your calls during these times, although that requires you to make the request while you still have access to your account. If you lose a way to make changes before you redirect, then you’re going to be out of communication with others.
9. Shared connections may not always be possible.
VoIP services make conference calls an easier experience to manage, but it is also a benefit that requires a significant amount of resources to complete. If you don’t have enough bandwidth available for any reason, then the call quality is going to be poor – or non-existent. It might cost more to structure conference calls on landlines or through cellular devices, but you have a stronger guarantee for a positive outcome than you sometimes have when using this technology for your communication needs.
The benefits of a VoIP system are many, and the drawbacks of it are quite minimal. You’ll discover that most connections are easy to manage when you take proactive actions with your service provider to resolve the common problems that homes and businesses face with this technology.
As the bandwidth and Internet speeds improve around the world, you’ll find that more people are embracing VoIP services today than ever before. It can be a powerful technology that provides several competitive advantages that other communication options can’t offer.
If you believe the VoIP advantages and disadvantages swing in your favor, then consider using this service today to meet your needs. It could reduce your costs while opening up a new world of possibilities.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.