Three Things You Need to Know When Considering a Voice Over IP (VOIP) Phone System

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Is it time for you to consider a new VOIP Phone System? If you have answered yes to this question, then here are three things you should be aware of and consider while going through the decision making process.

1. Will you be using a PRI trunk or SIP trunk to connect to the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network)?

The first step is to determine how your new VOIP system will be connecting to the PSTN. Figuring out this first step will allow you to build a solution around your connectivity method and your business requirements. It will also confirm the VOIP system you purchase will support the selected trunk lines.

Whether you are considering a PRI or a SIP trunk, you will want to determine the amount of calls that your business will need to conduct simultaneously. Something else to consider is that PRI’s offer a guaranteed QoS since they are not sharing bandwidth with data traffic. However, some of the more advanced features of newer phone systems may not work with PRI trunks. PRI trunks come in blocks of 23. For example, if your company requires 25 simultaneous calls you will be required to purchase two PRI trunks for a total of 46 possible simultaneous calls.

Typically, SIP trunks are only limited by the amount of bandwidth on your data connections but in some cases they may be limited by the number of call paths. Since SIP trunks use the same connection as your data so you will want to ensure you have the proper bandwidth for the environment.

Assuming the average phone call is 130k and your business typically has 23 phone calls simultaneously, it means you will need a minimum 2.99mbps to support just the phone traffic. Any data bandwidth requirements would need to be added on top of this requirement. SIP trunks do not offer guaranteed QoS so this is also something to consider. However, adding additional trunks is typically a simpler process than adding PRI trunks.

2. Do you have the appropriate switch infrastructure in place?

Having the right switches in place to support a VOIP system is equally as important. The switches should have Power Over Ethernet (POE) switch ports so that they can power your phones without having power bricks plugged in for each one. When choosing a POE switch, you will want to verify that the wattage of the POE ports is enough, for example 370W vs 740W. You will also want to make sure that the switch meets the POE standard IEEE 802.3at-2009. This standard provides up to 25.5W of power versus conventional 12.95W of power.

This feature is key in providing some future proofing into your network as more devices such as phones, AP’s, security cameras, as well as some laptops are now being powered off the switches and requires more power than previous devices. The switches should also be all gigabit ports at a minimum with 10gigabit uplinks preferred if the switch will be located in the datacenter core.Understandably, phones will not require gigabit speeds to operate and function properly but most phones include a gigabit switch interface on the back of them allowing users to connect their desktops to the phone for LAN connectivity. This reduces cabling costs of VOIP solutions. However, if a vendor installs a 10/100 phone switch where users will be connecting both phones and desktops too, this will be a bottleneck for these users.

3. Is your network infrastructure ready to support a VOIP solution?

As demands for information technology increase, we need to make sure our networks stay up to date. When deploying a VOIP solution, your adding additional nodes and workload on to the data environment. Networks that are not scalable will most likely need quite a few upgrades to be able to support a new VOIP system. This includes not only the hardware in the environment but the cabling as well as the infrastructure for the remote sites to connect back to where the VOIP system resides.

When deploying a VOIP solution make sure that anything being added to your network will not become a bottleneck in the years to come. The last thing you want to do is introduce a new switch that isn’t going to meet or exceed any future growth the network may experience during the switches lifespan.

Stay away from switches that don’t have full gigabit interfaces and lack the POE plus standard. Also, be sure that the network for the VOIP solution is properly provisioned so that QoS can be applied on the LAN and work with your carriers to properly provision any links to remote sites so QoS can be applied on these links as well.

For assistance in deploying your VOIP phone system, give us a call today at 800.610.1858!

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