Prevent VoIP Mistakes
The top 5 unexpected problems that might occur with a switch to VoIP can be prevented with some foresight and planning. As more small businesses recognize the tremendous value of VoIP and IP-PBX business phone systems, and consider switching their business communications to Internet phone lines, it will be increasingly important to manage that transition smoothly and avoid the potential pitfalls that have inflicted others. Foremost of these problems are the following 5 VoIP issues.
Understanding the limitations of a current technology is as important as knowing its strengths. Good planning and wise implementation should be a cornerstone with VoIP sales professionals, as well as those researching VoIP for their communications needs. VoIP Mechanic believes that an educated consumer is a better consumer. In addition there are vendors, suppliers and providers who have good customer service and realize that helping people makes them customers.
As we present the following top 5 problems that can occur with a switch to VoIP; consider how they might impact your business, and then take advantage of some of the tips that we present that can help solve them.
The top 5 VoIP problems and what you can do about them.
1) VoIP is far from the ideal medium for faxing.
Too many people and businesses that depend on faxing for their livelihood find out too late how challenging faxing can be over a VoIP connection.
Faxing over VoIP can be achieved with moderate success after a few settings have been adjusted on the fax machine, for light users. These VoIP Fax settings entail lowering the Baud rate to 9600 and disabling ECM (error correction mode). You might also need to check with your VoIP provider and ask which codecs they offer, as in most cases a G711 codec would be required for completing faxes. Businesses that need to transmit long and detailed documents (over 4 pages) and material such as legal contracts and documents with photos, should keep a regular phone line (traditional copper line) for their faxing requirements. Heavy fax users such as attorneys, appraisers, and mortgage brokers should definitely keep a standard copper phone line for their faxing capabilities.
If your business sends numerous faxes over 4 pages and it is a critical part of your daily business routine, such as an appraiser, attorney, or a mortgage broker, keep a regular land line for faxing. If your Internet connection is DSL you probably will need to keep one active number for that connection. Use it for faxing.
2) Most credit card machines fail when sending.
Most traditional older credit card machines use a dial-up modem for sending out its data and dial-up modems do not work over VoIP. (Newer credit card machines can connect via Ethernet, a better choice for the VoIP user.)
The codecs used by VoIP devices have been designed to compress voice, not the analog signals sent and received by modems. Most existing credit card machines operate with a dial up modem which does not work well over a VoIP connection. Some users have had varying degrees of success using a credit card machine over VoIP, but they are probably using older machines that transmit at much slower speeds. If your credit card machine connects via an ATA, check out our Linksys ATA settings which can help faxing and credit card machines. Others have had almost no success, especially when the modem communicates to do its batch processing. Too many total conversions of small businesses to VoIP lines have run into major problems because they did not realize that credit card machines and VoIP do not work well together. Newer credit card machines now allow for an Ethernet connection and these types of machines will work over VoIP, but they are higher in cost. More about using credit card machines over VoIP.
3) Alarm systems and VoIP; many may not integrate.
Although some alarm systems do integrate with and can signal properly over VoIP, many cannot, although this has changed significantly over the last two years.
Just because you don't have a problem right after conversion to VoIP, does not mean all is well. Your alarm system now needs to seize the VoIP line to communicate with your alarm company. Although VoIP service is excellent at voice communication it is not suited for transmitting the data from many alarm systems. In fact, many alarm companies will refuse customers who use VoIP. Check with the alarm company that you use and ask specific questions as to their devices compatibility with VoIP. Not doing so can ultimately lead to problems, both for your VoIP connection and for your security.
Also elevator phones may have special state codes and require a dedicated copper line.
4) VoIP always up & always on, maybe not always.
VoIP connections are dependant on an active connection to the Internet. Although most converts to VoIP understand this, many people think that a UPS is going to prevent any and all interruptions. The use of a UPS can keep your modem and ATA powered should you experience a temporary power loss, but in most cases will only provide power for a short duration. In larger power outages most cable providers will go down, as they depend on the power company to supply power to their cable plant and the amplifiers that powers some of their equipment. In this event, if you have broadband cable you will loose your Internet and consequentially your VoIP service.
As our Internet providers become more stable and reliable we have seen a great improvement in their service over the last few years. But sporadic loss of Internet, something referred to as a local outage, can be expected anywhere from time to time. Unfortunately, some locals are afflicted more than others, so plan accordingly. If you loose your Internet you will loose the ability to make outgoing calls. Incoming calls should still go to your voicemail, so you should still be able to call those parties back at a later time.
Some VoIP providers have a feature where your VoIP number will automatically become forwarded in the event of non-registration. This means that what ever reason your ATA becomes unregistered with the provider, through a loss of Internet or being disconnected, your calls will now automatically get forwarded instantly to a preset number, like your cell phone. When the ATA registers again, calls route normally right back to the VoIP phone. This can alleviate missed calls during an outage.
5) Voice quality issues, sometimes there's some.
New technology gives us new benefits and presents new issues. It's amazing how far and stable our computers and Internet connections have become in such a short duration. It wasn't long ago when just getting a local access number for a dial up connection was an achievement. Now we have calls being routed all over the world almost instantly through an Internet connection. But, as all this traffic gets routed and sent along numerous paths, there can be issues that can develop on a daily basis. An accident at a construction site where a major piece of fiber gets cut, or a large router has a component go bad. These things do happen from time to time, and in most cases it is a short lived event. But, you may from time to time experience some consequences as a result of these types of mishaps. The good news is that the Internet works better than we could have imagined, the bad news is that you may hear some static, have a call drop or experience some audio problems on occasion. VoIP is making improvements all the time, its quality is getting better all the time.
Use our VoIP tutorials to fix common known issues, which should improve your quality for many common complaints and talk to your providers tech support.