Is Your Network Ready for VoIP?
Getting Your Network Ready Before Upgrading Your Phone System
Once you decide to upgrade from a legacy phone system, you will need to know if your network is ready for Voice over IP (VoIP). If you are working with a reseller partner or systems integrator, they will talk with you about whether your network can handle the VoIP calls. They might suggest that you have a separate network, just for your VoIP traffic. They will probably ask questions about your bandwidth, how many simultaneous calls your business make, and then help you estimate how much bandwidth you need from your VoIP service provider.
If you have a general understanding of how to analyze your network, or know what types of questions you need to be prepared to answer, then you can better decide which type of phone system is right for you.
1. How Many Users Do You Have?
The number of users you have is not only important to determine which VoIP appliance you will need, but is also important for the type of network service you need to address your business requirements. (You will learn more about your current networking equipment in the next section.) Keep in mind, with more users on your network, you may need more bandwidth or network services.
2. What Are Your Growth Plans?
During any network upgrade or with any new installation, it is best to plan for the future. If you know you won’t have more than 50 users in your network for the next few years, there is no good reason to upgrade to handle 200+ users. However, if your company is growing quickly, it may be worth the extra investment in intelligent networking equipment to ensure that the quality of your services do not suffer.
3. How Many Ports Do You Need Per User?
The number of switch ports your company has per user is an important metric, considering it dictates which phones you can purchase. If you use a standard SIP-based server, you can choose any SIP-compliant VoIP phone available. This allows for greater flexibility when choosing a phone to with your VoIP or Unified Communications solution.
· Only 1 port: If your company only has one switchport or network LAN port per user, you will need to purchase phones that have an internal switch. There are many models on the market that support a range of features. Some have gigabit or 100 Mbps switches, and you’ll want to be sure to get the right phone to fit your network.
· Two or more ports: If you can offer your users a separate switchport for their phone, it may make administration easier. Plugging a computer into a phone can sometimes be counter-intuitive. Having two ports per user will offer your phone a bit more reliability. Also, you can go with relatively inexpensive 100 Mbps phones, or single port phones, rather than forcing the move to gigabit phones for a gigabit network.
4. What Kind of Internet Connection Do You Have?
Your Internet connection will play a significant role in the type of Service Provider you require for your phone service. If you plan to use VoIP, you’ll want to have a high upload speed or pipe, which is not common on the basic, low-end Internet service. If you plan to use analog or PRI circuits, then this will not be an issue for you.
5. Do You Have Any Remote Users?
Having remote users can sometimes cause unforeseen issues with your internal network. For example, if you have a slower Internet connection, your remote users might cause audio quality issues on calls through the Internet. Increasing your available bandwidth, or decreasing the bandwidth required for each call can fix this. It is typically much easier to reduce the bandwidth of a call than to increase your available bandwidth. You will do this by replacing the default codec of your remote users and your SIP provider with a low bandwidth codec.
What's the next step in getting your network VoIP ready?
Now, you have determined that your network is ready for Unified Communications. You’ve addressed the networking hardware, voice quality settings, and invested in phones and other technologies that will make the most of your available bandwidth. You need a UC solution that will work with any phone, all types of networking services as well as saves you money and provides all of the features for your business communications today and in the future.