Continuing our series of posts on IP Telephony and VoIP, here is Part 3 of the tutorial:
Is IP Telephony Implemented Easily ?
Over time, most companies have acquired the expertise to implement IP Telephony solutions, either on existing corporate networks or from scratch. The main advantage to implementing VoIP applications is that they rely on network infrastructure which can be expanded gradually, depending on the needs of the business. Additionally, complimentary applications have been matured as well, such as call management software, so that the implementation of solutions and their use becomes more straightforward.
What happens in terms of voice quality ?
Traditionally the main problem of telephony on IP networks has been the quality of the voice. Since the same network carries different data packets (documents, other voice conversations etc.) we cannot always ensure that the packets carrying the voice conversation will all get together and on time at the other end in order to carry a real-time discussion. When you transfer a document, a web page, an email etc, we don’t care so much if one packet is delayed 1-2 seconds. In voice conversation however, delay works negatively on the quality of the voice. A solution to this problem would be the usage of high-capacity lines, combined with powerful routing equipment (eg routers and large enough switches). However they cost money. A better solution is the implementation of prioritization of voice packets with respect to other data. Gradually, as the cost of equipment and services drops, the quality of VoIP will be better and better. Finally, we must not forget that using certain technologies (e.g voice compression), we can increase the efficiency of communication lines and with appropriate settings in routers we can commit certain capacity from the network for voice communication. With that, voice transmission will be conducted as much as possible in real time, without delays and distortion.
Do we need special telephone handsets ?
There are special telephone handsets designed for VoIP communication that harness the potential of this technology. Such devices are available from most international manufacturers of telephony products as well as from third party manufacturers involved in related VoIP solutions. It is worth mentioning that using special equipment we can still use normal telephone devices. Alternatively, a company may consider the option of softphones. A softphone is essentially telephony software that is installed on a laptop or desktop computer and offer all the functionality of an IP telephone without the need for a hardware telephone device. Of course, the use of softphones depends upon the existence of a computer. Although the first softphones presented had poor voice quality and a great network load, now the technology is fairly mature and operational.