From POTS to VoIP

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My company received a request for assistance from our financial advisor regarding upgrading its phone that serves as an example of the type of problem that many small businesses face as the telecom landscape continues to evolve. The problem has come to the forefront for these companies as AT&T and Verizon are inducing their customers, via high rate increases, to migrate them from the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network).

Because it demonstrates a common issue that many SMBs are grappling with, I thought it could be useful to lay it out as a sort of case study, sharing his call for help, our response, and the final resolution that was reached.

The email we received from our financial advisor read:

Being in the trenches of telecom auditing, we know a thing or two about telecom management, and we responded accordingly. While the cable company, and other Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services are acceptable solutions, there are some differences (and potential issues) of which you should be aware. Most, however, are minor:

All these points were relayed to our financial advisor, but not to dissuade him from getting a VoIP solution, but rather make him aware of the points he needed to consider. To be clear, VoIP is the way of future. To put this in perspective, think of landlines as VCR tapes. There is nothing inherently wrong with VCRs, but it is old technology and is being phased/priced out. VoIP is the equivalent of streaming. Sooner or later, everyone will be going to VoIP.

The limitations of VoIP are not deal breakers. If your business is not "voice centric," then you don't rely on voice calls to conduct business. The public is now used to poor quality calls (think about the uneven quality of cell phones). Also being without office phone service is not an issue, since you can use your cell phone.

Ultimately, our financial advisor made the decision to go with the proposed cable company solution, paying only $175 per month for unlimited local and long distance calls on all seven lines at the building.

"SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, an international organization of independent information and communications technology professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.