For my third & final post regarding Top 3 Questions (related to OCS naturally), I”m putting up the questions we get on VoIP.

I should point out that we field a lot of questions on all these topics. OCS is a popular technology, and growing. We”re expecting 2010 to show an even bigger jump – mostly due to the cost savings clients get over PBX phone systems. Voice over IP makes for an appealing low-cost alternative.

However, the questions we get on VoIP itself usually veer toward the negative. I think it”s because of old perceptions about the technology (from when it was first introduced) that still linger. Doesn”t worry us; every new technology had its initial troubles. If you”ve called us in the past year, then we”ve spoken via VoIP. Couldn”t tell the difference, could you?

Anyway, here are the Top 3 questions we get, and the answers we give.

1. If your network goes down, doesn”t VoIP go down too?
This one”s repeated to us all the time. Verbatim. I think it”s a leftover catchphrase from a telecom guy trying to stifle competition. For the most part it”s true – if your VoIP runs through the same Internet lines as your network, it can go down if you lose your Internet. However, by using a dedicated line (as many of our OCS clients do), you avoid this problem.

2. I”ve heard this (VoIP) breaks up on you all the time. Is that true?
Not “all the time,” no. Every phone call runs the risk of breaking up when certain conditions are met – you”re driving,you”re in a tunnel, the weather changes, a hiccup on the phone network (it happens all the time)…
This arises because of the packet-transfer method VoIP employs to send voices. If packets get lost along the way, the person you”re talking to could lose a word here and there. However, VoIP these days builds in packet redundancy to avoid this exact issue.

3. Is it true you can”t make emergency calls?
Yes and no. 911”s still a viable number. I think the concern here isn”t making the call, it”s getting the full use of it. I”ll explain.
Because it”s not on the phone network, emergency personnel may have difficulty tracing your location via VoIP like they do with regular phone calls. A very legitimate concern. That”s being dealt with by hardware developers; soon it won”t be an issue. In the meantime, we recommend keeping a cellphone available in case of emergency.

Any more OCS/VoIP/related questions you”d like us to tackle? Leave a comment or email me.

Next week we”ll have a quick cautionary article about Presence, and then a holiday break. Hope your shopping”s all done!

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