Does VoIP give you what you pay for?

IP telephony has been a mainstream technology for some time now, withlarge organizations such as a Winnipegschool board opting for the technology.

But userscomplain about delay, jitter and users having a hard time understandingeach other continue, and one blogger has proposed a higher tier ofservice.

On the blog NoJitter, Unified IT Systems president Sorell Slaymaker Mondayproposed a “Tele-voice” service, which would do to VoIP whattelepresence did to video conferencing.

Slaymaker proposes “highquality audio” with very stringent network requirements” to meet thisstandard. He says delay, compression and cheap handsets reduce thequality of voice calls, and suggests users may actually waste timebecause they don’t understand each other.

However, as Slaymakerpoints out, most IP telephony projects are sold on the basis of costreduction, but users often have to repeat themselves and risk steppingover the other callers on the line.

Presumably, adding morenetwork requirements and improving hardware would increase the cost ofvoice calls. But Slaymaker has a good point when he asks if we wastefive minutes of time in a one hour conversation over IP, what is thecost of this waste, and how does it compare to what we saved by usingVoIP instead of the plain old telephone system? Having a robustnetwork that can handle real time traffic like VoIP is key. When you’recalling long distance, you’re dealing with different carriers andnetworks, which makes the end of end enforcement of standardsdifficult, compared to an internal installation.

The comparisonto telepresence is valid. In the past, some companies were reluctant touse video conferencing due to the poor quality, whereas telepresenceproducts from vendors like Cisco, HP, LifeSize and Tandberg make thevideo conferences seem like live meetings. So if you install VoIP, andyour users can hear the parties at the other end, that in itselfdoesn’t mean VoIP is a good way to communicate.

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