As the IT administrator of a small to medium-sized business, you may think your network is well-suited for the switch to VoIP. It very well may be. Our experience, however, has largely proven otherwise. Most clients come to us not understanding VoIP network requirements.
While VoIP calls traverse the data network, few small businesses have a network designed to support a VoIP infrastructure. We conduct network viability assessments as part of any new VoIP installation. Here are the things we look at and what we suggest you look at ahead of making the move to VoIP.
As we shared in our article, “The Bandwidth Mistake IT Administrators Make When Installing VoIP,” bandwidth is the number one issue IT administrators fail to properly manage ahead of a VoIP installation. In addition to increasing speed on the existing internet connection, consider one of the following:
- Bringing in a dedicated internet connection which will only handle VoIP. Depending on the connection, many routers are capable of handling multiple internet connections.
- Upgrading to a dedicated fiber connection. Doing so will offer the greatest guaranteed data speeds bidirectionally.
Believe it or not, many small businesses, especially those occupying office space in older buildings are operating on Cat4E network cabling. Most of today’s networks are utilizing a combination of Cat6E and WiFi.
Ensure you have a data jack with adequate cabling connected to a switch. Keep spaces like kitchens, fitness areas, conference rooms, common areas, and meeting rooms in mind when looking at cabling. While these areas will likely already be equipped with phone jacks and cables, many aren’t outfitted with data jacks.
FYI, cordless VoIP handsets are a good alternative for larger, open spaces like fitness or storage rooms, but the base station will still need to be connected to a data outlet. Ensure the distance from the base will be sufficient to make and take calls.
When installing VoIP, we always recommend using managed power over ethernet switches. The main reason being that you’ll be able to attach a UPS backup battery to the switches, thus keeping the phones alive during a power outage for a long enough time to set alternative call routing or safely power down the handsets.
Additionally, using managed switches with VoIP will allow for easier troubleshooting in the event of any isolated call quality issues.
A standard small business firewall may or may not be a good solution for VoIP. Utilizing a VoIP edge device (especially if VoIP calls are utilizing the public Internet, which 90% are) will allow you the most quality control of calls on your network.
VoIP edge devices will be able to prioritize voice traffic over data traffic, and will have additional features like jitter buffers built in. Prioritizing traffic is a must in today’s environment, especially on networks with bandwidth limitations.
Partner With a Telecom Company Who Can Optimize Your Network
Modern Telecom has been implementing VoIP solutions for the SMB space since its inception. Unlike other agents and resellers, Modern Telecom has the experience and know-how to thoroughly audit your network ahead of making the move to VoIP. Contact us today to learn how we can help ease your transition and ensure a great VoIP experience.