Phone Systems

The Resiliency of VoIP (Voice over IP) Communications

Did you know FEMA estimates that 40-60% of small businesses will never reopen their doors following a disaster?

It’s standard practice today for businesses to have a well-defined Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity plan in the event of an unplanned disruption. In business technology, this can include backing up one’s most important data to a secure, offsite data center. Or subscribing to a second Internet Service Provider in case the primary connection becomes unavailable. But what about your business’s phone service? While it’s true that there are more ways than ever to communicate– such as texting, instant messaging, and emailing– many people still pick up the phone when they need to schedule an appointment, report a problem, or to reach a doctor.

When a traditional, premise-based phone system goes down, options can be severely limited as you become completely reliant upon your particular phone line service provider (AT&T, Spectrum, Frontier, etc.)  to manage your incoming calls. And depending upon the technology that they offer, you may not be able to do anything at all during the duration of the outage, which is the absolute worst-case scenario. What is more common is that a customer can notify their provider and manually request a “call forward” after they’ve realized that an outage is occurring. The risk is that one may not know right away that their phone service is down, and when they do, the phone company may not make the change quickly. It’s no big secret that many phone companies are just not very responsive.

With cloud-based VOIP communications, these shortcomings don’t exist. Should you have a local outage –e.g., your cable or fiber connection is knocked out and you can’t get to the internet – the cloud is always “on”. And it’s powerful! With SIP phone lines – which can be connected to a premise-based phone system — your phone calls can be programmed in advance to automatically fail-over to a secondary internet connection, a smartphone, or an automated attendant that takes messages. In fact, with some SIP providers, these pre-defined rules can include all three options at the same time, providing you with multiple layers of resiliency. And if you have a cloud-based phone system, then you can enjoy the same safeguards and more. If your service license includes a smartphone app (as most do), even if your desk phone goes offline, you can still make and receive business calls without any interruption.

Cloud-based services do have certain vulnerabilities. For example, an Internet outage could cause a school to lose its public address or overhead paging capabilities. So all businesses, in their due diligence, should weigh the benefits against the risks. But when properly designed and implemented, modern telecommunications technology offers tremendous resiliency over traditional phone service. And in our hyper-connected modern world, this is more important than ever.

Note: This article was originally published on September 6, 2018