Are you a small business and thinking of either upgrading your analog phone system or moving to a voip system? Please read this handy guide to see what some of the features and pitfalls of both platforms are to help you make a more informed choice.
Analog: Analog phones require an inhouse system unit to function and some like the Panasonic KX-TDA50 systems require an extra unit for voicemail functionality. These systems are generally installed in your IT room and mounted on the wall.
VOIP: The beauty of a Voip system is all you have are the handsets and that’s it. They can be plugged into your existing networking equipment like a switch and internet provider and start to work. For some clients when they wanted a phone in a part of the office that didn’t have a network port I was able to use Powerline ethernet adapters for a quick and easy solution to place a phone there.
Analog: You will need an IT consultant or someone with phone system expertise to setup system unit for like configure the phone extensions, voicemail, and even install the actual cards to plug the phones into. We work with a vendor when we buy the Panasonic systems and they configure most of the system before they ship it and then we tie up any loose ends.
VOIP: The voip provider configures the system on their end but there is still some work that you need to do locally such as open ports in your firewall to allow for proper voip communication. Overall we have found that voip systems work with most firewalls, even consumer grade ones with little trouble. What some of our clients do is install an entirely different network just for the phones to make sure they get the most quality.
Analog: An analog phone system will cost you less to maintain because all you are paying for are some POTS lines from Verizon or some other service provider. Regular phone lines are very inexpensive especially when using them in a bundle and are less prone to having problems.
VOIP: A voip system does tend to cost you a bit more for the monthly service. Most voip providers will also not guarantee the voice quality if you don’t order a dedicated line, such as a T-1, directly from them. And of course you are probably going to have to enter into an annual contract with the provider.
Analog: When something goes wrong with an analog system you will probably need someone to come to your office to work on it. As is the case with the Panasonic systems we install our vendor is able to access the system remotely and program features from there but when something doesn’t work right a physical presence is usually required.
Voip: A typical voip provider will have a help desk that you can call into but when it comes to troubleshooting I have found some good and bad points. One provider that I won’t name simply has their techs follow scripts so they are just going through a tech list and not actually working your unique problem. I have worked with other providers that know each customer personally and apply actual tech troubleshooting to figure out service issues. Voip providers typically don’t have techs to send out to setup the system for you so you will need to hire an IT consultant to do that.
Analog: Let’s face it, regular old phone lines that have been in use for a hundred years are pretty reliable. All of my clients with analog systems never complain to me about quality or service issues and overall the quality is reliable.
Voip: The single biggest complaint I hear from clients about their voip systems is call quality and I could probably write a blog on this fact alone. Voip systems do tend to suffer from dropped calls, static calls and weird behavior like someone can hear the other person talking.
We deal with this problem often and it’s usually from your internet line hitting a peak during the day. The fact is a voip system is very sensitive to network traffic and if your internet line is goes to near capacity you will see your call quality drop. There are things that can help like enabling what’s called QoS on your firewall but we see this problem all the time. Some of our clients have installed a lower end internet line and use it just for the voip phones.
Overall both analog and voip have the same features like extension calling, voicemail, voicemail to email, etc but voip systems do have better integration with the rest of your technology. For example, one client is able to dial contacts from his outlook with his voip phone which is a major time saver.
If you are a business in New York City that requires IT consulting expertise please contact me for a free consultation.