The number of companies offering telecommunications systems to businesses seems to increase daily. From large, national providers to smaller, more local vendors, businesses can choose from multiple systems at widely varying prices
The Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology that uses the Internet’s infrastructure to carry texts and phone calls was once cutting edge. Now, it seems, everyone is offering a VoIP, or cloud communication, system.
Are there differences between the systems? Does more money buy increased security and flexibility? More capabilities? More reliability?
A peek under the hood will reveal significant differences between systems. When it comes to security, capabilities, bandwidth, voice quality, reliability, and control, budget business systems and more robust offerings differ more than you might think.
Two Ways to Build a System
The reality is that a cloud communications system can be designed to hit almost any price point. Less expensive and more expensive systems may even offer similar features. Providers can cut corners in ways that users may not notice until issues start to surface.
For small businesses with light telecommunications requirements, a budget service may be sufficient. But there are major differences between those systems and more robust architectures designed for enterprise organizations. Before making a buying decision, consider these major differences.
Many telecommunications providers tout their reliability. The gold standard for business communications uptime is known as the “five nines,” or 99.999% availability.
A vendor that makes a claim about reliability, but won’t provide a written Service Level Agreement (SLA) to back up that claim, probably can’t provide that level of service. Here’s why.
Inexpensive cloud communication systems typically run via Internet-only connections, meaning that the service relies entirely on the Internet connections of the users involved. If any of these connections is subpar, or even just average, the call quality can degrade. Business systems that rely on the same architecture have the same technical limitations.
Because of that, many of those vendors do not offer service guarantees. If the service goes down, or if your own Internet connection has problems, the only recourse is to wait for the company to fix it.
Premium cloud communication services use their own network architectures and dedicated, private-line circuits with SD-WAN services to route calls. The caller’s Internet bandwidth can affect call quality, but these robust communications networks have built-in redundancy to ensure that calls won’t be dropped.
Keep in mind that even a promise of “99% reliability” means a system will be down an average of 15 minutes a day. Logically, service interruptions are more likely to occur during business hours when the system is undergoing the heaviest usage.
There’s no way around it: You get what you pay for when it comes to system reliability and bandwidth.
More Security and Flexibility
There are many questions to ask when conducting due diligence for a potential telecom provider. One of the most important is this: “Do you use multi-tenant or multi-instance architecture?” Here’s why that matters.
With a multi-tenant system, multiple firms are sharing space on a virtual machine. All use the same operating system and the same applications. The communications company, not the clients, decides on the operating system and apps. Want an app with other features? Prefer your own virtual machine for an added layer of privacy and security? Such customization may not be possible.
Many providers use a multi-tenant architecture because it’s cheaper. But a multi-instance architecture offers greater flexibility and security, giving each client exclusive control over their virtual machines.
Bandwidth is expensive. To keep prices low, less expensive telecom providers compress voice and data to enable more clients to share the available bandwidth.
The result can be a minor or a significant loss in quality. Quality can vary, depending on how many users are on the system. Compressed voices and video look and sound worse. It doesn’t take a trained eye or ear to see and hear the differences.
Premium communication providers typically offer superior service, such as on-site installation, training, and unlimited moves/changes. The best ones also have 24×7, U.S.-based support and in-house engineering experts that can assist with integrating telecommunications into an organization’s operations, including the creation of custom APIs for customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.
With more than 35 years of communications expertise, VOIP Networks designs, installs, and manages multi-instance systems to provide the highest quality and reliability. We even offer a free proof-of-concept demonstration so you can experience our service firsthand, with no commitment.
For more information, or to discuss your telecommunications systems needs, please contact us.