VoIP vs. Landlines
Should Your Business Upgrade?
Between the years of 2000 to 2018, the United States reported the addition of over 35 million VoIP lines, bringing the total to over 41.6 million lines. Furthermore, a study done by Blueface Business Communications in 2018 reported that 61% of businesses with traditional landline phone systems adopted were switching to a VoIP system as soon as their current contract expired.
So, how are VoIP systems different from traditional landline phone systems? And what is the reason for this technological paradigm shift?
How Do Landlines Work?
The operation of a traditional landline phone system has remained fairly simple and consistent since its invention in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell.
To initiate a call, a user would pick up the handset and start dialing the number of the recipient. Taking the handset off of the hook completes the circuit between the phone and local telephone exchange, so calls can be routed. Dialing a phone number sends signals to the local telephone exchange to let the system know where the call needs to be routed.
Telephone exchanges are the most crucial part of a landline phone system. They work to simplify a phone network and significantly reduce the amount of connections that are required for users to connect to each other. Instead of each house in a neighborhood being connected to each other via phone lines, each house in an area is connected to the local exchange. In the past, telephone exchanges were run by switchboard operators, who would manually route incoming calls to their desired recipients. As technology has advanced, this responsibility has been given to digital routing systems, which route calls automatically based on the signals created by dialing a number.
Speaking into a telephone handset creates vibrations in the diaphragm which generates an electrical current that can be transported over phone lines to the local exchange and then to the recipient. The recipient’s handset then receives this electrical current and converts it into sound using a loudspeaker.
This system has withstood the test of time largely because of its simplicity. Landline systems do not depend on the Internet or electricity. Even in the case of a power outage, traditional landline phones will still be able to operate, which makes it a viable option in case of emergencies. Unfortunately, this simplicity leaves little room for recourse in the case of an issue with the phone lines. Damage to phone lines leaves little to no options for restoring service besides waiting for technicians to repair the line. In areas with frequent inclement weather, users should expect to experience recurring service interruptions.
How Does VoIP Work?
Since being introduced in 1995, Voice over IP systems have revolutionized the communications industry. The critical difference between VoIP phone systems and traditional landline systems is in its call routing. Instead of calls being directed to a local telephone exchange to be routed to the destination, they are sent to the user’s internet router and then to a VoIP server which sends it to the recipient’s phone. This entire process happens instantly using the Internet.
This Internet-based system completely eliminates the dependence on a physical telephone line. In other words, if a phone has access to the Internet, it will be able to make calls. Numbers can easily be moved to different phones at the click of a button, which is very useful in case of a power outage or in case a phone is having issues. Users can register their office phones as an extension on their cell phone and easily move phones to different locations. This valuable flexibility certainly demonstrated its worth during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Users that needed to transition to their home office were able to easily move their phone and continue their work.
Which System Fits Your Business?
As with any major business decision, there are a multitude of factors to consider before making an investment in a solution. Here are just a few significant elements of communications systems to review before making your decision.
Clearly, when it comes to pricing, a VoIP system carries the advantage over a traditional landline phone system. VoIP systems are typically more economical than a traditional landline phone system, because they are using an existing Internet connection with minimal equipment. Pricing plans are also more flexible for VoIP carriers. Being able to choose from a contracted VoIP service or non-contracted service ensures that the service that you are paying for meets your financial constraints.
Traditional landlines will usually require a Private Branch Exchange System, or PBX system, which is responsible for the routing of both inbound and outbound calls. On the other hand, hosted VoIP solutions will typically only require a simple router.
Furthermore, since the VoIP system is using an existing Internet connection, businesses no longer need to work with multiple service providers for their data and phone networks. This simplification of a business’ network also streamlines the IT infrastructure; hosted VoIP solutions providers typically manage and maintain their hardware and software.
Overall, the simplification of network equipment and infrastructure, along with taking advantage of an existing Internet connection makes VoIP solutions the more economical option.
In order to maintain VoIP services, the system must be constantly connected to the Internet. Furthermore, poor Internet connections may negatively impact VoIP services. Users may experience calls dropping or poor call quality if their Internet service provider is having issues supplying a stable connection. For this reason, VoIP solutions should only be implemented in businesses that have a reliable Internet connection.
Thankfully, nationwide network infrastructure has been rapidly progressing to improve the availability of feasible Internet connections. An example of this rapidly expanding infrastructure is SpaceX’s Starlink project, which aims to provide rural areas and other unreachable locations with Internet via a system of satellites. Internet service providers have also improved availability for their fiber-optic services. As of 2020, fiber-optic broadband connections are available to over 54 million U.S. homes.
On the other hand, landline connections operate completely independently from a business’ Internet connection, eliminating the system’s dependency on network bandwidth. As long as a phone system has a working connection to the local telephone exchange, they will be able to make and receive calls.
Consequently, landlines have the inherent advantage in terms of independence from stable bandwidth requirements. But, as reliable Internet infrastructure expands and allows for a more accessible Internet, this advantage will surely become less significant.
As can be expected from a system that fully takes advantage of modern technology, VoIP systems hold the advantage when it comes to providing more call features. Here are just a few of the features that VoIP systems can provide to enhance your business:
Call Forwarding – This feature allows users to redirect calls from one device to another. Setting up call forwarding is especially useful to avoid missed calls when a user is away from their desk or in the case of a power or service outage that renders an office unable to take calls at all. Calls can be forwarded to a user’s cell phone or even a completely different office.
Auto-attendants – The ability to direct calls to an auto-attendant has become an increasingly popular way to streamline both the customer and business experience. On the caller’s end, they are able to reach their desired user or department quickly and without needing to consult a receptionist. They are also able to quickly find out important information such as business hours and alternative contact numbers. From a business’ perspective, they are able to save time routing calls and relaying basic information to callers.
Call Analytics – Businesses that use VoIP systems can expect to be able to take full advantage of the diagnostic capabilities of a modern network. Users are able to access reports detailing statistics such as talk time, answered vs. missed calls, and call tracking. VoIP systems also provide crucial troubleshooting information for IT departments, so that call quality never becomes an issue.
Call Parking – The ability to park calls allows teams to be more flexible in addressing customer issues over the phone. Parked calls are placed on hold in a user-defined parking spot. From here, any extension with access to this parking spot can pick up the call. Users can park a call and pick it up with a different extension while also avoiding tying up a line with a call on hold. If a call needs to be transferred to a particular user but they are not at their desk at that moment, parking the call may be a better solution than immediately transferring their call.
Call Screening – As many cell phone users can confirm, robocalls and spam calls in general have grown rampant in recent times. Thankfully, modern VoIP systems provide a way to quickly and easily screen calls before they even reach your phone. Users would only need to note the numbers that needed to be blocked and these measures would be implemented at the push of a button.
Sound Quality and Reliability
In the area of sound quality, VoIP systems have the advantage, although with a minor caveat. If a VoIP provider does not implement Quality of Service in their phone service, their calls will almost certainly suffer from call quality and call dropping issues. Quality of Service, or QoS, is applied to networks to properly prioritize the traffic on a network. Traffic passing through the network is labeled and arranged into queues based on the priority assigned to that type of traffic. If the bandwidth on a network is limited, QoS becomes increasingly important, so that call quality is prioritized even in spite of an unstable or generally weak connection.
If you do decide to replace your traditional landline phone system with a VoIP system, make sure that the provider employs QoS. Here at NoContractVoIP, our QoS measures ensure that users never have to worry about call quality or calls dropping.
Historically, landlines have had the advantage when it comes to emergency calling due to its inherently immobile and bandwidth-independent operation. Traditional landlines are easily traceable to a physical address even without verbal confirmation.
Since phones connected to VoIP systems can be mobile, tracing the location of an emergency call is naturally less simple than calls from a landline. Currently, VoIP providers are required to collect and verify location information for the purpose of emergency calling, so location discrepancies are minimized as a result. Furthermore, technology has advanced to utilize cloud technology to constantly update the location of VoIP-based callers, but this varies by provider.
Growing businesses should look no further than VoIP systems to support their expanding infrastructure. After users pay the fee for additional extensions, technicians are able to make changes remotely and have the extension immediately available to use. This quick turnaround combined with minimized downtime ensures that businesses have their needs met as the business grows. Furthermore, as updates to the system are available, they can be pushed to the system automatically, keeping your system protected and running smoothly.
In the case of landlines, providers will typically need to make changes on-site to the physical server to add additional lines. Naturally, this work will incur additional labor and installation fees along with the fees associated with adding more lines. Additionally, users may experience service interruptions during this installation process.
Clearly, VoIP systems have a significant edge over traditional landline systems when it comes to both maintaining and expanding a business. As stable Internet access becomes increasingly obtainable, landline phone systems will continue to lose favor in a modern business. Adopting this rapidly-advancing technology is a sure-fire and simple way to secure a financial and technological advantage over competitors.
Here at NoContractVoIP, we have all of the tools and personnel necessary to help you smoothly transition your business to a VoIP-based communications solution.