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Invest Wisely to Get the Best from VoIP welcomes VoIP Week contributor Dan Winfield, Co-Founder and CEO of Voxhub and 2014 ITSPA Council member.

Starting in, I want to say that this is only my second blog piece on (the first being The Smoking Rooms of Net Neutrality, published yesterday), so please excuse me if I state the bleeding obvious. Yes, I know this site’s readership is a refined audience, one with Gig connections, fibre thing, flashing lights and fancy equipment — the whole package — however I am aiming today at normal businesses that might stumble over here via Google.

I’ll try to explain.

VoIP is the most sensitive service that graces computer networks. It needs love and care to ensure that it performs as a telephone service should, for every call, over and over, 24 hrs a day. And to push it around, it craves low latency, as well as highly available constant bandwidth connectivity with reliable networking equipment. Ironically, for many VoIP is about saving money, yet the less you spend the less likely the chances are that it is getting the environment it needs. All of which is why you need to invest wisely to get the best from VoIP.

As a council member for ITSPA I can safely say that the vast majority of member service providers have invested well in their data centres and equipment. If you are a business that uses one of these providers and you are having quality problems, then 90% of the time (or more) it is your lack of investment that is to blame.

At Voxhub we often receive calls from people saying that they have poor quality VoIP from another provider and want to hear about what we can do better. Many years ago my first thought would have been that their problem had to do with their provider and I would have sympathised with them. Today, though, I go further and try to work out precisely why they are experiencing poor service. After all, there might be some underlying reason for the problems that we wouldn’t want them to bring over, should they opt to switch to our service. It never takes very long to realise that 90% of the time (or more) the cause of the problem is a lack of investment on their side, the most likely candidates being poor cabling, cheap routers, and single Internet connections that are shared between computers and phones.

Sadly, a lot of businesses don’t invest in their Internet connections for any type of on-line service from which they plan to draw benefit, so any advice I give from this point forward applies to investing correctly to benefit from any VoIP, cloud, or on-line service used by your business. Of course, I cannot say precisely how much should be spent, and I think that for the smallest business investing doesn’t have to mean spending very much at all. I would suggest, though, that when you invest you think about the following to help put things in perspective:

1. Don’t cut corners. Consider your goals and be careful not to erode them by being too cutthroat or going too cheap.
Service Provider: “We have a proven 4 minute abs program for rippling muscles, guaranteed.”
You: “Can you do it quicker? I have seen that available on-line for 3.
2. Put your VoIP outlay in context by comparing it to what you spend on other business expenses.
I know of a company that spent hundreds of thousands on fine wood floors for their new office and still took convincing to spend any money on good network equipment. If you have no problem buying an iPhone as a business expense then you have should have no problem spending half that on a router that is used by your whole company every day of the week.
3. Imagine you are investing in an invisible team member.
Everyone agrees that ‘Investing in People’ is essential for good business. As such, it can really put things into perspective to consider any Internet/VoIP investment you make as an invisible team member, a “person” who is relied upon by everyone in your business for all of your essential services, telephone, mail, administration, banking, security, and even employee happiness (if you let them watch cat videos and essential World Cup events). If you don’t make the right hiring choice you will end up getting poor attendance, under achievement…in essence, a “person” that lets down your whole team.
4. VoIP may not work on a network just because the BBC website loads quickly.
I am sorry to say it, but at some point the finer details become important. Working out what you need to invest versus what you have already invested requires some evaluation expertise. At Voxhub we take on this responsibility for our customers, providing advice, verified equipment, and testing tools for networks that tell us our customers what kind of performance they are actually getting.

Somewhere along the line you will need expertise and advice, whether the quantifying comes from your own team, your IT company, or your VoIP provider. Once you find the right source of help, trust them and let them deliver for you…then be sure to hold onto them and don’t let them go!

VoIP Week Posts:

Dan Winfield

By Dan Winfield

Dan is a founder and CEO of Voxhub, a complete end to end business telephony service designed to replace the 'traditional multi-supplier model of lines, PBX and telecom reseller' with a modern Internet focussed service from a single supplier.

Dan is an Internet veteran starting his working life in 1994 when he co-founded Ovate Ltd, one of the first Internet companies to focus on web application development.

Dan is an active member of the ITSPA council.

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