5 Disadvantages of VoIP Communications
There are many compelling reasons to switch from analog phones and on-premises PBX hardware to cloud-based VoIP communications. You can subscribe to services which offer unlimited international and long distance calls to countries in North America and Europe. You can integrate your voice calling with other digital channels like instant messaging, screen sharing and video. You can even forward calls to mobile devices and enable employees to work where they are most effective, including from:
- Customer sites
- Home offices
- Tradeshows and conferences
- Project sites for construction or scientific research
Yet despite these compelling benefits, the disadvantages of VoIP communications should not be taken lightly. Let's look at five of the most common challenges, and how they can be addressed.
1. Stable Internet Access is Mandatory
Whether you and your employees work from home, your office, or are constantly on the road - for VoIP services to work, stable internet access is required. Their desk phone might be hardwired to your office fiber-optic network. Their laptop can be connected to a public Wi-Fi hotspot, or their mobile device can stream communications over LTE or 3G/4G/5G mobile broadband. These are all viable options for VoIP communications. Yet if internet access is unstable, or not available at all, VoIP services aren't available.
There are a number of devices which can pull down cellular broadband access to mobile devices, which can then act as mobile Wi-Fi hotspots. Yet if there is no Internet Protocol available, VoIP isn't a viable communication method. Fortunately, we live in a time where we are rarely out of range from cellular towers or other internet access. this challenge is less of a concern than in the '90s when VoIP services were first commercially available.
2. Consumption of Cellular or Internet Data Bandwidth
VoIP services travel through internet networks through data services. For businesses that don't have unlimited data plans on their smartphones and other mobile devices, this could be problematic. Employees should be encouraged to seek out Wi-Fi or hardwired internet access wherever possible, so there aren't any punitive overage charges on your bill.
Some cellular carriers have shared data plans for businesses, so remote employees who can't always access internet services should be prioritized for data use. Use of video calls should be limited for remote employees to critical situations, and instant messaging can be used instead.
3. VoIP Requires Power - Battery or Wired
Though analog phones get enough "phantom power" through the phone line, IP phones and mobile devices running apps like Virtual Office need a sustained power source. When video, voice and screen sharing is running on a mobile device, producing HD visibility and transmitting quality audio through speakers saps more power. If there is a local power failure, IP desk phones can't operate.
Ensuring mobile devices always have sufficient battery life helps business users avoid dropped calls. Battery backups and power-over-ethernet switches can save the day in the event of a power failure. Processor drain can happen with multiple apps running, especially with video, audio and other content streaming through.
4. Latency and Hiccups Can Occur
Depending on the load, reliability and throughput capacity of the internet access being used to enable VoIP, calls and/or video conferences might have periods of latency throughout the day. Some devices are sensitive to interruption from microwaves being run close by. Phone conversations can be garbled in spots, or a call may drop entirely if the internet is too choppy.
Hosting and participating in calls from local numbers is one way to minimize latency. You can test local network internet speed with your ISP's native testing website, or through Speedtest.net. PingPlotter is another troubleshooting tool which can check for packet loss or latency. Check the service levels of the VoIP
5. VoIP Services from Some Providers are Vulnerable to Worms, Viruses or Hackers
Just as with web hosting and Software as a Service applications, security is an important factor to be considered in selecting your VoIP provider. Certifications like the Privacy Shield Framework, Cyber Essentials, HIPAA, and FISMA should give you peace of mind that your services are protected from threats.
The service provider's safeguards are important for VoIP security, however, users should follow device security best practices like using strong device passwords, endpoint protection and Single Sign-On authentication on all their devices.
VoIP services are excellent for businesses (and consumers) that want to have engaging, dynamic, multi-channel collaborations with their colleagues, customers, and partners. Yet these VoIP communications disadvantages should be considered, and where possible addressed before they derail the many advantages and benefits which these services offer.
When it comes to VoIP, 8x8 provides a reliable and compliant cloud solution at a demanding level rarely seen by other cloud providers. Don't take your chances with a subpar cloud-based telecom system. Call 1-866-879-8647 or fill out an online form to request a no-obligation quote from an 8x8 product specialist.