Phone calls aren’t what they used to be. The antiquated system of wires and telephones that once crisscrossed the country becomes increasingly irrelevant as more companies and consumers switch to voice calling over data networks.
Called Voice over IP, this technology uses high speed Internet connections, private networks and internal LANs to deliver enhanced telephone services at a lower price. Very soon, data networks will handle nearly three-quarters of all phone calls. As different types of networks converge, they soon will handle almost every form of communication.
Why is everyone jumping on the bandwagon?
VoIP has grown as businesses jump at the chance to save money. They can now interconnect branch offices, easily accommodate remote workers and route calls to minimize their use of publicly switched telephone networks. Internally, companies no longer need two sets of cables throughout their buildings, and they no longer need telephone specialists on their payroll. Also, companies that use VoIP services have robust monitoring and reporting options that helps them ensure their employees provide high-quality services for customers.
Despite the cost savings and productivity enhancements gained through VoIP, many companies resist giving up on their existing phone networks. Many argue that technology offers no inherent benefits if existing phone systems work well. Also, the resale value of obsolete telephone systems has dropped, suggesting that companies will lose most of their investment if they upgrade to VoIP systems. However, cost reductions and productivity enhancements offered by network convergence continues to drive their acceptance.
The Case for Simplicity
Companies can now operate all types of communications over a single network. This means fax, voice, e-mail, instant messaging, video and Web-based communications all run through the same infrastructure. Companies can unify all forms of communication to provide better customer service. By using advanced software applications, call centers can now receive all forms of communication into a single queue and efficiently route communications to properly trained agents.
New developments in the IT world have expanded converged networks to include mobile phone services. A single service provider can now supply companies with mobile and fixed network services that transparently interact. Without interrupting productivity, users on the new generation of converged networks can use mobile devices that automatically switch from Wi-Fi to cellular connections and between corporate and public networks.
Although many companies choose to discard their legacy phone systems as they adopt converged networks, new options exist that help companies make a slower transition. Adapters and converters offered by phone system manufacturers and third-party providers make a hybrid approach possible. These products help companies profit from network convergence now, without completely writing off existing infrastructure.