Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) within a small business environment
VoIP has been around since 1995 when VocalTec releases the first commercial Internet phone software. Like many emerging technologies its wide spread adoption within the UK has taken a little longer. This is in part due to the appalling connectivity within the UK which is still reliant on copper wire, where as much of Europe has invested in fibre optics. It is only really since 2004 that commercial VoIP service providers have proliferated and small and large businesses have dipped their toe in uncharted waters.
We initial implemented a VOIP solution in August 2007 using Asterisk, who provide are a leading open source PBXi, telephony engine, and telephony applications toolkit. Since then we enhanced the VoIP system with the addition of Digium TDM equipment to allow the VoIP Exchange to handle all of their incoming calls whether VoIP or traditional PSTN calls. This autumn we have invested in a separate ADSL line and new VOIP server that now manages all telephony within an isolated environment so that the development studio doesn’t impact on call quality. This has significantly improved the call quality and enabled us to provide seamless communications with our offices in the United Kingdom and Slovakia, enabling clients to speak to any of our staff, regardless of the geographical location.
Although the initial reasons for implementing a VOIP solution was cost. The benefits have far outweighed the associated costs offering a really flexible solution that we had not originally anticipated. The initial investment was recovered within six months and has enabled us to expand our operations both within the UK and further abroad.
Having spoken to a number of business, most people have reservations about the call quality and have had bad experiences with businesses that have adopted VOIP systems. In most cases this is down to connectivity issues and to be fair we have had our share of problems, but better connections and ensuring all VOIP traffic is prioritised or using a dedicated ADSL line addressed most of these issues. The initial investment is quickly recouped as the ongoing costs, both in terms of line rental and call charges are significantly less than traditional providers like BT. The scalability of these types of solutions quickly makes it incredible attractive in terms of cost once you need to increase the number of extensions / phone lines.
Drogon System " based in Buckfastleigh " provide telephone communication solutions from in-office PBX solutions, to remote hosted “Centrex” or Virtual PBXs, based on industry standard VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) systems, (SIP and IAX), and traditional telephony protocols such as analogue lines (POTS) and ISDN. Their PBX system gives you a future-proof upgrade path, and a means through the Internet and VoIP, to seamlessly allow remote and home workers to connect into your office telephone system, efficiently connect offices together and more. They were runners up in the Best VoIP Hardware category of the Internet Telephony Service Providers Association (ITSPA) Awards in in December 2008 and are also a member of the ITSPA and subscribe to CISAS as an arbitration service to handle billing disputes.
Saving money and obtaining a quick Return on Investment (RoI) is only part of the solution with VoIP. A major point that we at Drogon Systems like to promote (and it’s probably one that’s not mentioned nearly enough) is the flexibility VoIP provides, the ability to handle calls where and when you want to handle them; at the office, home, or on mobile devices. You can have staff not only at home, but in a different country, all seamlessly connected. All this is possible with VoIP. Additionally, if you choose an open standards VoIP platform, then you have more flexibility in terms of hardware / devices you can use and you’re not locked into a small range provided by a proprietary vendor " there are 100’s of standard and off the shelf desk-phones, cordless phones and clients for mobile phones too.
Gordon Henderson, Managing Director of Drogon Systems
I would also recommend having a read of Gordon’s blog, called Notes from the Watertower and would suggest you have a word with Gordon if you are interesting in either becoming a re-seller or looking to invest in a VoIP system for your business.
Hightrees Organisation Limited " based in Wiltshire " provide similar services and we are more than happy to recommend them, having implemented our VoIP systems and have provided excellent technical support to the business since 2006 (see Simon’s news article “VoIP improvements for Ayrmer Software” for further information).
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