VoIP now enjoys the same levels of accessibility and strength as traditional telephony at its peak.
Fremont, CA: In the past, VoIP was deemed a low-quality, undependable voice service delivered over an undependable internet connection. However, the technology has enhanced dramatically, as have the methods and connections utilized to deliver it. As a result, VoIP now enjoys the same levels of availability and robustness as traditional telephony at its peak.
Still, the stigma of low quality and low reliability has followed VoIP to this day. In this article, we try to understand why this is the case and offer a realistic picture of the phenomenal dependability that VoIP can accomplish today.
Square pegs and round holes: a brief history of VoIP
All sound containing the human voice is an inherently analog phenomenon and includes the propagation of waves over the air with continuous fluctuations of frequency and amplitude.
When VoIP devices catch the sound of a voice, these sounds are digitized and broken down into discrete packets and sent separately over an IP network. Then, the destination device reconvenes these packets and replicates the sound to the person on the other end of the line.
The quality of the reproduced sound is based on how those packets arrive at their destination. They must arrive consistently and timely at regular intervals to be reconstructed as a true portrayal of the original voice. Packet loss and jitter can spoil the sound quality that VoIP delivers.
Early in the year 2000, the performance of IP networks was more than adequate to carry data, but they had far too much jitter and packet loss for VoIP, especially during network congestion.
These networks also delivered low reliability and availability compared to the day's conventional telephony systems. Trying to convey voice over a data network back then was like trying to suit a square peg into a round hole — those early networks were just not designed to deliver the kind of service that VoIP necessary.
Internet reliability's impact on VoIP
Around this period (the early 2000s), internet connectivity was upgraded from dial-up modems to xDSL and cable. These technologies delivered many upper bitrates, but their dependability remained unpredictable.
VoIP services were delivered over undependable internet connections, so the services could not be reliable. In addition, even though the bitrates were much speedy than dial-up, these connections could be momentarily saturated — quite easily — when watching media-intensive web pages, which, together with VoIP's poor performance.
Conventional telephony comparison
VoIP has often been compared with the benchmark of traditional telephony, which has been around for over a century. The dependability of the telephone was legendary, accomplishing well above five-nines reliability (99.999% uptime) — even during power outages. The dial tone was one thing that you could often count on.
Relative to this trusted standard, VoIP always lost voice quality, reliability, usability, and availability, giving it a stigma of uncertainty.
The problems with VoIP from decades ago are a far cry from the fact of VoIP today. Then, VoIP advanced to a set of technologies that have come of age, so to speak, conquering all the obstacles of the technology's infancy.
As a result, VoIP has not only achieved the same level of reliability as traditional telephony but surpassed it in virtually every way. Many considerations have contributed to modern VoIP's quality and credibility:
• IP networks are getting faster: Internal corporate LANs & internet connections are delivering better bitrates, while the bandwidth required for VoIP communication rest very small. This makes more network bandwidth accessible for VoIP, which implies less chance of jitter, packet loss, or network congestion.
• Networks are more strong today than ever before due to customer demand. IP networks are becoming more reliable: As mission-critical services increasingly leverage IP networks, the requirement for reliable, five-nines availability data networks is constantly increasing.
• Reliability is now being built into network designs inherently. Some such designs incorporate software-defined WANs (SD-WANs), employing carrier-grade or high-grade WAN technologies and designing networks with no single point of failure.
• Quality of Service (QoS): Even the best-designed networks will undergo network congestion, and when that happens, VoIP calls may experience packet loss and jitter, resulting in poor voice quality. Network devices have developed sophisticated mechanisms to implement QoS features to deal with such situations. These mechanisms can recognize VoIP packets and prioritize them so that voice packets will arrive at their destinations on time, even under congestion.
• Maturity of VoIP services: VoIP products and services have improved greatly since the first IP phones in the late 1990s. IP PBXs, phones, softphones, mobile apps, and cloud-based VoIP services are all extremely robust and rarely experience failures of any major consequence. If VoIP services are properly deployed, they can perform well even over somewhat limited connectivity infrastructure, like public Wi-Fi networks or a low-bitrate WAN connection.
VoIP technology remains sound.
All of the above-listed virtues are according to the evolution of VoIP technology itself. Still, this does not inevitably mean that all VoIP providers and equipment vendors will always perform flawlessly. If falsely deployed, VoIP services can and do fail.
The technology is sound, but each procurer is still responsible for evaluating the products and services offered and the infrastructure for technical support to deal with queries and concerns.
With the credibility of today's networks and the robustness of VoIP services, there should be no qualms about deploying a full-fledged VoIP network for your enterprise. If deployed rightly, it will deliver a phenomenal level of reliability and offer unprecedented flexibility, customization, and innovation to meet the needs of even the most demanding businesses.
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