Wednesday, May 17, 2006


It's fun to say isn't it? VOIP, VOIP, VOIP.

VOIP is an acronym. It stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol. It provides the means for telephone calls over the Internet rather than over the traditional phone line.

Probably the most important thing to know about VOIP right now is that Vonage, Skype or any other software based Internet phone is not for use in business. The reason is simple, they aren't secure. Vonage requires that 10,004 ports be available for it in your firewall. Skype uses a propriatary peer-to-peer networking system much like a music sharing or file downloading product like Kazaa or Lime Wire use. So while you're using Skype other people making phone calls with Skype can be using your Internet connection for their calls. What ever the brand, they all work like this. As a business you don't want to open your network to this kind of abuse.

There are VOIP solutions that are ready for business use. I use one for our office phone called Lingo. Business VOIP systems are housed on PC's or routers. Your phones connect to the VOIP system just like they currently connect to the PBX in your office. The advantage is that your calls are routed over the Internet so each call is less expensive or even free and your phone system can be maintained along with your computer system because once they are talking to the Internet, they are at the core computers. The disadvantage is that your calls are routed over the Internet, so if your Internet service goes down so do your phones. If you have more than a couple of phone lines though it's going to be best to have a seperate Internet service for the phone and the Internet. If we plan that right, the odds are that both won't be down at the same time.

Change is upon us in the phone world. Mobility is making the PBX old fashion. The trick now is to integrate your computer, cell phone, hand held PC and your home office phone to work together seemlessly. VOIP holds to key to communication success. We'll be doing some research in the near future to determine which systems seem best suited for small businesses and it's likely that we're going to become certified to install and maintain some of these systems. Once you put a phone on the Internet and it starts interacting with the computers, phones become a resource that we need to know how to make it secure and functional as it interacts with the rest of the software on your network.


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