The Advantages & Disadvantages of Internet Phones

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Internet phones use Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) technology to deliver voice communication and phone service. Although Internet-based phone systems have some definite advantages over traditional phones, there are a few disadvantages to consider before switching systems.

Unified Platform

An advantage of Internet-based VoIP phone systems have when compared to analogue technology the ability to converge technology platforms. Software applications can unify voice, Internet and computer network systems. For example, voice mail messages can be transferred into e-mail and saved as data, and office phones can be mirrored on computer desktops and used anywhere there is an Internet connection. Mobile devices, office phones and computers can be coordinated to work together. This technology is referred to as unified or integrated communications, and the versatility it brings is considerably greater than what can be achieved with a traditional phone system.

Cost Savings

Internet-based phone technology brings a number of cost savings over traditional systems. First, because the phone and Internet are delivered with the same cabling, you save costs associated with wiring a system. Also, Internet-based phones are not location dependent. In other words, it does not make a difference in terms of connectivity and cost if you are calling a business partner in town or calling to the other side of the world. Likewise, an interoffice four-digit dial can be done from anywhere because the VoIP system remains part of the network regardless of location.

Internet Requirements

A disadvantage Internet phone systems have when compared to traditional phone systems is that they are Internet and bandwidth reliant. So, if you have no Internet connection, you have no voice connection, and this includes no phones during a power outage. Also, you must set up with adequate bandwidth when putting in a VoIP phone system, because both voice and data are coming in over the same cable. If you don't have sufficient bandwidth to carry both, then bottlenecks can occur that slow the entire system.

Security Issues

There are some security issues with Internet phones. One is that spyware can be used to access your phone systems. "Packet sniffers" allow hackers to eavesdrop on conversations, and spyware called "dialers" is capable of allowing thieves to direct phone calls through your Internet connection to call expensive numbers, such as international adult-chat lines. As a result, a business Internet phone system needs to have firewall security integrated with the rest of the network.

Sound Quality and Reliability

When Internet-based phone technology first developed, issues existed with sound quality. VoIP is delivered as packets of data over the Internet, and conductivity issues sometimes created jittery sound, echo or lost calls. However, the sound quality and reliability continue to improve with advancements in VoIP technology. The consistency of Internet phone systems is no longer a notable disadvantage when compared to traditional phones.