With VoIP you have the ability to make phone calls via the IP network instead of through the public switched telephone networks or PTSN. Regardless of the type, nature, or size of your business, switching to VoIP can make communication easier, more efficient, and enriched by the availability of new features like call forwarding, call holding, and call ID etc.
Using VoIP over wireless (instead of a wired network) has a number of advantages but it can also lead to some issues if proper care is not taken during installation. Here’s a look at some of the things that you need to know about wireless-VoIP (which is also referred to as W-VoIP).
Wireless VoIP can ‘one-up’ cellular services
IP phones that function via Wi-Fi can be used as cell phone alternatives. If you are going to connect to a Wi-Fi network for your day-to-day activities like Web or email, then it makes sense to use the same connection to place VoIP calls without incurring any extra cost. Obviously, you will have to pay the service fee to your VoIP vendor but it’s normally a lot less than what most cellular services charge. Additionally, with VoIP you have the chance to make unlimited free international calls, which is also something that cellular vendors don’t provide.
Go the extra mile (quite literally) with WiMAX:
Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access or WiMAX is a microwave-based wireless technology that’s similar to Wi-Fi in the sense that it can be used to connect to the internet, but has a longer range. It’s based on the IEEE 802.16 standards. With a transmission span of over 46 miles (75 kilometers), it can be used to provide internet access over broadband to a huge area. The practical throughputs of WiMAX can go as high as 70Mbps, and this makes it more than capable of supporting VoIP and extending its reach. Extended perimeter of connectivity and better propagation speeds give VoIP-over-WiMAX superiority over VoIP-over-Wi-Fi as it can accommodate more users and provide better bandwidth efficiency.
Wireless LAN lets you use VoIP at full strength:
When VoIP is used over a wireless LAN connection, it creates a whole new set of possibilities and makes things a lot easier and efficient. Whether it’s a corporation, academic campus, restaurant, hospital, or factory, internal calling is made smoother by using VoIP. Users will have the ability to communicate at will from everywhere and enjoy features like voicemail and caller ID. Making native long distance or international calls using the local internet connection and a VoIP account will not cost extra and can be made more often.
VoIP packets are more sensitive than data packets:
When information is sent on a network, it’s broken down into packets. Each packet contains part of the information and the sequence and integrity of the packets need to be maintained at all times, more so if the application is real-time, like VoIP. VoIP packets are significantly sensitive and can be lost during transit, in case the network signals are weak or because of interference from devices operating on the same frequency or because of range limitations etc. In order for your network to run VoIP smoothly, while maintaining reliable call quality, your network should have enough bandwidth and should be reliable. Because of the fact that users are normally used to calling without experiencing any dropped calls, bad call quality or missing dial-tones, they have higher expectations of their phone systems than their computers. It’s thereby imperative that your VoIP-running network doesn’t get sacrificed; not even for seconds.
Running data and VoIP over the same Wi-Fi can be a real no-no:
How do we put this simply? Don’t run VoIP over the same connection on which most of your daily internet traffic flows. Even the slightest delay or disruptions can lead to call quality degradation so you don’t want your voice packets competing with your data packets on a wireless network. If however you want to use the same network regardless of the possible dangers, you should ensure that you incorporate quality of service features that give VoIP packets higher priority compared to the other traffic.
Security matters more in wireless:
When it comes to VoIP, security is always a top concern because when you send your telephone calls over a publicly accessible IP network instead of the closed telecommunication networks, you are obviously faced with a greater number of risks. Add wireless to the mix and the risks increase a lot more. When your packets travel via airwaves and not through wired cables, interception becomes a lot easier. In addition, some of the most famous VoIP protocols like SIP have exploitable vulnerabilities of their own. The network via which VoIP sends its calls should have high levels of security maintained at all times.
Where to look for enterprise and consumer level VoIP equipment?
LinkSys, Netgear and D-Link are some of the most well-known networking equipment vendors that target the consumer demographic and their IP phones have long been capable of working with their wireless routers. The DPH-540 IP phone by D-Link has support for all VoIP providers that use SIP and works effortlessly with Wi-Fi networks. It also has support for WPA2, WPA and WEP encryption which is a very useful feature to have.
Similarly, vendors like Cisco that prepare corporate-level hardware also offer phones that can function with IP PBX systems. The Unified wireless IP phone 7920 by Cisco supports EAP-fast authentication (which increases level of security) and can work with Cisco’s Unified communication manager.
Your VoIP network needs to be well-maintained:
Periodic analysis of your VoIP network should be carried out to eliminate any possible nuances or disruptions. In some cases, routine checks can prevent companies from falling a prey to digital counterfeit attacks. Routine checks can be carried out by in-house team or by VoIP service providers. They should include vulnerability scanning and capturing and reviewing voice traffic etc. A VoIP firewall goes a long way in ensuring that access privileges are granted only to authorized personnel and in case, there is a foreign interference, it’s blocked and logged. Speed, load and reliability tests should also be run from time to time to ensure the network’s readiness to support VoIP.
While VoIP over Wi-Fi opens the door to some exciting new possibilities and provides some exciting features like call waiting, voicemail and caller ID, it can also lead to some complications relating to security and call quality. However, it’s safe to say that if proper groundwork is done before installation and if regular maintenance/analysis is carried out, users can benefit from W-VoIP without facing any of its potential drawbacks.