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VoIP Phone Systems vs. Digital Systems: The Pros and Cons of Each

January 05, 2017

VoIP Phone Systems vs. Digital Systems: The Pros and Cons of Each

Originally, phone systems were analog. In recent decades, analog phones have been replaced with digital phones that used copper phone lines for incoming and outgoing calls. Today’s Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) provide a service that enables voice to be transmitted over a data connection (the Internet) rather than over copper phone lines. Original VoIP systems consisted of on-premises hardware for call handling, but in recent years, software-based VoIP solutions have also become available.

Software-controlled VoIP systems are managed in the cloud, offer additional features for that add unified communications (UC) capabilities and can integrate with other tools and systems at different locations. Resellers can help customers choose between digital and VoIP, helping them consider factors like budget, ease of use, integration with other technologies/devices and current network environment. Here's what resellers should know about digital and VoIP phone systems:

Hardware Costs – Digital phone system hardware is more expensive than VoIP hardware due to the required circuit cards, proprietary telephone sets and adjunct applications. Applications are more likely to be embedded with VoIP equipment and are typically activated via software rather than having to add hardware. VoIP phone system users often have a better choice in endpoints that are not necessarily proprietary like they are on digital systems.

Wiring is different – VoIP phone systems use the same cable that connects a PC to the LAN at a user’s desktop. Digital phones require both a voice cable and a data cable. Since both the PC and the VoIP phone share the same cabling, less wiring is required, reducing cost to the business during installation.

Power Consumption – VoIP phones have to be connected to an AC power source of some type that provides power to  the phones. Digital phones do not generally have this requirement since they use the power provided by the cable that is installed between the phone and the digital circuit board.

Bandwidth – VoIP systems require bandwidth from the Local Area Network equipment and shares bandwidth with the data network. VoIP systems must be carefully engineered for bandwidth requirements so the data network is not affected. Digital phones do not connect via the data network so there is no concern with how the system will affect business data needs.

Moves, Adds, and Changes – VoIP phones can be easily moved from one location to another by simply unplugging the phone and plugging it back into a different ethernet cable somewhere else in the office or even at a connected remote location. All of the VoIP phone’s features, extension numbers and capabilities will automatically move when the phone is plugged into the new locations. Digital phones are hardwired to a port on a digital station card and must be moved by a technician who would need to rewire the phone and move the port in the digital phone system chassis. This can create significant expense for companies that require frequents moves, adds and changes.

Maintenance – Digital phone systems require an on-premises service technician in order to maintain, update and upgrade hardware and software. VoIP systems can be programmed, upgraded and often, maintained remotely by the service provider or VAR. When new CO lines or T-1 circuits need to be installed, cloud providers can typically add them remotely without the need for an expensive visit to the customer, potential downtime or delays.

There are still a lot of digital phone systems installed across the country and smaller, more basic companies may feel that they want to get the most out of their investments instead of migrating to newer technology. Over time, these companies may change their minds due to the rising costs of hardware, installation, applications, moves and changes, and obsolescence. Businesses that prefer to be on the cutting edge of technology, need unified communications and collaboration tools or have multiple locations my find VoIP telephony to be more cost-effective and flexible.

VoIP systems are easier to install, can be connected to other systems for less cost, offer more capabilities and can be remotely administered and maintained as compared to digital phone systems.

Resellers that take the time to understand their customers’ existing infrastructure and communications needs can recommend the appropriate system for their requirements, whether it is a premises-based or hosted VoIP solution or a traditional digital platform.

Does your company sell both digital and VoIP telephone systems? Do you agree there is still a need for digital equipment in the market?