Q

Are there advantages to using the public switched telephone network?

You may have to sacrifice some advantages of the public switched telephone network if you switch to VoIP, says telephony expert Jon Arnold.

What or are there any advantages to using PSTN? More specifically, what advantages does PSTN have over VoIP, if

any?

The public switched telephone network (PSTN) is the network that supports legacy phone service. Most, if not all, businesses were or still are using this network. Those that are no longer using PSTN have most likely made the switch to VoIP. PSTN is still the dominant mode for businesses, although VoIP adoption has been steadily growing. The main benefit of VoIP over PSTN is lower cost, but the trade-offs are many, all of which speak to the inherent qualities of the PSTN.

PSTN is a purpose-built network, designed and perfected for one thing: telecommunications. Since the PSTN was never intended to support any other type of traffic, it handles telephony very well. Key virtues of PSTN include pristine quality, nearly 100% uptime, highly private and secure connections, and the ability to scale and support large volumes of traffic. VoIP is designed to work on a data network and, by its nature, cannot match the PSTN in these areas. VoIP technology has come a long way, and while it's good enough for businesses to rely on, there will be some compromises that come with the cost savings.

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This was first published in March 2013

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