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What are the operational costs associated with VoIP after implementation?

I'm planning to deploy VoIP in my company. I know what my initial investment will be, but what projects and work should I plan on paying for in terms of operational costs?

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This depends on what you're actually deploying. At the most basic level, deploying VoIP would simply involve subscribing to an over-the-top service like Vonage. This can be a suitable route for small businesses, although it's difficult to control QoS when routing calls over the public Internet. However, some businesses are willing to accept that in exchange for the cost savings. In this case, there will be few new operational costs if any.

More extensive deployments would require VoIP to integrate with the data network as well as the phone system currently in use. This may require some upfront network assessments, and possibly a network upgrade to accommodate VoIP. Once VoIP is deployed, the impact on operational costs should be minimal. Depending on how much VoIP is being used, there may be a need for network monitoring tools to ensure voice quality and to prioritize voice traffic over data traffic.

As VoIP gains wider adoption across the business, the next step will be to plan projects around a more complete migration away from TDM. This will involve moving to a fully converged network environment, which should lead to reduced operational costs in that IT will now only need to support one network, not two. Another project to plan for would be the eventual turnover from legacy telephony systems to IP systems. Not only will these systems be less costly, but they will require less ongoing maintenance and support.

This was first published in November 2009

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