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Making the Transition from PSTN to VoIP

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shutterstock_121357717With all the great things we’ve heard about VoIP, it’s hard to understand why everyone hasn’t dumped their old PTSN phone system and made the switch to digital telephony en masse.

Instead, the transition from PTSN to VoIP has been a gradual one. In Australia, VoIP usage increased by 31%, from 2.9 to 3.8 million between 2010 and 2011. While this is a fairly substantial increase, it shows that there is still a way to go yet and not everyone is in a hurry to defect to VoIP.

So, why the reluctance to switch? To answer that question, you need to look at the advantages of both systems from a consumer’s point of view.

The dilemma

The main advantage of VoIP is low cost calls, installation, and maintenance. For a business, cutting costs is a strong incentive for change, yet the main advantage of PTSN is reliability. The good old analogue system just keeps on trucking.

Cost vs reliability. Yes, we want to save money, but no, we don’t want to risk losing any business through unreliable service. Which means that many businesses are persevering with PTSN, even though they could be paying much less, because it’s the devil they know and it works.

The irony is that reliability and call quality issues that existed in the early years of VoIP are largely disappearing due to the increase in broadband speeds. Call quality and reliability are entirely dependent on one’s Internet connection, so as these get better, so does VoIP.

The game changer

The other main advantage of VoIP is its dazzling array of features, and it is this advantage that is contributing to the gradual move away from PTSN. VoIP gives businesses of any size a huge range of call handling features, many of them free. Also, it now offers new methods of communication other than audio, such as video conferencing, email, faxing, and instant messaging. PTSN simply can’t compete with this, as most of its optional extras come at a large added expense.

The compromise

Rather than rushing to get onboard the VoIP Express, many businesses are taking a more calculated approach and installing hybrid phone systems, which give them the benefits of VoIP plus the assurance of good old PTSN always available as a standby.

There is no doubt that VoIP is the future of telephony. The fact that there are now more than 200 providers in Australia alone is evidence of this, but it will probably take something like a PBX failure to drive the last few businesses over the line at the eleventh hour. In the meantime, the steady move to VoIP will continue, and advances in technology will only serve to make it better and more appealing as time passes.

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