Do you Need Excellent WiFi for Business VoIP?

Posted on: 2018-07-06 | Categories:SIP

VoIP systems offer substantial savings for businesses of all sizes. The technology allows you to send voice calls over the Internet instead of using dedicated copper lines (PSTN). VoIP is flexible allowing you to use different devices to make and receive calls. Your business phone system can have desk phones, smartphones, tablets, desktops, laptops, and many other types of devices in the mix.

One of the biggest advantages of VoIP is that it offers mobility. In a world where not all employees come into the office every day, phones that can work in multiple locations are practically a necessity. So it’s not a surprise to see IP phones that can run on wireless networks instead of an Ethernet connection. It seems to be an attractive proposition on the surface – you get the quality hardware promised by a desk phone with none of the disadvantages (wires, cables etc.)

Wi-Fi and VoIP – Are There Complications?

If you’re thinking of using wireless IP phones in your office, it’s worth your while to consider if Wi-Fi is the best option in the first place. Even if you have the bandwidth, capacity and high-speed Internet access, wireless networks are not quite suitable for voice calls. In certain circumstances, excellent Wi-Fi might be the better option (especially when compared to using cellular networks). But it’s not going to be reliable or deliver high-quality voice calls for your staff.

There are a few reasons for this. One is that the frequency used by VoIP phones is unregulated and as a result, quite crowded. Everything from microwaves to cordless phones uses the same frequency band in a typical office. That means your IP phones have to fight for bandwidth access with the score of other appliances and applications.

Another reason is that wireless networks cannot match the speeds offered by a direct Ethernet connection. But what if you have the latest hardware or have recently upgraded your network infrastructure? You can have the best and fastest equipment but a cable will give you better speeds than Wi-Fi. Even if you blanket your office with multiple access points and wireless radios, you won’t be improving performance by much.

The biggest reason is that VoIP requires Quality of Service. Voice calls happen in real-time which means that any missed or dropped packet will affect call quality. A difference of a few milliseconds can result in choppy conversations, missed calls, and a host of other issues. Now imagine trying to make VoIP work over WiFi networks while trying to compete with other applications for bandwidth.

As you can see, it’s not a good idea to depend on WiFi – no matter how excellent or fast it is – for your phone system. It doesn’t mean that you cannot use WiFi at all. It is a good fallback option in case use Internet access, your ISP is having issues etc. You can have a few employees use softphone apps on their personal smartphone to make business calls now and then. What you can’t do is put all your phones on wireless networks without spending a lot of time and money on it. You’ll get much better results with much less effort if you remove wireless networking from the equation.

But What If?

In spite of the inherent disadvantages, wireless IP phones offer a tantalizing proposition. Wireless phones offer mobility and take up much less space, especially since they don’t need cables and wires trailing after them. Some people would like to benefit from these advantages. While others think that their connections are fast enough to support such phones in spite of the issues.

If you have a small office, it may be tempting to use Wi-Fi enabled phones. But the better solution in such a situation would be to use cordless IP phones for mobility and space issues. If an employee needs a phone for a few weeks/months and you simply cannot wire up the place, consider using softphone apps on a computer instead. You’ll get much better results.

At the end of the day, wired solutions like an Ethernet cable are going to be the best value for your money. It’s a direct connection, easier to manage than wireless protocols, and offers much better reliability. Another thing that you have to keep in mind is security. Wireless networks are frequently targeted by criminals and often do not support complex encryption algorithms. Your phone system is vulnerable enough without introducing one more weakness.

Every business wants to make sure that the phones are up and running at all times. Given current technology, it simply not possible to do that with wireless networks. Some businesses can get by for a while but it is not a good long-term solution on any scale.