How Expensive are VoIP Maintenance Costs?

Posted on: 2017-11-17 | Categories:SIP

Almost every organization has plans for VoIP whether they purchase hosted services or deploy their own SIP installations. Some companies have not only made the leap but are planning on implementing unified communications suites on top. Others are only now considering whether or not to upgrade from the PSTN. Any way you look at it, VoIP is the future of voice calling for consumers and enterprises.

Organizations assume that the initial investment is the biggest cost involved for any project. On the face of it, this is often true. The capital investment will dwarf the ongoing maintenance costs for most technology based projects. While the individual monthly or annual maintenance/repair bill is likely small, it is a recurring cost. Depending on the life of the system, the maintenance costs can add up to a significant chunk of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

Suppose you spend ten thousand dollars on system A. The maintenance cost is about $500 for every 6 months. That’s a small bill but if you expect to use the system for 10 years, then the maintenance adds up to as much as the initial cost! It is important that you know all the maintenance costs for a VoIP system, as not all of them are apparent at first glance. The individual components are not expensive but sometimes the little things add up.

These costs will also depend on the type of deployment you have. Hosted services have fewer maintenance costs that on premise SIP deployments. Centralized installations are less expensive than distributed deployments. Often enterprises are blind sided by unexpected maintenance or repairs. It’s not the actual cost that is a shock but rather that there is no room for it in the budget!

Maintenance Costs for Hosted VoIP Services

You don’t have a lot of maintenance if you purchase hosted services. The provider takes care of the maintenance and a portion of it is reflected in your monthly bill. Since there is not much equipment in your office itself – unlike a traditional PBX – you don’t have repairs either.

But you do have to maintain your network hardware. This includes all the equipment you need for the Internet connection and internal data network. Modems, routers, repeaters, cables and other hardware will need replacement or repairs every so often. Nowadays most of these components also have software updates which enhance security or add features after purchase. You may need a security management plan and dedicated IT staff just to manage the firmware updates and security patches.

Apart from that you also have the actual IP phones. Most employees will use a combination of the softphones and dedicated desk phones. Some workers who travel a lot may eschew the desk phone altogether. Executives may have more expensive models with bigger screens and extra functionality. You may also have dedicated conference models in meeting rooms and other areas. While you won’t really have a set monthly bill for repairs, you might run into software issues that need troubleshooting. Generally your IT staff can take care of it but the time they spend on fixing problems is also a type of maintenance cost, even if it is indirect.

However at the end of the day, the maintenance costs for hosted VoIP services is not much. You should be prepared for the occasional repair or software issue though.

Maintenance Costs for SIP Deployments

If you have your own SIP installation, you’ll run into more maintenance costs. Most of the items that the provider takes care of are now in your hands. This includes upgrading older hardware, implementing QoS settings on network equipment, updating the IP-PBX software, renewing applicable licenses and so on.

Ongoing support is something you have to think about. If you have an in house team with the expertise in IP systems, their salaries will be a part of the maintenance cost for your IP-PBX. Some organizations prefer to have service contracts where the vendors provide regular maintenance. Then you have to factor in the monthly or annual bill as your maintenance costs. Outsourcing your maintenance reduces your control over the system. That is counter intuitive considering retaining control is the biggest reason why companies go for on premise SIP in the first place!

Security is an important aspect of SIP systems. You have to spend time and money on implementing the appropriate security measures to protect your phones. Though it’s not a recurring bill, you might hire consultants to setup the initial security tools.. Sometimes you need third party software that comes with accompanying licensing costs. All of these costs slowly add up.

While it may seem that there are a lot of maintenance costs involved, the reality is that the amount is far less than what you would pay for a traditional PBX setup. As long as you make room for regular maintenance, you won’t have many surprises!