Solutions VoIP PitfallsAs with all evolving software and telecommunications technologies, VoIP systems have their pitfalls. This article identifies the most commonly cited drawbacks of VoIP information systems. More ...VoIP HistoryContrary to popular opinion and some vendor claims, Voice over Internet Protocol transmission started in 1973 as a result of the experimental Network Voice Protocol invented for the ARPANET. However, not until 1995 did the first Internet Phone Software – Vocaltec – appear. More ...
 Market Leaders Skype and Vonage have emerged and introduced disruptive technologies. Cisco, Avaya and Nortel have introduced major market strategies to leverage their IP telephony into VoIP services. Other peer to peer groups beyond Skype, such as FlyFone, also challenge the normal and the traditional telephone companies with impressive new technology solutions.
VoIP Pitfalls

As with all evolving software and hardware technologies, VoIP has potential pitfalls. The most commonly cited drawbacks include:

Some consumers still consider VoIP to be too technologically complex. However, this argument is falling by the wayside as VoIP setup and administration is becoming simpler than using a microwave oven.

Some VoIP services do not operate during power outages without battery backup. This issue can be mitigated with an inexpensive battery backup system.

Some VoIP callers must manually enter their current location online to be identified by a 911 dispatcher. The ubiquitous nature of IP can make it difficult to locate users geographically. This is an item being addressed by both federal mandate and new technology. E911 is method by which United States VoIP service providers are able to support emergency services by automatically associating the caller’s physical address with their telephone number. E911 is required by the Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act of 1999 and is being successfully implemented and used by many providers to deliver physical address information to emergency service operators.

Poor broadband Internet connections can cause call quality problems. Some for of broadband is normally necessary to achieve a reasonable quality call using VoIP.

VoIP uses an Internet protocol called UDP which provides greater speed but doesn’t provide the same levels of reliability as the more popular TCP Internet protocol. VoIP implementations can require trouble-shooting and fine tuning in order to resolve issues with Quality of Service (QoS), latency, echo, packet loss and jitter. This is particularly true where VoIP calls cover large global distances or use satellite circuits.

Some VoIP implementations incur temporary conflicts with existing network equipment such as firewalls, switches and web accelerators. Session Border Controllers can be used alongside firewalls to permit and manage VoIP calls with protected networks.

Using VoIP for fax distribution has trailed VoIP for calling. VoIP voice codes are not well designed for fax signals and transmission as the fax signals don’t fit as well in the VoIP channel.

Each of these obstacles are influenced by any particular VoIP service provider and all can be mitigated with advanced planning. In the very near term it is likely each pitfall will be resolved as the technology advances.