Think back to a time before VoIP technology even crossed your mind. Can you remember what it was like? Do you even want to remember that time? Well, we’re happy that you have made the decision to switch to VoIP, but for those of you who are still wrestling with the idea or have no intentions of switching, we want to you keep on reading to see what you might be missing.
Once again we have some fantastic research that was compiled by the amazing people over at Software Advice, a free resource for VoIP providers. Daniel Harris, a VoIP and telecom researcher at Software Advice, set out to find decision makers who still have PSTN (Public Switch Telephone Networks) connections in the United States.
Harris and his team compiled 161 responses and the results were fascinating. For instance, the FCC reports that the current adoption of business VoIP is only at 15 percent. Believe us, we know this is hard to understand, but Software Advice figured out three key things that help make it clearer: why people are still using the PSTN, what their concerns with VoIP are, and what makes VoIP technology so attractive.
Let’s explore these key points a little further…
The PSTN Still Exists?
Yes it does! From the Software Advice research, the biggest factor that they found as to why people are still clinging to the PSTN is that it’s easier to use. We could make a few arguments when it comes to this point and I think everyone might have a valid point. On one hand PSTN users are very familiar with how their systems work and I’m sure just the thought of moving to a new system makes them uneasy.
On the other hand, VoIP technology is designed to be easy to use. It’s meant to be a system that allows the common business person to set up their own systems and get going versus having a specialized technician service the PSTN users. We posted another article back in September that talks more about small business owners and their phone systems and we touched on just that point; VoIP buyers are going to be more of the owners and partners more than the IT professionals so they need a system that is easy to understand and to use. Make sure to check out that post for all the details on that Software Advice research.
It’s also an interesting find that 25 percent of respondents said that by sticking with the PSTN, they can avoid any service interruption. While it’s true that VoIP systems may lose functionality if the power is down, there are ways around that obstacle. Whenever you’re considering a switch to VoIP, make sure you talk to your VoIP provider to see what their plan of attack is if a power outage were to happen.
What Do People Love About VoIP?
Most decisions usually revolve around cost and making the decision to switch to a new phone solution is no different. When it comes the PSTN, there are two different types of subscribers: analog and digital. Analog is a service that runs off of the oldest system around, the POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) line. Digital service runs off of a technology that is used for transmitting multimedia data over the PSTN rather than over the internet, also referred to as ISDN.
When it comes to saving money, 35 percent of ISDN subscribers would consider adopting a VoIP solution to save money, while only 21 percent of POTS subscribers can see the benefits of VoIP. In general, twice as many ISDN users (28 percent) than POTS users (14 percent) were interested in this benefit of VoIP.
ISDN users also value the more robust features, scalability and out-of-the-box mobile compatibility that is offered through most VoIP solutions. When it comes to mobile compatibility, the PSTN just can’t handle it. As Software advice phrased it, “Whereas the roots of the PSTN pre-date our mobile-centric society by more than a century, mobile devices and IP networks have matured together.”
Why are People Afraid of VoIP?
One of the most interesting pieces from this research was that there were 9 percent of respondents that didn’t really understand VoIP. If you’re a business owner and you don’t understand something, it’s going to be pretty difficult to want to move forward with it. Although VoIP is really taking off and there are great places to find educational material all over the web including VoIPReview.org and WhichVoIP.com
Another big pain point for people when it comes to switching to a VoIP solution is ensuring uninterrupted service. From the graph below you can tell that 37 percent of respondents identified uninterrupted service as an absolutely essential part of their business.
The respondents also don’t trust that VoIP will do well in an emergency situation. Actually, 31 percent of respondents said that the PSTN will continue to serve a vital role in different types of disaster situations. There are ways to develop disaster recovery plans for your VoIP business. Check out this article we wrote a few months ago that can help you get started.
Harris identified another pain point that’s a pretty big concern for businesses: Voice quality and reliability. Here’s what he had to say about that, “One major reason why some businesses still depend on traditional voice services is the perception that the PSTN is more reliable than IP networks. 25 percent of our sample of PSTN subscribers said that they hadn't switched to VoIP service in order to avoid service interruptions. Moreover, 64 percent of our sample expressed a concern with maintaining constant voice service. This group of PSTN subscribers may want to consider hybrid IP PBX solutions that offer both IP connectivity and PSTN connectivity, thereby allowing businesses to send calls over the PSTN during Internet outages. We found that 31 percent of our sample believes that the PSTN will continue to serve a role as a backup mechanism in VoIP systems, which also indicates an interest in hybrid VoIP/PSTN solutions on the part of businesses dependent on traditional voice services.”
There are tons of considerations that need to be taken into account before making any big decisions that involve switching your phone systems. The key is to make sure you research and find the perfect solution for your business. With all of the capabilities of VoIP it’s getting harder and harder to avoid it, but choosing to do have a hybrid system where the PSTN is the backup, is always an option.
You can view the full Software Advice report here: PSTN User Perspectives on IP Communications
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