Telecommunications are quickly evolving, and legacy landlines that we’ve depended on for more than 100 years are slowly being phased out. The main reason for this? Many businesses are switching over to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to connect their employees and engage their customers.

VoIP and Other Phone Systems Explained

As you might remember from science class, a landline phone converts audible sound into an electrical signal that is sent through copper wires until it reaches another telephone, where the electrical signals are converted back into sound. 

VoIP phones are different from traditional landline systems in a couple of key ways. First, they convert audio into a digital signal that is then converted into audio. Second, they are based on the internet, not copper wires. This means that VoIP phones aren’t constrained by local infrastructure. Anywhere that has an Internet connection can receive a VoIP phone call. Also, VoIP calls aren’t necessarily made with traditional desktop phones. They can be made with laptop computers, tablets, smartphones or any other device that has a VoIP application.

In the early days, the debate on VoIP vs. traditional phone systems largely favored the latter because much of the infrastructure in place was analog. Copper wires were only capable of sending a certain amount of data. As companies adopted high speed cabling and digital voice technology evolved, the VoIP vs. traditional phone systems debate has started to swing in favor of the former.

The fact that VoIP technology is all-pervasive and growing by the second only means that traditional phone systems are becoming more outdated. While there are benefits to sticking with traditional phone systems, the benefits of switching to a VoIP system get bigger by the day.

VoIP Pros and Cons

There’s no avoiding the fact that the world is shifting away from traditional phone systems. That being said, it might make sense for a company to jump on the VoIP bandwagon. If you are currently comparing VoIP vs. traditional phone systems it helps to take a look at the pros and cons.

Pro – Cheaper in the Long Run

Most companies make decisions based on cost, and a VoIP installation is a much more cost-effective option than traditional phone lines, especially for departments and companies that do significant business over their phone lines.

Traditional phone systems are connected with physical wiring. This means high installation and maintenance costs. If a company is scaling up its phone operations or moving into a new location, all of the installation required for a new traditional phone system can be significant.

Companies can also save on long-distance and international calls by switching to a VoIP system. While traditional phone systems still charge for these calls, internet-based VoIP calls are much cheaper.

Pro —Supports Remote Work

When COVID hit in early 2020, it showed just how important it is for companies to be agile in the face of an unexpected catastrophic event. Companies that had a VoIP system in place were better positioned to pivot quickly to remote work, while those with traditional phone systems had to figure out how to continue doing business while keeping their employees safe.

COVID-19 restrictions might be behind us but remote work is increasingly popular and VoIP can help a company achieve this flexibility in their workforce. With a VoIP system, employees can make calls from anywhere, with an internet connection with several different types of devices. If a company has different locations, employees can easily move between them without interrupting or changing their phone service.

Pro — Better Scalability

Because a traditional phone system is so much more dependent on physical infrastructure, it’s much harder to scale up or down compared to a VoIP system. Whether a business is expanding, downsizing or transforming, it can easily add or eliminate phone lines by contacting the VoIP provider. Making the same changes as a traditional phone system would require the addition or removal of physical phone lines, which would cost time, money, and possibly productivity. The rapid scalability of a VoIP system means that a company can quickly right-size its communications capabilities when something suddenly changes.

Pro — Integrations

While a VoIP system is highly valuable on its own, software integrations make it much more powerful. For example, companies that integrate their VoIP platform with a CRM, text messaging and transcription systems make the platform a powerful and efficient hub of business activity.

Pro — Easy to Use

Some companies may not have a workforce that is particularly technical and this might prevent them from moving away from a traditional phone system that they’ve grown accustomed to using. But VoIP is known for its ease-of-use and most people can start using it after a quick training session.

In fact, many people that switch over to a VoIP system at their workplace find that it is actually much easier to use than a traditional phone system. On top of that, most VoIP providers offer excellent customer support to help people get the most out of their system.

Pro — Greater Dependability

Because a traditional phone system is completely dependent on local infrastructure, it will go down if that infrastructure is disrupted. Natural disasters, local power outages and other events can knock out a company’s entire ability to communicate.

VoIP systems are not dependent on local infrastructure and are unaffected by natural disasters and other local events. If company facilities are significantly damaged by a natural disaster, a VoIP system would allow employees to continue working from home.

Pro — Advanced Functionality

The real power of a VoIP system can be seen through the use of advanced features. When it comes to the debate on VoIP vs. traditional phone systems, the following technologies are just a few features that really tip the scales in favor of the former.

  • Virtual receptionist. If you have called a customer support line for a major corporation in the past few years, you have likely encountered a virtual receptionist. Virtual receptionists can transfer to callers and direct them towards the proper extensions.
  • Automated call forwarding. This automatically sends incoming calls to a specific VoIP phone line. It can direct inbound sales and service calls from certain area codes to the departments that service those areas. It can also be set up to direct calls to a personal phone when someone is away from their desk.
  • Voicemail transcription. Let’s face it: many of us hate checking voicemail. Voicemail transcription is an advanced VoIP function that allows you to check voicemail in a noisy environment or quickly scan through a transcript to pick out important details.

Pro — Easy to Upgrade

Because VoIP is based mostly on the internet, it is much easier to upgrade performance and functionality compared to traditional phone systems. If you suddenly need to add a new function like voicemail transcription, adding that function is as simple as contacting your VoIP provider.

Con — Poor Reverse Compatibility

One of the biggest drawbacks about transitioning to a VoIP system is that it can be difficult to take a piecemeal approach and have a combination system in place. Legacy telephones are not compatible with a VoIP system. Fortunately, it’s easy to use your current computers, laptops, and smartphones in a VoIP system.

Con — Additional Support for 911 Required

When the 911 system was set up, it was done based on landlines tied to a geographic location. VoIP phone lines are not linked to a specific location, and while this is usually seen as a feature, it is a drawback when it comes to handling emergency calls.

To address this situation, VoIP providers must offer a service called Enhanced 911, which establishes a physical location that appears when a VoIP user dials 911. This requires coordination between VoIP providers and traditional phone companies, who are their direct competitors because phone companies control local phone systems. Companies looking to make the switch to avoid the system should ask providers if they automatically offer Enhanced 911 or if it’s an add-on feature.

Other System Pros and Cons

To be fair, landline phone systems aren’t completely useless. The infrastructure for these systems is everywhere, as is knowledge and customer support. When it comes to VoIP vs. traditional phone systems, there are some pros and cons to traditional systems that should be considered.

Pro — Dependability

Traditional phone systems can be more dependable than VoIP in some situations. For example, the ability to make calls isn’t affected by heavy internet traffic. There’s also no need to rely on routers and Wi-Fi extenders to connect a traditional phone system to the internet.

Pro — Reliable Quality

While VoIP systems can offer crystal clear quality, the quality that these systems offer can vary significantly. By comparison, a traditional phone system offers the same level of audio quality day in and day out.

Con — Poor Support for Industry-Standard Technology

Workers and customers both expect a certain level of technology, and traditional phone systems are very poor when it comes to delivering the type of flexibility and functionality offered by a VoIP system. For companies sticking with a traditional phone system, it means much lower capabilities than any competition using a VoIP system.

Con — Higher Long-Term Costs

Yes, switching to a VoIP system will cost an initial investment, but companies that make the switch quickly recoup that investment by avoiding many costs associated with traditional phone systems. Legacy systems are especially costly when it comes to maintenance, installation and scaling up or down.

How Do I Know Which System Is Right for My Business?

If you’re deciding between a VoIP setup and a landline system, there are some factors to consider. First, you should consider all equipment and infrastructure you already have. If your company is moving into a new facility that is fully wired for high-speed internet, then a VoIP system may be the better option. 

Speaking of budgets, you also need to consider the costs of operating each type of system. Traditional phone systems have significant costs with respect to installation, maintenance, scaling, long-distance calling and more. VoIP systems don’t carry the same costs as traditional phone systems but they have costs as well that need to be considered, particularly for add-on functions that your business might need in a business phone system.

Internet reliability is another key factor to consider. Landlines are dependable when it comes to quality and connection. VoIP systems are based on having a reliable internet connection, and a poor one could be costly.

You should also consider your potential need to scale your phone system up or down. A traditional phone system might be fine if business is steady and you don’t anticipate any changes in your facilities. A VoIP system is the better option if the company is growing rapidly or you have the need to scale operations up and down rather quickly.

Taylored Can Help You Determine the Best Fit for Your Business

At Taylored Systems, our experts can help you decide on a VoIP system that best suits your department, facility, or entire organization. We can let you know if it’s time for your business to switch to a hosted VoIP system or other VoIP services. We can also help you with a unified communications solution that ties together all of your communications channels. Contact us today to find out how we can bring your communications to the next level.