By Danie Fourie, director at XDSL
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony services can provide huge cost savings for any size and type of organisation, sometimes offering a 30 to 50 percent decrease on their total monthly telecommunications bills. But many South African migrations from traditional copper-wire telephone systems to VoIP have been riddled with war stories about negligent service providers, tales of delays, ailing voice quality and sub-standard, yet mission critical services. What caused such sour grapes amongst businesses that have had to tread their path of convergence to more affordable telephony business services?
The answer is simple. VoIP as a viable alternative has been oversold by service providers as the voice communications nirvana that offered lower cost with superior quality business services compared to traditional telephony services.
ADSL not sufficient
However, using cumbersome Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) connectivity to lower cost and even with advanced compression technologies to enhance quality had failed to deliver on that promise. Talks of dedicated bandwidth, phased approaches, small scale pilots and migration plans wore thin as those at the coal face of organisations had to deal with quality issues such as lags and downtime.
ADSL, while relatively inexpensive, is sufficient for many business critical applications but can’t deliver stable business-grade telephony. Many companies were in fact misguided by so-called communications experts about the limitations of ADSL as the preferred platform for a VoIP solution.
While using wires, already in use for telecommunications, is the most common type of connectivity available in South Africa, ADSL has different maximum data transfer rates for uploading and downloading data and as a result, data throughput may vary. In prominent business areas, ADSL exchanges are often oversubscribed and voice quality lowers significantly as overall usage in these areas increases. Sure, it may be cheaper than alternatives such as Diginet and Fibre, but is not stable, and offers at best a “best-effort” service.
Consistent quality with Diginet
On the other hand, Diginet, once seen as an expensive, ailing technology offers a dedicated, synchronous data transfer service which provides guaranteed bandwidth from point to point for each line within the organisation. This offers a solid foundation for VoIP and an always on, always available service.
As a settled service, Diginet provides the platform for secure, high quality services over a digital transmission network that can be controlled and monitored for quality assurance with service level agreements.
While the price of Diginet lines has been a bone of contention and a barrier to entry for companies to upgrade, it is becoming more affordable and adopted in the South African market. The capital outlay is not as astronomical as what warmongers of ADSL VoIP make it out to be. In fact, it is today more affordable than traditional telephony services with the same amount of channels that companies are accustomed to, no matter the size and scope of their organisations.
With Diginet, businesses are guaranteed throughput and uptime throughout South Africa and VoIP is then offered for a fixed cost, irrespective of distance. Businesses do not pay for data throughput, but merely a fixed cost for the connectivity and quality of service that can be monitored and reported. I believe that businesses don’t want to be bogged down by the ‘ins and outs’ of the technology. They want to know that it works.
In fact, many of our long-term customers have moved beyond the advantages of Diginet infrastructure and are now looking to additional services and functionality that VoIP connectivity allows. Internet Service Providers are able to provide additional value-added services on top of their infrastructures that enhance the productivity of their businesses and improve their bottom line.
Diginet as the technology of choice for VoIP is not a hard sell. For customers, the clincher is the bill at the end of the month. Nothing is more convincing than the cost savings in black and white – a stable amount that can be budgeted for to ensure continuous business.