Newer isn’t always better. A case in point: the trend of using VoIP instead of the tried and trusted technology of GSM.
GSM, or the Global System for Mobile, has been used in South Africa since 1993. VoIP, or voice over Internet Protocol, on the other hand, only became popular some years ago, largely due to its cost-effectiveness.
However, VoIP is a relatively new technology, and despite growing interest in it as a GSM alternative, it is still experiencing many hiccups and issues. Here are five reasons we believe that VoIP still struggles when compared to GSM.
For VoIP to function optimally, it needs an uncontested, properly managed data link over a reliable, high-speed Internet connection. Achieving this level of data connectivity can turn out to be very expensive — often well beyond the budget of small to medium-sized businesses, which often run on highly multiplexed, best-effort but cheap data circuits like ADSL or 3G.
The cost of the data line is just the start. The skilled technician to manage it can cost many multiples of the data link itself. And it is often a never-ending cycle of catch-up given that when more users connect and share the same bandwidth, the less reliable VoIP becomes and more costly management is required. In other words, the more the business grows, the faster the call quality will deteriorate unless the costs are also scaled up.
In stark contrast to this, a GSM voice channel is never contested and does not need to be self-managed. It is fixed, guaranteed and managed by the GSM network itself, and your voice quality will never fade as your business grows.
GSM has dominated the voice calling market for decades, and its connectivity standards are heavily prescribed and policed by international regulators. Operators are bound to exacting standards and quality levels, so you can rest assured that your GSM services will offer consistently high quality and, more importantly, high-security coverage.
No such regulations are in place for VoIP, which allows “cowboys” to set up shop in the VoIP market, and leads us to our next point.
Being connected to and through the open Internet, VoIP is always at risk of hacking, malware, and other malicious interference. Managing the security aspect of VoIP is a large and complex task, often beyond the capabilities or budget of a small business. Incorrectly secured, VoIP can put your valuable customer data at risk of security breaches and fraud, creating enormous potential liabilities for your business.
GSM, however, is the most secure mobile communication standard currently available. With various authentication techniques and stringent guidelines for mobile operators, the users allowed on their mobile networks are heavily restricted, and security breaches are almost unheard of.
4. Call quality
VoIP call quality is entirely dependent on the quality and stability of your Internet connection. Therefore, if your connection is poor, the quality of your calls will be too — VoIP calls can experience anything from jitters and delays (the dreaded latency) to echoes and cut-offs.
Anytime other network devices such as firewalls, routers and network configurations are added or changed, the network balance is potentially at risk. Network degradation is often not that noticeable for data functions like browsing and system access but is completely obvious and unacceptable when trying to make phone calls.
Compare that to GSM — a proven technology that’s known for its perfect quality voice calls. In fact, the GSM networks have very strict Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) licence agreements in place to maintain a high level of GSM call quality. A best-effort, self-managed technology like VoIP simply cannot compete with this in the aggregate, even if it is occasionally perfect.
5. Tier of service
VoIP is a third-party communications protocol that runs over the top of an existing IP network. This can be any IP network provided over any physical link such as fibre, ADSL or even GSM (3G or 4G). Therefore, the first tier in a VoIP service is the underlying IP network, and VoIP is the second tier of service, one tier removed from its transit network.
The bottom line here is that VoIP is very dependent on the quality of the layer or tier beneath it, and often the VoIP provider does not own or control this layer — adding further risk elements to the VoIP quality equation.
Conversely, GSM networks are, by nature, first-tier voice service providers. In other words, they own and operate the physical infrastructure over which they carry the calls for their customers, and the GSM voice protocol is embedded in the network itself. As such, GSM networks have complete control over their entire provision of the service, from end to end.
While many people tout VoIP as the next big thing in communication, it still has significant hurdles to overcome before it can take its place as a mature and guaranteed technology solution. The issues surrounding connectivity, regulation, security, quality and tier of service are simply too present for most companies to ignore.
Huge Telecom, a part of Huge Group, believes that GSM will remain a trusted communication solution for the foreseeable future. A GSM service provides accessible and consistent coverage for businesses large and small — not to mention perfect quality phone calls! Huge Telecom offers GSM business solutions guaranteed to help your business communicate effectively — so contact Huge Telecom today.
And if you want to build a successful telecommunications business, don’t miss the next instalment in this series.
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