by Gary Audin
Published July 2001
Going to Home Depot to plan an extra room or remodel a home can be quite an experience. There are many choices, price ranges, competitive products and mutually-exclusive selections. You can put on an addition, finish the basement, or redesign the garage. Each choice will affect quality of life and also require compromises in order to keep the budget reasonable.
If an enterprise decides to implement VOIP, an analogous situation will occur. The products are not yet commodity technologies where all the vendors are virtually the same, as in 10BaseT Ethernet. Moreover, there are different ways to implement VOIP—as a software package, gateway, telephone- and/or router-based technology. One vendor’s product may be an efficient bandwidth consumer, while another’s can produce good-sounding voice during poor network performance. Does the desktop perform the VOIP function or do the network components? The answer can be "yes" to both.
The quality issue for VOIP is voice transmission. Is the voice clear and undistorted, with undetectable phone-to-phone delay? Do-it-yourself VOIP is, at least, the equivalent of remodeling your network but, more likely, making several additions tempered with compromises based on budget and quality goals.
There is no single solution for making a VOIP network perform better. You can throw money at the network and make everything bigger and faster. The network can be redesigned (the IP staff will like this one) to satisfy VOIP requirements. Careful selection of the products also can help. Finally, there are some potential problems that can be avoided.
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