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01/31/2005 - Contineo Offers VoIP Services

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocols) has been around since 1996, and the subject is still surrounded by confusion. Many think that VoIP is desirable because it provides “free” long distance – or long distance telephone calls for the price of your Internet connection. This is not true, according to Craig Jolly, Business Development Manager for Contineo Technologies. There are many good business cases for having VoIP, but free long distance just isn't one of them.

VoIP gets its name from the fact that, unlike ordinary telephones which carry voice signals as analog voltage variations, VoIP converts the voice signal to digital data immediately and sends it as digital “packets” which have the same form as those used for the Internet (IP). There are two fundamental parts of a VoIP system. There is the hardware --- the telephone handset that sits on the desk, the desktop computer that runs the telephone, and the server that runs the entire integrated system. Then there is the network that carries the signal. The quality of service (QoS) for VoIP is only as good as the network.

Quality hardware preceded quality network by some years according to Jolly. VoIP systems have many more features than the PBX system, and the laundry list of prompts and features are kept on the desktop computer. The telephone system itself is solid and having the system saves money for large businesses with many employees because the VoIP telephone system can be set up and maintained by the IT professionals. This means that any need to add, change, or move a telephone can be done in-house by the IT department very quickly and without need to call in an outside purveyor. For companies with branch offices, one IT department can manage the entire VoIP system, over the company WAN (wide area network), and interoffice calls can be made as local calls.

Satisfactory VoIP requires better quality network wiring because voice packets -- unlike data packets -- must flow in sequence, and be routed accordingly so that they arrive as a conversation. Data packets can be sent randomly and be reassembled upon arrival. If one packet doesn't arrive, the whole package can be resent. VoIP can't have that. Carriers have spent huge amounts of money upgrading networks to have QoS available for VoIP. They are not going to give network use away.

When a VoIP user calls a party that doesn't have VoIP, the call goes through a gateway to a PSTN (public switched telephone network) that completes the call. The QoS is seamless.

“Large scale network providers (carriers) are out there and ready to do business,” says Jolly. “However carriers don't want individual businesses to contact them directly, and they aren't going to advertise.” Carriers want to work through an independent system administrator who will provide the engineering expertise needed to match the correct hardware to the business’s existing system and the network interface. The integrator matches the IP addresses to the service provider and makes sure that the end user hardware matches the service and will work with it. Contineo Technologies is an independent integrator whose engineers have years of experience and can almost guarantee that they can make any system work correctly the first time. Manufacturers are a lot stingier about taking equipment back if it doesn't work for you. If using an Integrator, the manufacturer is more likely to take back a piece of equipment that doesn't fit in.

When a business asks Contineo for help in establishing VoIP, Contineo leads the business through a number of steps. First the engineers do an analysis of the current telephone system and the network wiring available. What is the network topology currently in use? If the business has an antiquated data network, a VoIP system could cause the network to crash. They determine what the user has, needs, and wants.

The next step is to determine what the current telecommunications and Internet usage is. Who it is from, and how it is being delivered? If a business case is made, Contineo does the installation and implementation of VoIP and does the upgrades of the network as needed.

Contineo helps with the business case in helping to determine how the business can reduce expenses, and may recommend the consolidation of providers for greater economy. “Platforms have been scaled down so VoIP is now more affordable for small and medium sized companies with fewer than 120 employees,” says Jolly. “However, sometimes the best thing for a business is to leave it alone.”

Contineo Technologies is a Professional technology consulting organization servicing financial and health care institutions within the western United States. Contineo offers out-sourced CIO services for strategic consulting and planning, coupled with Network Engineering services. Their mission is to reduce business expenses, increase revenue and drive productivity and profits for clients.

To learn everything you ever wanted to know about VoIP, visit http://www.voip-info.org/tiki-index.php. To learn more about Contineo Technologies, visit www.contineotech.com.

Billie Moreland
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