How Good is BYOB VoIP?

Peter : On Rad's Radar?
| Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO, Inc. talking telecom, Cloud, VoIP, CLEC, and The Channel.

How Good is BYOB VoIP?

One of my coaching clients has had some issues with BYOB (bring your own broadband) ITSP's (VoIP providers) over the last couple of months. I have too. My Aastra IP phone died and I moved to an ATA, which has added an incredible amount of echo and tin to the line. He says that he has one way calls and the two of us have experienced garbled calls. 

All that makes it difficult to sell VoIP to businesses.

Some of it - like the echo - is the CPE. Some of it is the configuration by the ITSP. Some of it is the broadband.

The ITSP should correct all issues with the CPE and the configuration - without doing finger pointing to the broadband. If you deliver BYOB VoIP, you can't spend all your time blaming the ISP.

If you buy and use BYOB VoIP, you can't expect POTS quality service either. Seriously. VoIP isn't POTS. And Voice over the Internet (which is what BYOB VoIP is) is going to have quality issues. Period.

My ISP has been giving me indigestion over congestion issues for a while, but what can you do? 

The Duopoly – cable and telco – want to meter broadband because they want more revenue. They don’t want to upgrade the networks any more unless they can make more $$. They need the ARPU to go up, which in the current economic climate is just not going to happen. So the result is to decrease CAPEX spending on network upgrades. We see this on cellular networks. Despite spending $7-9B per year on the cell network, the cell networks still experience congestion and that is after the cellcos have capped consumer usage too! What happens when the wi-fi offload to broadband hits the point of congestion? Metering. (We already have capping in place on consumer broadband.)

How is this going to affect business down the road?

More and more workers are working from home. That means day time broadband networks are being used like never before. (It used to be around 3 PM when the broadband would get hit as kids came home from school.)

Smartphone users are switching to wi-fi when they can to save dollars and the broadband networks - more than 60% cable today - are congesting - at a few points. The bottlenecks are in the neighborhoods and in the peering points.

When David Byrd was talking about BYOB in his blog and stated, " For the most part, 90-95% of the time, this works out very well and an overwhelming majority of our customers are very happy," I believe he was talking about DIA not broadband. Big difference. A business broadband circuit of 10MB x 2MB is not the same as a T1. The numbers look better but broadband is best effort, shared bandwidth and DIA is a dedicated circuit. The quality of bandwidth is degrees different.

Many ITSP's have moved to looking for bigger deals where the business will buy DIA or MPLS or a dedicated VoIP circuit. Converged is a nice idea for a network, but at the end of the day, it is about quality, ease and of course price. With the cost of customer acquisition increasing, no company wants to lose a customer over quality. (Besides that churn number makes Wall Street unhappy. 2.8% is not a friendly number.)

For businesses with less than 25 handsets, BYOB VoIP may be the way to go, but think about having two broadband circuits - something to alleviate the VoIP quality issues that may arise.

Look for an ITSP that is connected to your ISP as that can alleviate some of the path quality issues.

Try a demo phone for a day or two to see what it will be like.

Fax, alarm circuits and other special needs lines will still have to be POTS for now, but that's okay - you'll have a back-up line in case something happens to the VoIP or the Internet or the power.

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