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Hosted PBX and Business VoIP is the replacement technology for traditional business phone lines and PBX phone systems. The technology has been around for quite some time but has been limited by the quality of broadband connections available to SME businesses. Australian broadband infrastructure has undergone a major transition over the past few years. In addition to NBN, major carriers and ISPs have improved their broadband networks and business grade internet is now available to most businesses. With the variety of choices available, following are some things to look out for when selecting a service to use with business VoIP.
Business grade VoIP and hosted PBX uses up to 100Kbps in both upload and download bandwidth to make one continuous phone call. If your business has a requirement for (10) phone lines, it's advisable to have 1MB in both upload and download capacity allocated to voice traffic. That's why ADSL connections are generally not suitable for more than 2-3 lines, especially if its shared with general internet usage.
Latency is the amount of time data takes to traverse the broadband network. Low latency means there's less lag time and interference when making a phone call. Most business grade broadband services are low latency, but it pays to check. Most broadband connections using the copper network, like ADSL services, have higher latency than fibre and fixed wireless broadband.
Most businesses connect their IP phones to their existing LAN and share the broadband connection with general internet usage. It's important to ensure the router is capable of prioritising voice traffic. That's done using the QoS settings and it may be necessary to update the router.
Most business ADSL2+ broadband connections have a maximum download speed of 20Mbps and an upload speed of 1Mbps. But that depends on the distance of the premises from the exchange and in reality, these speeds are rarely, if ever, achieved. Generally, a business should expect an average download speed of 10Mbps and an upload speed of 600Kbps (0.6Mbps). If used only for the business VoIP system, the connection should carry six (6) continuous phone calls at any given time. However, if the service is shared with other internet usage, it's not recommended for more than two (2) business VoIP lines.
If fibre is unavailable, mid band ethernet and fixed wireless broadband are ideal for carrying business VoIP. The same connection can easily be used for both voice and internet traffic. Most SMEs opt for speeds between 20Mbps and 100Mbps, allocating some of the bandwidth to business VoIP. They are generally very stable connections and come with symmetrical speeds i.e. upload and download speeds are the same. Generally, these types of broadband connections can comfortably accommodate up to thirty (30) outside telephone lines.
Fibre is the ideal broadband connection for a hosted PBX system. It's not limited by any existing copper wiring and offers extreme bandwidth and ultra-low latency. Business grade fibre has symmetrical speeds, both upload and download, and the bandwidth is generally only limited by the financial budget. Businesses with twenty (20) plus employees at the same location should consider fibre as their first choice.
Standard NBN is a great option for businesses with up to 15 employees. Although speeds aren't symmetrical and the service doesn't come with 1:1 contention i.e. not shared with other users, NBN 100 is generally more than enough. Most carriers have now introduced business NBN which has better contention and is a more robust NBN broadband service.