Business connectivity has evolved over the past thirty years. At one time, a business needed to know nothing more than the phone number for the local telephone company and the location of the telephone room. Things changed rapidly as businesses began utilizing a local area network to connect computers within the office and a commercial internet provider to connect computers inside the office to the Internet and remote locations outside the office. As cellular telephony became more ubiquitous, businesses increased their reliance on cellular devices and cellular networks. With fiber optic cable now replacing copper wiring in many locations, the old landline telephone is in danger of disappearing forever. Here are some key differences between traditional telephone systems and the cellular systems and bandwidth solutions that are replacing it:
The traditional telephone network uses telephones that plug into a wall socket which is wired to a phone panel inside the building. The phone panel connects to the telephone system through overhead or underground wires. The official name for the telephone system is the Public Switched Telephone Network (or PSTN). Originally, PSTN was a completely analog system but is now digital except for the analog system that connects the local telephone exchange to buildings with landlines. Advantages of PSTN include reliable service, high sound quality, simple installation and maintenance, and reliable emergency service.
Cellular telephones use radio waves to communicate with cell towers. Each cell tower handles reception and transmission for a defined area called a “cell,” hence the name. By design, cell phones have a limited range so as not to interfere with other cell phones. For this reason, cell towers must be placed strategically to provide adequate coverage for the size of the cell and the number of cell phones inside that cell. The primary advantage of cellular telephony is mobile use but the reliability and quality depend on the coverage of the cell towers in the area.
The Internet created new opportunities for bandwidth solutions to voice communication and these bandwidth solutions grew quickly. In fact, in 2012, 98.9 billion subscribers used commercial VOIP. This led to over $43 billion in global revenues. Voice over IP telephone services use high speed internet to transmit voice and video calls. VOIP service utilizes the Internet the same way as any other Internet-connected device. The voice or video call is converted into data packets that are routed over the Internet to the destination where they are reassembled. From the standpoint of the Internet, it does not make a difference whether the data packets from an email, streaming music, webpage, or voice call. However, an Internet service provider offering high speed Internet is required to support real-time voice communications. Stated differently, the reliability and call quality of VOIP telephone service are highly dependent on the bandwidth of the Internet connection used. The advantages of VOIP are that a phone can be connected anywhere with high speed Internet which makes VOIP service is highly scalable and much easier to install compared to traditional telephones. VOIP is also the easiest form of videoconferencing.
Traditional PSTN, cellular service, and VOIP service differ from one another in significant ways. As more commercial ISPs become VOIP providers, they can supply adequate bandwidth needed for a VOIP system to provide reliability and call quality appropriate for commercial use.