Most of us are aware of the basics and underlying mechanisms of Voice Over Internet Protocol technology. For those who are not up-to-date with its details, VoIP is a system that integrates various communication protocols and transmission technologies to offer the facility of conducting voice calls and multimedia sessions using one's Internet connection.
Also synonymously referred to as Internet telephony, IP telephony, Voice over Broadband (VoBB), broadband phone and broadband telephony.
Voice Over IP is generally implemented through the media of any of these six protocols - IP Multimedia Subsystem (IPS), Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), Multimedia Gateway Control Protocol (MGCP), Session Description Protocol (SDP), H.323 and Real Time Transport Protocol (RTP).
Since the emergence of this coming-of-age communication and multimedia technology, everyone's been talking about the advantages of VoIP such as low operating cost, flexibility of operation, more multitasking options, versatile utility, etc.
However, since every coin has two faces, VoIP disadvantages are as significant, if not more, as VoIP advantages! Let's take a detailed tour of the VoIP drawbacks to understand the areas where it falls short of its promised deliverables and what are the reasons behind such lacunae. Time to lift the cover off the ugly side of VoIP!
Disadvantages of VoIP
As far as the VoIP advantages are concerned, the following VoIP drawbacks, mostly owing to practical infrastructure scenarios and technical reasons, emerge as the biggest disadvantages of VoIP that sometimes outweigh the benefits promised by this technology. Let's look at each lacuna in detail.
Lack of a network based service mechanism is one of the biggest disadvantages as due to the absence of a network based service, chances of loss of data packets and distortion of data sequence are increased. Due to these reasons, VoIP services often fail to tackle issues of jitter and latency.
Dependency on Power
As opposed to conventional telephones whose lines are directly connected to the telephone company's phone lines, VoIP adapters are connected to modems and routers which function as long as they are powered by locally generated electricity.
A power failure, thus, means that you cannot use the VoIP service to make a call and have to wait till power is restored. On the other hand, in case of conventional analog telephone services, no such local power source is necessary and communication can be established and continued despite power disruptions.
Challenge of Portability
One of the major VoIP drawbacks is that while VoIP works on the Least Cost Routing principle, calls made over VoIP often find it difficult to reach their destinations if such destinations happen to be numbers registered with conventional mobile carriers and service providers.
Difficulty in Calling Emergency Numbers
Internet protocols find it hard to pinpoint network users on the basis of geographical location. Due to this reason, emergency calls often get routed outside the convenient geographical reach rather than getting connected to the nearest call center.
Sometimes, emergency calls may get directed to non-emergency phone lines of the concerned department and the time lost because of such an occurrence can be detrimental and endangering!
Let us suppose an incident when you have accidentally injured yourself by puncturing a vein through a broken glass and the wound keeps on bleeding. Your instant reaction would be to call the Emergency and Trauma Centre of the Hospital rather than the billing department who, then, reroutes your call to the same.
Limited Faxing Capability
Sending fax over VoIP is not very effective as the voice codecs used by VoIP technology are not designed for, and conducive to, transmitting fax messages. These codecs are fashioned to be able to convert an analog human voice model into a digital format.
Difficulty in Calling 911
The emergency service was designed on the basis of PSTN network and was meant to be easily accessible by all telephones on the network. PSTN networks work geographically and any PSTN telephone connection would be registered under a local address.
That way, even if a caller of 911 isn't able to speak to the operator for some reason, the operator can still locate the geographic location and local address based upon the PSTN telephone number from which the call was placed.
Now, VoIP works on the basis of IP address rather than local address and the distribution of VoIP services is not based upon geographical location either. Therefore, it becomes difficult to trace the location of a call as a particular geographical location cannot be pulled out of the information an IP address provides as these two are, in no way, connected.
That precisely covers the major disadvantages of VoIP and the reasons behind them. Some other challenges like IP and network security issues, PSTN integration and caller identification have been tackled to a certain extent and soon, these are expected to become non-issues.
Hope the same happens to the other aforementioned concerns as well. Once the mentioned drawbacks get corrected, VoIP would be the undisputed technology and service choice for voice communication and multimedia interactions!