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Yes or No to BYO: What's the best approach for your business?

By Todd Wirth, LightEdge Engineer
The invitation list to the “Bring Your Own” party is expanding.  Before you RSVP, however, consider the impact…and the potential impact on your voice communications.
Most people have access to high speed Internet connections via cable, DSL, WiFi, or cellular data plans.  SmartPhone and Tablet use is growing and the costs are coming down.  Businesses are accommodating these trends with complex “Bring Your Own Device” and “Bring Your Own Bandwidth” policies.
Because of these trends, many users are now working over the Internet and on their own devices from various locations including home, libraries, airports, and hotels.  As a business owner, it makes financial sense to leverage these resources.  As much as possible, you can enhance your employee experience by allowing access to your company’s systems from whatever device they choose.
There are few obstacles accessing email over BYO networks or on BYO devices, but can corporate voice services be accessed as easily in a BYO environment?
Voice-over-IP is flexible enough to work over any high speed network including the Internet.  Technology is not the obstacle.  Much like the early days of cellular phones, VoIP over the public Internet should probably be avoided for critical calls to make sure that communication is reliable and high quality.
Voice services over ill-prepared data networks are sensitive to connection properties such as latency, jitter, and packet loss.  The best communications solution is to have a dedicated connection to provide all of your data needs including VoIP.  This allows network controls to traffic flow and quality of service.  With a well-managed connection you can have excellent quality.
There are situations, however, where installing dedicated connections does not make business sense.  For example, there is no need to add a WAN connection to a small remote office in a complex that receives high speed Internet as a utility.  Another instance would be when working from a hotel room. In these cases, the Internet can be used to provide a simple and consistent business presentation.  Tolerance is the key as quality will vary.
Simple communication needs:

  1. One number to be called regardless of where the employee is working.
  2. One number to show on calling line identification on outbound calls.
  3. Easy (and if possible fun) solutions.
  4. “Good” quality calls*

*It is important to note again that Voice communication in the BYO world is a cautionary tale.  Voice streams must be real-time to deliver the expected conversation experience.  Any network anomalies will affect conversations. 
The Public Internet is wrought with anomalies.  The best way to use the public Internet in voice solutions is to:

  1. Know the connectivity.
  2. Have alternatives.
  3. Be flexible

When setting up VoIP on public Internet, you should get to know the connection. Test the speeds. Assess the viability of voice communication over the network throughout several timeframes.  As part of a BYO installation, LightEdge uses professional assessment tools to make sure that VoIP will work.
On good networks the best alternative is use an Internet Proxy to register your communication device (IP phone, soft phone, etc.).   Utilizing the best technology including low bandwidth codecs and encryption will provide safe good quality communications.
On networks with quality issues, there are several VoIP alternatives that utilize public telephone or cellular networks.  VoIP Anywhere features can be used with or without Smartphone apps for signaling but use a telephone network for voice quality.   This a great alternative to using expensive hotel phones, for example, when the in-room Internet is less than stellar.
Flexibility in communications over the Internet is important.  Realizing that you have different methods that can provide high quality, secure and inexpensive communications can make BYO a real party.


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