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Buying a VoIP Gateway? Here are 10 Things to Consider (Part 2)

The first part of our 10-point guide in buying a VoIP gateway mentioned cost considerations and capacity. Now we will talk about the next five points, and these are mostly about a few technical aspects you should consider.

6. IP connectivity types. You should choose your VoIP gateway based on the standards your company plans to use. There are two major standards: session initiation protocol (SIP) and the H.323 specification. Your choice of client software or hardware would then also depend on support for either of these protocols that you choose.

7. Compression. This is another important technical aspect to consider. A VoIP gateway essentially converts analog voice signals (audio) into digital signals (data) to transfer through the IP network or the Internet. Digitization usually comes with compression, on which the quality of a call is dependent. If the compression is too high, then the voice quality might be poor. If compression is too low, then there might be delays or latency in transmission (will be observed as a “lag”), hence a tradeoff. Digitization usually results in 64 Kbps data rate, and VoIP gateways can further compress this down to anywhere between 5.3 Kbps to 24 Kbps. Select a gateway that lets you be flexible in controlling compression, so you can determine whether to prioritize bandwidth or quality.

8. Upgrade options. Software-based gateways may be easier to upgrade, since it will be a matter of installing software or updating portions of the software. This is especially useful when new standards are set, or the existing standards are updated to support new protocols or equipment. Hardware-wise, upgrade paths include addition of new ports to support added equipment.

9. Compatibility. Since your VoIP gateway will be communicating with both internal and external devices, you should check whether your planned purchase will work with your existing technologies, including the PBX, automatic call director, and interactive voice response systems. Most importantly, the gateway should work with your PBX.

10. Support. Vendor support is important because you would expect extensive use of your VoIP gateway, and this is mostly for mission/business-critical matters. Downtime could be costly. Make sure your equipment comes with warranty, and be clear with your vendor about the coverage of warranty. Also, you should check whether your vendor offers support via phone, email or other means.

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