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The Benefits of VOIP

There are many benefits of VOIP.   One is administration.   The number is assigned to the phone, not the wall jack, so you issue a phone to an employee and it works wherever they plug it in.  With modern VOIP PBX solutions, you have significant administrative control over things like who your employees can call, when they  can call, how long they can talk, who can call them – the range of control can be amazing depending on your vendor.

All of this results in a lower overall cost of ownership for VOIP in many cases.  This is not a generic result and there are many variables, but for many offices VOIP can cut costs dramatically.  But, remember this this also places your voice services on your data network.  Failure of a network element isolates both data and voice service.  This is generally uncommon, but you cannot ignore the fact that losing a switch for instance, will make it impossible for people on that switch to call and report the outage.

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Taking a Look at the Budget When Determining Cabling Needs

While working within a budget is certainly something one should consider, it must be understood that the difference in costs between Cat5e, Cat6 and optical fiber is insignificant compared to the costs involved in not using the correct conveyance media for current and future network requirements.  The old adage that “it is better to do it right the first time” certainly holds true when planning your network infrastructure.  Not doing it right the first time could cost your company far more than it saved by choosing an older technology or less expensive conveyance media, not to mention that not choosing the correct media could cripple a network and bring about the wrath of its users.  Because of this, current and future bandwith requirements, as well as an understanding of your network environment should play a far more important role than cost in determining which type of cabling is best suited for your needs.

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What to Expect During Your Site Survey

Once you have located one or more cabling contractors, the next step will be for them to schedule a visit to the new location (a site survey).  This is usually a free visit where the cabling professional will assess the environment and layout of the new office space in order to come up with a price quite.  Following a some things you should be prepared with to make the visit go smoothly and quickly:

  • Make sure you or someone will be at the new location with keys to the new space and to the MPOE (minimum point of entry)
  • If applicable, make sure that building managers or security officers at the new location have been notified that you and a 3rd party vendor will be accessing the new location
  • Have a floor plan of the proposed office space.  This is generally something that will be provided to someone in your organization by your space planner, cubicle company or designer

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Questions From Your Cable Installer: What Type and How Many Voice and Data Drops Are Needed?

A “drop” is basically one run of cable from a starting point (usually the wiring closet or server room) to the end point (usually an office or cubicle).  Remember that for each office, cubicle or workstation, you will generally need one drop for the phone line (voice) and one for the computer (data).

Will the new space require plenum or non-plenum cabling?  The answer to this will depend on the type of construction used in the new location.  If your cabling will need to run above a ceiling that is also used as a space for the circulation of air in heating, air-conditioning and ventilation system (plenum space), then you will be required to use plenum-rated cable.  Plenum cable is jacketed with a fire retardant plastic jacket of either a low-smoke polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or a fluorinated ethylene polymer (FEP), which limit the amount of toxic fumes in the event of a fire.  Plenum cabling costs slightly more than non-plenum wiring, but it is necessary to maintain code compliance.

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The World Before VOIP

VOIP, or Voice Over Internet Protocol, replaced the old copper wiring and switches that created a circuit between the caller and the person being called.  This technology was mature and fairly reliable, but inefficient.  Thousands and thousands of copper wires had to be run from house to house, neighborhood to neighborhood, city to city, county to county – and continent to continent!  There had to be a pair of copper wires for every call that needed to go from one place to another.

The modern solution to this problem uses data networks that allow information – like your audio conversation – to be broken up into packets and shipped over a shared network link.  This is much more efficient for many reasons.  Two are of particular importance.   The first is utilization.  If your neighbor’s teenager calls his girlfriend and they hold the phone in silence, very little of the phone system’s capacity is actually used.  In the old circuit-switched scenario, two copper wires are used for a phone call, whether any one is talking or not.

The second reason this is more efficient is one of infrastructure.  Instead of building two parallel networks, one for data and one for voice, we can unity the two networks and create a single network that costs considerably less to build out than the dual networks we were building before.

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Questions From Your Cable Installer: When Will You Be Moving?

If moving within the next 60 days, have you already set up you T1 or phone lines with your telecommunications provider?  This is a very important aspect of an office move that too often gets overlooked.  Many cabling installers have been contacted by persons who are in charge of moving an office in two weeks, only to realize that their telecommunications company requires 45 days notice to install a new T1 line.  Be sure that you have made arrangements with your telecommunications provider well in advance of your move.

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