In order to deploy VoIP for your single location business, you must prepare your Local Area Network (LAN). For multi-site businesses, you will also be concerned with your Wide Area Network (WAN).

At the LAN level, you will need “Managed Ethernet Switches,” also known as Layer 2 Managed Switches, as opposed to Hubs. Unlike Hubs, Layer 2 Managed Switches manage and monitor the LAN activity and are helpful in setting up VLANs. It is best if they also have the capability to power the telephones via Power over Ethernet (POE). A Managed Switch can be programmed for Class of Service (COS), which separates your applications and prioritizes them. It will also provide QOS to assure the optimum voice quality.

The WAN is more complex to make ready for VoIP. Each voice call requires about 30 kbps of bandwidth when compressed to a sufficient level to assure good voice quality. Because of this, it is important to know how many simultaneous calls you will have traveling over your site-to-site network. Take this estimate in conjunction with your other applications that are traveling on the same network to determine your required bandwidth. A router provides connectivity to the LAN and is the point of entry to the WAN. The router is programmed to provide COS and QOS to the network.

Again, you will need to provide QOS between sites to assure optimum voice quality. This cannot be accomplished over the Internet. Hence, the WAN must be private. Today, it is possible to install a private fully meshed IP Network (MPLS) consisting of one or multiple T1’s that is less expensive than a Legacy Point to Point or Frame Relay Network.

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