The state and quantity of your existing office infrastructure and cabling has a large role to play in your choice of telephone system. IP and Cloud telephone systems each have different capabilities, features and costs, but the choice isn't as simple as that, the system that suits you also depends on existing infrastructure. Here's why:
In the UK, businesses and offices come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from a small old fashioned office space which has seen relatively little infrastructure investment all the way up to a newly built office space that has all the latest cabling already in place for the new tenant once they move in. The first question to consider revolves around this idea, namely judging the state of your office in terms of the cabling needed to support your telephone system. Because if you don't have much infrastructure in place, certain options may suddenly become more expensive than initially anticipated.
20 Years ago - just telephony
20 years ago, life was simple. Back in the day, such things as laptops and PCs were relatively unknown, and your average office just had telephone and electrical cabling, and little else. The cabling used in all these old offices is something known as "CW1308" cabling, but also known as "BT 1308" cabling: an economical and standard way to ensure a reliable voice connection. If this describes you, i.e. your office has CW1308 cabling but no separate IT network connecting computers to a central server, then your options are limited, unless you add new cabling throughout the office to cater for modern networks.
Then - telephony and IT
But, things moved on. All of a sudden in the 1980s and 1990s, offices in the UK started using computers and computer networks were born, a second independent network of cables wired into offices with CAT5 cabling. With two different cable networks in the building, it wasn't too long before it was identified that this was inefficient because we can actually run both phones and IT off the CAT5 network. So this is exactly what happened, and IP telephony was born: carrying telephony signals over the computer network.
Today - telephony, IT, and wireless networks
Of course, not everybody works at a phone and at a desk, and there are all sorts of situations in which, as a member of staff at work, it is imperative to carry a mobile office phone around with you. For example hospitals, factories and warehouse situations come to mind. There are various ways of achieving this;
- You can either use the dedicated piece of mobile telephony software within your new phone system to achieve this if your system has this feature, or
- You can have a DECT system which uses transmitters to provide coverage throughout buildings, or
- You can use a WiFi system to achieve the same end, or you can have a separate mobile phone.
If this describes you, i.e. your office has both CW1308 and IT cabling, then your options are wide and you should be considering IP systems or a cloud phone system. But, there is one important limiting factor to consider before making your choice: the number of IT network points that you have per person, to ensure you have enough places to plug both your phones and computers into.
Number of Network Points Per Person
Typically, most offices have either one or two network points per person, placed either in floorboxes (lift-up panels on the floor) or on sockets on the wall with trunking (plastic guard) hiding the cabling. If a company has two network points per person the choice is the widest: one point would be used for IT equipment and the other point for telephony. With each on a separate point, voice quality is the highest. But, if a company has one network point per person then there are still options:
- Add new cabling in the office and cable in a second point per person to be able to use an IP system; or
- Use a POE phone that plugs into the network points to be able to use an IP system, with the computer then plugging into the back of the phone; or
- Equip desks with DECT or WiFi phones using a DECT network; or
- Use a cloud phone solution.
The choice is yours! For expert help and advice, why not talk to us here at Telefonix, our team are more than happy to help you with your questions.