Not All VOIP Phones Are Created Equal: Understanding How Tiers Work
In terms of communication, voice is the lifeblood of your business. Here at Bay Area Computer Solutions, we dig providing high-end hosted VOIP (Voice Over IP) solutions and telephony services to companies in need of the best voice communication business connectivity. This said, investing in VOIP providers isn’t as simple as throwing blindly at a dart board. Much like selecting a data center provider, choosing the best business VOIP service is a matter of understanding what tiered VOIP services mean.
What is VOIP?
To understand the levels of VOIP, you first have to have a basic understanding of how VOIP works, more specifically, how Internet traffic routing works. Without getting into the weeds, VOIP is a communication protocol which utilizes the basic underpinnings of the Internet, IP networks on the global net, to provide high-end voice communications to consumers. Whereas legacy phone systems utilize older public infrastructure to supply calling (public switched telephone networks), VOIP is carried/supplied by globally connected Internet networks by the transmission of IP packets.
On condition that you have a connection to the Internet, VOIP services can be set up and operated.
As VOIP solutions function over Internet protocol, connectivity is defined by an ISP (Internet Service Provider). An ISP is an organization that supplies access to the Internet for the general public. As different companies have differing accesses to the Internet, the tier of your provider is determined by their overall network access.
What is Tier One VOIP?
More commonly referred to as a tier one carrier, a tier one VOIP provider is a carrier which wholly controls the infrastructure and packet transmission (network) globally. A tier one carrier can access/reach every other network globally without having to purchase IP packet transit. In turn, this means a tier one VOIP carrier charges other lesser carriers for global data (packets) transit.
Currently, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, SingTel, Pacific Internet, British Telecom, NTT and a variety of other companies are considered tier one business VOIP providers.
In terms of business VOIP, utilizing a tier one carrier means access to the entire global network without incurring additional charges for peering or IP transit across different networks.
What is Tier Two VOIP?
A tier two VOIP carrier, is an service provider who uses peering to access global networks they do not control and is a carrier who purchases IP transit (allowing packets of traffic to pass from one network to the next) to access certain portions of the Internet. While tier one providers like the aforementioned control the entire market, because they control the entire market their services tend to be more expensive and exclusive. For this reason, tier two hosted VOIP solutions are the most prolific and accessible tier of IP voice service. Most regional VOIP providers (BACS included) are tier two providers who work with tier one services to fuel client need.
What is Tier Three VOIP?
The low end of the VOIP spectrum, a tier three VOIP service is a provider who solely purchases IP transit from other networks to reach the wider global Internet. As tier three providers solely purchase IP transit, they tend to deal directly with consumers supplying relatively low quality network connections at low speed. As VOIP goes, this means a lot of phone calls are dropped due to a variety of reasons stemming from the aforementioned low quality network connections/low speed.
The tier of service you select for your business matters both in terms of budget and overall reliable connectivity. As such, before you choose a VOIP service, make sure you know what tier provider they are and how the offered solutions will impact your business needs.