When choosing an on-premise telephone system, an important decision relates to the type of desk phone you will select. But let’s begin with the differences between these technologies.
Digital telephones were an evolution of the old analog telephones that are still common today in the hotel industry. Unlike analog phones that were universally compatible, digital phones only talk to a system of the same brand (i.e. NEC, Nortel, Avaya) and they function by converting the analog voice signal into a digital signal and then decode that signal as sound at the other end. Digital barely use any power and is supplied over the line, by the system. Digital phones can be used with new cat6 or older cat3 cables but a dedicated cable is required. If installing new cable within your facility is a challenge, a digital phone may be appealing. When it comes to relocating a user, digital telephones do not handle this easily and may require a technical intervention.
IP telephones use the IP protocol we use for computers or on the Internet. This means that telephone calls can be sent over private data networks and the public internet in the form of data packets. The packets are reassembled at the receiving end in the order that they were sent in order to permit an audible communications free of voice quality issues such as jitter. IP phones can be either proprietary like digital phones or open-source which allows them to connect to a variety of IP systems. IP phones consume more power than digital phones and the power comes either from POE (Power over Ethernet) switches or power adapters at the desktop. IP Phones require a cat5 or cat6 cable and may share a computer cable, although this will require data switches that can be manage in order to segregate the LAN in a virtual manner in order to maintain call quality. IP telephones may be easily relocated on the network much the same way a computer can so frequent relocations are simplified.
The bottom line
The decision to elect one technology over another should be based on the above points and the technology strategy mapped out by the IT team.
Digital telephone systems are more stable as they are simpler with fewer points of failure. Until a change is required, it may be installed and left alone until an internal change has to be implemented.
IP systems are generally more complex and require a more diligent and professional approach to installation and support. Technical resources require strong knowledge network administration and bandwidth management. IP phones require more energy but provide additional flexibility based on the availability of a single or double cable. However, for companies with multiple locations and remote employees or those with high turnover or mobility, they absolutely need the distinct advantages of the IP solution.
The best practice is to work with a firm that has the experience with both options in order to help you make the right decision for your company based on the advantages and disadvantages of each solution.