Voice over IP Drawbacks

Disadvantages of using Voice over IP

Voice over IP, also known as VoIP or Internet Telephony, uses the internet to carry voice and video calls. Many people and companies worldwide enjoy its numerous benefits, among them free or very inexpensive calls. Some of these advantages cost users in other ways, however.

Co-workers communicating over a computer

Voice Quality

Quality of Service (QoS) in VoIP varies according to technology. What we call good QoS for VoIP is strict. This can allow you to make a decent call without experiencing delays, weird sounds, noise, and echo. It should allow you to converse just as you would with a landline phone.

VoIP QoS depends on many factors: broadband connection, hardware, the provider's services, call destination, and other factors.

Many users complain of hearing odd noises, having to wait a long time before hearing an answer, and other issues. Regular telephone service has provided such good quality that the slightest shortcoming with a VoIP call does not go unnoticed.

While it offers more advantages, VoIP technology is less robust than standard phone service. Data (mainly voice) must be compressed and transmitted, then decompressed and delivered in a short amount of time. If this process takes slightly longer (because of a slow connection or faulty hardware), call quality suffers. This causes echo, the phenomenon whereby you hear your voice a few milliseconds after you speak. Some service providers take measures to prevent echo, but call quality ultimately depends on your connection and the quality of your hardware.

Dependence on Internet Connection and Bandwidth

Another name for VoIP is internet telephony, which functions well only with an adequate internet connection and bandwidth. Although VoIP works over a dial-up connection, a fast, stable broadband internet connection is essential for VoIP. And if that internet connection goes down, your phone line goes down, too. This can be annoying at home and catastrophic for your business.

Poor Connection

If your connection quality is not good, your VoIP experience suffers. You'll likely wind up being frustrated with the technology, your hardware, your service provider, and maybe the person you talk to.

Shared Connection

Businesses typically deploy VoIP over a high-speed broadband connection, which is also used for other data and communication needs: downloads, server connectivity, chat, email, and so forth. VoIP gets only a share of the connection, and peak times can leave inadequate bandwidth, causing call quality to deteriorate.

Continuous adequate bandwidth is challenging to provide with multiple users. A good practice is to minimize internet connections for other things whenever you are talking via VoIP.

Power Requirements

You need to plug your modem, router, ATA, and other VoIP hardware into the electric power supply for it to work, unlike traditional phones. If you lose power, you lose phone service, too. Using a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) won't help beyond a few minutes.

Emergency Calls (911)

VoIP service providers are not bound by regulations to offer emergency 911 calls, so not all of them do. Although companies are making efforts to provide emergency call service, this issue remains an important deterrent to VoIP adoption.


Security is the main concern with VoIP, as with other internet technologies. VoIP's most prominent security issues are identity and service theft, viruses, malware, denial of service, spam, call tampering, and phishing attacks.

In Some Cases, Expense

Although VoIP is typically a cheaper option than traditional phone service, it requires certain conditions to deliver its worth. Failure to meet the basic requirements for a VoIP system makes it more expensive to communicate through VoIP than otherwise.

Many factors can make such a scenario happen, such as an expensive internet connection, hardware, mobility issues, the nature of calls, distance, service plan, or government-imposed restrictions.

Here are some scenarios in which VoIP probably isn't the cheapest communication method:

  • Residential internet service runs at least $40 (as of May 2021). If you make only a handful of short calls, traditional phone service might be more suitable.
  • You want to use your mobile phone to make free or cheap calls via Wi-Fi. For this, you need a 5G data plan because Wi-Fi is limited in range. The plan can cost more than making the calls through your GSM network.
  • If you have a bundled phone/internet service, VoIP is probably unnecessary.
  • You register with the wrong type of VoIP service or plan and end up using much less than what you pay for. Conversely, you might use more, increasing your expenditure on minutes beyond what the package offers.

Plenty of other situations can yield a result contrary to the intention. Think and plan before engaging in a VoIP subscription, hardware, or habit.

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