Remember the days of being in the kitchen with a phone attached to the wall and the mile-long cord that allowed you to walk from room to room? Yeah, those days are gone. Whether you talk at home on a cordless landline phone or use your mobile on a Wi-Fi friendly network, the question has come up: which is better for VoIP?
Most public spaces offer free Wi-Fi often enough that we rely on it for our mobile devices. When was the last time you did not ask what the Wi-Fi password was at your dentist office? Even our homes are supported for wireless connectivity.
While many VOIP phones now come cordless, the base still plugs in via Ethernet. Wireless (Wi-Fi) phones lift this limitation, but they come with a few caveats. The alternatives exist to improve phone portability. Softphones are available for tablets, laptops, and smartphones. When not connected to public hotspots, they consume cellular data. Most services come with at least 1 GB, which more than covers phone calls.
While Wi-Fi phones promise ease of connectivity and convenience they also face proximity, security, and priority challenges. A phone that supports both wired and wireless connectivity can avoid proximity problems. The local area networks span only so far. As signal strength lessens, the quality of a phone call might deteriorate. But there are some solutions. Wi-Fi extenders and secondary routers can help push a signal to greater lengths. Investing in better network equipment, too, can enhance performance. Regardless,
Home and business wireless networks can protect against security risks through encryption and authentication. Unfortunately, this adds delay to the process of sending and receiving calls. Using Ethernet bypasses this. Phones encrypt through audio codecs anyway, as covered in a recent blog post.
Everyone on public Wi-Fi receives equal access to bandwidth. This means your phone call competes with other activities like music streaming and email. This is a prioritization issue. Most routers offer Quality of Service (QoS) to allocate data for specific devices. On small home or business networks, this prevents packet loss and congestion.
Arguably, Ethernet setups provide faster connections and more efficient QoS. They also circumvent wireless problems like interference and interception. That said, a strong Wi-Fi network does offer a wealth of benefits not just for wireless VoIP devices. Consider your current network and telephony needs to decide which approach best suits you.