Recently, a prospective client asked me if the forwarding number we provide (as part of our answering service) would be the equivalent of a landline for his business.

Can an answering service act as a landline?Wikipedia defines a landline as a phone that uses a metal wire telephone line for transmission as distinguished from a mobile cellular line, which uses radio waves for transmission.  Our live agents don’t use cell phones to answer incoming calls, but instead of using traditional copper phone lines we use VOIP technology that transmits voice calls over the internet.

So, does the forwarding number we provide a client serve as a landline?

Technically, no – because we are not going to run a metal wire telephone line to the client’s location and our agents don’t use antiquated copper lines to take calls.  However, I doubt that the potential client actually cared about whether or not our agents take calls via traditional landlines as much as he was probably concerned about two things: call quality and reliability.

Unfortunately, many people are under the misconception that the quality of a phone call is better if the call is transmitted over copper lines or that traditional copper landlines are the most reliable way to transmit calls.  While incorrectly configured VOIP is not any more reliable or better quality than traditional landlines, if implemented correctly VOIP is a superior solution in terms of reliability and quality while also providing redundancy that traditional landlines cannot.

Call Quality, Reliability and Redundancy: Landlines vs. VOIP

Landline call quality is affected by several variables, but the main one that the carrier controls is timing.  If that is out of sync, you can only rely on the carrier and/or the line provider to fix the issue – there is nothing you can do independently.  With VOIP solutions, everything is controlled on the networking side, which typically gives you the option to address issues without having to wait on a carrier or line provider.

For example, if we were experiencing an infrastructure reliability problem at AnswerFirst, we could re-route all our VOIP trunks to a different IP address (or completely different data center) or we could use a different VOIP codec if bandwidth was causing a drop in call quality.  If a carrier is having a problem, we can just have the affected number forwarded to a number on one of our other carriers’ trunks, quickly circumventing the carrier problem.  While these changes are not immediate, they can be implemented much faster than a traditional landline carrier can react.

Additionally, we have extremely reliable network circuits and to achieve redundancy we utilize combinations of many carriers to send our VOIP trunks down these circuits. Our VOIP trunks are from multiple carriers as well, so we also have redundancy in that part of our infrastructure. Lastly, we have multiple data centers to send these trunks to if needed.

Also, we provide our clients with a second phone number from another provider to serve as a back-up in case our phone company experiences issues that affect the reliability of the main forwarding number on any account.

So, if you are a business owner who feels the need to have a landline for quality or reliability then you can feel secure knowing that the VOIP solution we use at AnswerFirst provides call quality that is as good or better than a landline and that by using VOIP we also achieve superior reliability and redundancy.  If you have any additional thoughts or comments please contact me directly.