Yacht telephony has gone through some radical changes in the past few years. Old-school PBX systems are being replaced by systems using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.
With VoIP telephony, the voice server and phones are connected to the vessel's IP network rather than a separate dedicated telephony network.
There are primarily two types of VoIP systems available: VoIP IP (often referred to as Pure-IP) and Hybrid or Converged IP/PBX products.
In this article, I'll discuss the differences between Pure-IP and Hybrid IP/PBX systems so you can make an educated telephone communications choice for your vessel. But first, lets review the meaning of telephony.
What is telephony?
Today, the term telephony often refers to the computer hardware and softwarethat performs the tasks traditionally done by old-style telephone equipment. According to Webopedia, telephony is defined as the science of translating sound into electrical signals, transmitting them, and then converting them back to sound; that is,the science of telephones.
Yachts are moving to IP telephony because unlike legacy PBX phone systems, IP phones allow you to move and expand users at no additional cost. Pure-IP telephony systems take full advantage of the most recent Internet technology and are the trend for the future.
However, many vessels that have invested money in PBX systems are reluctant to switch to an upgraded telephony system. They may therefore choose a hybrid system that combines PBX technology with IP capabilities.
But it is a given that any telephony based on PBX technology will eventually be obsolete, requiring the implementation of a new telephone communications system for both legacy PBX and hybrid IP/PBX users.
What is a Hybrid or Converged IP/PBX telephony system?
Converged IP/PBX products are capable of supporting both TDM (Digital and Analog) and IP communications.
A hybrid PBX system uses the PBX plus IP data networks to manage call switching, route calls and handle other messaging. So if you already have a PBX system, it can often be expanded to incorporate IP technology.
A Hybrid IP/PBX is less expensive than Pure-IP telephony if you already have an expandable PBX system. Also, you will avoid (for now) the IP infrastructure upgrade most likely necessary to support changing to a Pure-IP system.
What is a Pure-IP telephony system?
Pure-IP telephony uses VoIP plus additional computer software features that collectively replace the legacy PBX-type system with a computer-based solution. With Pure-IP, there is no need for a dedicated PBX, cables, or even telephones. An audio-enabled personal computer can serve as the voice communication endpoint.
Pure-IP telephony systems are the wave of the future. If you are building your telephony system from scratch, you should strongly consider a Pure-IP product becauseyou can plan the infrastructure necessary to support the system before your build or refit.
If designed and implemented correctly, the infrastructure will not only support future expanded telephony on your vessel, but many future IP-based products and services currently in development.
And although the initial cost is higher than a Converged IP/PBX product, you will ultimately save money by avoiding an inevitable future upgrade from a hybrid to a Pure-IP system.
Should your vessel go Pure or Hybrid?Now that you have some basic information about VoIP telephony, you may be ready to select a system for your vessel.But to make the best choice between a Hybrid IP/PBX and a Pure-IP telephony system, there are a few basic questions to ask yourself.
1. Can your vessels network support Pure-IP telephony? Is there an adequate switching and routing infrastructure to support VoIP traffic?
If you are buidling from scratch or doing a total infrastructure refit, you can easily design a system to support Pure-IP telephony. In fact, it would be short-sighted to implement a new hybrid system for a new build or total infrastructure refit when you know that yacht telephony is quickly evolving in the direction of Pure-IP. An Internet design specialist can help you assess your networks readiness and make recommendations.
2. Have you already used up your telephony budget purchasing your current (and fairly new) PBX phone system?
If so, a Hybrid IP/PBX telephony system might be your best choice. You will be able to reap some VoIP benefits in your current phone system without having to change the network infrastructure. But know that as technology evolves, you will eventually need to move to a Pure-IP telephony system.
Telephony services from Great Circle Systems.
Our Pure-IP telephony systems allow individual crew members to send and receive voice communications on the device of his or her choice, including laptops, mobile phones, desktop phones and wireless phones.
For more information on GCS's VoIP telephony systems, please click the red Request More Information button.