Tech Trends: The Rise of VoIP

July 11, 2023
The many benefits of IP-based communications systems makes moving away from POTS a no-brainer

This article originally appeared in the July 2023 issue of Security Business magazine. When sharing, don’t forget to mention Security Business magazine on LinkedIn and @SecBusinessMag on Twitter.

Maintaining a clear and dedicated pathway for both voice and data communications is essential to maintaining security operations, situational awareness, and emergency response; thus, inbound and outbound communications have always been critical in supporting security and life safety operations.

The gold standard for decades in maintaining dedicated and reliable inbound and outbound communications has been the POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) line. It has been very typical to install POTS lines for duress alarms, intrusion detection systems, emergency intercoms, and dedicated voice lines for security operations and operations centers.

One of the great appeals for using POTS (besides being the only thing available) was that the POTS line provided both power and communications over a copper wire. The phones were powered by the telephone companies’ infrastructure, moving the points of failure outside of the users control, and onto the responsibility of the service provider. This type of system would provide for communications even if power was out. Amazingly, you could lose power and the phone would still work. Sure, it doesn’t sound impressive now, but in the 1970s it was.

As cellular technology became more dependable and widely available, many companies started to use this communications pathway as a backup or redundant method of communications; however, at the time, the technology was cost-prohibitive to deploy and use as a primary communication pathway, unless site specific conditions warranted its use in that capacity. Cellular technology has since become a viable option for both primary and backup communications of voice and data.

Now with more and more devices being IP-based, as well as the need to consolidate systems for voice and data communications, service providers are sunsetting the old and expensive-to-maintain POTS service – moving to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

The Rise of Voice over IP

VoIP is a technology that enables voice calls to be transmitted over the internet rather than traditional telephone lines. It utilizes packet-switched networks, converting voice signals into data packets for transmission.

This innovation has gained traction in recent years due to several compelling reasons:

1. VoIP offers substantial cost savings. Traditional landline services require dedicated infrastructure, which can be expensive to install and maintain. In contrast, VoIP utilizes existing internet connections, eliminating the need for separate telephone lines. This cost-effectiveness is especially attractive to small businesses and startups looking to streamline their operations, and it is commonplace for large enterprises.

2. VoIP provides an extensive array of features that surpass those of POTS. Call forwarding, voicemail transcription, video conferencing, and virtual phone numbers are just a few examples of the rich feature set offered by VoIP. These features enhance productivity, collaboration, and customer service capabilities, enabling businesses to operate more efficiently and competitively.

3. VoIP systems are highly scalable, allowing businesses to easily add or remove lines as per their requirements. This flexibility eliminates the limitations imposed by traditional phone systems and accommodates the ever-changing needs of modern enterprises. As companies expand or downsize, VoIP adapts accordingly, ensuring seamless communication without unnecessary costs or complications.

More Benefits of VoIP

The advantages of VoIP extend beyond cost savings and feature-rich functionalities. One of the most significant benefits is geographical flexibility. With VoIP, users can make and receive calls from anywhere with an internet connection. This eliminates the constraints of physical location, making it easier for businesses to establish virtual offices, remote work setups, and global presence. This allows for some unique applications in the security world as well.

Additionally, VoIP integrates well with other communication channels, such as email, instant messaging, and video conferencing platforms. This integration enhances overall communication efficiency, enabling seamless transitions between different modes of interaction. Whether it is integrating voice calls into customer relationship management (CRM) software or automating call routing, VoIP empowers businesses to streamline workflows and enhance customer experiences.

Furthermore, VoIP is compatible with various devices, including smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers. Users can access their VoIP services through dedicated apps or web-based interfaces, providing a unified communication experience across multiple devices. This flexibility ensures that individuals and businesses are always connected, regardless of the device they use or their physical location.

The Challenges of VoIP and Data Communications

IP-based technology does provide some challenges in maintaining communications pathways that are highly reliable with an uptime acceptable to support critical communications. While previous communications relied largely on the provider maintaining equipment and uptime availability, IP-based technology now requires that the provider and the customer maintain their systems so that they can be relied on for critical communications.

When migrating from a POTS-based method of communicating critical voice and data to a IP-based system, adding proper battery backup, redundant communication pathways, and proper network configurations to ensure network traffic priority is critical.

Using cellular also reduces the need to bolster network IT systems from power outages network vulnerabilities. However, equipment that can use both cellular and internet are available and provide the redundancy needed for critical communications.

The move to IP-based communications systems is inevitable. In doing so, as an industry we need to ensure that the correct design parameters are implemented that will allow sustained critical communications without interruption or downtime.

Paul F. Benne is a 35-year veteran in the protective services industry. He is President of Sentinel Consulting LLC, a security consulting and design firm in based in New York City. Connect with him at or visit

About the Author

Paul F. Benne

Paul F. Benne is a 37-year veteran in the protective services industry. He is President of Sentinel Consulting LLC, a security consulting and design firm in based in New York City. Connect with him via LinkedIn at or visit