VoIP can facilitate tasks and provide services that may be more difficult to implement or expensive using the more traditional PSTN. Examples include:
A Network Sketch
Your network sketch doesn't need to be anything fancy; a simple diagram on a sheet of paper is fine. Your main goal is to be able to visualize your system and to select proper equipment and locations for your phone system.
Use symbols to map out your devices. You can use the diagram I have included as a guide for symbols and formatting, or make up your own ( Figure 3.1 ). You are the only one who needs to be able to understand your map.
Figure 3.1 A basic network diagram showing the orientation of network devices
Filling in Vital Statistics
As you complete your drawing, fill in details such as Internet connection bandwidth and location of devices ( Figure 3.2 ). You will use this information in your evaluation of your readiness for VoIP.
Figure 3.2 The network diagram with location and bandwidth information added
It is a good idea to test your bandwidth in addition to knowing what you are supposed to have. Almost all Internet connections perform at somewhat less than the speed advertised. You can test your bandwidth at a bandwidth site such as www.bandwidthplace.com or www.dslreports.com/stest.
Let's look at the phones
You might only have a single phone that you will be using with your service. If so, great! If you would like to connect more than one phone to your Internet phone system, take a quick look at your current configuration.
Mapping out your phone system is also important to your planning effort ( Figure 3.3 ). You should have a clear picture of how you plan to connect any existing phones you have to your new telephone adapter. As you map your system, note the location of each phone jack.