If you’re looking into buying new phones for your office, be sure to consider Gigabit Ethernet (or GigE) capable phones in your search. While they are somewhat more costly than standard VoIP phones, utilizing a GigE connection allows faster data and voice packet traffic to both your desktop and phone – which provides greater efficiency and productivity. On the other hand, don’t let yourself get needlessly swayed to buy the shiniest phone on the market – if you don’t have the capacity or need for a GigE network (whether now or expected in the future), there’s no reason to pay more for GigE phones since you won’t see better performance.

Below we review the concept of GigE and offer 3 questions ask if you’re considering GigE capable phones for your office, to help you make the right choice for your phone system.

What is GigE?

First of all, let’s review the basics. Gigabit Ethernet, or “GigE,” transmits at speeds up to 1000 Mbps. A local area network (LAN) that supports GigE is often notated as a 10/100/1000 LAN because it can transmit at speeds of 10 Mbps, 100 Mbps and 1000 Mbps… and 1000 Megabits equals 1 Gigabit. Gigabit Ethernet can increase network performance and improve the ability to transfer high-bandwidth files to connected devices, such as backups over the network to a server.

Considerations Before Buying GigE Phones

Here are three questions to ask when considering GigE phones to figure out if you can actually use them to full advantage.

1. Do you already have a GigE capable LAN? If not, do you see a network upgrade in your future?

If your LAN does not currently support GigE speeds, it can be somewhat costly upfront to move from a 10/100 speed LAN to 10/100/1000 (GigE) speed LAN due to cabling upgrades. However, if you need new phones now and you know that a network upgrade to GigE speed is in your business’ future, it can be a cost-effective, future-forward decision to buy GigE capable phones (ex. Polycom VVX 250, 350, 450, 501 and 601 series) now. That way, you won’t have to change phone models if and when your organization decides to upgrade to a GigE speed LAN in the future. If your company increasingly relies on video, stores large files in the cloud, or uses cloud, a network upgrade is likely in your future – so planning ahead with your current phone purchase can save you time and money down the road!

2. Do you have the proper GigE capable LAN switches and cabling?

Having the proper cabling is very important to support a cloud-based phone system. Additionally, and equally as important, you must ensure that your LAN has the proper GigE capable switches to support 1000 Mbps speeds to the desktop.

3. Are you willing to invest in the purchase of a GigE phone?

Most GigE capable phones cost slightly more than 10/100 capable phones; however, it can be well worth the investment if you already have or plan to upgrade to a 10/100/1000 speed LAN.

Growing Your Network

Are you contemplating moving from a 10/100 speed LAN to a GigE speed LAN? We understand that the decision to grow your network can be costly, but it will provide you with faster desktop speeds and a more optimized network should you choose to leverage VoIP, video conferencing, or cloud-based services in the future. Allied will meet you where your business is today and be a trusted Technology Advisor to lean on regarding present and future network decisions.