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The Pros And Cons Of Hard Phones Versus Softphones

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, Editorial Director, Customer Inter@ction Solutions
• A special editorial series sponsored by Telephony@Work•


As anyone who has been keeping abreast of the developments in IP technologies knows, a company using an IP contact center platform has two choices: a hard phone, which is what it implies ' a physical phone with a dial pad and a handset that resides on the agent's desktop; and a softphone, which is basically a piece of software that resides on an agent's PC. The agent connects a telephony headset to his or her PC, and can then make and take calls without the use of a traditional telephone. Companies implementing IP contact center technologies have a choice to make: put hard phones on the desks of agents, or rely on built-in softphones?

To help illustrate the issue, I've prepared (with the help of Internet Telephony Editorial Director Greg Galitzine), a short table outlining the pros and cons of both approaches.





•Employees may prefer to use a “real” phone



•Reliable service


•More difficult to enter alphanumeric URI

•Reliable voice quality


•Demands the costly installation of physical phones on the
desks of remote/distributed call center agents

•Ease of dialing out in case of emergency


•Much more involved installation

•Most hard phones include a real DSP for echo cancellation


•More limited features than soft phones





•Low cost; very fast installation


•Reliability of uptime: many factors beyond the call center’s
control can contribute to downtime

•Ease of entering alphanumeric URIs via keyboard
and number pad


•Quality can vary depending on a number of factors

•Allow agents to work from home without the need to
install a physical telephone in the agent’s home


•Dialing out in an emergency, to call 911, for example, may
first require login and several mouse clicks and keystrokes,
wasting valuable time

•Excellent mobility/portability; may be installed on a laptop and toted along, retaining the user’s settings/preferences


•Softphones usually depend on the host media processor for
echo cancellation

•Feature sets may be broader than those of hard phones


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