Do I need to understand networking before getting into the VoIP field?

1545 pts.
Tags:
Career Development
IT careers
Networking
TDM switching
Telephony
Time Division Multiplexing
Unified Communications
VoIP
I've been in the telephony field with TDM switching, but there is a trend with this technology to move toward VoIP. Can you please tell me where I can get started in learning this technology? Is it better to first understand networks?

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VoIP is inherently a networking technology, but also requires an understanding of voice terminologies and technologies. You’re probably well-positioned to move into this field, because traditional networking types often have more difficulty grasping and dealing with voice/streaming protocols and services than voice types have with networking protocols/services. I’d suggest digging into networking from the ground up by reading on (or preparing for) the following certifications in this order:
1. CompTIA Network+
2. Cisco CCNA (there’s a voice specialty here)
3. Cisco CCDP
4. Cisco CCVP
5. Cisco CCNP
OTOH, if you work (or plan to work) in environments where products/platforms from Avaya, Nortel, Lucent, and so forth will predominate, rather than those from Cisco, you might want to replace items 2-5 in the preceding list with items from their certification curricula instead.

HTH, and thanks for posting,
–Ed–

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  • AndOrTech
    I have to disagree with Ed a little bit. Cisco certs, In my opinion are not the best way to go unless you plan on only installing Cisco phones. Cisco phones work differently than most other SIP/Voip phone systems. Before you become indoctrinated into Cisco you need to look at options. Especially if you want to compete in the Small to medium biz market. If you plan on only working large installs Cisco is a good option. Keep in mind there is a lot of competition out there and going with other solutions means you can almost always substantially beat Cisco prices on up front and especially renewals, not to mention features. I do, however, completely agree with his CompTIA Network Plus Cert recommendation but after that you should decide on what switches do you generally use, what phone system do you want to use, and how big your client phone systems will be. I would go and learn about what will be relevant to you. Learning Cisco and then moving to Nortel, 3Com, or a SIP based solution will be a waste as you will recertify in that phone system as well.
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  • AndOrTech
    Sorry I submitted too early. I have a tendancy to go on a bit. If you have never done networking before concentrate on learning routing, vlans, and QOS from which ever switch vendor you use. You will need that when you walk into phone training as most Phone trainings assume you all ready have this knowlege. I guess I agreed with Ed more than I thought. If you plan on only working with the small market you will need very little networking as they usually only have one or two switches and they are flat networks. In those cases the phone systems are mostly plug and play. Cheers!
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  • mshen
    I'm coming from the opposite direction, and I think QoS is the most important part of VoIP phone systems. Small systems are pretty much plug and play, but if you have a larger customer and/or a branch office involved, QoS is crucial. You also need some understanding of TCP/UDP ports and IP routing. You should also know the basics of managing a firewall in the event that you need to open some ports through it.
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  • Robert Stewart
    QOS issues keep data on seperate line than voice. Don't let anyone tell ya different lol
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  • Kevin Beaver
    Believe it or not, TCP/IP For Dummies is a very good resource for learning networking essentials. Also, be careful in pigeonholing yourself with vendor-specific certs that may not be all that valuable for your 5 years down the road.
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