As Internet communication and service has evolved and become faster, cheaper, and reliable over the years, so have hosted services and technologies available today, like Voice over IP. Here are some things to be look for and be aware of when choosing a VoIP provider.
Voice over IP is a method of delivering voice communications and multimedia over the Internet. The principals of VoIP calls are similar to traditional digital phones which involves signaling, channel setup, digitizing analog signals, and encoding.
Voice over IP vs Traditional Digital Phones
While traditional digital phones are transmitted as digital packets over a circuit-switched network, transmission over VoIP occurs as IP packets over a packet switched network.
Voice over IP makes things flexible, offers more features, and makes placing calls significantly less expensive than traditional telephone service.
The low cost of VoIP is most appealing to subscribers and businesses. Services can be less expensive, and hardware can be as well, overtime. VoIP is especially cheaper than traditional landlines especially if staff are in remote or international locations. An upfront purchase in an in-house VoIP PBX system can be quite pricey, though overtime it might make sense. Many hosted services require no new hardware investment, and if hardware is needed, it is typically based on standard technologies based on SIP as opposed to pricey proprietary products that may tie you into a particular service provider. Many hosted services are also contract free.
Scalability and Instant Setup
If you are planning to scale your business, adding an additional extension to business VoIP is almost as simple as plugging in a new SIP phone to the network and doing some minor configuration.
VoIP services often supply a virtual receptionist with greeting, customized call screening, forwarding to voicemail, email, or phone.
VoIP services often offer integration with your computer software, Office suite, email, chat programs and more.
Conference calling, voicemail, fax, caller ID, etc. are usually present as VoIP features.
VoIP Provider Considerations
Typically, hosted services make things pretty simple; many top VoIP providers take care of managing all the hardware and software and keep configuration simple and to a minimal with reliable support. Many providers require no additional hardware aside from a VoIP phone or computer headset. Some providers may lease equipment and service equipment and communications services for you.
Internal Network Equipment
Make sure your routers and switches can handle the load on your network. Most provders suggest using a router with Quality of Service (QOS) functionality, which allows you to configure moreporrtant important network traffic to be prioritized.
Internal Phone Equipment
If you are hosting your VoIP service, make sure your phones are VoIP compatible. Most VoIP systems use technology that assigns each phone to a client specific IP address. If it’s necessary to keep analog or fax machines, there are analog telephone adapters available, however will not have all the capabilities and advanced features as your VoIP phones.
VoIP requires a broadband connection. The more users you have, the more bandwidth you will need. Check with your VoIP provider as to what their requirements are, and check with your broadband providers as to what they can accommodate.
Easy configuration is important. Look for a provider with a simple, easy to use, but feature rich GUI that provides excellent around the clock support.
One of the disadvantages to VoIP is outages. If there is an outage to your power or Internet, your phone service is also disrupted. Find a provider who can redirect calls to an alternate number or mobile phone in case of an outage.
Good VoIP Providers are Hard to Find
A good VoIP provider can be difficult to find. When doing research for VoIP or business VoIP, look out for things like price per user, reduced rates, pay as you go, instant deployment, number porting, standard features and extras, unlimited calling, fax, number of extensions, conference calling, caller ID, voicemail, virtual receptionist, advanced forwarding, call screening, computer software integration and apps, etc. Most importantly, look for reliability, security, support and look into company reviews.
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