10 Things to consider before making the jump to VOIP
By Dennis Shelly
Have you ever considered updating your business phone service, perhaps to reduce your phone bill, or maybe how VOIP works? Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a well-established technology that allows anybody to make phone calls over the internet. With the growth of broadband, VoIP has emerged as the clear choice for phone service for both individuals and companies. People prefer VoIP phone service to conventional phone lines. Why? It has many more features than analog phones. And it can accomplish all of this for less price. Cloud phone service companies provide strong capabilities that are not available with traditional phone service. Auto attendants, call recording, custom caller ID, voicemail to email, and so much more features are available. You can also take calls and work from any location using cell phone and desktop applications.
How VoIP works
VoIP works by turning voice into digital data and delivering it over your router’s Internet connection. VoIP allows conventional phone conversations to be made over the internet while still providing all of the features that classic PBX systems provide, such as voicemail, call waiting, call forwarding, conference calling, caller ID, and more. VoIP software interacts nicely with desktop computers, allowing them to be used as “softphones.” The only condition is that they provide speech and audio input/output.
Here’s how VoIP works in four easy steps.
- In your Local Area Network, your phone connects to your switch or router (LAN).
- Your IP phone tells your VoIP service provider to call the other party when you dial a phone number.
- The call is established by your VoIP service, and data packets from your IP phone are exchanged.
- These digital impulses are converted back into an audio signal by your VoIP phone.
The telephone company is completely bypassed with Voice over Internet Protocol. VoIP can be used from anywhere with a high-speed internet connection. It’s a significant improvement over a traditional phone system.
10 Things to consider before making the jump to VOIP
According to a recent survey, 31% of businesses have shifted to cloud phones. That implies that, while many customers have shifted, there are still many more who need to migrate from analogue or PRI phone systems to a VoIP-based system.
- Total Costs
Though VoIP has cheaper monthly rates and equipment costs, every option that involves a financial investment should be considered from a budgetary viewpoint. The total cost exceeds the advertised or sticker price of a VoIP service. You may discover that the quoted price excludes optional features, one-time charges, or other miscellaneous charges. Make sure you receive a written breakdown of the various charges and the final price from the vendor. Your monthly bills should be fairly regular, with no unexpected shocks along the way. Other costs will be incurred when upgrading to VoIP in addition to the monthly fee paid to the vendor. Allow for these line items in your budget as well. Depending on your conditions, preparing your network for VoIP might be costly.
- Startup Fees
The cost of VoIP phones varies based on the upfront installation costs. One of the first decisions to make is whether to host your PBX phone system on-site (“on-site PBX”) or to utilise a hosted PBX phone system (“off-site PBX”). Of course, as with any significant business choice, there are advantages and disadvantages to each. If you’re interested in everything VoIP has to offer, you’re definitely drawn in by its substantial cost-saving options. A cloud-based VoIP phone system offers a third option. This is an excellent choice if your company is on the go and you want to save some money.
There are a few more things that businesses should consider. They should keep in mind when opting for one of the solutions that will work for their company. The cost of a VoIP phone system varies depending on the size of the company and the number of users. There is also the cost of renting the equipment and the VoIP package itself. Small businesses, for example, will benefit from KSU-free systems due to their scale. They are available for as little as $30 and as low as two lines. For businesses with 40 or fewer users, key telephone systems are preferable. These will feature critical systems that can perform more than just a phone call. These units should cost between $300 and $1,000 per extension. The VoIP phone cost of a PBX telephone system should be between $1000 and $4000. These systems will be ideal for larger companies with more than 40 employees. These units include advanced features that are useful to company communications.
- Plans, Features, and Support
Some service providers give a variety of plans from which to choose. What matters is that they have a strategy that is appropriate for you, not the overall number. In reality, service providers with fewer plans make it simple to choose. You don’t have to find out what the differences are between different plans.
Check to see if the features you want are included in the plan cost or if they need an additional fee. Some features have a one-time charges, while others have recurring payments. Check the fine print to discover what you’re paying for and make certain you receive it.
Ask your the vendor regarding support for third-party corporate systems such as CRM and ERP. A good VoIP phone service should be compatible with your existing tools. Inquire about mobile device, softphone application, and third-party SIP hardware support. While you may not require sophisticated features right now, they should be available to you tomorrow.
- Device Compatibility & Requirements
If you don’t already have IP phones, you’ll need to get them before making the move. Many service providers may source your phones or offer recommendations on which models would function best with their service. As previously stated, you should have a list of features that you desire from your VoIP service. It is also critical that the phones you use have the features listed on your list. Most service providers will offer you with the most recent phones with all the bells and whistles, or they will be able to provide a recommendation if you need to purchase your own.
- Internet/Network Requirements
Check to see whether your current network architecture can accommodate VoIP and can handle the increased network traffic. You should also know whether your infrastructure is capable of handling the specific requirements of audio and video traffic, such as supporting any Quality of Service (QoS) or virtual LAN (VLAN) requirements. If your existing routers or switches do not offer certain features, you may need to upgrade your infrastructure. You may also need to change your Internet Service Provider (ISP) if your present provider is unable to meet the bandwidth needs of high-volume phone traffic. Your VoIP vendor should be able to estimate how much your call volume will increase your bandwidth, but you may also engage an outside expert to conduct those calculations.
In general, VoIP phone services for small companies are more dependable than they were previously. However, you should not be afraid to ask detailed questions about each vendor. Ask whether they have a plan in place for emergency and disaster management. What happens if your phone line fails? At the very least, you should be able to automatically route calls to a landline or cell number. Can your employees continue to work from a different location? In the event of a natural or man-made disaster, how soon can you relocate and resume work? You should also inquire about the vendor’s datacenters and infrastructure. Do they have a range of backup options? What tools do they have to ensure that your phones continue to work? These are critical questions to ask and obtain information.
- Hosted or Onsite VoIP
The first step in installing VoIP Service is deciding whether to use a hosted or on-site solution. If you are not familiar with VoIP services, this might be a difficult option. While visiting an expert may certainly make things smoother and simpler, it is even preferable to have some of your own expertise before consulting the experts. Because everything is handled by a third party firm, a hosted VoIP system is typically an excellent choice for inexperienced VoIP beginners. Using the hosted VoIP system, customers with little infrastructure and no extra IT personnel may easily transition to VoIP service and get the benefits it provides, just like other VoIP service professionals. This method is popular among small businesses with limited resources. An on-site VoIP system implies that you have all of the phone system gear needed to run the phone system immediately on site. This is an ideal option for large businesses that want more customised functions.
- Scalability & Growth
You won’t have to worry about installing new hardware to handle new extensions as your business grows. Extending VoIP service is as easy and affordable as acquiring another approved phone with plug-and-play adaptability. At most, adding a VoIP-enabled phone to your network will need a few configuration changes. Additionally, you might install the softphone client software on other networked PCs. VoIP enables for the addition or removal of any number of phones and extensions. So you may do what is best for your company’s present needs.
- Migration & Training Process
Before deciding on a VoIP service, learn about their migration process. The transition should ideally be smooth, with little to no downtime. Migrating involves several steps, so be sure your VoIP is organised and attentive to your demands at each step. In a perfect world, the provider would handle all of the heavy work, but you may need to participate as well.
Installing software, sourcing phones, moving your phone number to the new system, connecting the phones, and porting your phone number to the new phones are all phases in the migration process. Before the new system goes live, your VoIP provider should ensure that you are prepared and aware about it. Your team should ideally have training manuals and tutorial videos. Live training is also advantageous since it allows employees to answer questions and receive assistance in real time.
- Contract Length, Termination Costs & Fees
Review the Service Level Agreement (SLA) carefully. This contract specifies the roles and obligations of all parties. This is where you’ll discover your uptime/downtime assurances, planned maintenance periods, compensation for excess downtime, and other important information. Is maintenance included in the specified uptime? Make certain that you comprehend every part of this important document.
Sometimes, with monthly subscription, rates are lower and many do not require a contract. Much depends on how much phone traffic you have on a regular basis. At worst, you’re not going to spend any more money than you currently are. However, you will benefit from the extra value that VoIP may provide.
You should not be forced to use a VoIP provider that you dislike. If, after testing the service, you discover that it is not what you expected, you may choose to work with a new VoIP supplier or return to your previous system. So, when you choose a service, be sure you understand how you may get out of the contract. Is there a signed contract? Are there any penalties for leaving? How can you get the equipment back? Is it necessary to pay for shipping? If you prepare for the worst-case situation, you may end up saving money and time if your new provider isn’t a good fit.
These are the 10 most critical considerations when choosing the best phone service for your company. However, you may have additional company-specific needs. To make the best decision, compare each provider to all of the criteria. Finally, check reviews from previous and present customers. Inquire about the phone service of certain business owners and management. Seek advice from experts. Many internet review sites evaluate various service providers to provide you with more options. Migrating to VoIP does not have to be tough or complicated. If you follow these principles, you will have a simple and seamless transition for you and your employees.
Still debabting on wether to switch your business communications solution or perhaps have some additional questions regarding VOIP technology? Our Voice Solution Eggsperts are standing by to help. Please contact us by calling (760) 205-0105 or emailing us at email@example.com with your questions or suggestions for our next article.
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