When looking at transforming your business from traditional phone lines to Voice Over IP (VOIP) the greatest fear is quality, the second is reliance on your internet connection. There are excellent, free tests you can use to determine if your internet connection can support your telephone traffic. In addition, your network can be configured to prioritize telephone traffic.
Other than dramatic reductions to your phone bill what are some of the benefits?
“The most important component to your new IP phone solution is your partner.”
When you are looking at VOIP solutions there are two big decisions to be made. First, do you host the system yourself, or contract with a cloud provider? Second do you pay a flat rate per month per user, or pay by the minute?
Although a cost per user for unlimited minutes sounds like a great deal, this is a big revenue source for the providers. In almost all cases, your cost is substantially less when you pay a small amount for the capacity and phone numbers (DIDs), along with a per minute fee for your usage. That said, there can be some significant advantages to hosted solutions such as Microsoft’s Office 365 with Skype for Business, where the addition costs are justified by additional value that these kinds of solutions can provide.
If you decide to host your own system either at your office or in the cloud, you can choose between an appliance or a computer with software. An appliance is a purpose-built computer with the software pre-loaded and configured, to make it much easier to get started. Most appliances also include hardware to attach analog phone lines, and analog devices like fax machines.
A great solution is to take any computer or server that is due to be upgraded, replace it, and re-task it to be your phone system. For most businesses, the amount of memory, computing and storage needed for these solutions is less than your typical Windows desktop. The software is the key to your system, and you have a choice between proprietary solutions, open source Asterisk based solutions, or Asterisk based solutions that are enhanced and supported and have a cost associated with them.
The most important component to your new IP phone solution is your partner. Likely you will work with your trusted technology partner, who now must be your trusted phone company also.