What is VoIP?
VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is defined by the FCC as “is a technology that allows you to make voice calls using a broadband Internet connection instead of a regular (or analog) phone line.” In today’s technology, this is relatively easy to do. This means that VoIP can come in many different forms, and most internet connected devices can use it including landlines, cell phones, desktops and laptops. The provider and type of plan you pick will help determine how the VoIP will function. Let’s go into a little more detail about the advantages and disadvantages of VoIP before we go into the different types and how to select a VoIP provider.
Pros and Cons for VoIP for SMBs
There are quite a few perks to VoIP: affordability, availability, additional abilities, and more. One of the biggest reasons our SMB clients switch to VoIP is the ability to save money. A SMB can save money on the equipment, as well as the bill. Most VoIP allow you to use your existing equipment- including landlines or cell phones, as long as they be connected to the internet (for example, if your landline has an ethernet port). Additionally, the requirements for using a computer for VoIP are relatively minor, so almost all computers that have a microphone and camera can be used (or a headset can be utilized). Additionally, most companies are able to save on communication costs by eliminating their phone bill entirely, and using their new VoIP to make unlimited, high quality calls.
A few other perks to VoIP (varying depending on your selected plan): multiple calls (including line transfers, group and conference calls), quick and efficient call forwarding, call transferring, call waiting, call blocking, better caller ID, advanced voicemail features, speed dialing, texting, and more. Since VoIP is internet based, most providers will have different types of plans and include or may not include these features in different pricing tiers.
What are the cons? Why wouldn’t a company invest in VoIP? As mentioned previously, for VoIP you need high speed broadband internet connection, which does raise the price of your internet bill- but with the elimination of a phone bill, the increased price of the internet is usually offset. The only other concern to consider is your employees calling emergency services, and the IP address reads as one specific places for all callers (but with the proper training and protocol, this is not usually an issue.
We’ve Convinced You VoIP can Improve Your Business, Now How to Choose the Right VoIP?
If the reasons to upgrade to VoIP clearly outweighs the negatives, then the next step is evaluating your site to see what type of VoIP your company needs based on shared business goals and communication needs. To start your considerations, there are three types of VoIP: In-house, hosted, and hybrid.
In-House VoIP is accessible and best suitable for businesses with existing landline systems, often PBX, where techs can come out and replace PBX lines with ethernet cables to connect the phones to the internet (they can be on their own dedicated network, or part of a larger, existing network depending on needs of the users). If your company had been relying on fax machines, dial-up modems or other older, unsupported tech, it may need to be replaced with newer technology. Our techs recommend getting headsets, that way users would be able to dial using their computer or their phones. The same process can be done with mobile devices like phones or tablets.
Not ready to convert all your devices into VoIP capable devices? You could also choose Hosted VoIP, where a outsourced phone provider allows you to lease equipment, which means you can get the service as a fixed cost. VoIPinfo.com shares more information, “The hosting organization can be external to the company, with the VoIP system installed at their premises, linked to the company by a communications line. The big danger in this scenario is that if the link is lost then all voice communications are lost. An interface can be installed in the company to make sure that internal calls can still carry on if the link goes down…The hosting company will have the same equipment at their premises as that which you would install for an in-house system. You will still have to install VoIP handsets and make sure your network can support VoIP.”
If you aren’t ready to let go of your existing setup and have additional funds for better communication, you can easily implement a VoIP option that integrates easily with existing systems.
The Final Step: Choosing a VoIP Provider
If you research VoIP providers, there are most likely be plenty of options, and a lot of them could be a great resource for your company! We just suggest thoroughly researching any company you may be considering. One good place to start would be any IT company you may be already affiliated with- they may already do VoIP and can easily implement if they are already acquainted with your IT environment. You can also ask an IT company for a VoIP referral if they do not do it themselves. If you are still on the fence or looking for a direct recommendation, we’d suggest our own company KPInterface. We’d be happy to evaluate your current phone and VoIP situation, or show you a demonstration of VoIP live (our techs would be happy to demo free of charge). Just contact our team below!