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VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) involves using your Internet connection to place and receive calls. A business VoIP solution is the same as residential VoIP except that business VoIP includes a PBX and offers many more advanced features like desk to desk calling, automated attendant, managing extensions, music on hold, find me - follow me, conference calling and much more.

 

Business VoIP system prices vary considerably based on the features you require, your existing telephony infrastructure, and the state of your data network. A complete 16-phone VoIP solution with all the features you would expect in a typical business phone system can run from $10,000 to $30,000 or more, installed. A 64-phone installation including a dedicated server, voicemail, and more, could cost $50,000 to $75,000 and up.


VoIP for Businesses


VOIP was in use by businesses long before it reached the consumer market. But in an age when a typical teenager is now using Skype routinely, some businesses still havenít woken up to the benefits that VOIP can bring.
 

 

Business VoIP
 

 

Introducing Business VOIP

If youíre just newly thinking of bringing VOIP into your business, and your knowledge of it is limited to having used Skype a few times, there are probably some things youíre not clear about.

Beyond simple person-to-person calls, does VOIP allowed for sophisticated telephony options, for example, such as switchboard systems through which an operator can route calls to the appropriate recipients within a large company, and serve piped music to irritated callers while they wait? In short, the answer is yes. Both hardware and software-based VOIP PBXes exist and some contend they even have advantages over the traditional kind. For example, you there is no need to maintain these yourself. You can access a software-based PBX via a website and monitor your call patterns or change your configuration options from there.

You can also do faxing over VOIP through software alone, bypassing the need to have a fax machine altogether.

If your company is a large one, and your people are on the phone a lot, you may be worried about having enough network bandwidth to be able to handle the simultaneous call load. There are some online services which can test this for you and give you an estimate of how many simultaneous calls your system should be able to handle.

Here is one website where you can test how much your connection can handle : VOIP Speed Test

Business Advantages of VOIP

Why advantages does VOIP offer business? Principally, it brings the same benefits it does to non-business customers : savings on the cost of calls.

Beyond the cost-savings that can come from replacing your traditional phone service, does VOIP offer any advantages to your business? Yes, indeed. There are a number of things you can do with VOIP which you canít do with a conventional phone service. For example, if you have a web page, you could embed a link to it that visitors could click on to speak to one of your customer service operators directly from their PC.

Video conferencing is much more feasible with VOIP than it ever was with the traditional phone network, so you may find that becoming part of your business culture.

With VOIP, voicemail can often be saved in a portable format such as mp3 and sent via email to the appropriate user. In many cases, this is much more convenient than old-style voicemail.

The fact that your telephony is taking place over software can potentially give you much more information about your usage of it than you ever had before. This can lead to cost savings if it lets you spot things like excess capacity, for example.

Business VOIP Ė The Numbers Issue

Another important factor in the business use of VOIP is the removal of the geographical dependence factor in what your telephone number is. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. If you donít want to be perceived as servicing one region only, a VOIP number can elminate the problem. On the other hand, having a local number may often be advantageous. The cost customers pay to call your VOIP is affected by the distances involved, just as with conventional phone numbers. You may want to retain a local number and, even if you are not located in a particular region, you may want to give the impression that you are.

Both of these things are possible through VOIP. You can also have multiple numbers feeding through to the same phones. So, if you so desired, you could arrange things so that your customers in multiple locales were all able to get through to you with what, for them, was a local rate number.

Business VOIP Ė Key Considerations

Most VOIP services offer diminished audio quality compared to conventional phones. This is an issue for business users. If you are dealing with customers or clients, low quality voice communication may be grating on the ear and may give an image of unprofessionalism. After all, does a serious company skimp on quality just to save a few pennies?

It should be noted, however, that some VOIP providers now claim their audio quality is indistinguishable from that provided in a standard telephone call. In addition, some business VOIP providers insist their service is of higher quality than the standard consumer offerings. In fact, some are prepared to guarantee certain levels of service through Quality of Service agreements. They can achieve higher quality because their software may allow them to distinguish between data packets and voice packets and so prioritise the latter.

Reliability is also an issue for VOIP calling. The VOIP industry is still a relatively young one and it just hasnít yet attained the levels of reliability we expect from our normal telephone service. Anticipate having to deal with dropped call issues and the like to a greater extent than you would otherwise.

With reliability and quality issues in mind, then, you may want to use VOIP for intra-company phone calls, but conventional phones for outside calls, or alternate between the two in some more subtle scheme of your own choosing.

Some business class VOIP providers will offer software that allows you to pre-configure what types of calls will be routed over IP and which will be go out over the standard telephone network. Differentiation could be done on various criteria. It could be area code, for example; specific numbers which should always be called either with VOIP or not; or different classes of users within the company who are compelled to use one or the other. Technical support staff could be forced to use VOIP, for example, while sales staff and the CEO get to use the real telephone network.

Of course, itís not just quality and reliability that might lead you to want to differentiate between the two types of calls. Itís cost too. Contrary to popular perception, VOIP isnít always cheaper. Depending on the deal you have with your phone company, certain types of calls, for example local calls, may well be cheaper with them.

Business VOIP on the Move

Mobility can be a problem when it comes to VOIP. At a minimum, you will need internet access wherever you go to use your VOIP phone. Wi-Fi networks are becomingly increasingly widespread but are still far from ubiquitous. The dream of the ďalways onĒ internet still looks a long way from being achieved. Realistically, then, though you might be able to use your VOIP phone somewhat while out and about, you wonít be able to dump the mobile just yet. This presents you with the problem of having to lug two phones around with you. Phones are getting smaller and slimmer so perhaps thatís not too much of a burden. Still, it can be a little annoying and presents you with the problem of having to keep your phone contacts and emails on two different phones. One way around this may be with what are called ďdual-modeĒ phones : phones that can switch between WiFi and conventional mobile networks. For those looking to outfit call centre style operations, headsets with similar functionality also exist.

Business VOIP - Conclusion

There is a compelling business case for VOIP. The barriers which have limited its popularity among business users, such as quality concerns and technical complexity, are falling away, leading to ever-increasing rates of adoption in offices across the world.

Other articles on VoIP:

What is VoIP
VoIP Providers
VoIP Phones