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.
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
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
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
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
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