Business VoIP

What is Business VoIP?

Communications forms a large part of the overhead expenses for most businesses. And like all aspects of a business, here too people are constantly looking for ways to improve functionality and cut costs. And the best way to do this is to switch over from landline based communications to VoIP. VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, and uses the internet to carry voice traffic. Since nearly all businesses have dedicated high speed broadband connections and large bandwidth, business VoIP enables companies to use their existing infrastructure for audio communications with little or no additional capital expenditure.

Compare Business VoIP Services
VoIP Provider Plan Reviewed Monthly Fees Setup Fees Plan Summary Detailed Review Visit Provider
PBX Unlimited Extension $39.99 $0.00
  • Unlimited Local and Long Distance
  • 25+ Advanced Features
  • No Contracts
Ringcentral office $24.99 $0.00
  • Unlimited Calling and Faxing (US & Canada)
  • No Commitment, No Setup or Installation Fees
  • Only $24.99/month per user
Connect 360 Unlimited $29.95 $0.00
  • Unlimited Calling
  • US-based Support
  • No Contracts
VoIP Unlimited $24.95 0.00
  • Unlimited Virtual Extensions
  • VoIP Training Webinars
  • Easy Customization
Smart PBX $30.00 $0.00
  • Unlimited Virtual Extensions
  • Free Long-Distance
  • No Contracts or Hidden Fees

Business VoIP Buyer’s Guide

Choosing a Business VoIP service provider

The selection of the VoIP service is extremely important as the quality and reliability of the businesses communication will depend on the standard of service provided. It’s worthwhile spending some time up front to examine the VoIP service options to ensure that future problems are eliminated. Among the things to keep in mind are:

  • How long has the service provider been in business?
  • Spend some time reading reviews and visiting discussion forums to see what other people have to say about the service providers you are considering.
  • How big is the service provider’s client base and what is it made up of? A business VoIP service with a large number of high use 24/7 clients like call centers of customer support services will have to provide a high level of service which makes it a good option.
  • Examine the various packages available to find those that suit you best. Discuss the possibility of making modifications to an existing package to suit any specific needs your business may have. Fixed monthly cost plans are the most popular.
  • How easy is it to change packages or upgrade?
  • Check on the termination policy – you do not want to receive a large bill of termination charges if you should decide to change you service provider.
  • Even if yours is a regular 9 to 5 business, look for VoIP services that offer a 24/7 hotline or Internet Messaging (IM) customer support. There are few things worse than working late for an emergency, having communications problems and having to wait till the next day to get help.

Communications forms a large part of the overhead expenses for most businesses. And like all aspects of a business, here too people are constantly looking for ways to improve functionality and cut costs. And the best way to do this is to switch over from landline based communications to VoIP. VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, and uses the internet to carry voice traffic. Since nearly all businesses have dedicated high speed broadband connections and large bandwidth, business VoIP enables companies to use their existing infrastructure for audio communications with little or no additional capital expenditure.

VoIP has been used by businesses since the 1990s when people first started connecting microphones and speakers to their computers to be able to talk to others. Business VoIP services and applications have come a long way since then and today VoIP service providers offer a variety of value added features to make communications a much richer and results-oriented function. But before looking at these features, the first thing to look at is the economies that can be achieved.

Cut Your Overhead

Communications, both internal and external, are the lifeblood of any business. And while emails have taken the place of snail mail, nothing can replace the phone call. Over the years, the technological advances in telecommunications have made it easy to talk to anyone, anywhere from any location. The downside of this has been that the increasing use of the phone has led to skyrocketing phone bills. VoIP replaces the traditional phone with an internet based system of making phone calls at huge savings. All a business needs to do is sign up with a business VoIP service provider to route the calls. VoIP calls are not charged on the basis of time or distance. You can talk as long as you want to anywhere in the world without having to pay extra. And many VoIP services offer a range of packages, including unlimited calls, for a fixed monthly charge. Since VoIP service providers do not have to invest huge sums of money into buying vast amounts of hardware as you find in telephone exchanges and because they are exempt from paying taxes, their costs are very low and they pass these savings on to their customers. While the amount of savings a business can make by switching over to VoIP will depend on the amount of phone traffic it has, savings of 75% and above on existing phone bills are easily achieved.

The Value Added Features of Business VoIP

Besides huge cost savings, business VoIP offers an array of features, most of which are not available with traditional phones. The features and additional cost, if any, for them will depend on the plans offered by the business VoIP service.

  • Teleconferencing allows for a large number of people in different locations to participate in discussions.
  • Video calls enable people to see one another and not only does this add another dimension to the call, the ability to see the facial expression of the person you are talking to makes communication more effective.
  • Besides video, it is also possible to send images, text and even whiteboard screenshots to the people you are talking to and get the kind of immediate feedback that would not be possible if they were sent by email.
  • A business VoIP user can choose his own area codes. This means that a business with large groups of customers in different locations can choose their local area code so customers do not have to make long distance calls to talk to them.
  • With a fixed monthly charge plan, a business can plan its communications budget far more efficiently.
  • The fixed monthly charge also means that no time and manpower need be wasted on verifying and checking phone bills.
  • A sequential ringing option means that if the phone numbers are not routed through a PBX, an incoming call will ring on one phone for a predetermined time and then go to another instrument and then another and so on, so that the chances of a call being missed are slight.
  • Multi ringing offers the option of an incoming call being routed to more than one instrument so that whoever is nearest can answer.
  • Executives who are on the road a lot can use VoIP to communicate from their laptops which is both time and cost saving. And with wireless broadband now available everywhere, calls can be made while sitting in a car or waiting at an airport.
  • A voice mailbox option allows for missed calls to be diverted to a mailbox where the caller can leave a message which can be either directly retrieved later or sent to the VoIP user as an email attachment.
  • Number portability means that a business switching over to VoIP can retain its existing phone numbers.
  • Most business VoIP services provide a facility wherein if your internet connection stops working for any reason, all incoming calls are automatically routed to a predetermined alternate number to ensure that no calls are lost.

These are the most common benefits offered by business VoIP services, but there are many more that are worth investigating.

What do you need to start using business VoIP?

Since VoIP works over the internet, a high speed broadband connection is essential, as well as a computer equipped with microphones and speakers, or stand alone VoIP phones. Even ordinary phones can be used for VoIP by using an Analog Telephone Adaptor (ATA). And that is about it.

Businesses that use a PBX have the option of either an on premises unit or a hosted one. An on premises VoIP PBX works just like a normal one – it is bought and installed in the office. While on premises VoIP PBXs are fairly common, many businesses prefer to go for the hosted VoIP PBX option where the service provider installs the PBX hardware and software at his premises and provides all the PBX related services from there. This saves the business from the hassles of buying, installing and maintaining the VoIP PBX which becomes the responsibility of the VoIP service provider. Upgrading and capacity expansion, when needed, is also easier. Troubleshooting will be done at the service provider’s premises, reducing the time needed for making service calls to the office to rectify faults. In terms of usage, the business will find no difference between the on premises and hosted solutions. The only downside of a hosted VoIP PBX is that it is totally dependent on the VoIP service ensuring efficient operations.

One issue that a business VoIP user must be aware of is that unlike traditional phones which have an independent power supply, VoIP is dependent on your office electricity and if there is a power outage, VoIP will not function. Businesses that face the problem of frequent outages should invest in a backup power option.

Choosing a Business VoIP service provider

The selection of the VoIP service is extremely important as the quality and reliability of the businesses communication will depend on the standard of service provided. It’s worthwhile spending some time up front to examine the VoIP service options to ensure that future problems are eliminated. Among the things to keep in mind are:

  • How long has the service provider been in business?
  • Spend some time reading reviews and visiting discussion forums to see what other people have to say about the service providers you are considering.
  • How big is the service provider’s client base and what is it made up of? A business VoIP service with a large number of high use 24/7 clients like call centers of customer support services will have to provide a high level of service which makes it a good option.
  • Examine the various packages available to find those that suit you best. Discuss the possibility of making modifications to an existing package to suit any specific needs your business may have. Fixed monthly cost plans are the most popular.
  • How easy is it to change packages or upgrade?
  • Check on the termination policy – you do not want to receive a large bill of termination charges if you should decide to change you service provider.
  • Even if yours is a regular 9 to 5 business, look for VoIP services that offer a 24/7 hotline or Internet Messaging (IM) customer support. There are few things worse than working late for an emergency, having communications problems and having to wait till the next day to get help.

Business VoIP is the Way Ahead

VoIP uses proven internet and computer technology so there is no gamble in switching over. The additional features make communications easier and more effective. The cost saving that business VoIP offers can make a significant difference to a company’s bottom line. And with the very low initial cost of making the change, businesses are increasingly opting for VoIP as their preferred means of phone communications.