No question that VoIP phones for business are the rage. Consider these numbers:
- 90% of IT leaders will cease purchasing on-premise communication tools by the end of 2021.
- A 30 user business can save $1,200 per month.
- 74% of employees use a mobile app for business calls over VoIP.
- Local call savings made by small businesses are 40%.
What is VoIP?
Start with a simple question. What is VoIP? It stands for voice over internet protocol. Rather than going through your local phone company, you get your phone service via the internet. Moving to VoIP is not an all or nothing scenario. You can use the service in addition to your traditional business phone service.
Traditionally, businesses relied on a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) phone service. It connects internal phone extensions to the public telephone network. PBXs are generally costly to set up and maintain.
By moving to a hosted VoIP solution, a provider handles everything for you. Plug your IP phone in and start making calls. Digital telephones use your high-speed internet connection to establish connectivity.
Why Use VoIP Services?
The two key drivers for moving to VoIP services are lower costs coupled with greater functionality.
Typically, VoIP phone service costs less than traditional phone services attached to monopolies or government entities. The internet lacks either. Because voice telephony uses a single network to carry voice and data, costs are less.
From a functionality standpoint, VoIP phones outperform landline-based phones. For starters, calls are automatically routed to your phone anywhere you connect to the internet.
Because IP telephony uses packets to transmit voice signals, more information gets carried over a network. That opens the door to advanced features that drive agility and productivity. You can benefit from screen sharing, voicemail to email, call routing, video conferencing, call recording, auto-attendant, and a lot more.
For businesses, it also means that unified communications are possible. Phone calls, faxes, voice mail, email, web conferences, and more are considered discrete units for delivery.
VoIP Hosting Options
Three hosting options are available when you move to VoIP plans. You can decide which delivers the best VoIP service option for you.
Hosted VoIP: Third-party VoIP service providers host your business phone system. You pay a subscription to manage your network infrastructure. You can increase or decrease your expenditure based on your business needs.
Hosted VoIP removes the burden from you. It can also deliver benefits, especially for small businesses:
- Little or no upfront costs required with a predictable monthly fee.
- Your VoIP service provider is responsible for security.
- The system is easy to scale.
- Your provider manages system updates to give you access to new features.
On-Site VoIP: Investment is high with an on-premise VoIP system and deployed only with larger companies and government agencies. They purchase and install all the necessary components to host and manage their phone system.
Here are some considerations to keep in mind if you select this route:
- High upfront capital expenditure is required.
- Security is up to you.
- The system is easy to scale on-site, but additional locations demand another phone system.
- It requires ongoing hardware and software updates.
Hybrid VoIP: A hybrid approach distributes the load. It combines on-premise IP communication appliances with cloud-based services. So, you can retain your existing TDM PBX, wiring, handsets, and cable. You can then incorporate a VoIP gateway where VoIP devices connect to existing lines and handsets.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Hardware requires capital expenditure, but the monthly cloud fee is an operational expense.
- Your VoIP service provider addresses cloud security.
- Each location requires an additional phone system.
- The state of your on-site system determines what phone features you can access.
VoIP Phone System Options
Hosting aside, you can also decide from among six systems for business.
On-Site PBX: Your PBX system is set up at your location and generally kept in a phone closet or computer room.
Hosted PBX: With hosted PBX, your VoIP provider houses the IP-PBX and manages the service.
Proprietary PBX: The operating system uses a proprietary VoIP system in conjunction with block box PBX software. Updates require source code access.
Hybrid Phone System: There is no need to rewire or replace a TDM PBX. So, companies can move to a VoIP phone system more readily.
Open-Source VoIP System: The phone system is the operating system coupled with PBX software that free. You have complete control over the source.
Open Source–Based System: Proprietary code gets layered on top of the free, open-source code.
Talk to a VoIP provider near you about pricing. It will vary depending on several factors, including setup, hosting fees, subscription level, number of users, phone equipment, and broadband connection.
After determining the cost structure, implementing the VoIP system will require five steps.
1. Network Evaluation: A VoIP provider will conduct a LAN assessment to determine if a VoIP phone system will stress your network.
2. Broadband Evaluation: Your provider will assess whether you have the required internet bandwidth to support VoIP services. Remember, VoIP adds traffic to your connection.
3. Installation and Support: Determine who handles the installation. You? Your VoIP provider? A combination of each?
4. System Selection: After deciding on the system, you determine which VoIP phones to use. There are a variety of phones available.
5. Training: You need to familiarize employees with the new VoIP phone system. Does your VoIP provider offer training as part of their customer support, or are you on your own? Is it remote or on-site?
Review these steps with your provider to make sure you get the best VoIP service possible.
What About Costs for VoIP Phone Service?
According to Nextiva, you can expect to pay the amounts listed. Each cost differs from analog lines:
- Initial costs: $0-$50 per line
- Monthly costs: $19-$45 per line
- Device costs: $80-$600 per IP phone
- International calls: $0.01+ per minute
- Taxes and fees: Varies based on your city, county, and state.
Traditional phone systems have hidden costs:
- Installation fees: $50-100 per drop
- Deposit: $100-$500
- Maintenance contact: $1000+ annually
- International calls: $1.00+ per minute
- Hard pull credit check
Should You Switch to VoIP Services?
No question, VoIP services for business deliver several advantages, especially to SMBs. You can save as much as 45%. You can add or subtract services as your business grows and contracts. You can access an array of features unavailable with conventional landlines.
But you also have to weigh potential downsides attached to VoIP solutions. Calls are untraceable traced without additional work. In the event of a 911 call, for example, you need to provide your location. Your phone system won’t work with a power outage.
In some instances, sound quality is compromised depending on the volume of usage and your hardware capabilities. VoIP phone systems are also susceptible to viruses, worms, and hacking. So, you need to make sure your provider takes appropriate precautions.
Need Some Help Deciding?
Give us a call. We’ll be happy to conduct some initial assessments to see if a VoIP phone system for business is right for you. We can also help you determine the best VoIP service option for your small business.
We deliver IT solutions to small and medium-sized businesses throughout Central PA, including Harrisburg, York, Lancaster, Lebanon, Reading, and Carlisle. If you’re looking for a VoIP provider near you, drop us a line.