Hosted VOIP PBX – What Your Business Needs to Know Before Making the Switch
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service can help businesses operate more economically without sacrificing important features such as call waiting, call forwarding, and three-way calling. Even so, making the switch requires more than just plugging in a phone. When it comes to hosted VoIP PBX, here is what your business needs to know.
To take advantage of Voice over Internet Protocol, you’ll require a broadband connection. The amount of bandwidth you need will depend on the number of simultaneous users you can expect to have. If you operate a small business with relatively few employees, this may not be much of a concern. However, if you operate a call center or have several employees, you may need to upgrade your service.
Many Internet providers have a bandwidth cap in place, so you should know what your limits are before adding phone lines. Most service providers use a codec, or program that decodes digital data, which requires 64kb of data per second. This is a number that is low enough for several people to talk at once, while still having access to the Internet. The amount of bandwidth you use will be much higher than that if you plan on streaming audio or video.
The speed of your broadband connection will play a role in the quality of your calls. If your speed is too slow, you risk having dropped calls or suffering from lags in receiving voice messages. The more phone lines you plan to add to your network, the faster your connection should be. A minimum upload speed of around 30 kilo bits per second (kbps) is needed for a single user, but that amount can increase to 90 kbps or more if you have multiple users.
Routers and Switches
Not only is it important to have enough bandwidth, but your routers and switches must also be capable of handling phone traffic. A router that will allow you to configure Quality of Service settings (QoS) is recommended. QoS settings are often accessible via the router’s software or Media Access Code address, which is similar to an IP address. By modifying QoS settings, you can ensure incoming VoIP calls have priority over all other applications.
Unlike traditional landlines, VoIP phone service is unavailable during a power outage. This can be devastating unless you have taken measures to prepare for it. If your office operates on a generator or battery backup system, you may not have to worry about this. If not, you should at least consider having calls rerouted to a voicemail or to your mobile device in the event the power goes out. While this may not necessarily permit you to make or answer calls, it will nonetheless allow you to keep up with incoming messages.
911 service is not available from all providers. In some cases, calls may not connect directly to the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), or may ring to an administrative line instead. In addition, enhanced or E911 service is not available in all areas. E911 service allows emergency dispatchers to automatically obtain the location of a VoIP call much in the same way location information is gathered from landline calls.
To ensure help is available, you should be aware of any limitations you might incur from your provider or due to geographic location. If 911 service is unavailable, having an alternate method of communication such as a personal cell phone is recommended. Alternatively, you may also find out what the direct dial number for emergency personnel is and keep that information posted near your phone.
It’s important to consider all of these things if you are to get the most out of your VoIP phone service. That’s where we come in, providing you with all the information you need to make an informed decision. To find out more, contact us.