Small Business Hidden VoIP Costs to Consider
Small business VoIP use has seen explosive growth in recent years. One of the biggest drivers of this growth is its cost-effectiveness. For instance, a company with 20 users can save over $1,000 a month on VoIP, including hardware costs, VirtualPBX estimates. But like any service, VoIP can contain hidden costs, and enterprises should factor these in when comparing providers. Here are some of the hidden VoIP costs you should take into consideration when evaluating your options.
One area where Small Business VoIP can have both significant savings as well as hidden costs is hardware. The average traditional on-premises private branch exchange (PBX) system with 75 lines costs $75,000 upfront, plus the costs of in-house IT maintenance, whereas a hosted VoIP system costs $22,500 or less, including hardware, according to PCG Telecom & Data Network. However, provider estimates do not usually include costs associated with revamping internal IT infrastructure, South Bay Communications & Security points out. Supporting VoIP requires more resources than traditional communications networks, including replacements for LAN cabling and upgrades of switchers and routers to avoid latency delays, as well as a reliable uninterruptible power supply. Fortunately, these upgrades have significant benefits for overall business performance, such as increasing web connection and application performance speed, but they are still costs that should not be overlooked. Make sure to ask prospective providers if these costs are included in their estimate, and if not, factor them into your cost-benefit analysis.
Security can become another hidden cost if you aren’t careful about choosing the right provider and following security best practices. Switching to Small Business VoIP can require significant security adjustments, especially for smaller companies that don’t have the same type of dedicated security team available to larger corporations. Security risks that can result from not following best practices include allowing eavesdroppers to overhear conversations, downloading viruses that cause denial of service attacks, having lines disrupted by phishing calls and email stuffing, and identity and data theft. These are serious security risks that can potentially cripple a small company. To prevent this, make sure to choose a quality provider with good security practices and follow best practices, such as changing default passwords and shutting down services and ports that are not needed.
Small Business VoIP Technological Limitations
When considering a transition to VoIP, it’s also important to be aware of what VoIP does and doesn’t do. Fax machines are generally not designed to work over VoIP systems, and if you want to use a VoIP system for faxing you will need to install a T.38 subsystem to alter fax signals, which is an additional cost. Your VoIP system is also dependent on your Internet service, so Internet outages will also shut down your phone system, making it imperative to have reliable Internet service and backup procedures. Exceptionally high traffic can diminish your video and sound quality, so you may need to purchase additional bandwidth. Emergency 911 calls over VoIP usually give the 911 operator inaccurate location reads due to the fact that VoIP is based in the cloud. If you plan to use VoIP for 911 calls, make sure your procedures include correctly communicating the location to operators. In general, anything that can affect your computer can affect your VoIP service, so you must have a trained specialist available to checkup and monitor your system to ensure uninterrupted service.
Many vendors include training with the cost of hardware purchase, but some don’t. If your provider doesn’t include training costs in their estimates, expect to spend $1,000 to $5,000 in training per IT staff member, Toolbox.com says. Most organizations get the best results from having their IT staff train end-users.