What You Need To Know About VoIP In Your Business
Since phone service has represented a significant cost for most (if not all businesses), switching to a cheaper service has been a huge relief to many. VoIP is providing businesses with a great alternative to traditional phone service and it represents a really strong source of features and phone call quality. That last characteristic is a bit unexpected to some, who expect VoIP to provide low-quality calls whenever the quality now often exceeds traditional landlines. So, VoIP is sweeping the business world as more companies realize what they now have available to them through VoIP–in some cases, it seems almost miraculous. We’ll now talk about why.
VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a way to access voice phone calls via the Internet instead of traditional landline phone service. It is signicicantly more efficient and cheaper, providing access without all the high fees and expensive equipment traditional phone service required. Of course, the type of setup you use for your phones can signiciantly direct just how much your business phone system costs and just exactly which features you have access to. So it is important to think carefully about what types of phone features your business needs and what types of features you will really need.
In this article, we’ll review what you need to know about VoIP and how to implement it at your business, in addition to offering an overview of what VoIP can do for your organization and how you can best take advantage of the many features available today.
- VoIP Basic Setup
- Cloud-Hosted VoIP
- Onsite Self-Hosted VoIP
Ready to get started? Consider this to be your cheat-sheet and an opportunity to deep-dive into VoIP. If you have other questions or want to keep exploring, our website features a variety of other articles that can provide a good overview of VoIP topics alongside tips to get the most from your service. We even have reviews and guides to help you choose the right services and plans for your business.
1. VoIP Basic Setup
First of all, let’s talk a bit about what VoIP is and how it is different. With a traditional landline service, you sign up for phone service from a provider who maintains telephone lines leading up to the wall you plug your phone into. Some homes and many businesses have multiple lines, which have to be physically installed in the wall. From there, you plug in your phone and can receive and make calls.
VoIP is Internet-based, using the same lines or wireless access that brings you your Internet service. Your Internet connection does all of this. From there, you plug-in your phone or use an adapter to allow your old landline phone to communicate with your VoIP service. Your VoIP phone service provider powers your service, which you may access through an app. This avoids any outside infrastructure or equipment besides what you use for your Internet, unless you decide to self-host your service (more on that later).
Basically, you’ll need:
- An Internet connection
- A VoIP service provider
- Adapters, PBX (private branch exchange) boxes, etc. (Optional)
From there, you’re ready to make VoIP calls.
2. Cloud-Hosted VoIP
Cloud-hosted VoIP may be the easiest VoIP service to get started with and use. You can sign up and start getting service practically the same day, or actually the same day if you don’t plan to use phones or equipment you don’t already have at your business. Using an app from your smartphone, tablet or computer can get you started almost immediately. This is because your VoIP phone service company hosts the service for you, and does all of your call management and special features from the cloud. For many businesses (especially smaller ones), this is the most common and popular service, as it requires no added equipment and can keep costs relatively low.
Pros of Cloud-Hosted VoIP
Obviously, this is a low-cost, low-hassle plan with little maintenance required from the user and subscriber. That’s a pretty great deal for many businesses and makes it simple to get started and keep a plan going. Your technical support is probably pretty straightforward because you aren’t doing any of the hosting yourself, which means it’s your vendor’s problem if something goes wrong. That’s pretty simple for you.
Cons of Cloud-Hosted VoIP
But, alas, there are disadvantages to this approach. You have less control of your service and it’s probably tougher to directly customize it or provide guidance on how the plan should go. You also can rack up extra costs if your business uses a really large call volume or encounters really high surges in use all of a sudden. These issues are probably not as important to small businesses as keeping costs low is, so it is a trade-off many are willing to make. Small businesses probably don’t expect to control every aspect of what they outsource, since cloud-hosted VoIP can bring them features and save them money in ways other phone services can’t–they simply wouldn’t have access to the same features under another plan.
3. Onsite Self-Hosted VoIP
If your business really needs more direct control over the system and processes involved with your phone service, then onsite self-hosted VoIP may start to make more sense. Basically, this option involves owning or leasing equipment and software and having your VoIP functionality operate onsite at your organization. You have the physical computers and equipment powering your phone service, and your phone service provider merely trunks (or connects) you to the public phone system from there. This is categorically different from many of the VoIP phone services available, but is certainly an option if it meets your needs better than cloud service does.
Pros of Onsite Self-Hosted VoIP
For the business looking to directly control their phone service, onsite self-hosted VoIP makes particularly great sense. It allows you to direct everything that happens with your phone system. It can even help your business save money if you use a particularly high volume of calls, which may very well be the case if your business is dependent on phone use (such as using a call center) or if your organization is relatively large and has a significant call volume naturally.
Cons of Onsite Self-Hosted VoIP
Now, this service is definitely going to cost you. The starting costs for this are much higher than the costs of entry for a cloud service, because you are having to take full responsibility for setup, maintenance and equipment, in addition to the applications and software you’ll be using. You take on the full operational responsibility, which may be what you want, but is nevertheless more involved than simply asking a provider to sell you hosted service. This is like the difference between renting and owning a home–onsite self-hosting is similar to owning your home in the sense that you are now taking on the maintenance, upgrade and repair responsibilities, and this is great for some people and bad for others. Remember this as you consider self-hosting your own VoIP service. If something breaks, there’s probably no one else to call but yourself.