Even though VoIP has been around for over 10-years and there are more than 21 million VoIP users in the US alone, I still get a lot of basic questions about this technology from the small business community. So I thought now would be a good time for a VoIP Q & A Refresher.
- What is VoIP?VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is a technology that allows you to make and receive phone calls and faxes over the Internet instead of through the telephone network.
- What is Hosted VoIP?Hosted VoIP or Managed VoIP is a service where a third-party provider hosts and manages all the telecommunications equipment and software on the VoIP Providers location. Companies that use a Hosted VoIP Service get the benefit of the VoIP Providers facilities and technical expertise without the costs and risks associated with managing those facilities.A managed VoIP-service package typically includes the design, integration and deployment of IP-telephony equipment and software, along with management and maintenance of existing telephony solutions and the new VoIP network.
- Is a T-1 Broadband Connection Required?Not always. Depending upon your internet connection usage requirements, you may be able to use a cable or high quality DSL connection.
- Can I keep My Existing Telephone numbers?YES, in virtually every case, even if you are moving to a different area code or even a different state.Read about Porting (transferring) your existing telephone numbers to your new VoIP Phone Service.
- Is VoIP Reliable Enough For Business Use?Yes, some of the largest companies in the world are using VoIP.
- Will I be talking on a Computer?No. You will use IP Phones that look and work like traditional telephones to make calls. However, there are "Soft Phone" which allow the same access through a USB Headset attached to your computer.
- How Do I Manage My VoIP Phone System?A Hosted VoIP Phone System offers a great deal of flexibility for managing your system. Most systems give you the ability to add/remove phone users, create new departments either at your physical location or at a separate location.All of the technical aspects of managing a Hosted VoIP phone system will be handled by the VoIP Provider. One of the most important, but often over looked aspects is Redundant facilities.You should only choose a VoIP Provider that has redundant facilities. When a VoIP Provider has redundant facilities, their system will automatically fail over to the secondary facility should the primary facility experience a problem.
- What Does VoIP Cost?VoIP Providers offer 2 basic types of Business VoIP Calling Plans. Plans are either unlimited calling (generally in the US & Canada) or Metered Plan (pay per minute of talk time).Your choice of calling plans should depend on your businesses calling pattern. If you do a lot of calling, you may want to consider an unlimited plan so that you can fix your costs. On the other hand, if your company is not a heavy phone user, a metered plan may be less expensive.
- Is There a Minimum Size for Business VoIP?Theoretically, the answer is no. You can have a single VoIP user company. In practice, companies typically have minimum size requirement below which they will not offer service. Most respectable companies have a stated limit of 10-users. They hope is that these companies will grow into larger organizations.
- Is There a Maximum Number of Phones for a VoIP System?Theoretically no, the maximum number of phone users at any given location is governed by the available bandwidth.
- How is call quality insured?Voice Quality (VQ) technology solves the problems of keeping voice service over the Internet reliable. By prioritizing voice traffic at all the constraint points of WAN links between Speakeasy and customers, VoIP Providers are able to provide a high quality and reliable service. This is done by smoothing traffic at the traditional bottlenecks: Toward the customer WAN and through use of router prioritization. Application Layer Gateways (ALG) are used in a similar way to manage the traffic flow from the customer to the network.
It is important that businesses get these questions answered prior to jumping into VoIP. Find a VoIP Provider whose solution best helps your company achieve your goals. Do not try and fit your company into a solution.