VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone systems make good sense for small businesses. In fact, recent research finds that more than one-third of all businesses are now using a VoIP phone system, with the vast majority of those being businesses with fewer than 50 employees.
“With VoIP, voice data is sent [via an Internet connection] in digital form rather than plugging into a traditional phone jack like you would over the public switched telephone network (PSTN),” Tina Liu, senior product marketing manager for 8×8, told Business News Daily.
First introduced commercially in the 1990s, VoIP technology has improved significantly since then, and so has its popularity. In the early days, users complained that the sound quality wasn’t as good on VoIP as it was on a landline, but those issues aren’t a concern today.
VoIP systems now take advantage of advanced high-definition codecs that have vastly improved the voice quality, making modern VoIP networks sound even better than landline networks, said Matt McGinnis, associate vice president of product marketing for VoIP provider RingCentral.
In addition to better sound quality, the cloud is also making VoIP a more viable option for small businesses. Rather than having to run special wiring and install special equipment, companies that choose a cloud-hosted VoIP phone solution don’t need to purchase any equipment or employ an IT staff to install and maintain it.
“Cloud VoIP systems dispense with most of the up-front hardware and software and only require a broadband connection to activate,” McGinnis said. “This reduces the amount of capital expenditure needed and makes it easy to turn up and deploy.”
The advancement of VoIP technology and its relatively low cost make VoIP an ideal choice for small business, but businesses should still do their homework before committing.
Is VoIP right for you?
Determining if a VoIP phone system makes sense for a small business all depends on the quality of its network and its needs, said Chris Sherwood, an Oregon-based phone system consultant.
“Most importantly, you want to ensure they have enough upload bandwidth for the amount of phone calls they expect to have running concurrently,” Sherwood said, commenting on what he looks at when deciding if VoIP is a good option.
In addition, businesses also have to factor in whether they have enough bandwidth to handle the other traffic on the network, and whether or not their firewall and router can prioritize VoIP traffic over regular Internet traffic, Sherwood said.
If the network can support it, than VoIP is likely a good option for many businesses.
“For businesses where VoIP does makes sense, there are many benefits, including reduction in costs in terms of both maintenance and monthly recurring usage, ease of use and enhanced features that you would previously only find in an enterprise-level PBX,” Sherwood said.
Voicemail, virtual receptionists, call forwarding, call recording, on-hold music, voicemail-to-email, conference calling, video conferring, instant messaging, call screening, missed alerts and call logs are among the many features offered by most VoIP providers.
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