How to choose a VOIP provider? Benefits and factors

VOIP is a telecommunications technology that replaces and upgrades the legacy Public Switched Telephone Network cabling. VOIP provides secure access and lots of extras important to business telephony. Its only drawback is that it requires Internet.

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VOIP benefits

Transferring to VOIP is almost mandatory, if you are running business that relies on telephony, or if you are simply planning to change your telecom system. VOIP offers important benefits, both financial and operational. Infrastructure gets simplified and it reduces calls, maintenance and moving costs.

A Growing trend

Growing numbers of businesses have already moved to VOIP, having realized these benefits. Considering the lower costs for businesses, the trend is not surprising . According to an analysis, switching from legacy systems to SIP trunking lowers the total cost by 50%.

Upgrade legacy systems

VOIP gives the business access to the all the benefits of Internet telephony. You will benefit the lower costs of long distance calls and professional PBX functions. You can even use rented cloud PBX to lower maintenance and infrastructure costs.

Connect your branches

If you have interstate branch offices and want to connect them to the communication facilities of the head office, you can connect them with VOIP. This can be done by connecting the sites to your infrastructure or using a service provider that can connect your facilities with cloud PBX. Both ways, you provide your branches with improved communications eliminating duplicate infrastructure while effectively halving the support staff needed.

Simplify infrastructure

Operate separate networks for data and voice is not cost-effective and is even harder to backup. You can make significant savings with VOIP transition. Using a single channel for data, voice and video will reduce network complexity and you will cut the costs for upgrades, backup lines and maintenance.

Mobile communications

As mentioned, the main disadvantage of VOIP communications is the requirement for internet connection. It is not much of a problem when you are calling from the office but field workers don’t have that privilege. Some VOIP providers like MIXvoip recently solved that issue by using DTMF allowing mobile VOIP calls to be made even without internet connection.

Selection factors

With that many benefits, how would you proceed when choosing a VOIP provider? Which are the most important factors to consider?

As people being inside the VOIP business, we recommend you to choose by:

  1. Security
  2. Quality of Support
  3. Extended Services
  4. Pricing
  5. Mobility
  6. Call Quality

Security

Security is the most important factor because VOIP is an Internet technology. As such, it can be subject to attacks and other risks that come with that environment.

Service providers offer different security measures and techs. Software measures include authentication, encryption and the use of secure real-time transport protocols. 

Hardware security is mostly done with the use of separate network access routers. It is called transport-layer security and is used to protect your network against attacks that can disrupt the phone service.

Quality of support

Quality of support definitely should be considered, too. As with every service, at some point, problems will arise and you should be confident that your provider can minimize the downtimes. VOIP is an Internet service often hosted on cloud servers. Аs such businesses do not need support staff on site, the service provider support teams have the responsibility to keep everything running.

Pricing and mobility

Pricing and mobility are mostly self-explanatory. They are both very business specific and depend on individual business structure and needs. Some providers charge flat, based on number of devices. Others charge based on the number of calls your business makes. Most VOIP providers do not offer unlimited calls but there are exceptions. 

If you have lots of field workers you should make sure the company offers a mobile app.

Call quality

Call quality is not that important but should not be neglected. Most providers promote on-call quality but you should know that sound quality requires more data. When more data is used you can make less simultaneous calls without call interferences, and you will need to upgrade your internet plan.

Advanced factors

So, you are convinced that Voice over IP will provide a solution to your company’s communication issues and provide additional benefits. But how to choose a specific VoIP provider?

We have provided some advanced factors worth considering.

Software

Many vendors will force you into buying a hardware solution from them. This means you are not only locked into using your vendors preferred hardware brand. You also have no control whatsoever over warranty and support for the hardware. 
How do you know if this particular solution is the right one for you? You’ll never be sure until you actually purchased the product and then, it might be too late.

Choosing a provider that supplies in different formats is very important. Check if they provide software downloads and documentation for the hardware(phones) they use. You should be able to easily download the software, documentations and help files for further use. 

Best scenario will be if they also provide mobile application that works without use of specific hardware.

Limitations

Limited functionality, is a way for mostly bigger companies to charge you extra. You might not get everything that has been advertised to you. you might find that the information on their websites is misleading. 

Make sure there is no service expiration time, but a complete, fully functional VoIP PBX for your company. As most companies provide demo accounts and test periods, it is very important that you are testing the exact plan that you are going to buy and use.

Proven vs Innovative Technology

Make sure the software is built on stable, proven technology such as the Linux operating system and Asterisk PBX core. The applications should be easy to manage and integrate with your existing software programs. Feature-rich and innovative software is a good add-on but if the company can’t back it up with a stable IT team they might do more harm than good.

 

Innovative companies have their software under rapid, continuous development, which guarantees regular updates. The system can often automatically downloads software upgrades, without any intervention required from your part. In most cases this is good, but can lead to new feature misunderstandings and confusion.

Integration

When you are choosing a VoIP solution, integration with your existing environment is paramount. Most VoIP PBX provides support for every kind of phone line available – analog, ISDN, or VoIP. But you still have to make sure it is so. 

You should be able to connect existing analog phones or use any brand of IP phone. You can either be a slave to your provider or enjoy the freedom of being able to choose the phone you like, regardless of the brand.

Support

Especially for a telephony system, reliable support is a key factor. In most environments, telephony downtime is unacceptable. The support team should have extensive experience with Voice over IP systems and network related issues.

The company must provide you the best support in the least amount of time. Tech support engineers should be available around the clock to make sure your phone system is available 24/7.

Extensive monitoring and optional remote backup solutions are a plus, as companies should guarantee maximum availability of your IP telephony system. The engineers should be able to access your IP PBX over the Internet, to help you solve the problem without losing time. When considering VOIP vendors, think about it this way: “When things go wrong, will they be there for you?”

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