Business VoIP Featured Article

What Small Businesses Should Know Before Switching to VoIP

October 07, 2014

By Casey Houser, Contributing Writer

There are a number of barriers to VoIP phone service adoption, and perhaps the most pervasive of these barriers is a lack of knowledge about the technology overall. Businesses that want to upgrade their services simply do not know where to begin; furthermore, they may be hesitant to switch from copper because of a poor past experience.

Now, a recent blog at the Huffington Post discusses the nature of the technology and what businesses can do to prepare for a switch. The author goes over the history of VoIP and basically explains that most businesses and households in the U.S. now connect to Digital Subscriber lines (DSL) through digital converter devices. This process is more complicated than just plugging into a traditional phone jack that once connected to an all-copper Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) system. However, despite the added complexity, it should not be difficult to get a handle on the capabilities of VoIP and its differences when compared to copper.

The Huffington Post suggests first that small businesses consider installing a second Internet connection to serve as a backup in case the other line stops providing service. There could be a temporary power outage or issue at an ISP's home base, but regardless of the reason, it is altogether possible that Internet service will temporarily halt within the life of a user's contract. That said, businesses can bolster their defenses with a connection of a different type, such as signing up for Cable when they already have DSL, for less than $50 a month in most areas. A second line can extend the life and reach of a business, but it should not be so expensive that it puts it in the red. Businesses will also need to make sure that their download and upload speeds match their calling needs because, for instance, a 10 Mbps synchronous connection could supply the capacity for 125 calls on a single line while a 10 Mbps asynchronous connection may only serve about 9 simultaneous calls.

Businesses will need to be wary of which service provider they choose for their SIP trunking needs -- the technology that sends inbound and outbound VoIP calls across the network. Some service providers prioritize VoIP connections, but others may simply send out signals in the cheapest manner possible, so businesses should be choosy and ask how their connections are delivered. Furthermore, businesses should insist on a quality of service (QoS) mechanism -- another technology that can prioritize VoIP traffic and make sure that call audio is clear.

Huffington Post also says that businesses should consider using a hosted private branch exchange that will allow their calls to be handled within the cloud and can provide nearly 100 percent uptime. Use of an SIP proxy can make sure that business phone systems are secure and that hackers cannot get into their systems and use their service to make calls. Lastly, businesses can make sure they get started on the right foot by asking their service providers for a Mean Opinion Score, a generalized rating system that represents a human's view of quality. It ranges from one to five with a five having the quality of a face-to-face conversation. Anything lower than that may be unacceptable, but luckily that quality should not be difficult to obtain, so businesses may not want to settle for anything less.

Edited by Alisen Downey



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