By Joel Montgomery // 1 August 2010 // Related Categories: Product Information
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) allows you to make phone calls using a broadband Internet connection instead of a regular (analogue) phone line. More than 50,000 Australian businesses now use VoIP and they are getting much cheaper calls.
1) Business-grade VoIP
VoIP allows you to call any telephone number (fixed line, mobile and international) at cheaper rates than the traditional PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) by using the Internet to send and receive voice signals. Skype is an example of computer-based VoIP that is ideal for talking to other users of that service. Businesses opt for higher quality VoIP services delivered straight to the office phone.
2) VoIP can save you money
VoIP customers report overall cost savings of more than 50% compared to traditional plans from the big Telco's. Line rental can be up to 75% cheaper and local and national calls can be as cheap as 10c with international calls starting at 2c per minute with engin. Some providers offer low fixed rates for unlimited calls.
3) Expect good call quality
A common misconception about VoIP calls is that they suffer delays and regularly drop out. There were teething issues in the early days of VoIP but these are now largely gone and VoIP is digital, so voices can actually sound clearer than on traditional analog phones (like CD quality versus cassette tape). It is important to remember though that VoIP is designed for high-speed connections and is not recommended for dial-up.
4) Other advantages of VoIP
a) With some VoIP plans your employees can take their handset home, plug it in and work as if they were in the office (receive calls, check voicemail etc).
b) You don't need a phone system at your office anymore. All the services provided by an expensive PBX can now be provided by a VoIP provider, such as engin, meaning you only need handsets connected to the internet. This is commonly known as "Hosted PBX".
c) Some VoIP packages allow your employees to dial a number by clicking the number as it appears on a web page or in their email. This is known as "click to dial".
d) Voicemail messages can be simultaneously sent direct to your email as well as your phone handset at no extra charge.
5) Disadvantages of VoIP
a) If your Internet goes down then so does your phone line. A good service should have the ability to divert calls to your mobile phones if the Internet is down. Check this with the VoIP provider before you sign up.
b) Due to technical limitations only few VoIP providers let you make emergency (000) calls.
c) There may be set-up costs depending on the package you buy. Some VoIP carriers will only guarantee phone quality if you buy an approved handset.
d) You need to pay for the cost of sending the voice data across your Internet connection. It may not cost you any extra if you're have room on your data limit.
6) Setting up VoIP is simple
Set up should be dead easy because most of the work is done off-site by the provider. The provider will most likely stop by or send you the devices to make your new VoIP service work. These devices are usually "plug and play" and for a small office you can expect to be up-and-running in minutes rather than hours.
If you employ staff then you should seriously consider the cost savings of switching to VoIP. When signing up you should consider asking about:
1) Call quality in your area
2) Keeping using your existing phone number and handsets
3) Emergency calls using VoIP
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