The Pros And The Cons Of Business VoIP Services

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Even though Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service is gaining ground, many business owners are still not sure whether they should switch.  Sure, they cost less, but there is still this hang-up about VoIP having less reliability than the plain old telephone service (POTS).  This is a look at the good and the bad of VoIP compared to POTS.

The Good Side

1.  VoIP service costs far less than POTS.  The reason for this is that it is cheaper to create and maintain VoIP networks than it is to do the same with a POTS service.  Small business can now take advantage of multiple line services for prices that are similar to what they pay for a single basic POTS business line.

2. A business can either buy its own VoIP modem or it can get one from the provider it chooses.  However, most VoIP providers give customers modems as a courtesy, and it is often better to take the modem provided as it will come with the best support.

3.  Most basic business VoIP services come with:  3-way conference calling, call block, call forwarding, call waiting, caller ID, repeat dialing upon busy signal, unlimited local and long distance calling, and voice mail.  POTS service still charge extra for more than half of those same features with long distance coming with the highest price.

4.  Some POTS services still have tiered business packages whereby there are charges for incoming local calls, incoming long distance calls, outgoing local calls, and outgoing long distance calls.  Others even have packages that look a lot like cell phone plans.  VoIP business lines usually include all ingoing and outgoing calls, regardless of whether or not they are local or long distance.

5.  Generally speaking, the majority of VoIP business lines include calling to and from any point in the United States or Canada.  International calling usually comes in packages that contain a certain amount of minutes.  If only occasional international calls are made, VoIP per minute charges are usually less than half of the POTS per minute fees.

6.  VoIP modems usually run on their own connection regardless of whether the delivery is cable, fiber or copper lines.  This means that a VoIP phone service shouldn’t affect your business’ Internet service.

7.  If a business has full access to the POTS wiring in a building, it can have the POTS connection disconnected at the incoming phone box.  Once the VoIP modem is set up in place of it inside, each phone jack in the building is usable over the VoIP service.  This keeps a wiring nightmare from forming when multiple phone lines in multiple offices are needed.

8.  Take advantage of multiple local phone numbers in various areas.  For instance, if you have a single warehouse location, but you cater to people in various cities across the United States, Canada, and some select international countries, you can buy numbers so that people in those locations can call you without incurring charges to do so.  This is sometimes a better option than implementing a toll free number as it provides a local presence.

9.  Conversely, if a more national presence is wanted, then VoIP services offer much better options for offering your customers toll free numbers to call.  While some of these come with per minute rates for all incoming calls, much like the POTS equivalents, most VoIP services charge a monthly maintenance fee for the toll free number or provide packages that include a certain amount of minutes with a per minute once that limit is reached.  If per minute charges are in place, they are usually far lower than POTS rates.

10.   The “Find Me” service.  While not every VoIP service offers this, most of them do and it is an exceptional service for business owners on the go.  This is how the “Find Me” service works:  If you don’t answer your business line within a preset number of rings, the system will automatically try any other numbers you have set up for a preset amount of rings.  If you don’t answer any of the lines, then the call is directed to voice mail.

The Potentially Bad Side

1.  It used to be that the VoIP service shared a connection with the Internet service.  In the case of ADSL/DSL services, this is still often the situation.  However, most cable and fiber Internet services can be wired so that the VoIP service is separated.  This ensures call clarity and provides an additional layer of security.  To be sure that a VoIP connection isn’t going to affect your Internet service, ask your provider if they are able to separate the connections.

2.  Unfortunately, VoIP services are largely dependent upon the lines coming into your business.  This is one potential drawback to switching to VoIP, but it can be fixed.  Have your VoIP provider assess the lines and give you a quote on how much it will cost to have any lines replaced that need it.  Then again, this is a problem that can affect POTS service too, so it isn’t really a VoIP-only problem.

3.  Find out whether the VoIP service you choose considers line silence for a certain period of time as a dead line.  This “feature” has been the cause of many unintentional hang-ups and it is very annoying after you’ve already waited on hold for what seems like an age to speak to someone only to be disconnected because the service thinks the call is done.

4.  Some VoIP services still run on the exact same network that your Internet service runs on.  In the event that your Internet goes down, you will likely lose your phone service too.  If your VoIP service is delivered via a different network, Internet failure won’t necessarily affect it.  However, if all the lines go down due to some sort of disaster, then you won’t have service regardless.  One good thing about many VoIP modems is that they come with backup batteries so if the only problem is a power outage, you’ll still have phone service.

As is evident, the cons are largely the same or similar to those faced with POTS service.  However, the benefits far outweigh the potential problems:  the service costs less, is capable of more, comes with more features automatically, and it is largely built with business needs in mind.

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