Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What To Look For When Choosing A Local VoIP Or Hosted VoIP Provider For Your Business

As you may know, the location of the VoIP provider doesn't greatly impact service cost or availability as the service is provided over a standard internet connection anyway. If you didn't know that ..... now you do. Makes a difference and helps you keep from limiting your options when selecting a business VoIP provider.

So you don't need to limit your search only to VoIP providers who may be "down the street" from you. It's just not necessary. With that in mind expand your options to those quality providers with a "presence" in your area...even if it's not a physical local office.

One of the larger providers out there you should consider is Packet8, which has standard pricing packages and a rich set of features that the telco's generally pay for. Packet8 has both hosted VoIP PBX as well as standard VoIP.

As a user of business VoIP you'll experience the following benefits.........

* Lower local and long distance costs (reduction by 60% or more are common)

* Rapid provisioning of new extensions - You can add a new extension in a few minutes. You can keep phones stocked and provision them only when needed.

* Lower Skill Level - It doesn't require a high cost PBX operator to provision a line. It is doable by non IT personnel with a little amount of training.

* Large Feature Set – The VoIP provider doesn’t charge for call features a la carte, as the standard telco’s do. Call forwarding, 3 way calling, Outlook Integration, Caller ID, and so forth are part of the standar package from VoIP providers.…

* Variable Cost – As the fixed cost of a PBX is avoided, some services allow you to establish extensions one line at a time, and there's no significant early termination clauses, you can move telephone service into a variable cost.

* Localized Phone Numbers – You can establish extensions in any area code you choose.

* On Line / Simple Billing – As the feature set is not a la cart, there is unlimited local and nationwide calling, it is possible to actually comprehend your phone business phone bill.

* Conference Calling – With the purchase of a few extensions, one can get a conference line.

A few of the things to consider, if you look to hosted VoIP PBX, are.........

* Shared Internet Connection – If you are going to share your internet connectivity between your VoIP solution and your normal office internet traffic, you can see call quality degrade during times of internet congestion. You can address this by partitioning your connection, installing a Quality Of Service (QoS) based router to give your voice traffic higher priority, or dedicate a T-1 to the service. I suggest dedicating a T1 to ensure the required level of performance.

* Call Efficiency – When you look into your options, take into consideration the average bandwidth taken per call. Some providers do better than others. Too high a bandwidth and you’ll need to add your next T-1 earlier. Too low a bandwidth and your voice quality may suffer.

* FAX Service – Not all service providers will guarantee the Quality of Service sufficient to support FAX service (Note: Packet8 does).

With all of the above considered .... my recommendation is to first look into what Packet8 offers here:

Hosted VoIP

For larger businesses you might consider an enterprise VoIP solution here

Business VoIP

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