As VoIP’s consumer popularity hit an all-time high in 2006 — reaching more than 7 million subscribers in the United States alone — businesses of all sizes were forced to sit up and take notice. With possible cost savings of up to 40 percent, and the business VoIP industry projected to double by 2010, VoIP is one four-letter word that small and medium-sized business owners can no longer ignore.
How Does VoIP Work?
What exactly is VoIP and how do you know if it’s right for your business? VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, allows callers to place phone calls from almost anywhere using a broadband Internet connection. As the acronym implies, VoIP works by transferring voice signals over Internet lines and public/private data networks, rather than traditional analog phone lines.
VoIP calls are placed using ordinary telephones, computers, or special IP Phones, depending on the service provider and personal preference. VoIP users place calls in the same way they always have, simply by picking up the phone and dialing a number. Those with computer-based service place calls by using a headset or a computer microphone.
VoIP users can place local, long distance, and international calls to any phone number in the world, whether it’s a land-line, cell phone, or another VoIP user. Like traditional phone service, the only difference in placing a local call and an international call is cost. To learn more about how VoIP works, visit How Does VoIP Work.
Business VoIP Users Enjoy Cost Savings, Increased Flexibility
Today, most business owners switch to business VoIP for two primary reasons – significant cost savings and increased productivity. Typical business VoIP telephone system plans offer a low, flat monthly rate for local and long-distance calling. And, international calls typically cost just pennies per minute. The result: lower phone bills.
Beyond the bottom line, another feature that appeals to small and medium-sized business owners is the flexibility of business VoIP telephone services. As companies grow and change, business VoIP offers the ability to easily scale their phone system up or down. Companies that are planning to move offices or add users find business VoIP phone systems to be an effective solution, especially those with multiple employees in different locations.
Of course, one of the primary motivations to switch is the ability to eliminate the hidden fees and complex billing of traditional phone companies and gain more control over the phone system. To learn more about the real value of VoIP for your business, check out the following article: Business VoIP Value
Calling Features Make Users More Productive
Many business VoIP telephone plans provide features such as three-way calling, voice mail and caller ID, at no additional charge. However, additional VoIP-specific features actually make employees more productive. According to a study conducted by Sage Research, VoIP features save employees an average of up to three hours per week.
These features include: 1) integration of voice mail and faxes with your e-mail system, 2) remote office features that allow satellite offices to function as part of the main office, 3) auto-attendant systems, and 4) call routing to employees regardless of location.
Even with these benefits, VoIP isn’t right for every business. For instance, voice quality can vary depending on the Internet connection. If your business uses a dial-up Internet connection, VoIP is not for you.
Because some firewall ports must be open in order to allow voice data transmission, another common issue is network security fears. The reality: it is often easier to tap in to a physical phone line than a digital line. And, listening in on VoIP transmissions is nearly impossible if the proper network security precautions are taken.
To determine how VoIP-ready your company is today, visit our Speedtester to test your Internet connection and determine how many phone lines your connection can support.
How to Make the Switch
Switching to business VoIP has never been easier. More provider options are available today than ever before, and cost of service and equipment is falling. Of course, savvy business owners must do their homework to find the right service, features, and provider.
To help find information and help make the decision, business owners can use comparison resources like VoipReview, a shopping and comparison source for residential and business VoIP phone service, for information about plans, features, and prices. The site even allows users to purchase VoIP service directly from providers after finding their provider of choice. To compare business VoIP service plans based on number of employees and locations: Business VoIP compare section.
As it quickly becomes the modern standard in business, there’s no question that VoIP is the future of phoning. The only question is: when will your company join the revolution?
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