1. Your Network Capacity
First and foremost, you need to know your network capacity. Can your current network handle the increase in data? Is it sufficient to sustain network flow? Do you have the proper LAN (local area network) setup for VoIP? Without a reliable network, you will not have the infrastructure to use VoIP services. Have your network administrators give your network a check-up so you can check this important requirement off the list.
2. Your Internet connection
Know the bandwidth available to your small businesses. Each and every business has its own internet needs and requirements. Before you switch to VoIP, you need to make sure your current connection can handle a VoIP service alongside your current internet use. Use our VoIP speed tester to test your current internet connection to see if you need to upgrade your bandwidth.
3. Calling Habits
Look at your calling habits. If you frequently make long distance and international calls, VoIP can help you optimize savings. If you usually limit yourself to local calls, VoIP will not be as cost effective—but it will allow you to quickly expand your calling area (and business!). VoIP calling plans range from pay as you go and metered plans to unlimited local and long distance calling, and even international calling plans, too.
4. Publicly Switched Telephone Network - PSTN (landline)
Small business VoIP systems do need internet connections, but they also need electricity. Have a conventional landline in case of power outage or emergency—earthquakes, fires, snowstorms, and other natural disasters can all crash your network. With a backup landline, you’ll still be able to make calls. You can also invest in a backup battery pack or generator to use if your power happens to go out.
5. Premises- or Hosted Phone System
How many users will your small business network have? The number of users can help you choose between a premises-based or hosted PBX (PBX stands for “private branch exchange,” the system that allows your office to have various extensions). If your business has fewer than fifteen users, and you don’t want to hire someone to deal with the phone system, try a hosted PBX. It does cost more for a hosted system, but it places the responsibility in the hands of experts.
6. VoIP Service
There are lots of VoIP providers out there. Hundreds. And each provider offers different services, options, and service plans. Do intensive research to find the best VoIP plan for your small business. Visit our Business VoIP Comparison page to start your research.
7. VoIP Equipment
Many providers supply standard equipment with their service. Once you’ve determined what VoIP features and services your small business needs, make sure you’ll get the appropriate equipment.
8. The Bottom Line
It may seem obvious, but make sure you budget for your switch to VoIP. Will you make a single, upfront payment? Set up a monthly plan? Or do you want to make a down payment and finance the remainder of the bill? Each provider has different payment and financing options, which can weigh in on your choice of provider. RingCentral, for example, offers annual payment for their plans, which can save you 33% off the month-to-month price. Check with providers for details (most will offer a custom quote).
Just as important: Make sure to budget in your return on investment. How much money, per month, will VoIP service save you over conventional phone service? Per year?
There are a lot of VoIP providers out there. VoipReview will help you find the best one for you.