Archive for January, 2010


Options For Using VoIP Service

Perhaps the greatest challenge in the escalating adaptation to voice over IP lies in encouraging those who are set in their way to step out of their conventional comfort zone and begin using VoIP. The following is a quick overview of the various options available to voice over IP users. Listed in order of increasing expediency.

Instant Messengers – Definitely the easiest, though far from the most convenient, method to access voice over IP. Various IM providers, such as Yahoo, have been providing access to voice over IP services through their message platforms for many years. It is possible to configure your voice over IP service to work in conjunction with most instant message programs. In doing do it is possible to contact local and international parties, through a computer, with the click of a button.

Soft Phones – An Internet soft phone is a software program designed to make phone calls over the Internet using voice over IP. The software is designed to resemble and operate like a typical telephone, viewable on a computer screen. Soft phones connect directly to a VoIP provider and make regular telephone calls. They are engineered to use standard protocols like SIP and H323 but users must be stationed at the computer at all times in order to use them.

VoIP IP Phones – VoIP phones are slightly more advanced communications devices that communicate with the voice over IP application directly through the computer USB port.

ATA Adapters – An analog telephone adapter refers to the equipment used to connect a tradition telephone to a voice over IP network. An ATA adapter allows businesses to utilize their existing hardware when deploying VoIP.

SIP Phones – Sip phones look and feel exactly like a traditional phone, but do not require an ATA adapter to harness the functionality of VoIP. SIP phones are available in both wired and wireless varieties and do not require any active computer connection to operate.


Save Money On Your Cell Phone Bill: Get Mobile VoIP

The modern business professional knows the benefits of having access to a mobile phone while on the road or working away from the office, but many of them have never had to worry about cost-per-minute billing, roaming charges or International calling fees. The business unit, however, is more familiar with highly gauged expenses associated with providing employees with business cell phones. Mobile voice over IP offers a practical solution to cellular phone charges, without the need for costly initial investments.

Mobile voice over IP, or simply mVoIP gives the option of using a mobile phone to make or receive voice over IP calls; many even allow access to email and faxing capabilities, further enhancing the VoIP business communication experience. The basic requirement of mVoIP is to convert analog voice data to digitally encrypted packets that can be carried along a traditional VoIP network. On a traditional VoIP platform, this would be achieved with the use of a specialized ATA adapter, since the premise of mobile VoIP is complete mobility, an ATA adapter would be of no use since it requires the phone to be connected to a computer.

Previously, a shortage of data capable mobile phones coupled with a minute availability of reliable networks made is difficult to utilize VoIP on a mobile front. Modern technological advancements and greater superiority in technical design have resulted in the majority of modern mobile phones being intelligent enough to be able to utilize a VoIP network.

The prime motivation for most businesses to implement mVoIP is the ability to mobilize employees, allowing them to remain connected with business communications without having to be stationed at their computers. Mobile VoIP allows for any mobile phone to essentially be used as a main business phone, without having to budget for costly mobile expenses. For professionals who must take frequent long distance business trips, mVoIP helps to eliminate costly roaming charges and provides unlimited long distance calling options.

The only hardware required to reap the benefits of mobile VoIP is access to a wireless network, or WiFi hotspot, and a SIP enable mobile phone. Alternatively the majority of smart phones with active data plans are able to support mVoIP functionality.


Make Sure Your Network Is VoIP Ready

Prior to making the decision to switch to voice over IP, it is imperative to ensure that the network is capable of handling both voice and data transmission. While it is possible to maintain separate networks for both, it would be a costly endeavor. Running voice and data on the same network will provide a more uniformed level of communication services.

The network should maintain sufficient bandwidth to handle all communications components, while still being scalable, flexible and reliable.

Almost as important as strong network capabilities is the readiness of management tools. There is an abundance of call management and monitoring tools on the commercial market. The majority of management tools available are now software based, as hardware based tools are both expensive to deploy and difficult to maintain. Call monitoring software is designed to record, monitor, backup files and provide remote access to administrative functions. An optimal call monitoring software helps to ensure that quality is at it’s best.

An alternate method to ensuring quality to provide voice traffic priority by configuring QoS. In a network designed for voice over IP, QoS should be configured so that voice gets priority over other types of traffic.

While business may have the ultimate in network and software available, none of that means anything if staff is ill-equipped to operate or understand the system’s data flow, defined communication process, or basic technology behind the hardware or software tools in the system.

Staff should be trained in a manner that they understand the needs and basic requirements of both voice and data network processes.

The final item to consider before deploying a voice over IP solution is network security. While it is unlikely that a VoIP network will ever be hacked, it is best to take preventative steps to ensure security. This can be done by using voice and data encryption, and a virtual private network. It is also optimal for businesses to run properly configured firewalls and ensure that the firewall used supports SIP or H.323 technology.


Nextiva vFAX: Makes Business Faxing Easy

With the widespread popularity of voice of IP as an innovative way to reduce communication costs with regards to voice communications, many businesses are now harnessing the same low cost functionality of voice over IP to transmit fax messages through IP networks. After several years in the development phase, Internet Faxing is now expanding in corporate use. Why are more businesses abandoning their old fax machines and turning to the virtual medium? Here are a few of vFAX’s many advantages.

Cost Efficiency: vFAX is far less costly than conventional methods. Anything involving a PSTN phone line is expensive, as vFAX utilizes a virtual network to deliver messages it is nearly free to use.
Increased Document Quality: As incoming and outgoing messages are on a digital front, they are viewed with a higher image quality. Unlike traditional faxing, which often left ink blotches and missing words.
Less Need For Fax Machine Hardware: When using vFAX, any computer or mobile phone can essentially be used as a fax machine, meaning that businesses can now do away with expensive to maintain fax machines.

Decreased Materials Expense: Virtual faxes can be sent straight from a computer and then read directly on another. There is no need to print any paper copies unless required to do so. Business owners can save lots of money by no longer needing to stock up on paper as well as ink cartridges for the fax machine.

No More Tied Up Phone Lines: Using vFAX does not require the use of additional fax lines in business environments. Faxes can be sent and received over the same IP telephony network as any other communication.

Minimum Investment Needed: Businesses will benefit from cost efficient faxing capabilities without having to purchase costly hardware, software or other resources.

No More Malfunctions: Nextiva vFAX faxing service eliminates that chance of paper jams, ink spills, or any other error requiring the fax to be re-sent. Since it is a computer-to-computer operation, there is no need to waste expensive resources.


Six Things You Didn’t Know VoIP Can Do

VoIP has many great benefits for all types of business. Whether you are a one-persion operation or multi-national corporation, VoIP service is cost effective and the best form of telephony for the wallet. VoIP is a powerful technology that delivers many great services and features. We’ve compiled a list of six things that VoIP can do that may not be known by all.

Call Forwarding: Business professionals cannot be everywhere at once, thankfully with a hosted VoIP solution users can have calls routed to wherever they happen to be. Nextiva offers an advanced call forwarding system for those time where the business phone is unreachable, the power is out, or the location is inaccessible. Call forwarding routes calls to any VoIP enabled phone so that no important calls are ever missed.

Voice Mail to E-Mail: Nextiva offers clients the freedom to review and catalogue voice mails without ever having to listen to them. By linking voicemail to an e-mail address it is possible to receive an e-mail with the callers number, name and an audio file attachment so that voicemails can be reviewed in order of priority and then archived affectively.

Enhanced Voice Mail: Enhanced voicemail allows subscribers to set up different voicemail messages depending on the caller so that business and personal calls hear a different message. Voicemail can easily be accessed remotely so that business can continue as usual while on the road.

Customer Service: Providing high quality customer service can be a costly task for many small businesses, when deploying a small business VoIP solution from Nextiva communication costs are greatly reduced and customer contact can be achieved with the push of a button. Nextiva provides essential tools allowing consumers to know when a business associate is available to take calls or when they are away from the computer.

Mobile Phone VoIP: Nextiva fully supports WiFi enable voice over IP allowing businesses to utilize the complete portability of mobile VoIP phones, meaning that any phone can essentially be used as a desk phone. Using VoIP based mobile phones eliminates costly per-minute cell phone charges and is available on an unlimited calling structure. This means that you can nearly get rid of paying your wireless phone service provider tons of money each month on your phone bill. Instead, maintain a basic calling plan with limited minutes for backup use along with an unlimited data plan for your smart phone.

Click to Call: While using a PC based address book, users are given the ability to dial a contact without actually dialing at all. Simply click on a phone number in the address book, on the web, or in an email and instantly dial that number.


VoIP Helps Give Small Businesses An Advantage

Imagine a world where small businesses are given the same opportunities as large enterprises, a world where essential business communication features where widely available to all corporations regardless of their size or net worth. A world where businesses where given access to unlimited calling, without breaking their fiscal budget. In a world powered by VoIP the possibilities are limitless.

A voice over Internet telephony structure operates on the low cost efficiency of the Internet and provides the small business owner with high quality communications essentials that were once reserved for major corporations having the available funds to pay for overpriced utilities and infrastructure.

IP telephony offers the freedom to walk away from the overpriced maintenance fees and outrageous cost per minute billing structure of the local telephone company. Deploying a voice over IP system means unlimited local and long distance calling, technologically advanced auto attendant functions, an impressive list of beneficial calling features and the power to connect hundreds of employees from different locations all over the world.

When using a fully functioning VoIP platform businesses are given access to many of the same calling features and tool that are available on a traditional platform, but they are offered at a mere fraction of the price. Voicemail, call forwarding, call waiting and three-way calling are still available but with VoIP businesses can now choose to receive emails to their voicemail or vice versa, and can now instantly have a call made to a Boston number routed to a phone in New York almost effortlessly.

Perhaps the best part of switching to a hosted voice over IP system is the potential for high cost rewards. The majority of businesses who switch experience an 80% drop in telephony expenses less than one year after implementation.

Switching to VoIP is as easy as two simple phone calls; the first call to Nextiva to say “Hello” to a more efficient and higher quality telephony platform, and the second to your old phone company to say “Good-Bye” to hassles, high maintenance fees and pricey services you pay for but never use.


Information on VoIP Equipment

To be able to gain maximum benefit from a voice over IP communications platform, a specific hardware setup allowing speech and sound is required. While some business choose to simply use a headset with a computer, others prefer a complete set of network equipment, including routers and telephony adapters.

Below you will find a list of the most common equipment normally required for optimal VoIP communications:

Analog Telephone Adapters
An Analog Telephone Adapter, or ATA, is a device that acts as a hardware interface between an analog phone system and a digital VoIP line. An ATA is not required in computer-to-computer voip (when using soft phones) but is necessary for businesses seeking to continue using their existing hardware. It is best to shop around for an ATA adapter that meets business requirements, remember the most costly option is not always the best in terms of quality.

Telephone Sets
A telephone set is essential for voice over IP as it provides the input and output device between both parties. There are several types of phones available for use with VoIP service, including hardphones and soft phones.

Most businesses find that they receive better quality with hardphones, as soft phones are notoriously unreliable.

Voice Over IP Router
A router is a device necessary for Internet connectivity. The type of router needed is dependant upon the Internet connection used. For example, businesses with a wireless Internet connection will require a wireless router.

Computer Handsets
Some businesses decide to use a handset, handsets resemble telephones but connect directly to a computer via a USB port. They are used predominately with soft phone applications.

Computer Headset
Headsets are also used predominately with soft phones, or in cases where people are always on the phone. A headset is designed to allow the users to both hear audio and input voice using an attached microphone.


Enterprise-Class Telephone Systems For Small Businesses

The wide spanned availability of voice over IP has brought many communications advancements to the small business proprietor.

In addition to the ability to make or receive unlimited low cost calls, many small businesses are considering the flexibility provided by IP telephony, along with the complete freedom to utilize VoIP technology from any active Internet connection to make or receive low cost communications regardless of geographical location, to be the main benefit of a voice over IP telephony structure.

Incoming calls made to the companies main business line can be automatically routed or transferred to the correct person or sub listing – even if the intended recipient is telecommuting. This unique voice over IP feature ensures that no call is left unanswered and no business opportunity is ever missed.

In addition to voice communications, voice over IP allows for cost effective data and video transfer. Employees in or out of the physical business structure have the freedom of checking their faxes or email from any location hosting an active Internet connection. Mobile users even possess the functionality and convenience of receiving voicemail or fax notification sent directly to their email inboxes or mobile phones.

Advancements in IP telephony allow businesses to always remain connected and provide several mediums of communication, regardless of the users physical location. This helps to ensure business continuity in the event of a disaster. If the business location is rendered inaccessible, any area with Internet access can essentially be converted into a virtual office – a business essential benefit that only a voice over IP solution can offer.

Deploying a hosted voice over IP solution gives small businesses features and functions that were once only available to larger enterprises, or businesses with a high capital. Voice over IP allows smaller companies to appear larger and more professional, giving them a competitive advantage in the corporate world.


How to Choose A Business VoIP Service Provider

As a result of significant changes in the cost and availability of broadband service, more businesses than ever are choosing to migrate to a voice over IP solution. An IP telephony communications system can save businesses thousands over dollars, if they are educated in choosing a service that most accurately suits their needs.

Here are six requirements to consider when seeking a VoIP service provider:

1. Know your Internet connections capabilities.

The majority of businesses finding fault in the quality of the VoIP service fail to understand that the problem is actually a result of their Internet capabilities, and not actually with their service provider.

It is essential to perform a call quality test to ensure that the active Internet connection speed, and broadband availability, is adequate in supporting voice over IP functions.

2. Examine current telephony costs and determine what services are essential to business operations.

When migrating to a voice over IP solution as a way to save money on telephony charges, consider how much it would cost to ‘lose’ services that may be bundled with the existing service. Nextiva offers more features than the local telephone company, at one low integrated rate.

3. Research the key players in the market.

Nextiva has been a leader in the field for many years. For further information visit http://www.nextiva.com

4. Look at the money back guarantee, contract term or equipment policies.

Seriously consider only providers offering a 30 day money back guarantee. Since Nextiva is a reputable and established VoIP service provider, they offer an unconditional 30 day guarantee and will never require business clients to sign a contract or pay a set up fee.

5. If your business currently uses a DSL, understand that you may not be able to cancel your current phone service.

The majority of phone companies will offer a ‘metered’ service that operate on a charge per call basis. When using voice over IP no calls are made over the conventional telephone line and it will only be utilized to run the DSL. It is imperative to request a metered service if after migrating to VoIP you are unable to cancel active phone service.

6. Make certain that the VoIP provider you are considering offers number portability.

If you’re company has been in business for a while and you’ve promoted your phone number, it is very important to make sure that your number can be ported. For businesses that require the ability keep their existing phone number Nextiva offers number portability and a smooth migration to the new VoIP service.




 
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