Archive for February, 2010


Business VoIP Requirements

Bigger is better, and that is the attitude that most small businesses go into a business VoIP migration with. While a positive and energetic mind set is the necessary in the competitive world, it is important for small businesses to remember that “if they want to play with the big dogs” they have to prepare. Especially if they wish to receive optimal results from their voice deployment.

Network Requirements: A fancy sports car quickly becomes nothing but a heap of useless parts without wheels to drive on. The same principal applies to voice over IP service operating on a poorly functioning network. If your business regularly sends or receives large signals, or a lot of Internet browsing is expected, it may be wise to set up a separate network to handle voice traffic. A worthy investment to ensure a high Quality of Service.

Internet Connection: The foremost cause of IP telephony issues has to do mainly with the corporate Internet connection. Businesses are so consumed with the idea of switching to voice over IP to reduce communications costs, that they forget that they may need to increase the capabilities of their existing Internet connection. A dial-up or low speed connection simply won’t suffice. Ask a voice over IP provider how large their voice packets are and then multiply that number by how many phones will be in use at the same time. This is the minimum number of bandwidth that the business Internet connection needs to support.

The Telephone Line: Is it removed completely? Is one line still kept open for emergencies or outages? Consider the costs associated with keeping an active line or having the system removed entirely.

Budget: Make certain to know the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) before implementation. How much money does the company have available to spend on not only the phone system itself, but also additional hardware. How will this be paid for? Upfront? Installments?

The Return on Investment: How soon the business will see a return on it’s investment is an important factor in today’s economic fluctuations. An easy way to calculate ROI is to calculate the total monthly cost savings by the total upfront costs. The result will provide you with the number of months necessary to break even on the initial investment.


Think of VoIP Migration As A Carefully Planned Process

Completely replacing an entire corporate phone system may seem like an intimidating, and even far-reaching, task to even the most technically sound professional. And, it rightfully should – the decision to exchange a fully functioning, and complex, communications platform is not one that can be made without much thought and deliberation. Migrating to a hosted VoIP phone system, however, does not have to be a stressful process.

Most businesses go into a voice over IP migration plan ultimately as a way to alleviate regular business expenses. IP telephony can sanction much more than cost savings. By understanding the details of what they wish to accomplish when deploying a voice over IP platform businesses are unwittingly taking the initial step in ensuring a smooth transition, since VoIP providers are able to adjust the system requirements based on the needs and desires of the business.

The completeness of IP telephony is only as good as the network it is deployed on. Without first performing a complete and thorough network assessment, there is no way to make certain that the company network is stable enough to handle the additional load of a voice over IP system. Many companies find out too late that they need to upgrade, or completely replace, their existing network infrastructure. A costly mistake that could have been avoided simply by executing a pre-installation network analysis.

Various research has stated that only 18% of all organizations are successful in completing a project correctly the first time. Voice over IP migration is essentially a major project and the rules of project management apply. Regardless of the size of the VoIP system , it is sure to fail without a project plan. The plan should include variances for time, steps, check-lists and even a back-up plan.

The final step to a successful, and hassle free, telephony migration is to accept the terms that ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’. Keep business expectation on a realistic level, what may have worked quickly for one organization is not necessarily the optimal result for all businesses. Know why your business is switching and what they wish to achieve. Work within those expectations – not against them.


3G VoIP Applications In Development; Just In Time For The iPad Launch

The Apple iPad is sure to become the holy grail of handheld PDA devices. It allows for Internet surfing, emailing, slide shows and picture viewing. Owners can even choose to watch movies, and in April will even be able to make voice over IP calls.

In January Apple announce a key alteration to it’s existing policies. They have now decided to permit developers to enable a 3G connection to make voice over IP phone calls. Until this point, Apple strictly forebode the development of voice over IP enable applications that we used over the 3G network. VoIP calling was instead restricted to the use of WiFi connections, which often had mediocre signal capability depending on location.

Currently one of the only applications available to make VoIP of 3G calls is iCall, but many voice over IP providers are working on updated VoIP 3G applications – though many may not be completed in time for the April launch of iPad with VoIP 3G. It is still, however, a positive step in the right direction.

Users are urged to air on the side of caution as VoIP 3G and applications like iCall are still new and therefore not all of the kinks have been worked out. It is likely that some lag or poor quality may be experienced while the technology is still in the developmental stages. But who is to complain about the possibilities of low cost unlimited voice calling? Especially when most of the pay-as-you-go minute plans for traditional cell phone usage starts at $30.00 a month!

The iPad itself will not be released with built-in VoIP 3G telephony applications, but soon enough several VoIP 3G applications will be readily available for download. The iPad comes with a built-in microphone and detachable earphones. Kudos to Apple for bringing voice over IP to the 3G network!


Finally, VoIP Over 3G

Several months after the FCC’s announcement that they were planning to extend Internet openness rules to include mobile networks, Apple has proclaimed voice over IP capabilities on both the iPhone and the latest iPad – and over the 3G network. This announcement comes as a significant leap in the right direction, previously voice over IP was predominately only available on a WiFi network. At least as it related to mobile voice over IP.

While many carriers are not thrilled about Apples decision to permit VoIP over 3G technology of the Apple iPad, due mainly to the fact that it will result in consumers pay less money for cell phone usage, the FCC is so confident that they have strict regulations in place forbidding carriers from punishing mobile subscribers for taking advantage of VoIP over 3G.

Outside of a VoIP over 3G application, the only hardware requirements of deploying voice over IP on the 3G network are the Apple iPad WiFi, a headphone and a microphone; a wireless ear bud (or blue tooth headset) being the hardware of choice.

Using voice over 3G allows VoIP calls to made from any location that has a strong 3G signal and potentially allows iPad or iPhone users to save their monthly allotted minutes. This means that cell phone users are now able to choose cheaper monthly plans, without having to worry about being billed extra for talking more than their minute plan allows.

Currently the number of VoIP providers with iPad applications are limited, and most of the free options involve call time restrictions and voice advertisements, but several providers are lining up to create new and exciting VoIP over 3G applications that can be downloaded and installed on the iPad.

VoIP 3G means great things for the business world. Many businesses forged mobile VoIP for the simple fact that Executives on the go preferred their iPhones to other mobile phones. At the time, VoIP was not an option outside of WiFi locations. VoIP 3G technology allows professionals to keep the phone they love, and still reap the benefits of voice over IP calling.


Social Media VoIP

Any knowledgeable marketing professional would agree that advertising must keep pace with technology; particularly in a world full of online profiles, Twitter accounts, text messaging and constant email buzz. It is nearly impossible to name anyone under the age of 60 who doesn’t subscribe to at least one form of Social Media Networking. The same goes for businesses, whether it is Facebook, Twitter, My Space or Linked In – at least one employee from any business in the world is likely to be found on line.

It just make sense for voice over IP to enter the social media world. Businesses use social media sites to network, connect with potential consumers and provide updated advertisements for their services all the time. More recently, businesses are also turning to Social Media Sites for recruitment purposes. And why shouldn’t they? The majority of resent college or university graduates, the under 30 crowd, have a Facebook profile.

In a world driven by Facebook applications, it is now possible to subscribe to various voice over IP enabled social media applications that allow potential clients or recruits to contact your business via a VoIP calling link conveniently located on your businesses social media profile.

This is an excellent tool for small business operating on an IP telephony platform. Not only does it offer substantial networking capabilities, but it can also provide a significant marketing advantage. It is as good as two phenomenal technologies amalgamated into one super-platform.

Facebook announced last year that they have more than 300 million users, by integrating voice over IP into a business Facebook profile, that is like business providing their company card to 300 million potential consumers. Without paying a dime!

Yet another reason why voice over IP implementation should be on the minds of all businesses – regardless of their size.


Give Customer Service A Boost

Business VoIP is about more than just the affordable access to highly developed tools and features. It is about bringing customers and businesses together. The foundation of voice over IP was built around improving customer service capabilities, while providing consumers will proficient access to customer support professionals on a multitude of platforms.

With the assistance of VoIP, even the smallest business is able to provide it’s current and potential client base with rapid and uncomplicated access to on-going communications. For example, businesses that maintain a company website have the capacity to integrate dynamically scripted hyperlinks and tags. Making it possible for consumers to initiate contact, with a variety of departments or support personnel, with the simple click of a button. This method of IP telephony use in websites includes all forms of voice over IP communications, not just simple phone calls. Consumers are actively able to view which associates are currently available to talk and by what means.

This means that if a customer service associate is available for instant messaging, email or fax chat, or video conference but is not currently accepting phone calls then the consumer will be able to click on the communication method preferred and instantly start a conversation.

Businesses looking to further utilize IP telephony to increase their customer service capabilities can do so by deploying a VoIP based toll-free calling number. Providing consumers nationwide with a free and efficient method of speaking to a representative. Not only does a toll-free calling number show consumers that business care about their patronage, it also provides a steadfast and trustworthy image. Toll-free extension and routing capabilities allow for 24 hour customer support lines, that can be maintained and operated by multiple offices from any geographical location. In fact, it is even possible to forgo the call centre entirely, and have calls to the toll-free number routed to the mobile or IP phones of telecommuters working from home.

VoIP is a noteworthy tool for improving client-business interaction, and offers a substantial boosts to the small businesses ability to provide cutting edge customer support and service.


Try This With VoIP

By now you’ve learned all about how VoIP can save you time, money and effort in regards to business communication. But, what else can you do with VoIP? Although, here is a list of some great things that voice over IP can do:

Call Forwarding: You can’t be in two places at once – or can you? Voice over IP solutions offer a unique call forwarding system that all callers to call your main number and be forwarded to any location you happen to be at. No one needs to know that you are actually at home, with your feet up.

Call Recording: All voice over IP systems offer administrative tools to monitor and record calls. This is a great tool for businesses that regularly interview important people over the phone, or those that require recordings for legal and compliance issues.

Voice Mail to Email: Who hasn’t wished they could go through their voicemails without having to listen to them one-by-one? Most reliable VoIP providers (like Nextiva) are able to send voicemails to emails as attachments. This allows for review of the caller’s number, name and an audio fill containing the message.

Find Me/Follow Me: More commonly known as Hunt Groups, this feature allows calls to be routed to employees that are actively accepting incoming phone calls. A sure way to ensure that no business call is ever missed. The system goes through a list of preset numbers and extensions, and if no one is available routes the caller to voicemail.

Video Web Conferencing: Why drive to the next town, to spend an hour sitting in a board room and then turn around and drive home again? Voice over IP works with most web conferencing tools, making it possible for businesses to unite people from across the globe with the click of a button.

Automated Attendant: Secretary call in sick this morning? No problem. Your personalized, professional sounding Auto-attendant is always ready, always happy and always willing to professionally greet callers and direct them to the departments they need to speak with.

Remote Access: Did you call in sick this morning? No worries. Email and voice messaging can be accessed, instantly, from any location. Simply log onto the companies VPN and access office communications as usual.


Faxing Has Never Been So Mobile

VoIP has done for business what Mozart did for music. Encompassing all areas of corporate communications, IP telephony, provides businesses with affordable and reliable access to the most advanced transmission technologies on the market.

The first-class email and messaging capabilities of VoIP are tremendous. In fact, businesses are discarding their pre dated fax machines in record numbers. So fast that the local waste pickup companies are considering deploying separate trucks to be used solely for unwanted fax machines. Okay, that may be not be a bona fide fact, but what is true is the advantages associated with migrating to a Internet faxing solution from Nextiva.

Businesses operating on a voice over IP communications platform now have the choice to send and receive faxes the same way they would an email. Using a highly innovative software application, it is possible to turn any standard computer (or data activated mobile phone) into a fully functioning fax machine. What does this mean for business? It means that fax messaging can be accessed anywhere at anytime – without the restrictions that come with having to operate and maintain a conventional fax machine.

Previously, sending a fax was a tedious and over complicated task. Fax machines needed to be filled with special ink cartridges, paper trays loaded, and a dedicated telephone line was needed to ensure there were no signal interruptions. Even after all of the prep work was carefully carried out, there was still an impending chance of paper jams, or dreaded ink blots. If by some stroke of genius, the fax machine was working and error free, there still needed to be a person in relevant proximity to the fax machine in order to receive the message.

Now it is possible to forgo the pitfalls of conventional faxing, and send a fax from virtually any location; the office, the gym, the beach – anywhere. Nextiva vFax subscribers even have the option of having their faxes sent as attachments to their emails, or being notified via voicemail as soon as a new fax arrives. Imagine never having to hang around the office waiting for a fax to come through again?

Nextiva offers a virtual faxing solution for everyone; and a 500 page, 30 days risk-free trial (with the purchase of NextivaFAX) for those who like to try – before they buy.


VoIP In The Event Of A 9-1-1 Emergency

When making a voice over IP solution provider decision, it is important to remember that not all VoIP servicewas created equally. Nextiva understands the importance of safety, which is why they comply with the FCC Mandate 05-166 that declares that “all VoIP service providers must enable 9-1-1 calling and provide callback and location information.”

Although this Federal Mandate came into action half a decade ago, there are still several VoIP providers who fail to provide adequate emergency services calling. By complying with Mandate 05-166 Nextiva has agreed to carefully document the address and callback location of their business consumers, so that they may quickly provide emergency service workers with possible life saving information.

For years voice over IP has been under scrutiny, based mostly on the misconception that IP telephony does not offer access to emergency calling. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Much like conventional telephony, Voice Enhanced 9-1-1 calling is routed over a dedicated 9-1-1 network and will arrive at the local 9-1-1 dispatch centre; with both the customer registered location and callback number.

However, since voice over IP is a virtual service there are certain steps to be taken to ensure quick and efficient access to 9-1-1 service – before the event of an emergency.

Be certain to keep Nextiva informed of the correct business location, at all times.
Invest in a backup power supply to lessen the chances of loss of service in the event of a power outage.
When traveling with a voice over IP adapter, update your physical location with your Nextiva representative. Remember to advise them of your return from the business trip as well.
Keep the callback number and business location located somewhere near the phone, in the event that the 9-1-1 dispatcher is unable to locate it.
Remember that much like normal cellular phones, VoIP wireless mobiles do not show the location of the caller – so always know your surroundings.

Safety is everyone’s responsibility, Nextiva has done their part to not only ensure FCC compliance; but also to ensure that their VoIP clients receive the best in IP telephony.




 
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