Archive for March, 2010


4 Key Elements to Selecting a Hosted VoIP System

While there are a few different types of business VoIP services on the market, it is strongly recommended that small businesses deploy a hosted VoIP service. Hosted VoIP allows businesses to focus on more important aspects of their business, while delegating the maintenance and management of the corporate communications system to a hosted VoIP provider. The question remains, “Who is worthy of your business?”
By closely adhering to the following 4 steps, small businesses are ensuring that they not only select a provider capable of carrying out their communications requirements, but also that their VoIP investment is protected.
1. Evaluate each service provider and their capabilities as it relates to the breadth of their services and flexibility of their offerings. No two vendors are alike in the service they provide. There is an added value to businesses if they are able to secure service from a vendor that provides all of the necessary features needed to get the job done. The cost of managing separate suppliers is much higher than dealing with one that offers all of the services required, if the business requires faxing as well as voice and a provider offers both services it is best to use that vendor instead of a separate supplier for each service.
2. Ensure that the vendor is well established. Don’t be afraid to request proof of fiscal stability. There are many hosted VoIP providers on the market; some may appear to be stable at first glance. However, further investigation could lead to finding that they owe substantial venture capital funding. Failure to comply with repayment terms could result in the business being liquidated and leaving their clients without service.
3. Pay attention to infrastructure requirements. While it is not always a necessity to replace existing equipment, it is best to know beforehand if each item is compatible with the VoIP service. Selecting a hosted IP telephony solution helps to protect against the need to purchase expensive hardware upgrades.
4. Understand the TCO. Determining total cost of ownership can be difficult, and every VoIP provider claims to offer a reduced TCO. Challenge the providers who make the vendor short list to prove their claims. When determining the TCO remember to include training costs, and expected costs of upgrades over the next 3 years.


The VoIP Debate: Why Conventional Telephony Isn’t Good For Business

The argument for IP telephony is not a difficult one. Business VoIP certainly has the advantage over conventional telephony service – especially for the small business owner. Most small businesses owners are familiar with paying large sums of money for telephone service; the truth of the matter is that in most cases they are more familiar with expensive pricing structures than their larger competitors. VoIP technology allows the small business owner to mitigate high costs by providing them with an affordable communications platform, with unlimited potential.
Low cost communications is by far the most recognized advantage of IP telephony; most small businesses deploy a high-speed Broadband Internet connection, VoIP allows them the ability to bolster their existing Internet connection as a medium on which to carry out substantially low cost global communications.
Initiating VoIP service with a reputable hosted provider, like Nextiva, provides small businesses with unlimited calling for a single monthly flat rate. By choosing an unlimited calling plan, businesses no longer need to monitor calling metrics to ensure that they do not exceed their long distance minute allotment and incur substantial usage charges as a result.
Outside of the obvious cost effectiveness of IP telephony, all VoIP services maintain complete portability, giving business employees the freedom to initiate voice communications from any location in the world simply by plugging a VoIP phone into an active broadband Internet connection. Extreme portability allows employees instant access to all of the business enhancing features of a VoIP system such as; voicemail, email, call routing and even an automated attendant. This means that any location that the employee happens to be travelling to or working from can essentially be viewed as a fully functioning virtual office.
Other considerable advantages that IP telephony holds over conventional phone service include the ability to merge existing networks and capitalize on the unique features and subsets that only a VoIP solution can offer. These features include; call forwarding, call waiting, enhanced voicemail, three way calling, auto dialing, toll-free extension and video VoIP conferencing.


The On-Going Benefits of VoIP

By now most people understand that both IP telephony and VoIP are technologies engineered to deliver both voice and data communications over the Internet. Nearly half of the worlds businesses now use VoIP technology as an alternative to conventional packet switch telephony. Voice communications sent via the Internet are initially transmitted as digital data packets and then converted once they reach their intended destinations. In using VoIP technology as a medium for business communications the need for expensive hardware is greatly reduced.
Asides from the obvious benefits of bolstering existing infrastructure, cost efficiencies has always been one of the most attractive driving factors for businesses choosing to deploy VoIP technology. Since IP telephony requires the use of a high-speed broadband Internet connection, service which is relatively inexpensive, the costs associated with VoIP are substantially lower than those of conventional telephony.
Most reputable VoIP service providers offer enticing features, such as unlimited local and long distance calling. This allows businesses to place calls to any number of locations, nationwide, without having to worry about incurring costly calling charges. Businesses requiring International calling may do so for a rate far below conventional norms.
There is no need to worry about not having access to important communications functions while working away from the office. Unlike its conventional predecessor VoIP telephony is completely portable. While the option do access a softphone application to access the company phone system certainly exists, employees are likely to get more benefit from either carrying their VoIP phone with them or through the use of a VoIP capable mobile phone.
While on the road, business VoIP enables employees to access their email, voicemail and faxing platforms. Have their calls routed directly to whatever location they happen to be in and helps to reduce travel expenses by providing constant access to cost effective communications.


VoIP Takes Faxing to the Next Level

One of the many great developments of VoIP is the inclusion of fax services over an IP telephony platform. Utilizing the principles of VoIP technology to include fax communication provides businesses with a cost effective, reliable and highly flexible data communications platform.
Given the challenges associated with traditional faxing, and the high cost maintenance of conventional fax machines, many businesses had begun to quit using faxing as a method of business communications. At the time, there was no reliable alternative available to mitigate the risks of paper jams, missed faxes, ink spills and other mechanical failures.
Fax over Internet Protocol, or vFAX as it is known to consumers of Nextiva, Inc., takes advantage of the most advanced VoIP technologies to transmit faxes directly over an existing broadband Internet connection and into an email platform. The most advantageous benefit of a vFAX service is the ability to effortlessly send or receive faxes from any location, using a VoIP solution. Deploying a faxing solution, in conjunction with IP telephony service, allows businesses to free up resources, alleviate maintenance headaches and eliminates the need for a separate and dedicated phone line.
In an era where every business is concerned with getting maximum return on their investments, utilizing a cost effective service to deploy business communications is a relevant necessity. VoIP faxing has quickly become an irreplaceable tool in the business world; particularly for smaller organizations with limited resources. A Nextiva vFAX solution is highly portable, allowing employees to send or receive faxes from any geographical location, so long as there is an active Internet connection. Even more significant is the ability to receive fax notifications as voice-mail or email attachments, helping to ensure that there is never the possibility of missing a fax.
Anyone familiar with a standard email client is fully capable of operating a virtual faxing solution, as both maintain similar qualities and essentially are operated identically. Using the Internet and VoIP technology to handle fax communications allows businesses to eliminate the need to purchase expense consumable materials, such as; ink, paper, toner and ribbons. Much like every great VoIP feature, IP faxing is designed to save both time and money while aiding small businesses in optimizing their communications abilities.


Network Consolidation and Reduced Management Costs Result In Substantial Savings

The ultimate component for executing a VoIP business communications system is the cost savings routinely associated with converging both voice and data networks. With the correct VoIP solution, like those offered by Nextiva, the potential for large cost savings exists from the moment of deployment. Businesses are able to realize savings in areas such as managerial time and expense, and on-going toll and lease charges. IP telephony is also notorious in providing smaller organizations with a competitive edge while affording the possibilities of boosting productivity and optimizing customer service capabilities.
It is imperative to note that failure to analyze the correct VoIP solution, prior to deployment, will result in over spending and can lead to ongoing issues. Equipment costs, operational startup fees, labor costs and maintenance requirements are among the areas that should be investigated prior to the initiation of service.
Low cost calling and IP telephony go hand in hand, but is the promise of low rate calling enough to make the switch? When considering what most companies pay for long-distance calling, there is often little necessity to move to VoIP based on long distance charges alone.
Immediate savings for most small businesses comes from the ability to consolidate their voice and data networks and then utilizing fewer circuits from the public telephone network. VoIP technology consumes less time for relocation or alterations and therefore eliminates the need to hire an outside consultant to perform such tasks. Relocating a VoIP telephone system, or adding additional employees is as effortless as contacting the hosted VoIP service provider and them entering a few simple commands into their administrative data bases. With a conventional business telephone system, like those offered by the local telephone company, adding or relocating and employee can cost hundreds of dollars.
Speaking in terms of managerial savings, they are almost always instantaneously recognized since those tasks not carried out by the VoIP provider can effortlessly be undertaken by the business IT department. Since IP telephony requires both the voice and data network to be merged into one unified network there is no longer a need to employee two separate teams to handle each article, which will ultimately result in substantial savings.
All of these savings add tremendous leverage to businesses considering VoIP deployment, when you consider the savings along with the added features and benefits IP telephony should be viewed as the ideal communications medium for small businesses – everywhere.


The Dynamic Allocation of VoIP Technology

Given that SIP telephony and VoIP technology are not currently under the same governmental limitations and taxations as regular telephony, there is no better time to migrate to a business VoIP solution. The concepts of VoIP for residential use and VoIP for small business use are relatively the same, with one major exception. Depending on the size of the business, a T1 line is often required to maintain effect service. While VoIP allows for the amalgamation of both voice and data onto a single network, a T1 line allows for the amalgamation of both VoIP and Internet. Many will argue that this means that the VoIP provider and the Internet Service Provider must essentially then be the same company, when in fact they are two entirely different entities sharing the same input line.
However, this changes when 4 or more VoIP lines are required. In such cases, the VoIP service provider will take steps to enhance and optimize the Internet service thus reducing latency, jitter and static since traditional Internet service may not be fully capable of handling such complexities.
SIP telephony in business use is often considered to be dynamically allocated. Since VoIP is the merger of both voice and data Internet connectivity can become slowed. Through dynamic allocation voice packets take precedence, but the Internet speed reaches optimum potential when fewer people are on the phone.
A momentous advantage in the use of corporate VoIP platforms is its undisputed capacity when used in telework environments. There are times when it will be necessary for employees to work from outside of the office location. In the past remaining connected and being able to access the company telephony system has always proved to be an issue. With the use of a small business VoIP solution employees are able to connect to the business telecom system from any vicinity that is within reach of a high speed broadband Internet connection. With the use of a VoIP phone, or even a WiFi laptop and softphone combination, employees are able to convert any location into a virtual office with ease. This provides them with the ability to access and utilize all of the business phone features, such as; outside lines, paging, voicemail, faxing and even extensions and call routing.


Realize The Full Potential Of Cost Savings With VoIP

The concept of the integration voice and data communications, over a single unified network, has been in observance for nearly three decades. Initially, developers found the idea promising for use in areas such as educational and research facilities. More commonly, however, converged networks have been deployed on the corporate scope.
Voice over IP, or VoIP as it is most widely known, brings tremendous value to the business world. Migration to an IP telephony communications structure not only allows the small business market to realize the full potential of their existing network, it also enables them to save a substantial amount of time, money and resources.
After the initial planning phase has been executed, and the corporate network tested to ensure resiliency, businesses are able to implement a converged network with ease. Granted, depending on the existing infrastructure the initial migration can potentially require a large upfront investment; most businesses will experience a steady return on that investment with in the first year. During that year they can expect to see a financial reduction in regular communications expenses reaching an excess of 80%. Studies would indicate the average median of savings to be in the 45 – 65% range. Still much greater cost reductions than smaller organizations would ever expect to accumulate over a traditional telephone network.
The guarantee of such concrete savings should be regarded with praise by the small business market. Predominantly since those same businesses operating on a standard telephony network routinely pay up to four times more for phone service (per person) than their larger counterparts. Given the lack of scalability and indispensible tools associated with packet switch telephony, there is absolutely no justification in the hefty rate structure.
Migration to a VoIP solution not only provides small businesses with an overabundance of business essential features, it does so at a low monthly rate that is easily justifiable to the business unit.
While IP telephony is renowned for providing attractive cost savings in terms of domestic, long distance and international calling, cost savings can be experienced in other business areas as well. Businesses who routinely require their employees make frequent business trips, and that those employees be readily equipped with mobile phones, are likely to experience a significant expense reduction by deploying SIP enable WiFi mobile phones over a VoIP network. Doing so eliminates the risk of costly per-minute billing and roaming charges often put in place by regular mobile phone carriers. For employees unwilling to part ways with their iPhones, iPads and other popular handhelds and smartphones, Apple has recently announced their decision to allow the provision of voice over IP over the 3G (or VoIP3G) network. This proclamation is certainly a step in the right direction, and is sure to mean great things for the business communications market.
Through the use of voice over IP technology, businesses are able to mature their communications processes to the fullest extent, without sacrificing their budget to keep pace with industry competitors.


Expand Your Local Market With VoIP Phone Service

The most common use over VoIP technology is for verbal telecommunications, this practice is also referred to as sip trunking. In order to effectively utilize VoIP technology businesses must have access to an active Internet connection, high-speed cable or a dedicated T1 line work best in corporate environments. Anything slower than this will ultimately result in diminished call quality or an ineffective service.
There is a common misconception that businesses must eradicate their existing telephony infrastructure and purchase expensive upgrades in order to be able to realize maximum benefits from IP telephony. This is not the case, through the use of specialized VoIP adapters (also referred to as ATA adapters) businesses are able to continue using their analog telephony devices in conjunction with a VoIP solution. While businesses are able to operate an on premise PBX with VoIP technology, it is a recommended best practice that smaller businesses instead opt for a hosted solution thus eliminating some of the management and maintenance headaches associated with such and advanced technology.
There are several advantageous gains associated with VoIP deployment in a business environment, albeit the most recognizable are in terms of cost savings. Taking advantage of a business VoIP solution, like that offered by Nextiva, Inc, allows small business owners to partake in unlimited local and long distance calling for a single low monthly flat rate (with most plans starting as low as $8.99/month.) Unlike conventional telephony, a VoIP based phone number is completely portable – meaning that if the business relocates they are able to continue using their existing phone number even if they move out of the area code vicinity.
In addition to number portability VoIP also offers the option of utilizing toll-free numbers or a multitude of different area codes. This permits the perception of a ‘local presence’ aiding businesses in denoting a professional and long standing appearance, especially beneficial in times of economical downfall when patrons may be less likely to do business with those companies whom they perceive to be outside of their local market.
IP telephony eliminates the physical constraints of packet switch telephony and gives businesses the ability to expand their ‘local’ market to a global spectrum, while bolstering tools and features necessary to grow and succeed in a highly competitive environment.


Over 200 Posts

We have now written over 200 business VoIP posts here. Thanks to all of our readers for the positive feedback and support. It has been fun for us to share business VoIP information with you on a daily basis. We will continue writing articles every day and look forward to provide you with valuable information for years to come.
If there are any topics you’d like to have us write about, let us know. Send us a message at info at nextiva dot com.

Thanks,

The Nextiva Team




 
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