Archive for August, 2010


VoIP In The Small Business Sector?

Delivering voice communications over a data network can no longer be viewed as a new or immature technology. It has been a proven advancement in small business communications for more than 3 decades. While formally known as Voice over Internet Protocol, it can also be referred to as VoIP, Voice over Broadband, broadband phone, broadband telephony and even Internet telephony.

Regardless of how the technology is recognized its objective remains the same; to allow communications services such as fax, voice and video to be transported over the public Internet instead of a conventional telephone network.
VoIP deployment involves a few rudimentary steps. Since most phone calls originate in an analog format it becomes necessary to convert that analog signal to a digital format, once digitalized it must then be compressed, encrypted and then transmitted across the Internet.

Smaller organizations often benefit greatly after abandoning their conventional methods of communication in exchange for a more complete and comprehensive solution. While many of these benefits come in the form of cost savings and lowered ongoing expenses, there is also something to be said about the unique encompassment of features and tools often only available through a VoIP solution. Previously, for a small business to reap the rewards of features like call routing and toll-free calling they would be subject to large monthly payments and often would need to purchase each feature separately. This is not the case with VoIP. A small business VoIP solution from reputable service provider, Nextiva Inc, boasts more than 25 exclusive features offered as part of a package deal for as little as $8.95 per month. This means that small business professionals are no longer forced to decide ahead of time which features and tools are necessary for the survival and continued success of their business, nor are they limited to the few that meet the constraints of a small business budget.

Facilitating VoIP in a business environment is easy so long as the business maintains an active enterprise broadband Internet connection with significant bandwidth to support both incoming and outgoing communications. Since VoIP usage is tied to Internet connectivity, it can provide great benefits to employees routinely working from the road or those businesses that actively employ remote or teleworkers.

Given the uniqueness of every situation, it is preferable when making the decision to switch to VoIP to contact a qualified VoIP solutions provider to discuss the solution best suited to the needs of the business.


Getting The Most Out Of Your Small Business VoIP Solution

Through the use of the Internet as a mode of both verbal and written communication small businesses are able to effectively break free from the cost restrictive barriers of wired communication and experience many great benefits and reward previously only accessible to larger enterprises. Unlike conventional telephony, migrating to a complete business VoIP system requires little start-up capital and can be attained with minimal equipment.

While VoIP has the potential to greatly benefit smaller businesses, business owners are cautioned to carefully outline what they wish to obtain from VoIP migration prior to the commencement of a full implementation.

Some of the avenues that should be explored include:

1. When does the business hope to switch to a VoIP based communication system?
2. What are the most significant calling charges under the current PTSN system?
3. Does the business make a large amount of long distance or International calling?

Many of the benefits of VoIP technology can be experienced with little more equipment than a computer or ATA adapter. To truly experience the marvels of VoIP, however, it is recommended that a business invest in specialized VoIP routers to fully achieve a seamless integration. VoIP routers are a perfectly acceptable tool for VoIP use in smaller organizations, larger enterprises on the other hand may require more specialized infrastructure.

There are several outfits in the market that offer and provide VoIP services, and no two VoIP services are exactly alike; residential VoIP will not provide small businesses with the same features, benefits and Quality of Service as a VoIP service that is more geared towards the small business market – for that reason it is best to only explore service offerings from vendors specializing only in small business VoIP as they are likely to be the most knowledgeable.

Although simplistic in its operations, managing an entire VoIP solution can be complex and often tedious and therefore smaller organizations and those with limited in house IT personnel find the greatest returns in selecting a hosted VoIP solution offered by many small business VoIP solutions providers. This not only saves the business money in the long run, but it also allows them to free up existing resources and focus on more pertinent day-to-day aspects of the business.


What Can I Do To Boost The Security Of My VoIP Network?

With so many small businesses jumping on the VoIP bandwagon it is hard to discredit its many advantageous benefits. As a highly advanced method of corporate telecommunications VoIP is flexible, easily manageable and extremely cost effective to those operating on a small business budget but wanting the same great tools and features as the industry key players.

One of the most favored aspects of business VoIP comes under the guise of unlimited calling. VoIP providers routinely reward their clientele with the ability to call both domestically and overseas without the needs to worry about costly per minute billing. If a business routinely does business outside of their local calling area, it may be a good idea to explore the possibility of a small business VoIP service plan.

The thought of using the Internet to handle their most confidential business calls may be discerning to some, as it rightfully should be. Security is paramount in today’s society and considered a top issue amongst the most reputable solutions providers. When finalizing the decision as to which small business VoIP provider to hire, make certain that security is one of their top priorities.

Outside of the responsibilities of the VoIP provider, there are several aspects that the small business can address on their own to enhance the security of their VoIP system greatly:

A. Review the functionality of the network and security equipment, along with the firewall, routers, and IP networks. Is each element capable of supporting the prerequisites of the VoIP phone systems security applications?

B. Upgrade and update the firewall and antivirus programs to ensure that they are capable of combating intrusions and other threats should they arise.

C. Ensure that the network is structured to use VLANs to categorize different devices and traffic separately. Setting up VoIP devices on individualized VLANs will allow data traffic to be isolated from voice traffic and also ensure a greater Quality of Service.


Tackling the Global Market

If you were to tell a small business owner 30 years ago that they would one day use their Internet connection to make and receive extremely low cost international business calling, they would look at you in disbelief. Thanks to the increased flexibility and affordability of broadband Internet service, this low cost calling option is now a complete and necessary reality. This is the power of VoIP.

A complex technology known as the Internet Protocol is the root of data transfer. There is no denying the widespread acceptance of VoIP usage in the International business market. Thanks to hosted VoIP telecommunications smaller businesses now maintain many diversified applications to carry out their communications processes.

Business VoIP has essentially made the world a smaller and more connected place, allowing smaller businesses to expand their market reach by considering any geographical location to be in their local calling area. A considerable advantage to those businesses already doing a great deal of global business as they can remain more connected with the client base and international office than ever.

Previously, smaller businesses would shy away from doing business outside of their local calling network as this would require a larger amount of capital to cover things such as long distance calling and even business trips for employees required to provide a local presence to international consumers. Thanks to VoIP, the same businesses that once feared long distance business can now embrace it by harnessing their affordable broadband Internet connection as a medium to house their new digital calling platform.

Should the business decide it would be beneficial to send an employee overseas or on a lengthy business trip to meet with their new long distance market representatives, their VoIP system will allow them to hit the ground running. The entire corporate VoIP system is accessible from any location that maintains a valid Internet connection, meaning that business calls can be routed instantly to the employees mobile phone and messages and faxes retrieved with ease.

The many attractive benefits and features associated with VoIP use in small businesses, such as call routing, automated attendants and enhanced voicemail are available at no additional cost.


vFAX Will Help Your Business

Unknown to most, fax machines have been in use for more than a century. That is not to say that they were always an affordable and popular method of communication, it was not until the early 1980’s that the use of fax machine technology became widely accepted in the business world. While faxing can be viewed as an affordable and practical method of business communication, its use is being rapidly phased out of the business world thanks in part to the popularity of email and other methods of electronic document communication.

Faxing technology should not be considered dated or too prehistoric for modern business use, there are still many benefits that can be experienced by faxing – especially for those small businesses tech savvy enough to request Internet based faxing services from their hosted small business VoIP provider.

Some of these wonderful and business enhancing benefits include:

a. Rapid and almost instantaneous data communication. Online fax messages are delivered instantly to the recipients email client (or fax machine).

b. Security and privacy are ensured. Online fax messages can be routed to a private email client. If that email client is secure then the recipient will be the primary individual to receive and view the documents (unlike traditional faxing that would go straight to a fax machine accessible to everyone).

c. Virtual faxes cannot get lost. A common complaint among traditional fax users was that their messages were often lost in a jumble of papers – or never received at all. Since VoIP faxes are delivered directly to an inbox there are no papers to sift through.

d. Online fax can be accessed from anywhere at anytime. Since Online faxes are sent as email attachments they can be received or sent from any correctly configured email platform, including PDAs and smart phones – a huge benefit to employees on the road.

e. No more busy signals. Anyone familiar with traditional faxing knows how frustrating it can be to need to send a fax or receive on only to find that there are dozens of faxes ahead of yours. Online based faxing allows for any number of faxes to be sent or received simultaneously to a single telephone number or email address.

If you wish to learn even more about Nextiva vFAX as well as try the service out using Nextiva’s free trial, please visit NextivaFax.com.


VoIP Keeps Businesses And Consumers Connected

Keeping pace with larger competitors is an ongoing struggle for the small business man and the most difficult area of competition has always been the ability to invest in the latest and greatest technological advancements.
Voice over IP, or VoIP as it is more commonly known, is one of the business driving forces enabling smaller enterprises to maintain a competitive edge without delving too deeply into their fixed budget.

Simply put, VoIP is the term used to describe the facilitated use of the Internet to transmit voice communications over the Internet. In addition to verbal communications, a VoIP subscription also enables business users to transmit written and video communications. The use of VoIP in a small business scenario has large cost savings potential as the need for multiple networks is eliminated and businesses are able to carry out communications over a single converged network.

Since most small businesses already maintain a low cost broadband Internet solution it is likely that they will be able to effortlessly experience the rewards of VoIP. Once a business has become using VoIP it is likely that they will see little use to maintain a complete analog phone system and immediately realize the benefits of eradicating this unnecessary expense.

The most noteworthy and advantageous benefit of VoIP has always been in the form of substantial expense reduction. Since all communications over a VoIP network will be routed through the Internet, the restrictions of geographical locations become irrelevant. This provides extreme benefit to businesses with geographical disperse locations of those routinely serving international clientele.

Another benefit of business VoIP is the ability to harness the advantages of a toll-free calling number, historically the use of such business features would be out of reach for those operating on a small business budget. Through the use of VoIP the small business practitioner is now able to offer his consumers a free of charge form of contact that will only affect the business in a positive and revenue driving fashion.

Small business class VoIP is not limited to strict phone use. Employees on the go can access data and other communications services through any number of gadgets including mobile phones, PDAs, iPADs, laptops and many other handheld devices. This means that smaller businesses and employees working from the road can always remain connected and make use of the same great tools and features that they would have while in the office.


Now Is The Time To Switch To Business VoIP

The modern business owner is just as reliant upon technology as he is his employees. In the event of a communications system outage or failure there lies potential for lost or missed revenue. System failure is a problem most often associated with traditional telephony, and to mitigate this risk smaller businesses are flocking to VoIP service in record numbers.

Business VoIP performs the same function as traditional telephony but differs in its method of operation. Unlike conventional telephony that requires access to the public telephone network to operate, VoIP calls are sent in a digitalized format over the World Wide Web. This practice means that small businesses only need to maintain broadband Internet connectivity to make or receive phone calls, digital documents, faxes, conduct conference and tend to many other forms of pertinent business communications.

Harnessing the correct business VoIP solution, one that is specifically designed with small business in mind, can result in significant cost savings and greatly reduce ongoing overhead expenses. Since VoIP platforms transport calls over an already existing data network, small businesses are given the unique ability to merge both their voice and data networks and greatly enhance their cost savings ability. Most commonly, business users of VoIP services will pay a single flat rate on a monthly basis for VoIP service, included in this rate will be all of the additional tools and features and unlimited local and long distance calling – unlike traditional telephone service that is only offered on a variable scale. Small business VoIP consumers often report cost savings in excess of 80% over their historical communications cost within the first year.

Taking advantage of small business service from Nextiva affords users access to more than 25 business enhancing features. Features like caller ID, transfer, call routing, enhanced voicemail and automated attendants. Not only is a virtual VoIP systems fully capable of performing all of the tasks and functions of a regular calling system but it is also equipped with many smart features and the added ease of a web-hosted device that can effortlessly be integrated with various web applications and CRM softwares.

Most traditional phone systems are being phased out of the business environment, and no longer allow for the integration of more advanced phone system features. For this purpose, smaller businesses are wise to explore the options of VoIP now rather than to wait.


Is Now The Time To Switch To Business VoIP?

Whether your small business is just starting out or has been growing strong for many years, the chances are good that deploying a business VoIP phone system will bring forth many advantageous benefits and considerable cost savings. In order to achieve success in VoIP migration, however, the business must be prepared for an initial investment and some strategic planning. While VoIP is excellent in almost any small business scenario, below we have outlined a few of the most prominent indicators that it is time for your business to make the VoIP switch.

Is Your Business Ready For A VoIP Phone System?

1. The business’s needs were not being met by the local telephone company and VoIP is able to provide the solution: Outside of saving a considerable amount of money, VoIP provides smaller enterprises in particular with many attractive benefits and features, as well as superior communications potential. VoIP enables businesses to leverage unified communications while taking advantage of the same great features utilized by fortune 500 companies for a fraction of the cost of traditional phone service.
2. Rising communications costs are becoming too unaffordable for the business: Cost savings and access to affordable communications have always been the driving factors for VoIP migration. A great number of businesses report savings of more than 80% off of their regular monthly communications expense.
3. After an expansion, the existing phone system is no longer able to support the entire company: Unlike traditional PBXs, a VoIP PBX is much more adequately equipped to handle complex telecommunications. Therefore, employees will be rewarded with enhanced productivity and greater mobility, as well as heightened collaboration between offices. Businesses routinely providing their employees with iPhones or other 3G devices will receive greater benefit from a VoIP system.
4. Customer satisfaction and relationships could use strengthening: VoIP enables business to leverage features such as local number portability, toll-free number and automated attendants – all features designed to enhance customer satisfaction while lowering response times.
5. The current phone system needs to be replaced: VoIP enables businesses to invest in technology that will always be current and doesn’t risk becoming obsolete in the coming years.
6. Your new business has the funds to implement a VoIP system: Starting with a VoIP system, instead of migrating from conventional telephony, actually has great cost savings potential. Businesses not only save money, but they also reduce hassles that can come as result of having to redesign networks and other devices.
7. The business already invested into superior networks and bandwidth etc..: If the business already has access to affordable high speed Internet, a strong data network and high bandwidth on wireless device then it would be a mistake for the business not to deploy VoIP. These valuable resources are wasted on regular telephony and would be best suited for a VoIP environment.
8. The business needs to gain a competitive advantage over other businesses in the industry: It is likely that business competitors already have or are planning to deploy VoIP. Doing so allows smaller businesses to compete with larger enterprises while greatly enhancing their corporate image.


VoIP Number Portability

One of the primary concerns businesses in particular ask themselves before deciding whether or not to migrate to a VoIP communications solution is if they can keep their existing phone number. This is often referred to as number portability. While it is completely possible in most scenarios to keep existing numbers, it is important to verify if the current number is actually portable.

In most cases, porting a number from a conventional telephone provider to a VoIP service provider is possible and a great benefit to existing businesses. For those seeking to switch between two VoIP providers, however, various problems may arise.

For example; Businesses seeking to port their original number from the local telephone provider to a VoIP service will likely experience no difficulties until they attempt to leave the original VoIP provider and port their number to a new VoIP service. This is due in part to the stipulations that many telephone service providers place on number portability. More often than not they will allow number porting to one VoIP provider, but will not permit it after that initial transfer.

According to most state regulations, however, the consumer is the legal owner of the number and they may decide to port the number wherever they wish.

If the business where to relocate outside of the service area of the VoIP provider they may be required to change their phone number as the number is less likely to be portable. Many VoIP companies like Nextiva offer local number and area codes across the globe.

The best practice approach to number portability for those businesses wishing to retain their existing number is to ask their VoIP provider prior to making a complete migration. Do not be afraid to ask if it is possible to port a number from a conventional telephone service and then to an alternate VoIP provider should you decide to switch in the future.




 
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