Upgrading your phone system can be daunting, but it doesn't need to be. In this VoIP implementation guide, we'll cover everything needed for a successful migration.
Entrepreneurs and small business owners enjoy the benefits of a robust phone system. Today's technology adds new capabilities and results in great customer experiences. It can all be had for less than you're spending on traditional phone service.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) works by converting voice data into digital data. VoIP technology allows people to complete calls over an existing internet connection.
When users bypass the Public-Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), they supply the internet connection. A typical broadband connection provides all the bandwidth needed for high-quality phone calls.
Let’s get started on implementing VoIP!
- VoIP Implementation Requirements
- VoIP Implementation Planning
- Selecting a VoIP Provider
- Choosing VoIP Equipment
- Go Live!
VoIP Implementation Requirements
1) Network Bandwidth
If you have a high-speed broadband connection, you can implement Voice over IP (VoIP). The good news is that IP telephony doesn’t use as much bandwidth as you might think.
Plan to use 100 Kbps (or 0.1 Mbps) per line of voice service. For instance, if you plan to use ten voice lines, you need 1000 kbps (1 Mbps) for your network.
It's a good idea to only use up to 80% of your available network bandwidth. A congested network can result in poor-quality phone calls.
2) Low Latency
A reliable internet connection leads to successful VoIP implementations. Why? The less time it takes data to reach the internet, the better connection you have. You can measure the quality of your network by monitoring Jitter and Ping.
These metrics focus on the quality and consistency of your connection.
Successful VoIP implementations have less than 70 ms (milliseconds) for Ping and Jitter. Take the free VoIP speed test to see the speed and stability of your network connection.
3) Wired over Wi-Fi
When you have the option, connect VoIP devices to an Ethernet connection. Wireless internet (WiFi) may work for some users, but it is not as reliable as a wired connection.
Avoid congested network symptoms and delight users with an Ethernet network connection.
For users who operate in an office, invest in a Power over Ethernet (PoE) switch. PoE switches deliver the data and power for VoIP phones over one wire.
4) Data Prioritization
You can't always forecast every network condition, but you can plan for the higher traffic. Examples of high-traffic activities include software updates, file transfers, and watching YouTube videos.
Set up VoIP Quality of Service (QoS) on your router to optimize voice traffic on the network. Contact your business phone service provider for recommended QoS tweaks for their network.
VoIP Implementation: How to Set Up a VoIP Phone System
As you plan your VoIP deployment, you’ll want to design with growth in mind. Planning ahead is crucial when setting up a VoIP phone system.
Use this checklist to help you assess your current needs while you plan for the future.
1) VoIP Phones
Identify the number of phones and which must-have features you need. Should everyone should get the same type of phone? Are there certain users who want to receive a premium business phone? Visit our VoIP phone guide to view top recommendations.
2) Network Connectivity
Calculate how much bandwidth you need by estimating 100 kbps per voice line. Always factor in an extra 15% headroom for data overhead.
Align your implementation plan with the company's staffing plan, so it's growth-oriented.
3) Communication Costs
Understand how much the company spends on its existing telephone service. Consider these costs as you look into an alternative business phone provider.
Switching to VoIP (or adding a SIP Trunk to your IP PBX) can save your organization up to 70% off its voice service.
Understand what your company actually spends on business communications. The entire organization rarely feels these individual costs, but they add up. Gather invoices for all your business apps so you can look at the bigger picture and trim expenses.
4) Number Portability
Identify any issues you may have with porting your number to a VoIP number. In most cases, you will want to speak with your phone provider to understand what you need to port out your number.
It takes about 2-4 weeks to migrate a number from a previous phone provider.
5) Get Familiar with the Portal (Control Panel)
Gain confidence in administering your VoIP phone system. People may ask you to add lines, adjust features, and more. Check with your VoIP provider to adopt their recommendations.
Dedicate a couple of hours for this purpose so you will save you time when you need to make adjustments later.
6) Develop Training Materials
Expect that people will ask you about common phone functions like accessing voicemail. It will happen no matter how simple it is. Make your VoIP implementation successful by developing a handy guide for staff.
Provide a slideshow showing significant features and functions. Think about their everyday needs. This document empowers your staff to enjoy their phone system without any hiccups. Provide a one-page guide to show how to manage voicemail, transfer calls, and use the hold function.
7) Test to Discover and Fix Issues
Give yourself enough time to test your new VoIP business phone system. Identify any problems upfront and troubleshoot VoIP issues right away.
If you find that you need to upgrade your broadband service, do it soon. It's not uncommon for service upgrades to take a couple of days to complete.
Consider testing your voice calls at various times throughout the workday. Testing like this simulates real-world conditions so you can fix issues earlier.
Selecting a VoIP Provider
Before you upgrade your phone system, you will want to choose a VoIP service provider. Select a provider offering excellent customer service, favorable customer reviews, and reliable uptime.
You also want to look for a phone provider that has the flexibility to serve the needs of your business. Nextiva is a leading business communications provider with over 100,000 users who trust it for their commercial phone service.
Don’t only choose the cheapest provider when comparing VoIP service providers. For smooth implementation, consider your VoIP provider your partner, not just another invoice.
If your company uses a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) as a part of your phone system, you will enjoy adding a SIP Trunk to it. Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) Trunking helps you maximize the value of your existing PBX.
A top SIP Trunking provider will add voice connectivity using the same method of IP telephony as VoIP. Businesses love SIP Trunks because they lower telecom service costs. These VoIP solutions leverage technology without affecting day-to-day operations.
Choosing Your VoIP Equipment
Depending on your needs, you might need more equipment. If you decide to go with a software-based VoIP app, you won’t need a desk phone. Download the appropriate SIP-based phone software and configure it for your VoIP service provider.
For Nextiva users, all you need is your username and password. That's all! Download the Nextiva App here.
Most people who use a softphone will want to use a headset with a microphone. That might be all the extra hardware you need to make every VoIP call offer excellent audio quality.
For your desk phone, you will want to consider the usability of the phone itself. Are you able to connect a headset for comfort, or can it handle simultaneous calls?
For businesses with multiple VoIP lines, you need to choose the right equipment for staff. It can be overwhelming to choose the best VoIP phone among hundreds that exist out there. Browse the top VoIP business phones to narrow down your list.
Choose a router that offers high performance for all types of traffic.
Routers regulate and enforce QoS rules, so you prioritize your voice traffic. For instance, voice calls are likely more important than watching YouTube videos.
For those in a professional environment, PoE network switches provide desk phones their data and power. Employees will appreciate using one cord on their desk, not two. Not every successful VoIP implementation uses PoE, but for corporate environments, PoE is the best option.
It's now time to take your VoIP phone system out for a spin. You've established new business phone numbers or migrated ones from your previous provider. Your network checks off and your VoIP phones are ready to go.
After you complete some test calls, contact your provider to get a Mean Opinion Score (MOS). MOS scores range from 1–5, where five is talking face-to-face. These scores measure the quality and audio fidelity of your voice calls.
You may find that as network traffic increases, your MOS score may decrease.
After your VoIP implementation is complete, there is one remaining to-do list item.
Update your website with the correct business phone number. Verify that you have updated your company phone numbers on Facebook, Google, and Yelp. You don't want callers dialing the wrong number when contacting your business.
So, let's recap what it takes to upgrade your phone system to VoIP:
- Understand your company's growth plan. (headcount, offices, etc.)
- Use a high-speed broadband connection (low latency, low ping)
- Determine your VoIP phone and supporting equipment (phones, software, PoE, etc.)
- Choose a reputable business VoIP provider (Nextiva)
- Educate staff on new phone capabilities (training)
- Perform real-world tests (call quality, network tests, MOS, etc.)
- Complete the switch! Enjoy your lower costs and better service.
Voice calls connect quickly with the high fidelity that you often expect available for half of the cost of traditional phone service.
for their business communications.
Gaetano DiNardi is the Director of Demand Generation at Nextiva and has a track record of success working with brands like Major League Baseball, Pipedrive, Sales Hacker and Outreach.io. Outside of marketing, Gaetano is an accomplished music producer and songwriter - he’s worked with major artists like Fat Joe, Shaggy and loves making music to stay turbocharged. To get in touch, follow him on LinkedIn.