Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP phone systems, have been widely adopted by businesses over the last several years as an alternative to traditional telephone systems, especially with the need for more tools for effective collaboration and communication. With its increased functionality and comparatively low cost, the best VoIP phone systems present many advantages over analog phone systems. When purchasing any new technology for your business, you should understand the different VoIP phone systems' purpose, functions, and benefits.
What Is VoIP Phone Systems?
In basic terms, Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP is a phone system engineered to transmit your telephone calls over data lines. Your business telephone calls are digitally transmitted using your existing Internet service or one specifically used for your VoIP needs. Your phone system functions the same way traditional telephone exchanges work but allows for greater flexibility, lower pricing, and greatly enhanced features your business needs.
As businesses start to phase out their traditional PBX phone systems in exchange for VoIP phone systems, it is important to consider the additional benefits you will get from switching to VoIP.
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Why Use VoIP Phone Systems?
VoIP phone systems' features and increased functionality are beautiful for smaller businesses. These phone systems enhance a small business's ability to support its customer base through call queuing, remote access, and conference calling at little or no extra fee.
Features often found in VoIP phone systems service packages are:
- Integrated messaging
- Call forward/remote access
- Call queuing
- PC calling
- Auto attendant/call routing
- Call/data/video conferencing
- Integrated contact files
- Voicemail to text/email
These features, and the many others associated with IP telephone systems, allow companies to appear much more prominent in their customers’ eyes and streamline routine office functions. This increase in productivity and efficacy generally far outweighs the costs initially involved with implementing the VoIP system.
Hosted/On-Premise Service vs. Cloud-Based
There are several different methods for setting up IP phone systems. The most prevalent are purchasing the hardware and maintaining your network/system, using a hosted service through a provider, or ultimately moving to the cloud with cloud-based VoIP phone systems. Each of these has its advantages and disadvantages of using VoIP for business.
Maintaining Your Network
Maintaining your network and IP phone system will save you the monthly service charges from a provider. Still, it only makes life easier for your business if you already have the staff and infrastructure to service and maintain the system. If you already have an IT staff in place with sufficient knowledge of VoIP phone systems, this option may be worth looking into. In addition to eliminating fees for monthly service, this will also eliminate charges for maintenance and system updates (i.e., adding lines, moving extensions, expanding the network, etc.).
However, with cloud-based VoIP phone systems, everything can be accessed and utilized using the softphone features of your desktop or mobile app to eliminate the need for additional phone systems equipment. As long as there is a reliable internet connection, it is easier than ever to make calls using cloud-based VoIP phone systems. You may want to invest in a separate router for your VoIP connection for uninterrupted service.
Using a Cloud-Based Service
Typically, a cloud-based service through a provider specializing in VoIP is the most practical solution for small- to medium-sized businesses. This option comes with monthly service and maintenance fees, but it frees you from building and supporting your network and systems in-house. A cloud-based service also allows for the scalable implementation of your VoIP phone systems, making it easy and financially painless to add features, reconfigure your network, add/move lines and change other network options.
Businesses no longer choose between analog or traditional phone systems to VoIP phone systems. The choice has become a matter of finding or creating the correct method and service to fill your business needs.
How Much Do Small Business Phone Systems Cost?
Businesses must invest in suitable phone systems from the beginning to get the proper use. With consistent and clear VoIP calls, you can lower the cost of long-distance and international calls, reducing the overhead costs of your business.
The cost of your VoIP phone systems will depend on the number of users, the features you need, and if you want any related phone systems equipment along with your subscription.
Number of Users
Most phone systems providers provide subscription models per-user phone systems for small businesses. While many organizations prioritize their customer service phone systems, having enough lines for internal employee communication is essential. Hence, it is necessary to account for the number of users who will be using your phone systems to understand the actual cost of phone systems.
A high cost will be incurred if your business uses the latest telephone equipment. However, with the invention of softphone features with desktop and mobile apps, VoIP phone systems have become more available than ever. They can be used on any device with an internet connection.
On-Premises or Cloud-based Deployment
Is your business planning on using an on-premises or cloud-based phone system? Choosing the former will incur high costs, and you will have to pay the vendor for setup and deployment. Meanwhile, cloud-based phone systems can be deployed anytime, anywhere, with minimal intervention from the vendor to have the best enterprise phone system.
Number of Locations
Does your business operate from multiple locations? Then it would be necessary to consider phone systems vendors that can support different locations of your offices. Deploying your phone system in various areas will surely increase the cost of deploying VoIP phone systems within your organization. If your business is opting to use cloud-based phone systems, then this cost can be minimized since there are minimal installation expenses involved.
These factors will determine your organization's overall cost of deploying phone systems. Hence, you must plan to accommodate all your business needs when contacting different phone system vendors for an RFP.
If you need more assistance comparing different phone systems vendors on the market, you can compare the best phone systems vendors using our phone system software page. This will help ensure that the potential phone systems providers meet all your basic needs.