When Should You Consider VoIP For Your Business ?

VoIP telephone systems has outshipped digital systems for years and now has gained a sizable share of the installed base. The trend is that virtually all future growth will be in VoIP platforms either hosted or customer-owned equipment.

Hosted services are delivered by VoIP Providers and is called various names in the telephone industry including Hosted PBX, Hosted VoIP, IP Centrex and Virtual PBX. The customer may only purchase telephone instruments, if any equipment at all, with Hosted VoIP services. Instead the VoIP provider maintains the central equipment at their Point-of-Presence (POP) saving the customer from large capital outlays.

It is claimed that the sweet spot for Hosted VoIP is small businesses under 100 employees, and this segment will continue to expand significantly going forward.

Is VoIP Right for Your Business?

You should only purchase a VoIP enabled telephone system or select a Hosted PBX provider if you have business needs for VoIP technology and your network is ready to support VoIP. Obviously, if you have the needs but not the network, the network can be improved.

Here are some of the needs that VoIP will solve. In some instances, Hosted PBX or Hosted VoIP providers are specifically required to solve the issue as opposed to purchasing a VoIP enabled telephone system.

*The company has multiple offices with daily communication between them or the need to consolidate departments spread out among the offices. VoIP telephone systems provide the ability for phones spread out among a diverse geography to seamlessly communicate using data networks as if they were all in one building including dialing extensions and transferring calls.

*Remote or Work-at-Home employees that need to be a part of the company's telephone system.

*The company's budget does not support cabling for both the data network and telephones. VoIP telephones can share the same cabling to each desk with the computer.

*Telephones are regularly moved from office to office. Unlike digital phones that require a service technician to move them, VoIP telephones can be moved by the user within the office. Some IP telephone systems and most Hosted VoIP services will allow the user to plug the telephone into any place where it can access the Internet.

*The company needs to expand or contract in markets outside of their local calling area. Hosted PBX services allow customers to publish local telephone numbers in most United States and some foreign markets.

*The company has a limited budget for capital expenditure. Most Hosted VoIP services save capital expense by only requiring purchase of VoIP telephones and not the central equipment.

*The company has high long distance bills. VoIP telephone systems and Hosted VoIP services can eliminate long distance between remote offices and workers in remote areas. Some Virtual PBX services package domestic long distance with their calling packages.

*The company has seasonal business causing their phone needs to expand and contract. Hosted services will accommodate these rapidly changing needs.

*Individuals or departments need their own telephone number yet the expense of a PRI circuit from the telephone company is not affordable.

*One or more offices are located in disaster prone areas of power outages, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and floods. Hosted PBX services can keep processing calls when the office may no longer be standing.

If your company has one or more of these needs, then it is time to determine whether your network is ready for VoIP.

Is Your Network Ready for VoIP?

*Data cabling is required at all locations where VoIP telephones will be placed.

*For Hosted VoIP service and to bring outside telephones onto the VoIP telephone system, the Internet connection must be healthy. It should have enough bandwidth to support the desired number of concurrent calls and the data traffic and it must not periodically lose service.

*The internal network must contain 100MB Ethernet switches at a minimum. Absolutely no hubs should be in the network. Chaining Ethernet switches should be avoided as much as possible.

This is a cursory view of determining whether your business and network is ready for the tremendous advantages of VoIP communication. Your VoIP provider should do further analysis on both needs and network readiness.