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What is Voice over IP (VoIP) and is it right for my Business?

What is VoIP?

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is one of the fastest growing communication technologies. The main reason is that VoIP is cost effective and has more features than traditional Telco Service. The way it works is voice communications are carried over the internet as data packets. Most businesses already have a hefty amount of bandwidth. Voice packets use a relatively small amount of bandwidth, usually between 72-100K per simultaneous voice call. On a standard codec, ten (10) concurrent voice calls would use about .5 MGBs so most user will not even notice a drop off in speed or performance.

So, the initial big cost saving is in the monthly line charges from your local telco. Telco Subscriber Lines traditionally cost between $30 and $40 per month. Older copper lines may also require a "roll-over" feature added to allow calls to hunt through your line sequence.

How can VoIP help a business save money while increasing productivity?

There are several types of VoIP offering for a business to consider before making a switch:

Hosted PBX

Hosted PBX, or Cloud Based Phone System, is a service that allows businesses to carve out a small portion of a Large Cloud Based Telephony Server for their own private use. Traditionally, your better Hosted Voice providers will have several Geo-Redundant systems that will allow traffic to fail over in case of an outage or software update. In most cases, the end users is not even aware of the reroute.

Hosted PBX is extremely popular with small to medium sized businesses. Since the solution is cloud based, a multi site business can have each location acting autonomously while still allowing calls to flow throughout the site network. A single receptionist could field calls for every branch if desired. These types of efficiencies could save a business thousands per year in human resource spend.

Built in Disaster Recovery is also a benefit of Hosted PBX. Since all calls are routed from the cloud, the system can detect an outage at the business location and route the calls to a pre determined recipient. During the recent hurricanes in the southeast, affected hosted PBX subscribers were having their business calls automatically routed to another location or mobile phone. This can save a business thousands in lost revenue!

Hosted PBX has a superior suite of features than your traditional Premised based phone system. Even small businesses can find synergies with the added benefits they will receive with a Hosted PBX solution. Standard features like Voicemail to e-mail, Auto Attendant, Call Accounting, Call Recording and Mobile Softphone Apps can increase productivity while positively affecting their bottom line.

But the biggest benefit is that Hosted PBX doesn't require expensive equipment! IP Phones will connect to your existing Local Area Network (LAN) and are provisioned to find the Hosted PBX once connected. This also cuts down the cost of installation, maintenance and Software upgrades from equipment manufacturers. All of these points factor into the popularity of a Hosted PBX solution for small to medium sized businesses.

SIP Trunks

The other popular choice for VoIP Services is Session Initiated Protocol (SIP) Trunking. SIP Trunking carves out voice channels in your existing bandwidth much like the Hosted PBX. SIP Trunks can be installed into an existing premised based IP PBX. They usually cost between $15.00 and $20.00 per trunk and can be installed by a PBX vendor. These trunks are featureless and rely on the PBX for routing and instruction. The biggest benefit over a traditional subscriber line, other than the cost, is the SIP Trunk can failover automatically to a predetermined location in the case of an outage. Also, Direct Inward Dial (DID) numbers can be associated with the SIP Trunks to give personal numbers, department routing or Advertising tracking. Many times business will use SIP Trunks to replace the traditional Primary Rate Interface (PRI) circuit.

I hope this has been informative. Please let us know if you have any questions and I will gladly respond.

Dan Couvillon

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