As the world begins to embrace a more mobile and remote workforce, the need for a VOIP business phone service is more critical. In this guide I will explain what VOIP business phone service is and how to choose the best provider for your business.
What is VoIP business phone service?
VoIP stands for voice over Internet. Traditional phone systems, in the past, relied on an analog phone line (POTS line, land line, etc) to communicate over the phone network. The Internet changed the way we communicate, as a result, doing away with the need for analog phone lines, by converting voice traffic into data traffic that can be sent over the Internet.
With VoIP business phone service, a phone system no longer has to reside on premise at your business, but now can be hosted at a shared facility or data center, or in the “cloud”, hosted by a VoIP service provider.
There are four main types of VoIP business phone service providers
Traditional phone companies
– These are the “big” phone companies that have historically served residential and business customers with analog phones lines. They are trying desperately to move to the VoIP business model. Examples include:
– These are companies that rely on a mixture of on-premise and VoIP services. They place telecom hardware on-site at the business but utilize VoIP for call processing. Examples include:
Phone manufacturers / vendors
– Similar to the traditional phone companies, these phone manufacturers have built large businesses based on manufacturing and resale of phone hardware. They produce the phone systems that are placed on-site at the customer. They also are trying desperately to maintain relevance with a VoIP service offering. Examples include:
– Finally, you have the VoIP business phone service providers that were built exclusively to route voice calls over Internet. The business is not dependent on having hardware on-site, therefore, significantly reducing cost and complexity for the customer, and providing the many benefits of a hosted phone sytem.
What is the cost of VOIP business phone service?
With VoIP business phone service, there are a few pricing models:
- Call Paths – A call path is a virtual path in which a phone call travels, or a virtual phone line. With this model, you are charged for the number of virual phone lines you have to place calls.
- Seats – A seat is a named user or device at your office. Typically, each phone at your office would be considered a “seat” and require a license for VoIP service.
- Usage Based – With the usage model, you are paying a per minute usage fee for every call, ranging from fractions of a cent to .02, 03, .04 or more per minute of use.
On average, prices of VoIP business phone service range from about $20 per user up to $40 per user per month.
What are the benefits of a VoIP Business Phone Service?
When comparing a VoIP phone service to a traditional on-premise phone service with analog phone lines, some of the benefits are as follows:
Reduced Cost – There are many factors that contribute to cost savings, including the lack of hardware to purchase, unlimited usage, and operational efficiency.
Redundancy – Being able to automatically re-route calls if your office loses power or Internet access. Calls can be routed to another office location, cell phone, app, or voicemail.
Scalability – Being able to add/remove users/lines as your business needs change, meaning you only pay for what you need.
Call Quality – HD stereo audio call quality is typical with VoIP phone service.
Advanced Features – Mobility, Caller-ID Name & Number, visual voice mail, and more, as listed here.
Which VoIP Business Phone Service is built for small business?
When choosing a VoIP business phone service, all of the above mentioned companies are able to provide VoIP service, however, the traditional phone companies are usually very inflexible. You typically don’t have the ability to customize a solution for individual customers.
Hybrid providers are still dependent on having hardware on site, as a result, adding a level of complexity and cost to the solution, and limiting functionality.
Phone manufacturer/vendors were built on the model of placing hardware on-site and have lagged the industry with providing VoIP service. Many of them are still relying on distribution channels to sell, deploy, and support their respective VoIP solution. They are still very much dependent on hardware sales.
The final group, service providers, are not dependent on hardware sales and have full control of the management, delivery, and support of the respective solution. Most are very flexible and can build custom solutions for each customer. As well, they are able to offer advanced features.