Thinking about making the switch to VoIP internet phone service for your business? Whether you’re looking to reduce cost, get modern features, add redundancy, or replace an obsolete phone system, VoIP technology is a smart solution for companies of any size.
However, when your business relies heavily on phone service, there are many issues to consider. These are the most common questions we hear from customers, and the answers you’re looking for.
Answers to the top 10 questions about VoIP internet phone service
How much does VoIP cost?
For most businesses, VoIP phone service costs considerably less than traditional hosted phone service. Also, unlike many business phone plans, it’s a fixed cost that’s easy to budget for.
The cost of VoIP phone service varies by the number of “seats” you need (phone numbers assigned to employees or departments), the features you need, whether or not you need new VoIP-compatible phones, and which VoIP service carrier you decide to go with.
Not every VoIP carrier provides all the features that businesses need from their phone service, so you’ll need to take that into consideration.
Also, look carefully at the taxes and fees; certain providers will add charges that look like mandatory government-related fees, but are in fact only boosting their profits.
How much can you save? The average savings is about 20%, but you might save much more. When we first switched ourselves, we saved over 50%. Since then, we have helped quite a few other businesses save that much and more.
What does VoIP mean?
VoIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol, which is just a technical term describing phone service that delivers voice calls over the internet.
How do VoIP phones work differently than a premise-based phone system?
Traditional phone systems transmit voices through phone lines. The functionality depends on a server in your office and wired connections to all your office phones.
VoIP works by converting audio (voices) into digital data and routing it over the internet using a broadband connection. There’s no need for a local server, since all the functionality, data, and settings are stored in the cloud.
Does VoIP work when the internet is down?
Yes it does, and here is why: even when the internet connection is down at your location, everything in the cloud is working and provides you with backup solutions.
As we mentioned above, your old phone system’s functionality depends on a server located on your premises. VoIP is different: the functionality and all your settings are stored in the cloud.
Here’s how that gives you more reliable service:
- Your auto attendant can pick up calls and route them to your extensions, even if you have no internet and no power.
- You can have individual phones routed to mobile phones, so if the internet goes down, you can still get calls on your mobile.
- You can get office calls on your mobile even when you’re traveling and have no internet access.
- You can work from anywhere and get calls from your office number on your mobile (nobody even has to know if you’re working from home).
- You can have pre-configured auto attendant messages for different situations, such as if you are forced to close due to weather or other emergency. You can log in remotely and switch the message in minutes.
- Phone redundancy and disaster recovery are no longer a problem: most VoIP service providers include these features and they are simple to set up.
What added features are available with VoIP?
Many organizations need more than simple voice phone service. Here are some of the added features you can get with VoIP phone service for your business:
- Video conferencing
- CRM integration (connect your phone system to products like Salesforce)
- Voicemail to email capability
- Texting capability
- Mobile twinning (routing office phone calls to a mobile phone)
How much data does VoIP use?
Very little! A single VoIP call averages about 100K of data usage.
For a 50-seat plan, if you had every single employee on the phone at the same time, you’d be using 5 Mb of data simultaneously. However, few businesses have everyone on the phone at once. For estimating purposes, we use an average of 1 per 4 seats on calls at a given time. So, you’re only talking about 1.5 Mb of data, which is likely a tiny fraction of your internet bandwidth.
How many VoIP lines can I have?
VoIP phone service uses the terms “seats” or “call paths” instead of the older term “lines” (which originally referred to a physical signal line or wiring for each phone number).
The short answer is, there is no limit to the number of phone numbers for employees (seats), or the number of calls taking place simultaneously (call paths) with a VoIP system. Your plan can provide as many as you need, and you can always upgrade if you need more.
Where to buy VoIP phones
Depending on the VoIP service provider and plan you choose, phones may be included at no additional cost. However, if and when you do need additional phones, it’s usually to your advantage to purchase them from your service provider. They will be able to pre-program your phones before shipping to you, which will save you time.
Be careful if you do decide to buy VoIP phones online from a mass market retailer. For one thing, you need to make sure the phones you are buying are compatible with your system. Some carriers only work with a few phone brands and models. Also, you might end up getting phones that are locked and can’t be reprogrammed, which will be useless to you.
Is VoIP HIPAA compliant?
For physician offices and medical facilities, HIPAA compliance is a must for everything that touches patient information, including your phone system. The question is, can a VoIP phone system properly secure the information in voice messages as it is routed and stored in the cloud?
The short answer is yes, but you have to know what to look for. Not every VoIP service provider is HIPAA compliant, although more are adding these capabilities all the time because privacy and security are such a big concern.
To ensure HIPAA compliance, look for a VoIP service with these features:
- 256K data encryption
- Each phone authenticated via a unique user ID
- Access controls
- Call data stored in log files
- A HIPAA Business Associate Agreement in place
Which VoIP provider is best?
The best VoIP phone service provider is the one that can provide the reliable service and features your business needs at the best price.
There are dozens of VoIP service providers operating in New York alone. Chances are, you don’t have time to evaluate all of them to find the best fit. That’s where we can help.
Your best bet is to work with carrier-agnostic technology consultants, like Superior Office Systems. We won’t try to sell you on any specific service. Instead, we do a thorough assessment of your phone usage, and recommend the VoIP provider and plan that are best suited to your needs and budget. We will also give you quotes from multiple providers so you can make an informed decision.