Is VoIP Too Complicated to Set Up?Posted on: 2018-07-17 | Categories: VoIP Services
VoIP technology has changed considerably compared to the early days. What was once an exotic toy for technical professionals is now mainstream. These days you would be hard-pressed to find a business that has not heard of VoIP and most are in the process of switching away from PSTN landlines.
In spite of this progress, many people harbor misconceptions about the technology. For instance, quite a few managers think that VoIP is too complicated to set up for use on a daily basis. It can seem overwhelming at times as transitioning to a new technology involves making big decisions. Fortunately for organizations, VoIP is only as complicated as you make it.
Factors Influencing VoIP Setup
The level of difficulty in setting up VoIP for your office depends on your requirements and how you want the system to work. A small business, an entrepreneur or working from home freelance contractor will find it much easier to set up VoIP than a large corporation with offices in multiple countries. But size is only one factor, there are others which determine the level of difficulty involved in setting up VoIP.
VoIP depends on fast Internet, so if you have poor network infrastructure you need to improve that first before switching. Again, making improvements takes less time for a small business than a larger one. On the other hand, bigger organizations have ready access to financial resources.
VoIP setup becomes more complicated when you want to use advanced functionality, want to connect multiple locations or you need to maintain support for legacy systems. At one end of the scale, some businesses can get VoIP up and running within a few hours (at least for a test run). At the other extreme, you can have VoIP deployment projects that take years to finish.
Setting up VoIP in Seven Steps
Regardless of the scale and difficulty of the project, most organizations follow seven steps when switching to VoIP. A small company might breeze through each step in a few hours or days while others might take a few weeks. Here’s what you need to do to setup VoIP in your office:
Estimate the number of users
Remember that not everyone in the office needs an IP phone or their own number. Some employees may prefer to use a mobile app while others need only an extension. Having a solid number in hand makes it easy to compare deals from vendors, estimate how many numbers/lines you need and to figure out a total budget for the project.
Check your Internet speeds
You might have high-speed broadband internet but is it good enough for VoIP? Voice calls happen in real time, so things like jitter and latency can adversely affect your phones if you don’t set up QoS. Do you know how much excess bandwidth you have for all the concurrent calls your users make? Will the system crawl to a halt if someone streams a video file? You cannot afford to take risks with your phones. Some businesses even get professional assessments from external consultants to make sure their network can handle VoIP.
Setup a budget
It’s easy to get carried away by all the bells and whistles vendors promise in their ads. The catch is that everything costs money – whether upfront or in the form of ongoing bills. Determine which features are vital to your needs, which are nice-to-haves and which ones aren’t that useful. Decide where you want to spend money and which areas don’t need much. These lists will also help when trying to compare plans – which features are you willing to pay for?
Select a vendor
Every provider has different plans and services they offer. Choose a vendor who offers a full suite of VoIP services for the lowest possible cost. With your budget and feature lists in hand, choose a vendor who can offer:
- The features you need at a price you can afford
- High-quality voice and reliability
- Easy to use interface, training guides, and other resources
- Good customer and technical support
Order and upgrade hardware
You need IP phones to use VoIP. These can be desk phones, computers with VoIP software, phones with mobile apps or even analog devices with adapters. Once you select the vendor, you can work with them to purchase appropriate hardware. Other equipment you might need to include session border controllers, VoIP friendly firewalls etc. You may also find that you need to upgrade existing hardware like routers or switches. Older equipment may not be able to handle VoIP traffic.
Configure your system to suit your needs
Most reputable vendors offer auto provisioning which simplifies the setup process. All it takes is for you to plug your phones into the network. Users can configure settings to suit their particular workflows and system administrators have even greater control.
VoIP setup is easy once you break the process down into smaller steps. In the end, VoIP is easier and quicker to set up than conventional PBX systems.