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VoIP Services from the Cloud – 3 Questions to Ask a Potential Vendor
Posted on: 2017-01-25 | Categories: VoIP Services
Once you have decided to upgrade to VoIP technology for your business phone system, you are faced with an important choice. The two most popular alternatives for deploying VoIP are SIP trunking or VoIP services from the cloud. Both these options have benefits and disadvantages and with some vendors combining elements of both, you can even get hybrid systems.
The important thing to remember is that what works for someone else may not necessarily be the right choice for you. Everyone else in your industry may be using SIP trunks but you may find that hosted VoIP services are more suitable for your company. Carefully evaluate your business requirements, availability of financial resources and the level of control you need over the phone system before making a decision.
Suppose you have done the research and decided that VoIP service from the cloud is the best solution for your needs. The next step is to shop around for a vendor who can give you what you need at a price you’re willing to pay. It seems to a simple step but this is easier said than done. It’s not easy to sift through all the advertising and marketing providers throw at you. The services from some vendors are so disparate that trying to comparison shop is akin to comparing apples to oranges.
How Much Will VoIP Services Cost Me?
It goes without saying that the total price you expect to pay is of utmost importance. After all the cost savings in switching to VoIP services continues to be the main motivating factor for businesses to upgrade. Practically every vendor advertises low prices but they need not necessarily reflect what you should expect to pay. Always pay careful attention to the terms and conditions or the fine print that comes attached with a quote.
Make sure to ask the vendor about each item or feature that comes included in whatever plan you are considering. Some features may be charged on a per unit basis while others come with unlimited usage. The basic plan which the seller advertises may not have all the features that your business needs. Some vendors utilize per second billing – instead of rounding up to the nearest minute – that can make a significant difference to the final bill you get every month.
Apart from the monthly bill, the total cost to your company will vary depending on several other factors. For instance, do you have to upgrade your Internet speeds and bandwidth to accommodate the additional traffic? Can your existing phones support the SIP protocol that most vendors use for VoIP? Do you need to spend some time in training or purchasing new equipment? All these things will affect your financial planning for VoIP.
How Secure is the VoIP Service?
With hosted VoIP services becoming extremely popular, they are also turning into lucrative targets for malicious entities. Call fraud, eavesdropping on conversations and denial of service attacks are just some of the dangers to your business phone service. When you get VoIP services from the cloud, there is very little equipment on the premises that you control. You are relying on the external vendor to adequately protect a critical service your business needs.
Ask the vendor what kind of security measures are in place to prevent and protect against malicious use. Ensure that the provider follows best practices for cloud security including using tools like encryption. Find out where the data centers are located and if they are physically secured. Sometimes businesses find themselves on the hook for massive bills because hackers have compromised the system to make thousands of illegitimate calls.
How Reliable Is the VoIP Service?
Since you are trusting your entire phone system to a vendor, it is important that they can deliver reliable service. You don’t want your phone system going down in the middle of the work week or during peak business hours. VoIP services may be new to your business but the technology has been around for quite some time. Some companies have had decades of experience in the field while others are startups with only a few months of experience under their belt.
The benefit of working with a vendor with an established history is that they have had time to refine their offerings and work out the kinks. A company with a long history is also more likely to be around over the next few years. Quite a few providers have shut down operations without much warning to their customers, so this is a real concern. Talk to other customers of the vendor and enquire if they have been reliable in the past. It is usually a good indicator of how the service will work for you in the future.