VoIP is one of the latest technologies creating a buzz…
VoIP Services for Businesses
Over the last few years, consumers have flocked to VoIP services as they offer considerable savings compared to phone carriers. From FaceTime or Skype to Vonage, there is no dearth of options to suit everyone. While businesses may not have been in a rush to adopt VoIP, the segment is now seeing phenomenal growth as organizations realize the full potential of the new technology.
As is to be expected, VoIP services for businesses are considerably different from retail VoIP. Corporations have different needs, require more advanced features and also have to comply with local, national and even international laws. Organizations are no longer restricted to a one-size-fits-all model when it comes to deploying VoIP. There are vendors and manufacturers who cater to every type and size of business, offering a range of options from turnkey solutions to hosted services.
There are several solutions like Skype that are targeted at consumers but can be used by entrepreneurs, startups and other small enterprises as well. The advantage of using this type of service is that the business does not need any equipment other than the software. The application can be installed on any Internet connected device (desktops, laptops, mobile phones etc.) to make calls.
On the other hand, they do not offer any enterprise focused features (PBX functionality, automated receptionist etc.) and mostly serve as a temporary measure, until the business can upgrade to more reliable alternatives.
Self hosted/on premise VoIP deployments
Large corporations may prefer to set up their own customized VoIP solution. This alternative offers extremely low cost per call and total cost of ownership over the lifetime of the system. The organization has full control over the equipment, features, service and upgrade paths. A typical self hosted deployment usually consists of PBX software, VoIP and PSTN gateways, SIP trunks and a wide mix of SIP endpoints including mobile devices, IP phones and even computers with mic/headsets.
An important benefit of this type of VoIP service is that the company can integrate legacy equipment such as fax machines, security systems etc. However it does require considerable expertise and knowledgeable personnel. Additionally the organization should have the financial resources to invest in a completely new communication platform.
Within this category, organizations can choose between many alternatives. A company can easily use open source PBX software such as Asterix to set up their own system or purchase end-to-end turnkey solutions from various providers. The former option is useful for organizations that are strapped for cash but have the in-house expertise to pull this off. The advantage offered by turnkey solutions is that a third-party vendor will take care of setup, maintenance and troubleshooting, thus saving considerable time.
Cloud PBX or hosted VoIP
This is perhaps the most popular type of business VoIP service as it offers plenty of flexibility for any kind of business. Hosted VoIP allows organizations to take advantage of the latest technology without having to pay exorbitant prices. The hosted VoIP vendor will take care of service delivery, upgrading equipment and regular maintenance. Businesses don’t have to dedicate a room or closet for VoIP equipment.
A significant advantage of cloud VoIP is that there is very little investment required initially. Depending on the average call volume, organizations can choose between pay-as-you-go and unlimited calling options. The absence of contracts means that no business is held hostage and they are free to switch vendors at any time.
Whether the business has been around for decades or is only now getting off the ground, getting started with hosted VoIP only takes a couple of hours. It’s extremely easy to set up an account with a provider such as VoIPstudio, purchase a VoIP number and start making calls. Generally businesses opt to port their existing numbers over to the VoIP service so that customers, partners and suppliers do not have to remember a new number.
Once a business opens an account with VoIPstudio, configuration and settings can be changed through the online dashboard. Various features can be easily enabled/disabled, for the entire business or for smaller groups. The disadvantage of hosted VoIP is that organizations lose control over how and when equipment is upgraded or the type of features that are included in a particular plan. However in most cases, cloud VoIP offers the most value for businesses – regardless of their size or structure.
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