What is VoIP?
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It involves sending Voice traffic in digital format over the internet. There’s are multiple variations on the name including Internet Telephony, Hosted Telephony or Hosted Voice. VoIP allows you to make low-cost calls over the Internet as it avoids the tolls charged by the ordinary telephone service.
Why should my business switch to VoIP?
Low Upfront Costs – Plenty of businesses are feeling the pinch these days and are unable to generate the required budget to replace their degrading telephone system. They may be finding that replacing/repairing their legacy equipment is becoming ever more difficult and in turn more expensive each time. This makes choosing Business VoIP a perfect solution as it requires little, to no, upfront outlay compared to purchasing a new traditional telephone system.
Reduced Call Costs – Business grade VoIP plans usually come with a free call package as a bundle or on a per user basis. This means your business can stop worrying about the costs of its outbound phone calls. VoIP also proves to be considerably cost-effective on call rates over traditional phone lines.
Office Relocation – Is your business moving premises? If your business is moving further than your local telephone exchange you may be unable to retain your physical phone number. This means you’re likely to forgo your existing number, whereas you could port your existing number to VoIP and retain the number your customers recognise you by. This also makes the moving day a painless exercise. Once transferred to VoIP you just unplug your handsets and plug them in at the new site.
Multisite – VoIP allows for ever greater flexibility, all you need is a handset and internet connection. This means you can pick your work desk phone up, plug it in at home and continue making and receiving calls as if you were in the office. This also works extremely well when you have multiple office locations as it allows you to instantly transfer calls between sites and share resources.
Limited IT Resources – Most businesses rely on an external party to maintain their PBX telephone system. This usually comes hand in hand with expensive maintenance contracts. Business VoIP allows your business to do away with maintenance contracts and take back control of your phone system. Most Business VoIP providers come with a simple web-based management platform. These platforms have straight forward menus that are easy to navigate and control for even the lesser IT literate users.
More Control – Having a web-based management platform allows you to take control of your business telephone systems. The web platform can be accessed from any internet-connected device. This gives you the ability to instantly administer changes on your VoIP platform instantaneously. This is hugely beneficial when you want to make changes to your system like adding users, setting up voicemails or routing calls differently.
Reduced Monthly Costs – VoIP is usually charged on a per user per month basis. Most business-grade VoIP platforms also include a free monthly call package. This allows your business to make as many calls as the allowance allows, free of charge. This makes predicting monthly spend with greater accuracy possible. VoIP in most cases shows considerable savings over traditional PSTN or ISDN lines.
Flexibility – VoIP is charged on a per user per month basis. This allows your business to quickly scale up, or down, on the required users for each month depending on its requirements. Adding new users is quick to implement within the web management platform and can be completely set up within minutes.
Report Management – Business VoIP will give you access to all your calls logs through the web platform. This gives you analytical data on your users. This is beneficial when it comes to training and performance monitoring.
Outages aren’t acceptable – Reliable Business Grade VoIP platforms will usually have an auto redundancy solution. This means if for any reasons, like a power cut or an internet outage, your business calls will be automatically re-routed your designated backup number. This could be either another site or to company mobiles.
What should I consider before migrating?
Broadband Bandwidth – VoIP relies on bandwidth to maintain a stable level of call quality. You may have heard stories of people having bad experiences with call quality on VoIP phone calls. This is usually due to a lack of bandwidth on their connection.
The recommended bandwidth for a VoIP phone service varies from provider to provider. This doesn’t mean a sensible rule of thumb can’t be applied. There are two key factors when considering the required bandwidth. The amount of concurrent calls your business in planning to make/receive and the codec (explained further below) being used. The table below is based on using the G.711 codec;
|Number Of Concurrent Calls||Minimum Required Bandwidth||Recommended Broadband speed|
|1||100 Kbps Up and Down||3 MBps Up and Down|
|3||300 Kbps Up and Down||3 MBps Up and Down|
|5||500 Kbps Up and Down||5 MBps Up and Down|
|10||1 MBps Up and Down||5-10 MBps Up and Down|
Depending on your available bandwidth you may want to change your VoIP codec to either reduce required bandwidth or increase call quality. We’ve covered a few of these codecs below;
Bandwidth estimate for various codecs are;
- 729 codec – 30 to 50 kb/s depending on contention ratio of broadband service.
- 711 codec – 90 to 150kb/s depending on contention ratio of broadband service.
- 722 codec. Usually, 100 to 175kb/s will suffice depending on the contention ratio of broadband service.
Dedicated Broadband Service
One thing to consider when taking out a VoIP phone service is whether to run it on a separate dedicated broadband service away from your primary internet traffic. Separating the traffic means that your VoIP call quality will be unaffected by users using a large amount of bandwidth on the primary service e.g. downloading/uploading files. This can cause havoc with VoIP services as there will be a sudden lack of bandwidth available for the active or new calls.
Some internet service providers like ourselves are able to offer dedicated VoIP broadband packages. This allows us to guarantee the number of quality concurrent phone calls on the broadband connection. Alongside this, we use traffic management at the server level to ensure our Business VoIP service has the highest level of service.
QoS/Traffic Management – Alternatively, instead of installing a 2nd broadband connection, you may consider implementing some level of Quality of Service (QoS) or Traffic management at router level on your existing broadband service. This will prioritise VoIP traffic over general internet traffic to ensure a level of service on your VoIP service.
POE Network Switch – One thing away from the bandwidth to consider is whether or not you have a POE network switch already in place on the network. POE stands for Power over Ethernet which carries power through the Ethernet ports on the switch through to the connected devices. The benefit of having a POE switch is it removes the requirement for separate power supplies on your VoIP handsets.
Support Team – The final thing to consider when picking the right Business VoIP package is the support team behind the scenes. There’s nothing more frustrating than having an issue or fault you can’t resolve and having to wait hours for a resolution. Our support team is fully trained on all our product and answer all business calls within 5 rings or less.
What features can I expect from a Business VoIP solution?
Administration Interface – provides IT managers with a powerful administrative management capability while giving employees the freedom to control calls quickly and effectively. Set up is quick and easy and you can choose to pass down control to the user or you can retain control of the individual user features.
CLI Presentation -Allows you to present any number you have permission to call on behalf of. This allows you to present the same business number from every device, your DDI number, or a completely separate number. This is also useful for creating a local presence by displaying a different local number.
Company Directory – lets you to store your most used contact into the phone system. This means users will quickly be able to identify the number ringing into the business. Alongside this, users will be able to use the directory to find the number they need to ring.
Hunt Groups – allows you to distribute and allocate calls to your designated teams. Hunt groups can be setup in multiple ways;
Circular – Sends incoming calls to users according to their position in a list. After a call has been sent to the last user on the list, the next call is sent to the user at the top of the list. Circular will continue the order even when a different call comes in.
Regular – Sends incoming calls to the next available user in the hunt group. Regular hunt group will re-start from the top when a new call is made.
Simultaneous – Sends incoming calls to all users in the group at the same time. Once the call has been answered, the remaining calls to other users are released. The maximum number of users per hunt group is 15 in this case.
Uniform – Sends the current incoming call to the user who has been idle the longest. After a user has answered a call they move to the bottom of the queue.
Weighted – Assign calls to users according to percentages you assign on the Hunt Group.
Auto Attendant – You can use Auto Attendant to provide callers with call routing options for different areas of the business or create announcements to inform callers of details such as opening hours and website address when the office is closed.
Call Queuing – adds an easy way of managing your incoming calls professionally and provides constant information and choices to your callers, reducing the risk of losing valuable incoming calls.
Voicemail – can be assigned to either or both hunt groups and handsets. This means you have multiple company voicemails and also personal DDI user voicemails.
Call Reports – The statistic page allows you to view information about the calls your company has received from, and made to, external numbers. There are four different graphs on the main statistics page. The advanced statistics page offers more detailed information about every internal or external call your company has made. You will also find some summary graphs on the dashboard.
Reception Console – adds a way of managing your key call routing and monitoring multiple contacts or sites, where this is not achievable through a more traditional phone and sidecar solution.
Call Recording – Record inbound or outbound calls for compliance, customer service or audit purposes. This optional feature allows secure online access to file storage and retrieval of call details. You can set Business VoIP to record some calls, all calls or record calls on demand.
What Handsets/Clients do you recommend for Business VoIP?
Handsets – There is a vast array of handsets on the market these days. In our experience, we usually recommend either Cisco or Polycom handsets. Below is an example of a few current models available on the market;
Soft Clients – A soft client lets you run the VoIP phone service through software or an app. This allows you to use your laptop or mobile as a client device for taking and making calls.
Can Swift Communications assist us with migrating?
Of course, we are here to assist any business looking to move over to Business VoIP. Whether you have an old Business Telephone System which you’re looking to replace, or is starting afresh and needs help picking the right VoIP package we’re here to help.
How much does our package cost?
The million-dollar question for every business. What if we told you that we could install, setup and train all your users free of charge? That’s right, nothing to pay upfront for the system provided you take a designated line and broadband package with us to run the service. This allows us to guarantee call quality and ensures your business gets the level of service it should expect from a service provider. What’s more, we’ll include a Polycom VVX410 colour screen handset free of charge with every Business VoIP subscription.
Business VoIP subscriptions start from as little as £15.00 per user per month with bulk discounts available for 5 or more subscriptions. The subscription comes feature-rich and includes unlimited free calls to any UK landline (01,02,03) or UK mobile.
Want to find out more? Call Us today on 03333 200 222 or for more information visit our product page.