Business VoIP FAQ
Selecting the best VoIP service – in terms of price, features, vendor and customer service – is not an easy task.
Since the technology is relatively new to organizations, businesses may not be quite sure of the details involved in VoIP implementation.
To clear up some of the confusion, we answer fifteen VoIP frequently asked questions. Let’s begin!
1. Is business VoIP expensive?
Companies are accustomed to paying more for new technology and most are pleasantly surprised when they find that VoIP is actually less expensive than comparable business plans on regular landline phones.
The actual cost of upgrading to VoIP will depend on many factors but the organization will definitely cut down on costs, both immediately and over the long-term.
2. Can my company use our existing equipment?
Although it is certainly possible to use analogue devices with adapters, most businesses prefer to purchase IP phones to use on their VoIP network.
Basic IP phones are inexpensive and higher end models offer substantially more features than landlines.
3. How much bandwidth do I need?
This is one of the most common VoIP questions. A fast Internet connection is definitely needed for business VoIP.
The actual bandwidth depends on the number of concurrent calls that have to be made, a large number of simultaneous calls will require more bandwidth.
4. Does switching to VoIP reduce call quality?
While call quality may not have been top notch a decade ago, VoIP has improved rapidly.
Nowadays users cannot really tell the difference between calls made through the PSTN and the VoIP network. However, audio quality does depend on a number of factors and network congestion or poor configuration can cause issues.
5. What exactly is Quality of Service?
QoS makes sure that VoIP calls are given a higher priority than other tasks such as email, since all these services share the same data network.
This is why VoIP calls sound good even if network congestion increases. QoS is usually enabled on the routers and plays a major role in audio quality.
6. Will I lose any business features from landlines?
VoIP actually enables organizations to enjoy more features when compared to landlines. Some features are implemented more efficiently on VoIP and there are a number of features that are simply unavailable on older PSTN technology.
Even if the particular feature needed by the business is not available, it is highly probable that a comparable one exists.
7. Will I have to change the company number?
It is certainly possible to port existing numbers to the new VoIP service or even to forward calls received on one number to another.
As long as the vendor has available numbers with the requisite area code, the business should be able to continue using the old number.
In fact with VoIP, organizations can use different numbers for many purposes – to run simultaneous marketing campaigns, sale events etc. The possibilities are practically endless.
8. Can my employees use mobile devices with VoIP?
VoIP can be easily setup and configured for use on most mobile devices.
There are many third-party VoIP clients available for major mobile OSes and quite a few vendors offer their own dedicated client that can be used by employees.
Read the article about how to make VoIP calls on Android.
9. Does fax work on VoIP?
Technically, faxing does not work on VoIP because of various network issues such as latency, jitter and lag.
However many vendors provide faxing gateways that can be used to enable faxes on VoIP through the T38 protocol. Some more vendors offer this feature for free while others make it an optional or premium feature.
Businesses should certainly confirm with the vendor that faxing is offered before choosing the service.
Learn more about what VoIP services you can use to fax.
10. What are codecs and why are they necessary?
Codecs are used to convert the human voice into digital signals that can be transmitted over the Internet.
Some codecs achieve high quality by not compressing the signal while others allow the organization to compress the data in order to conserve bandwidth.
The degree of compression and optimization plays a significant role in managing call quality and bandwidth consumption. Some vendors even offer the option to switch between different codecs if necessary.
11. How do my employees get a new feature, number or line?
Most business VoIP features can be easily accessed through an online dashboard.
Companies can also restrict access based on job roles so that some features can be enabled by employees themselves while others require supervisor or manager action.
With hosted business VoIP, new numbers are lines can be provisioned quickly as the underlying platform is scalable and flexible.
12. Does VoIP support 911?
At this point, it is mostly a myth that VoIP services do not support 911 calling. Most vendors offer enhanced 911 dialling and the FCC is also mandating the provision of this service.
Although the exact implementation will vary across providers, this feature certainly exists in some form or the other. Although it is important to remember that some providers will require users to activate the service before it can be used.
Learn more about emergency calls on VoIP here.
13. Is VoIP secure?
VoIP is just as secure – if not more so – than landlines. Although switching to VoIP might expose security vulnerabilities, securing them is not impossible and the process is quite similar to securing other services that use data networks.
In addition, organizations have the option to encrypt VoIP calls so that unauthorized users will not be able to decipher conversations even if they can get hold of the raw data.
14. What is the difference between hosted and on premise VoIP?
Hosted VoIP means that the organization will be accessing the service through the cloud and the actual hardware is located at the provider’s location.
On premise VoIP means that the organization will purchase and maintain its own IP PBX hardware to make calls. The latter option can be expensive for many businesses, so hosted VoIP is more popular.
15. Will VoIP work in an emergency?
Unlike regular landline phones, VoIP phones require power in order to make calls.
Therefore organizations should either provide for a backup in case the power goes out in an emergency or add the IP phones to the existing solution.