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Benefits of Hosted VoIP for Businesses

The telephone isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Phone communication is a vital part of any business, and Voice Over Internet Protocol can provide more robust, more high-tech services while saving your company money. The benefits of VoIP are real and impressive.

What Is VoIP?

Voice Over Internet Protocol is a technology that makes it possible to make telephone calls with a broadband Internet connection rather than an analog telephone connection. VoIP may also be referred to as Internet telephony, IP telephony or broadband telephone service.

How Does VoIP Work?

VoIP services convert a caller's voice into a digital signal and send that signal over the Internet to another destination. VoIP delivers voice traffic using the same communications protocol as the Internet uses to deliver data traffic. Through this protocol, users can use specially designed telephones, regular telephones hooked up to adapters, or computers with microphones, webcams or headsets.

Mass Market  Introduction

The history of VoIP is dynamic. VoIP hit the consumer market in 2004, as companies introduced telephone services that utilized the growing network of broadband Internet access. Many users paid a flat monthly fee for unlimited domestic calling, with free or low-cost rates to some other countries. The calls were made with a special VoIP telephone, an adapter to connect a traditional telephone to the broadband network, or software on a computer attached to the network, using a headset or microphone.

As VoIP service and broadband services advanced, businesses followed the consumer market, reducing their monthly costs with VoIP solutions that also integrated valuable advanced services and provided flexibility and mobility.

-VoIP Advantages

When making an ordinary telephone call with a VoIP phone, the experience is just like using a traditional phone. But with VoIP, the user can do so much more, with flexible, technologically advanced service that is unmatched by traditional telephone systems. Separate cabling is unnecessary, as VoIP merely requires a networked broadband Internet connection.

The cost of VoIP is a significant reason to use this service, but the advantages of VoIP go beyond simply saving big bucks on monthly telephone bills.

Hosted VoIP

Companies' workforces are increasingly becoming distributed to multiple locations, from workplaces within the same city to those overseas. Hosted VoIP helps these businesses manage communications and maintain efficiency. All workers can be part of the same system and enjoy all of its features.

The installation and monthly cost of hosted VoIP is low compared to traditional Private Branch Exchange (PBX) business telephone systems. A business need not purchase or lease expensive PBX hardware. For businesses that operate at multiple locations, this can be a major cost factor.

Hosted VoIP service provides telephone service across multiple sites, online tools to manage the system, as well as robust telephone services such as voice messaging, voicemail and fax to email, and remote call management and much more. Many of those telephone services are add-ons for traditional telephone systems. Budgets are simplified with VoIP service, with one bill for consolidated services.

Hosted Business Voice is an example of a highly advanced business VoIP service from Apptix, a hosted VoIP provider. Apptix, headquartered in Virginia, provides hosted business communications, collaboration and IT solutions to companies of all sizes. The company states that it can reduce monthly telephone bills by 40 percent or more.

Hosted VoIP enhances employee productivity by ensuring that communication is streamlined and efficient. Here are some areas of increased efficiency:

  • Advanced online management tools allow employees to change their personal phone settings on their own, which takes a load off support resources. The more an employee can do on his or her own, the less time is wasted waiting for a task to be done by someone else.
  • Users can easily be added and deleted as staff changes. No longer do workers have to wait for support staff to add a new telephone or switch over an extension to a new user.
  • Users who move to a new desk or even a new building can simply take their telephones with them and hook them up at the new desks.
  • Mobile users can be integrated into the telephone system. Employees on the road can be as much a part of the communications system as if they were at their desks.

Choosing a Hosted VoIP Provider

Choosing to upgrade to hosted VoIP service is the first step toward a hassle-free communications system that allows companies to save money and use their resources more productively.
The next step is to choose a service provider. This is somewhat subjective, as all providers offer comprehensive services based on a similar delivery method, so it's important to look at the company itself and the way it does business. Don't just rely on a marketing pitch. Study the company, read reviews, compare services and costs, and determine flexibility.

Here are some tips:

  • Determine whether the provider has the right infrastructure to provide high call quality. Is the network strong and reliable?
  • Look for a good service agreement to guarantee high call quality and reliable service.
  • Choose a provider who uses industry standards to provide service. You'll get more safety and reliability.
  • Find out the number of customers the provider supports and learn about the availability and quality of customer support, both from the company and from online ratings by customers. If support is not available 24 hours a day, ensure it is available during the hours you need it most.
  • Read and understand company service plans to evaluate the services being offered.
  • Compare the services offered by different companies and determine whether they are add-ons or part of an overall package of services. A good deal may not be so good after all if it comes with added charges.
  • Compare the upfront costs and monthly fees. Find out all costs involved. Look for flexibility in pricing, such as bundled services.
  • If you have a contract, what happens if you terminate it early? You should know up front what the termination fees are and whether they are flexed depending on how far into the contract termination occurs.
  • Can the provider's services expand as your company does? Scalability of services should be discussed before making a commitment.
  • Study a provider's company growth over time. A startup company may offer lower prices, but those prices may come with higher risk.
  • Consider the responsiveness of a company while you discuss details. If a company doesn't respond quickly and efficiently when it's trying to sell you something, how responsive will it be after you become a customer?

The Streamlined Workplace

As we look back at the second half of the 20th century, we see an array of changes in the world of communications: Direct dialing, deregulation, fax machines, cordless phones, cellular phones, the Internet -- all amazing changes at the time that occurred within a relatively short period of time. Voice Over Internet Protocol has brought communication triumphantly into the 21st century with an ever-expanding array of services and delivery.

VOIP has significantly changed the way many companies function by making communications not only more inexpensive, but more efficient. Hosted VoIP further increases efficiency by helping companies streamline the way their people communicate and work together. It's part of the changing landscape of the businessworld.

Posted: 12/16/2014 10:20:23 AM

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