Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) is phone service over the internet. Using internet protocol (IP) networks, it transfers multimedia and voice signals. VoIP is the future of business communications.

More businesses are now adopting the use of VoIP communications. This is because VoIP phone systems are:

  • Cost-effective: Businesses can save up to 90% in costs by using VoIP
  • Convenient: With VoIP phones, you can make and receive calls as long as you have an internet connection
  • Flexible: You can still use them even if you have conventional phones
  • Multifunctional: The best VoIP service providers support several features, such as file sharing, audio calls and video conferencing

Communications and technology are two of the most important aspects of good business. VoIP for business can improve your operations.

How to Evaluate the Best Deal for a VoIP Service

When searching for cheap VoIP service, be careful that you get both a good price and a good product. A low price tag can sometimes be indicative of inferior quality. But by carefully inspecting the features, you will know if you're getting your money's worth.

Here's what to look for:

1. Price

Your budget should be a primary consideration. There are several options on the market, so getting one that fits your budget should not be too hard. If the system is more expensive than you wanted, check to see if it pays for itself. In other words, some of the features may be so useful they justify a higher price.

2. Ease of Use

Both your time and effort are valuable. When a system is easy to use, you save these two critical assets. It may be a good idea to make a quick call to the customer service department of a product you're considering. Ask about the installation procedures and determine how easy the system is to use. Ask until you're confident you have a solid idea how to put it in place in your business.

3. Call Quality

A phone system stuffed with features is worthless if the calls aren't clear. Inquire about how good the call quality is. You may ask an associate to compare it to the quality of a landline call or a cellphone call over a strong network. A comparison like this could help provide perspective.

4. Scalability

Your communications system needs to have the flexibility to grow with your business. A growing business moves fast, and you may not have time to halt operations to install a new phone system. Make sure the system you buy can keep up with growth.

5. Mobile Apps and Integrations

A full-functioning VoIP service will do more than place and receive calls. Further, good VoIP service providers have products that integrate with mobile apps. As you compare VoIP providers, check to see which apps they support and how these apps work with the VoIP system.

6. The Right Features

A good but cheap VoIP service will give you a lot more than a traditional phone service. Thanks to the integration of technology and network connectivity, you can enjoy a myriad of functionality.

For example, the best VoIP for business should have features such as auto attendant, call forwarding and call waiting. It should also have collaboration tools and conference calling. The best VoIP systems also feature voicemail, extension dialing and ring groups. Further, they should provide call recording, internet faxing and customer support.

VoIP Systems: What Are the Red Flags?

When evaluating VoIP options, be careful of systems with the following:

  • Unproven track record: If the company is only getting started, you don't want your business to be one of the guinea pigs. Look for a company with an established track record
  • Not enough features: If the company you're researching offers very few features, steer clear. The term "and more" isn't enough. You need a complete, verifiable list of features. If that isn't provided or if there's only a brief list available, you should move on
  • Complicated systems: Many people, when considering VoIP vs. landline, assume VoIP is going to be more complex. That is not the case. The system should be easy to understand and operate. When in doubt, ask customer service about how it works. Don't stop asking until you are confident in using it
  • Inflexible or unscalable systems: If your system can't expand as your company changes, you may have to replace it sooner than you'd like. Before signing on the dotted line, present different scenarios to customer service. These hypothetical situations can tell you whether your cheap VoIP will get the job done

Which Is Better, VoIP or Landline?

A lot of business owners struggle to understand the difference between VoIP and landline phones. VoIP and landlines both offer business benefits. But there are significant differences between the two. You need to understand these to make smart business decisions for your company.

Let's take a look at how each service works, what each service includes and the benefits they can provide. But first, let's take a look at what VoIP actually is.

VoIP Software vs. Landline Phones

The main difference between VoIP software and landline phones is service delivery. While VoIP software uses a cloud-based solution, landlines use an old-fashioned analog system. This system transmits via your local or regional telephone company's copper wiring. To use a landline service, your company needs a private branch exchange (PBX) hardware. This kind of hardware gives you the ability to create several phone extensions. It also allows you to transfer calls and provide an extension directory to your callers.

VoIP phone service is much more technology-driven and requires no hardware setup. Companies that want a sophisticated phone system at a modest price often turn to VoIP. This is because it usually comes with a suite of tools to help you communicate better with customers, prospects and external business contacts.

VoIP vs. Landline Security

Landline phones are harder to hack because of the way they handle calls. A traditional phone service transfers calls from the origination path. They do this using a method called circuit switching. Before the transmission happens, the circuit is predetermined and dedicated between the caller and recipient. The path is a circuit, and the circuit remains closed for the call until one party hangs up.

Landline phones are often hacked by someone tapping into your physical phone line. In today's interconnected world, this usually means someone attaching a listening device. They could also attach a recorder to capture the transmission.

VoIP uses packet switching. Digital voice is handled the same way as any data. It breaks the data into packets, which are then sent over the network and routed to the end recipient. These packets are not sent in the same bundle. In fact, they may take different routes to get to the recipient. There is no dedicated circuit. When the packets arrive at the destination, the digital system assembles them.

It is easier for someone to intercept voice calls through VoIP. It's like how hackers can intercept and read your email. The packets travel on public internet channels. This means they are not 100% secure. But there is a way to make VoIP calls more secure.

How to Make VoIP More Secure

Using an encrypted VoIP system will enhance your privacy. Even if the data is intercepted, the encryption will prevent someone from listening in to your call or understanding the data. End-to-end encryption will do the best job of keeping your VoIP calls secure.

If you are using VoIP on a computer or mobile device, you need to think about security. Your biggest vulnerability may not be with the transmission path but with the device itself. This means making sure your device is free of malware and up to date on security software.

Other VoIP Features

An analog telephone adapter (ATA) connects traditional analog phones and fax machines to digital phone systems. By connecting these ATA VoIP adapters, you can use a current phone system with your VoIP network.

VoIP ATA That Works With VoIP Software

VoIP ATA can integrate with VoIP software. The telephone adapter connects the analog phone with your digital network. Once it’s part of the network, the analog phone becomes another line on the network. This means you can take advantage of VoIP features with your existing hardware.

The software installed on your computer facilitates the VoIP calls. The calls are connected through your analog headset and VoIP ATA. The VoIP client will route the calls through the system as part of a subscription service or a session initiation protocol (SIP) server. You don't use traditional copper lines that you lease monthly from the phone company. Your voice call goes through the internet to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). It’s the same place traditional phone companies route calls. The call is then directed to the end user.

PBX vs. VoIP: Which Is Better for Your Business?

You want a phone system that makes managing communications easier. You also want fewer costs and less maintenance. Traditionally, business phone systems used PBX to connect with callers. These days, many companies are making the switch to VoIP phone systems.

But PBX has changed quite a bit since its invention. Many companies aren't sure which type of phone system is best for their company. So let's take a look at PBX vs. VoIP so you can decide which is best for your business.

What Is PBX?

As mentioned earlier, PBX stands for private branch exchange. It's a phone system that switches calls between business users on local lines. At the same time, it permits users to share several external phone lines. PBX saves on the cost of buying separate phone lines for each user in a company office. Private branch exchanges used to use analog technology. Today, many PBXs use digital technology.

It works like this: Digital signals are converted to analog for external calls. This happens on something called a local loop. A local loop uses plain old telephone service (POTS). But the modern PBX is cloud-based or virtual. All you really need is an internet connection and your own phones.

With these, you can connect all your employees to the same phone system. You can do this throughout all locations no matter where they are in the world. And the best part is that you can order as many extensions as you need. Add more as your company starts to grow. You can say goodbye to costly, clunky equipment like an outdated PBX box.

Choosing the Right VoIP Phone Provider

Switching phone systems can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Ditching the copper lines from your local phone company and switching to VoIP can save you money. This way, you no longer have to lease copper lines and pay each month.

Adding VoIP phones and choosing the right provider can make for an easy transition. With a cloud-based solution, there is little cost in making the switch. Also, savings happen almost immediately.

VoIP Providers Comparison

There are several things you need to take into consideration. Before you start comparing providers, take the time to establish your goals. Analyzing how your business operates and if it’s likely to change over time will help. With this info, you can decide which features and options are important to your business.

1. Business Growth

As your business grows, your phone system should be able to expand and accommodate your growing needs. You want a VoIP provider that can scale as your business grows.

2. Current Frustrations

Talk to your employees and make a list of their current limitations and frustrations. This will help you to probe and decide whether a new VoIP provider will be able to ease the issues.

3. Calling Features

Create a list of the calling features you need and want in a phone system to compare vendors. Depending on the provider, available VoIP features for business phone services include:

4. Integration Features

You will want to make sure that your VoIP service provider can integrate with your existing system. This should include popular customer relationship management (CRM) software. Some examples are Microsoft Dynamics, NetSuite, Zendesk and Salesforce.

Making the Move to VoIP

Once you have evaluated all the different factors, it's time to make a decision. When considering a VoIP system, choose the platform with the features to help elevate your business. Always check the quality of the customer service team before committing. Also, check to see if the company has a history of success.

Get the easiest and most affordable phone system for your small business. 8x8 Express provides you with unlimited calling, HD audio and video conferencing, business SMS and more. Start your free 30-day trial today!

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