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What is Business VoIP?
Business VoIP is Internet phone service used in the workplace, as compared to residential VoIP, which is VoIP service for the home. But business VoIP is more than just a business-grade phone service. It also entails the use of private branch exchange (PBX) hardware, faxing capabilities, and increased call management to streamline calls.
A PBX system connects a business's extensions to outside phone lines and connects those extensions into one network. In the case of business VoIP, an Internet Protocol PBX (IP PBX) is used. Businesses can make the most of a digital phone service by integrating multiple phone lines or incorporating mobile capabilities. Business-specific phone providers include Nextiva and Vocalocity, for example.
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Types of Business VoIP Phone Systems
Business VoIP phone systems can be installed in three different ways:
- On-premise PBX
- Hosted PBX
- SIP Trunk
On-premise IP PBX systems are installed in the office and maintained by the owner. There may be a large upfront investment for the hardware of a PBX, so large enterprises and corporations are more likely to use an on-premise PBX than small businesses. An IP PBX that supports up to 30 seats or employees can start as low as $750, but the cost is usually in the multiple thousands for one that can accommodate 50 or more seats.
An on-premise IP PBX is frequently referred to as just IP PBX.
Hosted PBX systems are located off-site and managed by a separate owner — a VoIP service provider. Small and large businesses can benefit from using a hosted PBX because they are budget friendly and are much less hassle. Instead of a costly upfront investment, a hosted PBX costs between $19.99 and $39.99/month per extension.
If you already have a full phone system and PBX configured in your office, you can still convert to VoIP by implementing a Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunk, also known as SIP VoIP.
A SIP trunk connects the office local area network (LAN) to an Internet telephony service provider (ITSP), and then to the traditional phone lines. That way, a call starts as a VoIP call on a VoIP network, but then terminates on the traditional phone lines of the called party.
Business VoIP Phones
Business VoIP phones are called IP phones. IP phones connect directly to the Internet and start at around $100 a handset. Some may be cheaper, but good quality phones start around that rate. You can also use traditional phones as business VoIP phones by fitting them with an analog telephone adapter (ATA). ATAs connect the analog phone to the Internet and convert the analog voice signals of traditional phones to the digital signals of VoIP.
The Appeal of Business VoIP Phone Systems
Implementing business VoIP will provide robust call management features on the business phone system and simultaneously reduce your monthly phone costs. And getting more for less is always good!
A business VoIP phone system can:
- Reduce monthly phone costs
- Unify your data and voice communications
- Provide ultra low long distance and international rates
- Project a professional, big business image with sophisticated call features
- Give access to the business phone system features for remote and telecommuting employees
- Create portable business phone systems
Business VoIP Savings
With business VoIP, you can save money on all types of calls.The low rates for long distance and international calls start at a fraction of a cent and most long distance calls will be only a few cents a minute. Further, business VoIP phone systems divide the phone lines into extensions to share between employees. Providers offer tiered and unlimited plans to accommodate different calling needs.
Call Features for Business VoIP Phone Systems
Business VoIP providers offer many features that can make managing calls more efficient. The call features can:
- Transfer incoming calls between employees
- Place incoming calls on hold and in a queue for the next available service representative
- Record greeting messages and set according to time of day with an auto attendant, and save on the cost of a receptionist
- Receive and view faxes and voicemails as text in the web portal
Consult the list in our VoIP Call Features article for names and explanations of the call features provided through a business phone system.
Business VoIP Phone System Portability
With more service providers offering softphones for mobile VoIP and more apps for smartphones, phone systems are incredibly portable for telecommuters, mobile employees, and heavy travelers. An employee can log in and reach the business web portal wherever they have a computer and Internet connection to make calls or access email.