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Why Choose VoIP?
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is another name for Internet calling. A quarter of Americans already use some form of Internet calling when their smartphones enter a 3G network or they place a call using a computer or tablet.
Internet phone service rises in popularity each year, and for good reason:
- Cheaper prices
- Higher sound quality
- More free features
Due to VoIP's digital formatting, callers experience crisp HD sound quality. The digital format allows allows for more features, such as voicemail-to-email, telemarketer blocking, and music on hold. Of course, the best aspect of Voice Over IP is that phone plans are often 50 to 80% cheaper than traditional phone service.
Internet calling is perfect for both homes and businesses. By using Voice over IP, all of your landline calls will become free or cheap Internet calls.
How Does VoIP Work?
VoIP works by sending phone calls over a wireless connection between IP addresses. This means that all you need in order to get VoIP is a high speed Internet connection. The better your Internet connection, the better your sound quality will be. All you need is a router (and modem), an IP phone or analog phone with an adapter, and if it is a business plan, a PBX solution. Once you have all that, you can start using Voice over IP just as you would use traditional phone service.
Residential VoIP Benefits
When looking at residential VoIP plans for your home, you will be able to choose phone lines for extremely low prices, around $5 to $15/month for unlimited calling. When choosing between providers, it may be helpful to consider the following points:
- Does the provider only offer unlimited plans? Would you prefer to have the option of choosing a metered plan with a lower monthly cost, but with an additional per minute cost?
- Do you want to sign up for a yearly contract, or are you more comfortable with paying on a monthly basis? Many providers give discounts for customers who are willing to sign up for yearly plans, so see what your provider is willing to offer.
- What does your provider offer by way of international calling? Some providers offer free unlimited calling to certain destinations, and others may offer a certain amount of time (usually 60 free minutes) of calling time to any international phone number. If you do lots of international calling, these deals may save you a lot of money.
- What kinds of features does the provider offer? Do they have all of the special features you might want?
Business VoIP Benefits
Business VoIP plans tend to include more customization options, more advanced features, and more advanced customer support.
When choosing a business VoIP provider, consider the following points:
- Does the provider only offer unlimited extensions, or do they offer you your choice of metered and unmetered extensions as you need them so you can select different extension types for different employees based on their calling habits?
- Do they only offer hosted PBX solutions, or can you choose SIP trunking if you prefer? SIP trunking is for business owners who want host their own in-house IP PBX software or hardware system, while hosted PBXs are for people who want use a business phone system that is managed and maintained remotely by the service provider.
- Do you want mobile VoIP features? Different providers have varying levels of support for mobile and remote employees, so consider how much you will want to depend on remote connection for your employees before weighing the relative benefits of mobile VoIP.
Other Types of IP Services
Other than basic residential and business VoIP service, there are a few other kinds of IP services available.
Many business owners may be interested in supplementary services like IP faxing and video conferencing. You can get an IP faxing plan that works with an old fashioned fax machine, or you can get rid of the machine, and send and receive faxes like emails. This is perfect for anyone who wants to get rid of some machinery or save money on a fax line, but still needs to send and receive faxes to and from certain partners or customers.
Video conferencing is a great option for any business owner who frequently needs to have discussions with many partners, employees, or clients, especially if they are spread out at remote locations. Video conferencing suites allow business owners to conduct meetings without having to cover travel costs for everyone to convene in one location.
One of the best aspects of VoIP service is in the included free features. With many telephone service providers, you need to pay extra to get many of the same features that come free with Voice over IP service. Some of the most popular features include:
- Find Me Follow Me: Have calls sent to additional phone numbers when you are going to be away from your desk. For example, you could have calls ring on your home or cell phone sequentially or simultaneously.
- Call Forwarding: Forward calls to other numbers or extensions or have calls forwarded to you as needed.
- Call Waiting / Music on Hold: Put calls on hold as necessary and play music for them as they wait.
- E911 Service: Enhanced 911 is the IP response to standard 911 service. It keeps you connected to emergency services at all times, but it works a little differently from traditional 911 in that you need to manually update your address when you start service and move to make sure emergency responders can locate you.
- Caller ID (with name, date, phone number, time, etc.): Have details of a call displayed on your IP phone as calls come in.
- Black and White Lists: Set lists of numbers that cannot call you (black lists) and/or of numbers that can call you (white lists).
- Contact Lists: Keep lists of your regular and important contacts for easy dialing.
- Number Porting: Port the phone number you already have so contacts can still reach you at the number they already know.