VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) communication systems have become a popular choice for today's companies mainly because they offer significant short-term savings. The simple fact is, traditional landline service plans have become too expensive and as the VoIP industry continues to emerge it may soon replace hardline communication systems on the enterprise level. For CTOs and entrepreneurs alike, the hardest part of embracing VoIP technology is choosing a reputable VoIP hosting provider. Here are a few steps to go about choosing the best VoIP hosting provider:
VoIP phone systems are somewhat complex in nature and it takes a knowledgeable host to really understand how an enterprise phone system should be set up. Management and security are the two main things you must look at when considering a VoIP hosting provider. Aside from these two areas it's more than a good idea to ask the provider the following questions:
- Are their VoIP protocols up-to-date?
- What other types of add-ons or services do they provide with a basic VoIP hosting plan
- Does the hosting provider offer a high-fidelity connection that is capable of having next to zero latency?
- Can they clearly explain how a VoIP system works and walk you through all the standard features?
A reputable VoIP hosting provider will work directly with the VoIP software provider and will therefore possess an intimate knowledge of the ins and outs of the system. It's also important to understand what types of hosting options are available from the provider. Typically VoIP setups will provide you with an adapter that plugs into your router. There is usually an activation fee associated with this VoIP installation but pricing is usually charged as a flat rate. Some companies even provide VoIP packages that include colocation, VPN and web-hosting services.
The VoIP market has become competitive, but don't let the selection process daunt you. There are many options, and pricing plans will vary, but consider the specs of the VoIP system considered. Does the provider offer standard features such as: voicemail, call waiting and forwarding, call ID and blocking functions? Perhaps the most important thing to stress: does the provider offer an E911 function? If you are going to do away with a traditional landline altogether make sure your VoIP system can dial 911 over an Internet connection in cases of emergency. Last but not least make sure to read the terms of service before choosing a VoIP provider.
The technology is still emerging and service contracts may be subject to change at any time. Companies who simply wish to try out a VoIP based phone system shouldn't get locked up in any long term contracts. At the end of the day it's all about choosing what's best for your organization. Make sure and do your research before pulling the trigger on any VoIP plan.
About the author: James Mulvey, a tech writer and blog director AT Colocation America, wrote this post.