Business Skype services have been available since around 2007. Arguably one of the first popular residential VoIP services, Skype currently has over 31 million consistent users, 35% of which are businesses (StatisticsBrain | May 2012). But how does business Skype compare to the business IP telephony services offered by the multitude of other VoIP providers?
Business Skype delivers low-to-no-cost VoIP calls to businesses of any size. Small office home offices (SOHOs) and large enterprises alike can save money on calls by using Skype for business. Business Skype allows you to easily collaborate with clients and employees with video conferencing and one-click file sharing features.
Skype Connect was created for businesses with existing Private Branch Exchange (PBX) hardware. Connect your business to the Skype network to combine the powerful call features of a PBX with the cost savings of Skype service. Although Skype runs on a proprietary protocol, Skype Connect will work with any SIP-enabled PBX.
While Skype for business is targeted at any sized business, business IP telephony service providers offer different types of services to accommodate small, medium, and large businesses.
Hosted PBX services are the most common business IP telephony service for small- to medium-sized applications. Hosted services are managed by the VoIP provider and the PBX call features are transferred with the VoIP phone service straight over an IP connection. Monthly rates are charged per user and cover service, features, and minute allotments.
Larger businesses can afford to purchase and manage their own hardware with an in-house IP PBX. A VoIP provider will supply phone service to the office network and the PBX will be configured to supply features to the relevant extensions. Implementing an IP PBX in the business place creates more control over the system and will be more cost-effective than paying for monthly service per person.
There are a number of things that differentiate the Business Skype service plan from a dedicated business VoIP provider, including in-network calling and 911 service.
All VoIP calls have a global reach and produce considerable savings on long distance and international calls. Providers may include international minutes in the minute bundle or charge for them separately on a different plan. Business Skype works the same way and offers minute subscriptions for domestic and international minutes.
Skype divides their calls into the categories of SkypeIn and SkypeOut. SkypeIn calls are calls placed to a recipient in the Skype network that are free. SkypeOut calls are calls to a landline or mobile number and are billed at an inexpensive per-minute rate based on the country. In-network calls are always free with any VoIP service, and calls placed outside of the network will incur charges.
Skype has no 911 emergency calling feature, but all other business VoIP providers have 911 functionality.The FCC has ruled that all telephony replacement services (i.e., VoIP providers) must enable 911 emergency services, but Skype does not meet the requirements of a telephony replacement service and is thusly not required to comply.
Digital files can be sent electronically with business Skype, but Skype does not provide faxing services. VoIP business providers do supply faxing capabilities, although often at an additional charge.
All business VoIP services have an account management portal that allows you to control various aspects of your phone service like viewing call lists, assigning features, and setting up call forwarding rules.
Skype Manager is the account portal for Skype and allows you to set up employees and allocate credits to each employee for making calls. You can also assign call features to each employee if you have Skype Connect.
Basic Business Service Features:
- Group chat
- Video chat
- Call forwarding
- Caller ID
- Contact lists
- Mobile app/softphone
- File sharing
- Conference calls
Without the sophisticated call features of the PBX, the basic features provided by business Skype and business VoIP service are the same.