One of the most vital technologies a business invests in is a dedicated phone system. VoIP (Voice over IP), which allows communication over the internet versus traditional analog phone service, has become a sensible choice for many small businesses.  While the VoIP has existed for many years, the technology has evolved greatly and statistics suggest more small businesses are adopting it as a solution to their business communications.  Given the advantages VoIP presents (especially lower costs than analog), it’s a real option for many organizations.  If you’re considering making the switch to VoIP, consider the following pros and cons- although it will soon be apparent that the benefits vastly outnumber the drawbacks.

The Pros

Cost

VoIP can be used for free with computers (such as Skype) and in some instances, with mobile and landlines.  However, when you opt to replace your entire landline service, it comes with a price. The good news, though, is that price is much cheaper than traditional analog service. A significant savings is realized when you no longer have to maintain separate networks for phones and data–it’s all in one. Secondly, VoIP fees are typically an affordable, monthly, per user structure. Costs associated with personnel changes are virtually eliminated. Rather than incurring a substantial fee for each occurrence, all you have to do is plug in your IP phone to a different broadband network jack.  Lastly, nearly all industry regulatory fees associated with landline service are nonexistent with your VoIP service.

Mobility & Portability

With VoIP systems, you gain mobility that simply doesn’t exist with traditional phone service.  All you need is an internet connection to a laptop with a headset, a VoIP phone adapter, or an IP phone.  In addition, foreign calls work and are location independent.

The technology is also highly portable so that you can connect to your business VoIP system from your office and call your second office in another state without the phone number even changing,  through the use of virtual numbers.

Features

  • Voicemail and call-forwarding- especially helpful for after hours calls
  • DND- Do Not Disturb is a valuable feature when you are working with a client and do not wish to be interrupted by your phone. Advanced features include sending calls to voicemail, or transferring calls to a co-worker.
  • Conference calls- added features could include ability to send files, chat messaging, and sharing of calendars, presentations, and desktops. Also called Unified Communications by many vendors.
  • Auto Attendant- allows setup of multiple numbers for a menu system that allows your customers to reach certain departments or personnel
  • Call Recording- if your business is highly regulated or you simply wish to record for quality assurance purposes, this may be a good option.

The Cons

While most small businesses will benefit from VoIP systems, the drawbacks could be a deal breaker for others.

Call Quality and Internet Outages

Audio quality is sometimes weaker when there are problems with bandwidth or hardware configurations. Since the service relies on an internet connection, you will lose service (including emergency calls) should you lose your internet.

Electricity

VoIP phones and internet connected devices require power and should you lose electricity, you’ll also lose your ability to the phone or data service.

Security

Because VoIP relies on the internet, it’s services are vulnerable to the same disruptions and monitoring as any internet enabled device. Depending upon what type of service you require (on premise  or cloud based), end to end encryption is imperative.

We hope this overview of VoIP technology has provided you with a little more insight and will help you decide whether your small business is ready to make the switch.  However, there are still many considerations to take into account.  S3 IT can evaluate your business needs and determine what phone system, features, and mode of service would be the best fit for your business.

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