Updated March 15, 2022
VoIP phone systems can be extremely beneficial for SMBs.
Voice over Internet Protocol, (VoIP) phone systems make good sense for small businesses. According to the latest research, more than one-third of all businesses are now using a VoIP phone system, with many of those businesses employing fewer than 50 employees.
"With a VoIP phone system, the data is transmitted over the internet in a digital format, rather than plugging into a conventional phone jack such as those required over the public switched telephone system (PSTN)," says Will Wood, Senior Operations Manager for Titan Datacom.
What is VoIP?
In its simplest terms, Voice over Internet Protocol is an internet-based phone service. Rather than transmitting voice conversations through traditional phone lines, the conversations are digitized and routed through internet lines in the form of individual packets.
First introduced commercially in the mid -‘90s, the quality of VoIP technology has improved significantly since then, and so has its popularity. In the beginning, users complained that the sound quality of a VoIP system wasn't as good as it was on a landline, but those concerns are no longer an issue.
How does VoIP work?
When making a call, your voice is recorded and then coded into a digital signal, which is then sent over the internet instantaneously.
Benefits of VoIP
Aside from the cost, some of the more common reasons for switching to VoIP are; scalability, flexibility, easy set-up, and the aforementioned call quality.
With the ability to now take advantage of advanced high-definition coders and decoders (codecs) that have vastly improved voice quality, modern VoIP systems sound even better than landline networks.
In addition to better sound quality, the cloud is also making VoIP a more viable option for small businesses. Rather than having to run special wiring and install special equipment, companies that choose to employ a hosted VoIP solution do not need to purchase any additional equipment or staff IT personnel to maintain it.
“VoIP systems don’t need upfront hardware and software, and only require an internet connection to use. This reduces the amount of capital needed to get started and makes it easy to set up and put into use." Says, Bob Storm of eTech Network Solutions Inc. The advancement of VoIP technology and its relatively low cost make VoIP an ideal choice for small businesses, but business managers should still do their homework before committing.
Author’s Note: If you have a traditional PBX, but still want to have a VoIP connection, you should consider the use of SIP Trunks. As an aside, our sister company, Titan Datacom provides this service.
Ease of use
Isaac W. owner of Duane Allen Consulting said he likes that his VoIP system has eliminated all the complicated tech support that is typically required when using a traditional landline service.
"When the landline goes down, troubleshooting and fixing the issues are never easy or quick, which can be extremely frustrating, White said. "VoIP is super user-friendly, and having the proper network, I have yet to encounter any significant issues that hinder my ability to communicate with my clients."
Using a cloud-based solution also makes it simple to add phone lines when new employees are hired. Rural Capital Area Workforce Solutions, a long-time VoIP user, has grown numerous times over the past few years, and each time, it was a simple process to add additional seats. Once an order is put in, the shipment is received a few days later, and once plugged into an Ethernet port, the new User is fully functional.
One of the biggest advantages of VoIP, especially for businesses with employees who work remotely or in multiple locations, is that it allows employees to access their business line with them anywhere they go. Most VoIP providers have a mobile phone system app that can be set up to ring when a customer or client calls an employee's business line. Additionally, these apps allow employees to use their business line to make outgoing calls from their mobile phones, with the use of a Custom Caller ID feature that keeps the Users' personal cell number private.
Chris Varkadoz, Business Development Manager for eTech Network Solutions, said he likes that their VoIP system allows for a hybrid workforce, with employees working on location, or remotely.
VoIP systems allow for business as usual, no matter where you may be physically located. As most office managers have determined, with a VoIP system, it's easier to give a little flexibility to employees while still staying connected.
For most adopters, cost is the primary reason they are making the switch to VoIP. Most VoIP providers charge a monthly per-user fee, rather than a fee based on how many minutes everyone in the company spends on the phone. In fact, there are VoIP providers that allow free access to their services. Free providers typically offer fewer features than paid services, but it highlights how low the cost of VoIP can get. That, coupled with not having to spend a ton of money on special equipment — as well as on an IT staff to keep it up and running — can be a significant cost-saving incentive for many small businesses. Some cloud-based solutions are as cheap as $10 to $25 per user, per month.
A major advantage of VoIP and Internet telephony is that it avoids the fees charged by legacy telecom providers. An added plus is that all of your communication needs; phone service, video-conferencing, mobile app, standard call reporting, API Integration, and more, can all be consolidated on one platform, through Unified Communications.
VoIP can match traditional calling features like holding, transferring, call forwarding, caller ID, and more. Further, with VoIP, features like call recording are much easier. The call is already digitized, so adding a feature to record the digital file is extremely easy.
VoIP services can also offer business tool integration. This allows your calls to integrate with other communication services like chat and email. These features can organize communication by party and time, meaning you can seamlessly review a conversation that took place across multiple media platforms.
VoIP also provides more powerful conferencing features, such as video integration, which is something every business should ensure they can access in today's competitive business climate.
Is VoIP right for you?
As of this writing, it is no longer a concern as to whether a VoIP phone system makes sense for you. The FCC has issued an Order to retire the old copper network currently still in use by many businesses today. That said, the main point of concern now depends on the quality of a business’s network and its needs.
While it’s important to ensure you have enough bandwidth for call volume, it’s equally important to have enough bandwidth to handle the other traffic on the network. This includes whether or not a company’s firewall and router can prioritize VoIP traffic over inter-office Internet traffic.
If the network can support it, then VoIP is likely a good option for you.
For businesses where VoIP does make sense, there are many benefits, including the previously mentioned reduction in costs (in terms of both maintenance and monthly recurring usage) ease of use, and enhanced features that you would previously only find in an enterprise-level PBX.
Voicemail, virtual attendants, call forwarding, call recording, on-hold music, voicemail-to-email, conference calling, video conferring, instant messaging, call screening, missed alerts, and call logs are among the many features offered by most VoIP providers. including us, here at eTech Network Solutions.
For many, this is why a VoIP phone system matters. If you think such a system is right for your business, contact us today, for a free consultation.