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Top 5 questions asked by Businesses considering VoIPAdvantages of VoIP Aastra 6739i colour screen

VoIP (Voice Over IP) benefits businesses the moment it is put to use. VoIP has been widely available for many years now, typically it has been used within large companies. Now, using Hosted VoIP, the benefits that large enterprises have experienced are available to Small Businesses at an affordable price.

To demonstrate the benefits of VoIP we have listed the top 5 business questions that are asked by Small and Medium size companies when they are looking at a VoIP Phone System.

To learn about our recommended Hosted VoIP Phone solution go to the SystemAssure VoIP pages and you will find out more about Hosted VoIP.

Q. Is the quality of VoIP as good as traditional phone calls?

A. In almost all cases you wont be able to tell whether its a VoIP Phone System or a traditional phone system. In fact, VoIP calls can sound better than a call made using a traditional phone system. That’s because VoIP can take advantage of the superior audio quality supported by high-bandwidth data networks rather than low-grade “twisted pair” copper wiring. To test this for yourself why not call us on +44 (0)1489-897760 and hear the quality of a business grade VoIP phone system.

Q. Will I lose any of the features of my current phone system?

A. Probably not. In fact, there’s a good chance that a hosted VoIP system will offer features your existing system doesn’t have. Popular VoIP services include auto-attendant (voice driven call routing), call forwarding, voice mail, Web based interface, distinctive rings, Music on Hold, Outlook Integration, Click-to-Dial on web applications and Call-Me-Now. In most systems these facilities are user configurable and are available for little or no additional charge.

Q. Is VoIP cost effective as a Small Business Phone System ?

A. A hosted VoIP Phone system is very cost effective, scaling from a single phone and line, up to hundreds of phones without the need to buy an expensive PBX. You don’t need to work out in advance how much your business is going to expand by and by an appropriate PBX, your hosted VoIP provider has already made this investment for you. Hosted VoIP is cost effective for a start-up business, starting at only £8.00 a month and will grow with you as your company expands without the need for expensive upgrade investment. You can have hunt groups that ring in multiple locations, to ensure that your calls are always answered. So not only is Hosted VoIP cost effective for a Small Business it is the ideal solution for any start-up, or new, business.

Q. Will my business save money by switching to VoIP?

A. VoIP helps companies save money in several ways, including eliminating the major investment of buying and maintaining an on-site PBX. Businesses can also expect to save on the cost of local and international calls, various calling features and internal network deployment and maintenance. All calls between your remote offices are free, as are calls to and from Home Workers. Also all calls from Home Workers will be billed against your company Phone Number, so it simplifies the management of expenses.

Q. Can I move my existing phone number to a VoIP Phone System?

A. The short answer is, yes you can. The process of moving a phone number from a traditional Telephony Provider like BT, to a VoIP provider, is known as Porting. This is a simple process and typically takes around 10 days. During this time you can continue to use your existing phone system or set-up a divert so that all calls are delivered to the VoIP phone system. This keeps the whole process simple and painless for all parties and your customers wont be inconvenienced.

With the SystemAssure VoIP phone system the PBX (Telephone Exchange) is hosted so you don’t have to worry about system maintenance and upgrades, neither do you have the capital investment in a PBX.

You now have the answers to the Top 5 Questions asked by businesses considering VoIP phone systems.

What is the next step in getting a VoIP phone system?

The next step in using a Hosted VoIP phone system is to call +44 (0)1489-897760 and discuss your telephony requirements or go to the SystemAssure VoIP pages.

Call Me Now

Click to call meClick on the Call Me Icon, on the left, and enter your phone number and we will call you right back to discuss your requirements. At the same time you will hear the quality and flexibility of a hosted VoIP phone system. Call Me is a standard part of the Voiplicity phone system, so is something that you will be able to do on your website with just a few mouse clicks.

So call us today and let your business benefit from VoIP.

Advantages of VoIP for BusinessIs VoIP the right way to go for a new business?

If you are starting a new business venture should you use VoIP for business phone calls? All businesses need to be able to make and receive calls, so if you run a business then you are going to have some form of phone system. When you start a small business venture you are going to need a phone number. At this point you have a couple of options as to what you are going to do, these include:-

  1. Get a new analogue phone line for your business
  2. Buy a mini-PBX and get an ISDN2 line
  3. Use your home phone to start with
  4. Use your Mobile phone
  5. Use a Hosted VoIP for Business provider

All of the options above will work, to one extent or another, but you need to consider your plans for your business in order to decide if VoIP for Business is the way to go for your new business venture.

The reasons for using VoIP for Business Telephony

Where are you going to work from?

If you are just starting a new business, unless you are lucky enough to have some financial backing, then you are probably going to start by running your business from home, to keep the overheads down.

VoIP for Business for the Home Worker

In this case its unlikely that you are going to want to get an additional line at home, neither do you really want to advertise your home phone number as part of your business material. If you already have an ADSL line at home then you can use VoIP for Business, with very little additional costs. The benefit here is that you now have a separate phone number for your business that will move with you as you out grow the home office.

VoIP for Business for an Office Worker

As your small business expands and you move into an office, or use a serviced office,  you can quickly expand by adding additional phones. You still have the same central ‘Office’ number but now can have hunt groups, auto-attendants, departmental numbers and Direct dials. The system continues to grow with your business, you just add phone when you need them.

VoIP for Business for Multi Office Companies

If you have multiple offices the a hosted VoIP for Business solution is an ideal and cost effective option for you. All of the calls between your offices will be Free, assuming that you have chosen the right VoIP for Business provider.  You can have hunt groups across the locations, so if everyone in one office is busy the calls can be answered where there is spare capacity.

If you have home workers the a good VoIP for Business solution is essential, as this will allow your home workers to be part of the office phone system. Allowing them to make and receive calls at home, but appear to be in the office as far as everyone is concerned.

Advantages of Hosted VoIP for Business

There are many advantages of using a hosted VoIP for Business solution, these include:-

  • Number Portability – As your business expands and you outgrow the home office you will start looking for office space. With a hosted VoIP for Business solution you dont need to change your number , or let anyone know that you are moving. Just pick up your VoIP for Business, IP phone, and plug it in to your new ADSL line in the office, its that simple.
  • Unlimited Expansion – As the business grows you can just add additional VoIP for Business phones, you don’t have to worry about outgrowing your PBX.
  • No Major Capital investment – You don’t have to invest in a PBX, the hosted VoIP for Business provider have already done that for you.
  • Free Calls – All calls between your phones, not matter where they are located, are free. With most VoIP for Business suppliers calls between all subscribers of the same service are also free of charge.
  • Low Cost Calls – Most VoIP for Business suppliers provide highly competitive call charges for local, national and international calls.
  • Online upgrades – As your Hosted VoIP for Business solution is a cloud computing service you benefit from new features and functions as the service provider upgrades their infrastructure.
  • Integration – Most Hosted VoIP for Business solutions provide excellent integration with Web applications, Outlook and CRM systems. So you can easily dial your contacts direct from applications like your CRM, or Support, system. You can also see who is calling before you answer the phone, if you have you contacts synchronised.

VoIP for Business is the best phone system for small business

Overall VoIP for Business is the ideal solution for almost any type of business, but especially for a small or medium sized business or sole trader. The call quality is superb these days and it offers a very cost effective and high quality solution, without the need to tie up capital. If you have selected a business grade solution there is every reason to use VoIP for Business.

Who should I use for my VoIP for Business supplier?

In the UK we can provide one of the most cost effective VoIP for business solutions. To find out more about VoIP for Business in the UK contact SystemAssure and we can show you Voiplicity in action.

VoIP Terminology

VoIP Terminology - Polycom IP PhoneSome of the terminology used in VoIP telephony can be a bit confusing, below I attempt to explain some of the VoIP terminology and phrases that you may come across when people are talking about Voice Over IP.

Not all of the terminology below is exclusive to VoIP telephony, some of the VoIP terminology that  I discuss is equally as relevant when talking about traditional analogue phone systems.

VoIP Terminology Explained

VoIP – Voice over IP. Used to describe a phone system which used the Internet as its underlying transport. Probably the most widely known VoIP system is Skype.

Analogue Phone Line – The normal BT phone system that we use in our house, so called because it uses analogue rather than digital technology.

POTS – Plain Old Telephone System. See analogue Phone Line above.

PBX Private Branch Exchange. The term traditionally used for a internal company phone system. This is the control element which allows you to make and transfer calls and typically included facilities like; Voice Mail, Music on Hold, Conference Calls etc.

PSTN – Public Switched Telephone Network.  The term traditionally used for the Telephone System.

PCM – Pulse Code Modulation.  The process of digitising an analog signal (human speech).

RTP – Real-time Transfer Protocol.  The protocol used by a VoIP system to transmit the the packets over an IP network. RTP is a send and forget streaming protocol.

MOH – Music On Hold. Typically annoying music or announcements which get played when you are waiting for the person you want to speak to.

Auto Attendant – An Auto Attendant, sometimes also called a Virtual Receptionist, is a simple announcement and menu system to handle call routing. It would normally be something like:

Thank you for calling AKCSL, a leading provider of Systems Management Solutions. For Sales Press 1, for Technical Support Press 2, for all other enquiries Press 3.

The auto attendant messages can either be recorded or can use Text-to-Speech to read out your message. Typically people use Text-to-Speech whilst they are sorting out their menu structure and then record a professional version once they are satisfied with the final structure and message.

Cloud Based – Used to describe a service which is hosted in the Internet, rather than you having a physical device. i.e.

  • Cloud Based Computing where you use the processing power of an Internet based Server rather than a system in your office.
  • Cloud Based Storage where your data is stored somewhere in the Internet. The Microsoft SkyDrive is a good example of Cloud Based Storage.
  • Cloud Based PBX, like the Voiplicity solution we sell, where you use the facilities of a hosted telephone exchange to create a ‘virtual’ PBX for all of your users. i.e. You do not have a physical phone exchange in your building but you still have the full features of an Office phone system,without the cost.

Hunt Group – Where a caller dials a single number and a group of phones ring, the call is then answered by the first person to pick up the phone. i.e. Ring all the phones in the support department or Sales department and any free agent can pick up the call.

CLI – Call Line Identification. This is where the phone number of the person calling you is displayed on your phone. If you use a CRM system it is possible through CTI to automatically pull up the CRM record for the calling number.

CTI – Computer Telephony Integration. CTI allows your phone system to interact with your computer applications, so you can do things like:-

  • Dial direct from Outlook
  • Highlight phone numbers on websites and then Click to Dial
  • Open CRM Records when customers call your office

DDI – Direct Dial In. The name given for the facility where a customer can directly call your desk phone, rather than calling the office number.

Click to Dial – The name given for the facility where you can highlight a phone number within a web page, or web application like CRM, Accounts etc, and then automatically dial the number.

Call Me Now – The name given for having a button, or link, on your website. When the customer clicks on the link they will be asked to enter their phone number. Once they click on OK their phone will be dialed by your phone system, at the same time as your phone is dialed. The customer gets to talk directly to you, at no charge to themselves, when they are ready to buy or ask for further information.

Call Parking – a feature that allows you to put a call on hold at one telephone set and then pick the call up and continue the conversation from any other telephone set.

Soft phone – A softphone is an application which runs on a computer that allows you to make and receive calls, using a VoIP phone system. Typically used with a headset to help improve the call quality. Skype is an example of a Softphone application.

IP Phone Sometimes called a VoIP phone, this is a phone which connects to a standard data network, rather than the BT phone socket.

SIP  – SIP Stands for Session Initiation Protocol and is one of the protocols that can be used during the setup phase of a VoIP phone call.

VoIP Terminology for Call Quality

Silence Suppression  – Silence suppression is a well-known bandwidth optimisation technique employed by VoIP devices, where packets are only sent if the speaker is actually speaking . This can reduce the total bandwidth required by more than 50%, since most conversations are only one-way at any given time, so the listener need not send any packets while the other party is speaking.

QoS  – Quality of Service provides priority including dedicated bandwidth, controlled jitter and latency (required by some real-time and interactive traffic), and improved loss characteristics. It also ensures that providing priority for one or more flows does not make other flows fail.

Jitter – Variability in the rate at which the sent packets are received. i.e. some packets may get delayed on the network so there is a delay before they are received and recombined to recreate the original call. Jitter shows up as a ‘choppy’ call with people sounding a bit like a Dalek.

Latency – Latency is the time difference between when a packet is sent and when it reaches its destination. All networks experience latency, however for a VoIP network you do not want a high latency (more than 150ms)

MOS – Mean Opinion Score. MOS is a number between 0 and 5 and is a measure of the quality of the call. A MOS of 3.6 is acceptable, a MOS of 4 or above is excellent. A MOS of anything below 3.2 will be of noticeably poor quality.

R Factor – R factor is another way of expressing call quality. R Factor is a calculated value, between 0 and 100, and the maximum achievable R Factor for a given Codec will always be below 100.

VoIP Terminology for Call Security

Listed below is some of the VoIP Terminology which relates to the call security of VoIP phone calls.

SRTP  – Secure Real-Time Transfer Protocol. SRTP is ideal for protecting VoIP traffic because it has a minimal effect on call quality. For each call you make, a unique encryption key is created, which makes eavesdropping almost impossible. This attribute alone makes SRTP a good choice for day-to-day calls, as well as highly confidential conversations.

TLS – Transport Layer Security. TLS is a way of encrypting VoIP calls. TLS encrypts VoIP data traveling between two applications.  The aim of TLS is to keep unauthorised parties from interfering with or listening to calls, and is almost impossible to manipulate externally.

Can I Run VoIP on my Network?

To Test if your network is suitable for running VoIP you should run a set of network tests, follow the links to Speed Tests and Ping Tests in other posts on Computer Spot in order to find out if your network is suitable for VoIP. For businesses other than a sole trader we recommend that you have a separate ADSL line to run your VoIP Phone System.

Books about VoIP & VoIP Terminology

If you are interested in finding out more about VoIP and VoIP Terminology then take a look at some of the books available on Amazon.

Who should I use for my VoIP for Business supplier?

Call Me Now

Click to call me Click on the Call Me Icon, on the left, and enter your phone number and we will call you right back to discuss your requirements. Call Me is a standard part of the Voiplicity phone system, so is something that you will be able to do on your website with just a few mouse clicks.

In the UK we can provide one of the most cost effective VoIP for business solutions. To find out more about VoIP for Business in the UK contact SystemAssure and we can show you Voiplicity in action.

More VoIP Terminology

If there is additional VoIP Terminology that you want explaining then let us know and we will add it to our list of VoIP Terminology.

Advantages of VoIP Phone Systems

Advantages of VoIP Aastra 6739i colour screenOne of the advantages of VoIP (Voice over IP) phone systems is they that differ from a  traditional phone system in the way that they work, the costs involved and the flexibility of the system. The key things that you can do with a phone system, make phone calls, transfer calls, answer the phone etc. are exactly the same on VoIP systems as they are on traditional analogue phone systems. In most cases will will not be able to tell that the phone you are using is a VoIP phone, they look the same as any other phone and the call quality is at least as good.

Traditionally a business would have a Phone Exchange, sometimes called a PBX, and a number of phone lines. The phone lines would either be traditional Analogue lines, for a very small business, and either ISDN2 or ISDN30 for companies which need multiple phone lines. The PBX allows you to make internal calls, between people in the same office, and also to make and receive external calls. i.e. calls to your customers.

A VoIP phone system still uses a PBX, however this can either be in an in-house system, like a Cisco CallManager or an appliance like an Asterix system. The other way is to use a hosted, or cloud based, phone exchange. Using a hosted phone exchange allows small businesses to benefit from the features and facilities of enterprise grade phone systems, without having the capital expense of having to buy an exchange.  A VoIP phone system runs over the Internet, typically over a dedicated ADSL line in a Small Business.

Advantages of VoIP Phone Systems

The advantages of VoIP phone systems, particularly Hosted VoIP phone systems, include:-

  • High Quality calls at low cost
  • Infinitely expandable as your business grows
  • You never need to change or loose your phone number, even when you move offices
  • You don’t have the capital expense of buying a PBX, this can save you hundreds or thousands of Pounds
  • Simple to move offices, just pick up your phones and plug them into your new office network. No need to reconfigure anything or spend hours on the phone to BT
  • You don’t have to decide how many external lines you are going to need
  • Its really simple to include home workers in the office phone system, all they need is a broadband line. Now when they are working from home they could be sat at the next desk. You can see if they are on the phone, through the presence indicator, transfer calls to them (for free) and they can make calls that have the office number as the outgoing call line identification (CLI)
  • Calls between multiple office and home workers are free
  • If you travel – use a soft-phone on your laptop, or mobile phone, and all your calls appear to come from the office
  • If you are working outside the UK, calls to the office remain free from your soft-phone, and calls to other UK numbers are just local calls that get charged to the office
  • Never miss a call again
  • Access your Voicemail from anywhere that has Internet access or get it sent to you as an email
  • Click to dial – highlight phone numbers on a web page and call them directly
  • Outlook Integration – quickly and simply dial your Outlook contacts
  • Calls between other businesses using the same provider are, with most systems, free of charge. You only get charged when you go ‘off net’
  • You can have calls ‘overflow’ between offices, where if one office is really busy their calls can be answered by one of the less busy offices.
  • You can even have multiple numbers for the same office. i.e. An office in Cornwall having both a Penzance number and a London number.
  • If you can’t get into the office, due to adverse weather conditions; or if the office suffers from a power cut you can receive you calls at home. Either through a ‘soft phone’ or an IP phone at home.

Limitations of the traditional Phone System

A traditional phone system has its own PBX and a number of phone lines.

  • If you have a single ISDN2 line this allows you to have a total of 2 external calls running concurrently, after that any other customers calling in would receive an engaged tone.
  • You have to estimate how many simultaneous, external, calls that will be taking place. This is quite difficult as you may be able to estimate the number of outgoing calls, but its more complex to estimate the number of incoming calls. If you get it wrong it can be expensive, either you are paying for lines that you don’t really need, or you are loosing business because customers get an engaged tone when they call.
  • When you want to add more external lines you may also need to upgrade the PBX to cope with the additional lines.
  • It is difficult to include home workers into the phone system.
  • If you have multiple offices, calls between the offices can get expensive.
  • Quick and easy to put a ‘Call Me Now’ button on your website, that costs the customer nothing, as a quick and easy way to help convert hot prospects.

Using the advantages of VoIP day to day

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to test the advantages of VoIP for your business. If you choose the right system you will quickly appreciate the advantages of VoIP for a small and growing business.

Advantages of VoIP – New Start-up

If you are starting a new business venture from home you need to project the right image from day one, so rather than using your home phone number or just using a mobile number get a VoIP phone system. Most homes have broadband already so all you need is a VoIP phone and a connection from a VoIP provider, like ourselves.

Starting at only £8.00 a month for business grade VoIP its a very cost effective route into ‘big business’ telephony.

Advantages of VoIP – Unified Communications

You can integrate your mobile phone into your VoIP network, so if you are near a Wi-Fi connection you can recieve and make calls as part of the office phone system. So getting hold of people is even simpler and can be free, rather than paying mobile phone charges.

Advantages of VoIP - Unified CommunicationsUnified Voice-Mail

  • Get your mobile phone voicemail and your office voicemail delivered into a single, unified, mailbox.
  • Review and play your voicemail from a web-page

Web Control

  • View your missed calls, phone contacts, voicemail etc all from a single web-page
  • Redirect calls and setup ‘hunt groups’ from a simple web UI
  • Call Me Now – button on your website

Advantages of VoIP – Growing Business

As your business grows and you either take on people working from home, or get an office you can expand your VoIP phone system. If you are moving into an office you will appreciate the advantages of VoIP when all you need to do is provision Broadband in the office and plug the phones in – your calls will now appear in the office.

When you need to add more people to the business its almost as simple as plugging in an additional phone. You will never outgrow a Hosted VoIP solution.

Advantages of VoIP – Cost Control

  • If you have multiple locations, either branch office or home workers, then all of the calls between your locations are free.
  • All calls appear on the main office bill, so no more having to apportion parts of home phone bills.
  • If your customers or suppliers use the same VoIP provider calls to them are free as well.
  • There are no sudden step costs, like having to upgrade the office PBX once you get past 50 users.

Advantages of VoIP – Flexibility and Mobility

  • If you need to work away from the office you can simply use a softphone on your desktop computer. Provided that you have internet access then you can use the phone system as though you are in the office. So you could be in:-
    • A hotel room
    • Working abroad
    • Sat in Starbucks
  • Quickly ‘spin up’ a branch office when you need to. Either as part of a new Business Venture or as a ‘Project Office’ on a customer site as part of a larger piece of business.

Can I Run VoIP?

To check if your network is suitable for running VoIP you should run a set of network tests. Follow the links to Speed Tests and Ping Tests in other posts on Computer Spot in order to find out if your network is suitable for VoIP.

These two tests will check if your broadband has the capacity to run VoIP and will also check the Internet Quality Test of your Broadband. The Ping Test, or Internet Quality Test, is the really important test if you are considering running a VoIP phone system.

There is no point in using VoIP if it sounds like a bad mobile phone connection. There are a lot of VoIP providers out there and not all of them offer Business Grade VoIP. So make sure that you select a provider who offer Business Grade VoIP, with all of the features and advantage of a large business PBX. Then your business will experience the advantages of VoIP.

You should now understand some of the advantages of VoIP for your business

Where Can I get a VoIP Phone System?

As part of the SystemAssure solution we offer a hosted VoIP Phone System. You can find out more about the advantages of VoIP for your business on the SystemAssure VoIP pages. The hosted VoIP phone solution we offer is Business Grade and is cost effective for single users through to companies with hundreds of users. So call us today to find out more about the advantages of VoIP for your business.