5 Things You Must Consider Before Installing a Hosted VoIP Phone System At Your Office

Hosted VoIP Solutions

There is a whole lot of hype and buzz around VoIP Phone Systems (Voice over Internet Protocol). This solution differs from its main competition (digital on-premises PBX) in a few ways but the main difference is the source of service.

While digital systems pass information over traditional analog or POTS lines, an IP or VoIP system uses your internet to transmit data and make phone calls.

When it comes to VoIP there are both on-premises options and cloud based options. On-premises VoIP solutions are often hybrids that offer the advantages of IP solutions and digital solutions in one.

Hosted or Cloud based VoIP systems have no “head end” hardware in your office. That hardware is hosted in the cloud along with all of the programming and interface for your system. You simply have handsets in your office that plug into computers and use the magic of the internet/the cloud to make and receive calls.

Many business owners and decision makers are attracted to the versatility, hardware cost and high tech features of hosted VoIP options.

With that in mind, implementing hosted VoIP sounds like a no brainer but it is important to consider certain requirements and factors before making the switch.

5 Things You Must Consider Before Installing a Hosted VoIP Phone System At Your Office

1.  Is your internet steady enough and robust enough to handle the added demand of a phone system?

An internet outage is one of the most frustrating things isn’t it? Unless you have a failover it slows down productivity, prevents you from using certain programs and if you are in the cloud you can’t do anything at all.

Cloud based solutions require an internet connection to operate. That is true for cloud based software and it’s also true for a hosted VoIP solution. The issue doesn’t stop at a complete outage though. Any disruption of service will impact the quality of your phone calls. You may experience poor reception or you might drop calls completely if your internet connection isn’t steady and strong.

So, what do you do about that? For starters you can implement a failover. This failover service will take over if your main provider goes down allowing you to keep moving in the event of an outage.

Additionally, you should consult with your internet service provider to ensure that your bandwidth can handle your typical call volume. If you don’t have proper bandwidth, your internet won’t be able to keep up with your system and you won’t be happy with the quality of your service.

2. Is your network infrastructure compatible with a VoIP solution?

Every business has their own specific requirements when it comes to network infrastructure and a hosted VoIP solution but there are some standards you can look for right away.

In regards to your cabling – industry standards now recommend at least Cat6 wiring. Andromeda suggest a minimum of Cat6e cable to support all IP solutions.

You will also want to connect your IT partner with your VoIP provider to make sure any other requirements are met.

Some of those might include:

  • Quality of Service Routers/Switches
  • Optimized Network
  • Backup Power Source
  • Redundant POE Switching
  • Gigabyte Network Support

As mentioned before, hosted VoIP can be a much more cost efficient choice when it comes to the actual system hardware (basically just the phones), but there are many instances where the infrastructure updates needed are just too hefty.

3. Do you own the equipment? If not, who does?

It is important to look into who actually owns the equipment when you purchase a hosted VoIP solution. Many times, your purchase is part of a leasing program where you pay a small fee every month to ‘rent’ the phones.

This is most common with hosted solutions and far less common with on-premises solutions.

It may not look like a lot of money at first but over time it adds up.

For example – in a typical three year contract, your handset costs might start at approximately $15.00 per month (this is just the cost of the equipment – not service). If your office has 20 handsets that means you are spending $3600 annually and almost $11,000 across the lifetime of your contract on equipment you don’t even own. Not to mention the monthly service charges and taxes involved.

These costs only increase when you add in higher quality phones and special features.

4. Have you looked into the tax rates applied to VoIP services in your area?

“Taxes, surcharges and fees apply” – Cryptic right?

Statements like this are used often when VoIP vendors pitch their solutions and too often, business owners aren’t made aware of the taxes required for their VoIP solution on top of the basic equipment and service fees.

Each state and region has their own tax codes and it is not unheard of for these taxes, surcharges and fees to reach hundreds and hundreds of dollars a month.

All of a sudden that cost savings you were anticipating is chewed up and spit out by these hidden fees.

The worst part is many national VoIP providers don’t even give you the hard numbers when they deliver their proposal. Imagine opening your first bill, expecting to see a $600 total and finding that you owe $900! Now multiply that out over the course of your contract and you get the picture.

For Illinois specifically you can learn more about VoIP specific taxes here.

5. Have you looked into who will support your phone system if there are programming or equipment issues?

With a hosted solution, you don’t have the head end equipment in your office. There isn’t a box or piece of hardware that a technician can come work on when things go wrong. Instead, there is cloud hosted software that connects to the handsets plugged into your computers.

If there is an issue and you can’t seem to get things resolved, it is highly unlikely that your VoIP provider has technicians available to come visit your office. At that point, you are stuck calling around and googling to try and find a company to come work on your phones.

It is not safe to assume that the same people who handle your IT will know how to help you with your hosted solution. They may not be trained on the software and they may also have no knowledge of the phones themselves.

Hosted VoIP enters into a gray area where there are IT and Telecom pieces at play.

Before you sign up and install a hosted solution, you should figure out who will be able to service you in a pinch.

Your phone system is one of the most important communication tools you’ve got. There are many different options out there and hopefully this list of questions will better prepare you for a hosted VoIP system if that is the solution you choose.

Andromeda helps businesses select professional phone systems in many varieties every day. Give us a call and let us help you determine which solution is right for your needs.