3 Things You Need Before Installing VOIP in Your Small Business
By Meagan Webb-Morgan, Guest Contributor
Installing Voice over Internet Protocol phone service gives you access to corporate-quality phone features at a cost that is affordable for your small business. TheDigest.com explains, “The low cost of a VoIP phone system, as well as its digital features, can help your business run more smoothly and develop a professional image.”
While VOIP is a phone technology many businesses use, it works much differently from your standard phone system. Because of this, you need to take into account several considerations: Internet quality, service level agreement, and current business processes. Be sure you have answers to the following concerns before installing your new and improved phone system.
A Quality Internet Connection
There are a wide variety of options for implementing VoIP within your small business, from simple computer-based solutions to those that require new wiring and dedicated hardware. No matter what sort of service you choose, picking the right phone service provider is only half of the battle.
- Your current Internet connection may not have enough bandwidth to handle the increased usage following installation of your VoIP service. Transmitting voice takes up much more bandwidth than accessing email or social media does, so you may need to increase your limit in order to achieve good call quality.
- Depending on the number of lines you plan to utilize in your phone system, you may need to install a dedicated Internet connection just for your calls.
- Because your phone service will be transmitted by your Internet service, the two can come into conflict. You can avoid this circumstance by making sure your connection has enough bandwidth, or by purchasing your Internet and digital phone service from the same provider.
A Solid Service Level Agreement
The quality of your business VoIP service should be better than the service available to regular consumers and should be guaranteed by the provider’s Service Level Agreement (SLA). If a provider does not offer an SLA, or offers one with poorly-defined terms, you should reject the contract and find a different provider. When investigating a provider’s SLA, look for the following elements:
- Performance. What are the limits on poor quality, latency, and jitter?
- Availability. What are the limits on downtime? How do they calculate the limits?
- Warranties and guarantees. What does the SLA promise, and how does it back up those promises?
- Responsibility. How are problems reported? How long until problems are fixed? How do they handle refunds for downtime or other problems?
An Alternate Phone Connection
Take a step back to look at your business, your technology, and your needs. Determine how they will be affected by a switch from analog to digital phones – not just in terms of call quality.
- If your business property has an alarm system, that system may require an analog phone connection to contact the authorities in case of a break-in. While this requirement does not preclude your switching to VoIP service, you may need to keep a single phone line installed in order to keep your alarm system working.
- Your credit card processing hardware or POS system may also run on an analog line. Make sure that your hardware can be switched over to an internet connection and still function properly.
Before you install a new Internet phone system, make sure that the switch will not result in unexpected negative consequences. VoIP comes with many benefits and features that are well-suited to small businesses, so long as you take the time to ensure you have the right internet connection and a solid SLA that guarantees quality service.
Megan Webb-Morgan is a web content writer for Resource Nation. She writes about small business, focusing on topics such as business communications. Follow Resource Nation on Facebook, catch them tweeting from @ResourceNation, too!