5 Questions to Ask Business VoIP Providers Before You Buy
November 12, 2012
By Rachel Ramsey
, TMCnet Web Editor
You’ve read about all of the benefits of implementing Voice over IP (VoIP) in your business and you are ready to make the move to modern-day communications. Good to go, right?
Not quite. Advancements in technology mean an abundance of options. Before you even get into the process of choosing a VoIP provider, there are a lot of questions that are probably unanswered. What type of phone system best fits your business? Why are you looking for a new phone system? Will your phone system integrate with other business systems?
VoIP business services tend to have a larger setup cost, but much lower ongoing costs than their circuit-switched counterparts. The better you understand what it is you are buying, the more confident you’ll be. GetVoIP.com, a news blog and VoIP provider directory that offers guidance and assistance for VoIP shoppers, came up with 10 questions to ask when searching for a business VoIP system.
“What are the real startup costs?”
You’ll need to know how many lines you need, how many people will be using how many phones, and how comfortable you are setting up new equipment. Although many business VoIP providers waive setup, activation and phone number fees, not every provider does. Different companies offer different levels of hand-holding, at different price points. It may be less expensive to buy a phone at a retailer, but can you get it working by yourself?
“What are the termination costs?”
Sometimes businesses and business VoIP providers don’t work out. Before you buy, it’s important to know what the procedures are for going back to your old system or changing to a different VoIP provider. Most business VoIP providers offer some form of a 30-day free trial, but make sure you understand those terms and agreements. Knowing the best and worst case scenarios will help you make a better decision.
“What are the minimum ongoing costs?”
You want to make sure you understand everything about every possible cost a VoIP provider can possibly have. From startup to termination and ongoing costs, it’s better to know all of this before selecting a provider rather than being stuck afterward. Even the least expensive calling plans have taxes and E911 fees. Reading reviews of VoIP providers can give you a better idea of how your day-to-day expenses will be affected, such as electricity bills and changes of IT support.
“How do I replace or integrate my old phones?”
Although there are many advantages of IP phones, many VoIP subscribers, due to cost or preference, are hesitant to leave their old phones behind. This is easily fixed with something called an “Analog Telephone Adapter” (ATA). The ATA acts as a gateway, changing your voice into data, and sending it through the Internet. An ATA is sometimes referred to as a “VoIP Box (News - Alert).” There are costs directly and in productivity when it comes to choosing between using your old phones or replacing them, and these are certainly factors you want to bring up and discuss with a provider before making a decision.
“Is the mobile app compatible with my phone?”
The advancements in technology that have led to IP communications have also led us to an extremely mobile world. Find out what platforms a provider supports before deciding which one to go with. The biggest platforms for mobile phones are the iPhone OS from Apple (News - Alert) and the Android OS from Google. This also leads into a perfect next question, “What other devices can I use?” Know what devices your provider’s mobile app works on, such as a tablet or PC. Will it work over Wi-Fi? Will it work on 4G networks? Find out how you would be able to connect to the office in, say, your local public library, your favorite coffee place, and a hotel room.
To see the remainder of the questions, be sure to visit GetVoIP.com’s blog post
Edited by Rachel Ramsey