Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a broadly used, but little understood, umbrella term to describe something simple: sending your voice over the internet. VoIP capabilities appear in various forms, like Hosted Public Branch Exchange (PBX), which is a cloud service used to transmit voice data over the internet and provide enterprise-grade communications features.
Although VoIP is a useful and versatile telephony solution for a digital-centric world, it can also be daunting and complicated for those unsure of what to look for. So, we’ve compiled five key items that customers should demand from any VoIP solution provider:
Quality is hard to define, but it’s easy to hear when on the phone—it either sounds great or it sounds like you’re talking in a barrel. A top-tier service provider provides high-quality infrastructure with effective traffic prioritization designed to deliver the best possible sound for its customers.
But quality doesn’t stop with just sound. A great service provider also stands out with round-the-clock support, a high uptime service level agreement, rich enterprise-grade calling features, easy management and scalability. Additionally, such providers offer customers a range of features unique to internet telephony, such as phone and computer integration.
2) Service Features
Internet-based telephony frees employees from being bound to desks or conference rooms for business calls. In fact, some Hosted PBX providers offer features like call-forwarding to mobile, call recording, advanced call routing and more. These service features are just a few reasons to invest in internet telephony.
For example, IP-based telephony services can easily be upgraded with smart features. These provide users with a multitude of powerful tools to use, much like applications on a smartphone. Different service providers offer varied feature bundles, but basic benefits can include voicemail-to-email, find me/follow me call routing, auto attendants and more.
Any digital technology requires security. In fact, some organizations are required to comply with regulations and prove their technology meets certain security standards. Fortunately, IP solutions can be just as secure as traditional analog phone lines.
Most service providers host their services in secure physical datacenters and leverage various enterprise-class security features, such as intrusion prevention and authentication-based access to administration rights. Enterprise-class providers also comply with a variety of certifications and are audit-ready (including SOC 2 and PCI) at all times. Of course, customers should always take time to examine the quality of a provider’s security infrastructure before making any commitments.
VoIP is known for its cost-saving abilities. That’s because many IP-based telephony solutions charge for the number of users on a network and which features an organization subscribes to, rather than charging based on number of phone lines, caller and recipient locations, and more.
But VoIP solutions also help save on costs in several other ways. Adding phones is simple, requiring only a phone and an Ethernet cord to install. Traditional phone services require wiring a handset to a phone line – an expensive process with maintenance costs that alone can add up to a small fortune as a business grows.
Companies could also see losses of productivity and profits when they’re hit with downtime. For example, a natural disaster could shut down a local business using a traditional phone line for hours, or even days. Hosted PBX is different. Since it’s cloud-based, it can simply route calls and communication through alternative (including mobile) channels to help ensure that a business can stay up and running, regardless of the weather.
VoIP is fundamentally about business-to-business connection, so any VoIP solution must have reliable connectivity. Buyers will need to seek out a provider capable of delivering high uptime, no matter the conditions. To establish this, organizations should look, or ask, for a service provider’s uptime commitment.
For example, Intermedia provides a “five nines” (99.999%) uptime Service Level Agreement. This means clients are compensated if they suffer from downtime spanning longer than six minutes over the course of the year. If a company is looking for an internet telephony solution, they should ask their prospective providers for a similar level of reliability.
When it comes to internet telephony, no one particular feature—perhaps other than quality and reliability—is greater than another. That’s why any company considering a better communication solution must treat their choice of provider as they would any other critical business decision: assess all options and run with the decision that best aligns with its goals.
February 28, 2017
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