See what today’s VoIP and unified communications solutions have to offer and get an overview of the top five current SMB and enterprise VoIP/UC solutions.
Business phone services are no longer just telephone services. They have evolved and are now often VoIP based and paired with unified communications (UCaaS) as services such as conferencing, instant messaging, email, voicemail and business SMS. This potentially saves businesses money by providing integrated features rather than disjointed business applications. In addition, many business VoIP services offer unlimited calling plans and low-priced international plans. A choice of hosting is often available, including on-site, cloud-based PBX and hybrid. Many also work with a mixture of IP and traditional phone lines.
Advantages of Managed VoIP Business Phone Services
Cloud-based services, which are soon to completely replace traditional Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) phone lines, are affordable and easily managed. Managed services require few internal resources, since the service manages the servers, service and backup. That just leaves configuration, monitoring and service adjustments to the business owner or IT staff.
VoIP businesses services often charge by the phone line or extension. But you also may have hardware costs to consider if you plan to host on-site and phone costs if you need to purchase new phones or headsets. Some services may also charge additional fees for things such as voice-to-email services, conferencing or international calling. Nowadays, many services do not require a long-term contract but may offer lower pricing if you pay a year or more in advance.
Is It Time to Upgrade?
For most, the answer is yes. VoIP business phone services are more affordable in the long run and offer many features beyond just telephone services. If you are not quite ready to make the leap and have a lot of fully functional analog phones you want to keep using, you can upgrade to VoIP and use an adapter to continue using your older phones, or you can add low-priced softphones (headsets) to your PCs to use VoIP services. Eventually, you’ll likely make the full conversion, so you might give some thought to what’s currently holding you back. Plan for adequate internet bandwidth to support your new phone system. Generally, you need to allocate for up to 100 Kbps per phone line.
What Services Do VoIP and UCaaS Provide?
These phone services provide all advanced phone features such as virtual call receptionists, call forwarding and recording, voicemail, inbound and outbound calls, hold music, forward to mobile, call holding, and multiple-party calls.
Most services also offer unified communications. This means that additional collaboration tools such as video and audio conferencing, business SMS, instant messaging, presence indicators, and screen sharing are included with the phone services. These features usually integrate with CRM-type services and/or Outlook so users can easily connect with contacts or customers in a variety of ways. All features are integrated and low-priced.
Choosing a VoIP Service
Your first consideration is your ROI. Some services, such as 8X8, have ROI calculators on their websites to help you figure out what your breaking point might be. Another consideration is your hardware investment – telephones, switches, headsets, adapters, routers and more depending on the setup you desire. A critical consideration is your internet bandwidth. You may need to consult with your provider to arrange for enough bandwidth to support your new phones, alongside other internet needs.
Specifically, we selected 8X8, Avaya Aura, ShoreTel, Vonage and Skype for Business. Find out which one might be best for your needs.
How to Obtain a Quote From VoIP Vendors
You can fill out the form provided on this website to obtain quotes through our sister site BuyerZone, or you can contact the providers you are interested in. You’ll want to know how many lines you require, how you want to host the services, and what additional services you may require. Some contracts may be negotiable, and you may receive discounts for paying in advance or with a term contract. Hardware leasing or financing options, including for phones, may also be available. If you need it, you may also want to ask about free or paid training or implementation support.