Voice over Internet Protocol can save your small business money and offer more services.
If there is one technology cost-saver you could embrace immediately, it is cutting ties with your traditional phone service and replacing it with a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Plain and simple, VoIP business plans are significantly cheaper than signing up for multiple phone lines. Now that I have your attention, you should know the specifics.
First, there is the expense. VoIP demands you upgrade your Internet speed. Why? Well, since you are moving all your phone traffic to an Internet based connection, your bandwidth usage may go through the roof. However, the increased speed won’t only benefit your new phone service. All of your web business dealings will speed up, too, including media downloads and video conferencing. Plus, the nominal increase in your Internet bill will still be far below what you’re used to paying for your traditional phone service.
It gets better. VoIP comes with all the benefits of your traditional phone service — and a whole lot more. VoIP offers clear voice connection, conferencing, call waiting, call forwarding, call transferring, voicemail services and more. On top of that, you’ll receive “virtual numbers,” allowing users to maintain their local number from anywhere they can connect to the Internet. This means when you’re in Milwaukee, a caller will still think you’re in your office in Des Moines. VoIP will ring through to you. Another major plus is unlimited conference call attendees. Whereas traditional phone lines can have limits as low as three in a conference, VoIP can party in as many phones as you can think of. There’s also virtual hold, business data service integration, eFaxes and more. This only scratches the surface of what an Internet-based phone service can provide.
So what kind of cost are we talking about? Well, with Internet-wide providers instead of only your local telecom, the prices are competitive. Small business plans can start as low as $12.99 a month for the entire organization with providers such as RingCentral or Virtual Office Pro. For full enterprise level, network integrated systems start
near $100 from long-established companies such as Vonage and Intermedia.
Of course, there are a few downsides to consider. VoIP does require an Internet connection and power supply, so if either of these go down, the VoIP service will also go down. Also, since it is digital technology, VoIP is susceptible to viruses and other digital attacks. Finally, not having a dedicated physical location, emergency services can have trouble tracing the location of 9-1-1 calls.
The bottom line is that, regardless of the size of your business, VoIP is worth a look. Do the comparison and find out if it is right for your small business. ♦
Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. Follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb.