To help you understand what goes into a great Hosted VoIP system, we’ve put together a list of our most commonly asked questions by business owners. We hope to leave you with a better awareness of what Hosted VoIP entails—and what it can do for you.
What is VoIP, anyway? VoIP stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol,” and it’s a phone system that works via an internet connection rather than a landline. Instead of connecting to a phone jack, your phone will connect to your internet service.
What is the difference between a User/Extension/Device/Line? These terms define pricing in VoIP, so it’s important to understand the differences when considering a provider. Below are a few key definitions for most VoIP services:
User: An actual person within the system who uses a phone, whether that takes the form of a desktop phone, a softphone on tablet or computer, or a smartphone app. You will be billed based on the number of users using the system.
Device: Any one of the phone forms listed above, like a desktop phone.
Extension: An addendum to a phone number that can act as a roll-over line or shorthand for that number. An extension can also be forwarded to an external number. With several of our providers, you get unlimited extensions. Pricing for cordless phones is based on how many of these you have.
Line: The destination for your call. Put another way, a phone number and an extension that route to the same phone are part of a single line, but if a call was forwarded to another phone, that would be a different line altogether.
What kind of equipment do I need for Hosted VoIP? There are just three main ingredients that go into successful Hosted VoIP usage: IP phones, business grade routers, and High Speed Internet. In some cases you might already own the latter two, and if you’ve had a premises-based or Hosted VoIP system in the past, you can continue to use the same phones. Our providers also offers ATAs, or analog telephone adapters, to enable analog phones for VoIP.
How fast does my internet need to be? Your high-speed internet service needs to run at 90 kilobytes per second—both uploading and downloading—per concurrent call. So think of how many phone calls you get at peak times, and multiply that by 0.09 Mbps (90 kilobytes) to get your minimum Internet speed. Then you can compare that number with your current service speed at a site like speedtest.net.
What happens if my internet goes out? We’ve all experienced internet outages, and because VoIP phones work through the internet, this might seem like cause for alarm. However, by setting up your Find Me/Follow Me settings in the your system, all calls will route to a predetermined location in an emergency, such as a cell phone. That means that if disaster strikes, you’ll be able to continue with business pretty much as usual. Your voicemail box will also continue to receive messages.
Can I keep my old phone number? How long does it take to port? Worried that you’ll have to adjust your marketing to match a new phone number? No need. In most cases we can port your existing number away from your previous provider and onto the new system, creating a seamless transition for your customers. The process takes about 10-14 days once the port has been approved.
What are the advantages of Hosted over Premises-Based VoIP?
Lower cost: A hosted system has a lower initial equipment and set-up cost, precisely because you don’t need to pay for an on-site hub. Maintenance costs are also significantly less.
Easier administration: With hosted systems, all aspects of the PBX and dial plan can be controlled by individual users if needed. Extra lines can be added through an intuitive online portal with a few clicks of a mouse, and “plug-n-play” phones make changing locations or adding offices a snap.
Richer features: Hosted systems often carry all-inclusive feature sets at entry price, where premises-based systems might add extra fees for call center features like auto attendants. VoIP systems in general make enterprise-grade features more available and affordable. Unfortunately, most hosted VoIP providers will still charge you for feature-package tiers and startup fees. This is where most providers really shine, delivering all-inclusive features for one monthly charge.
Can I create my own number/vanity number? If you want an exciting new vanity number, there are third-party providers who can attempt to locate the exact vanity number you would like and then directly port it over to a Hosted VoIP provider. If you already have a vanity number, you can usually bring it with you when you switch.
Can I forward my calls to a mobile device? Absolutely! In fact, this is one of the key advantages of a Hosted VoIP system. You can forward calls to any external number just by changing your Find Me/Follow Me settings.
What are the price differences between long distance and international calling? With most providers offering a Domestic Calling Plan, you can call long distance for free to Canada and Puerto Rico, plus any of the 50 states. For international calling, we have a provider that has 3-cents-a-minute options to select countries, plus other extremely competitive rates.
There you have it: our answers to the top 10 most common questions we hear the most regarding Hosted VoIP.
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