Voice Over IP (VoIP) Phone Systems

Determing the best "type" of phone system for your business depends on many factors.  Today's technology advances have made it attractive for businesses to consider installing Voice Over IP (VoIP) phone systems vs. traditional on-premises phone systems.  It is important before pulling the trigger on any new phone system to first, step back, ask questions and evaluate the requirements for a successful phone system install, before making purchasing decisions.  With regards to VoIP phone systems, this article will cover the questions most commonly asked by business owners.

What is a VoIP Phone System? (in layman’s terms)

A quick definition of Voice over IP is phone conversations take place over a public or private IP (internet protocal) data network.  This could mean business owners would eliminate the need for a traditional local phone company.

VoIP technology is also used by traditional phone companies which is an example of talking over a private data network.  

With that being said, due to the reliability of some internet connections, utilizing the public internet to make and receive business phone calls has become more common place and cost effective. 

Below are two examples that will provide a better understanding of VoIP Phone SystemS that utilize the internet, as opposed to a traditional local phone company:

EXAMPLE ONE:  What is commonly referred to as a cloud phone system. A cloud phone system usually involves VoIP phones that are connected to a data switch and a firewall, which connects to a phone system that is located in a service providers data center, commonly referred to as “the cloud”, utilizing the internet for connectivity as opposed to a local phone company.

EXAMPLE TWO:  What is commonly referred to as an “on-premise” phone system, or to be more grammatically correct, an on-premises” or “on the premises” phone system. In this example, the VoIP phone system and its associated features and functionality is located inside the customer’s building, and the on-premise phone system can also utilize the internet for connectivity as opposed to a traditional local phone company.

Both of these examples, the VoIP Cloud Phone System, and the VoIP On Premise Phone System are examples of VoIP Phone Systems.

How do you know if a VoIP Phone System is right for Your business?

There are several factors that need to be considered to be able to answer this question...

1) First, determine what is most cost effective, and the best fit.

  • For small offices with 5 phones or less, a VoIP cloud phone system may be the most cost effective.
  • For offices that are extremely phone intensive, where most of the employees are constantly on the phone, and for contact centers that include multiple forms of communication such as phone calls, chat, email, texting, and social media, a VoIP cloud phone system solution may be the best fit.
  • For businesses with 10 or more phones, it’s likely that a VoIP On Premise phone system that utilizes the public internet to make and receive phone calls will be the most cost effective.
    Sometimes the VoIP cloud phone system is the best fit, and sometimes the VoIP On-Premise phone system is the best fit. A more in-depth conversation can help determine which is best.

If utilizing the public internet to make and receive phone calls appears to be a good fit, identify and address the points of failures that can cause poor call quality, or internet security breaches. Some cloud providers are quick to sell a customer a bill of goods, and not address the points of failure beforehand to ensure the business will end up with a successful VoIP phone system longterm.

Voice over ip phone system Points of failure to consider

  • Wiring inside the building, is it adequate and up to date enough to support VoIP?
  • Are necessary data switches in place, to ensure quality of phone calls?
  • Firewall evaluation and possible upgrade to provide quality phone calls and address data security issues
  • The quality of the internet service needs to be evaluated, because not all internet connections are reliable enough to carry voice traffic

ServiceMark Telecom goes way beyond conducting a simple internet speed and ping test for businesses considering VoIP phone systems. ServiceMark due dillegence involves installing a diagnostic tool that simulates 100s, even thousands of phone calls over a weeks time, or longer if necessary.  We monitor phone quality and if we detect any poor phone call quality on any of the simulated  calls, the problem is identified ahead of time, before the customer makes a decision to go with a VoIP cloud or on-premise phone system.

Is a VoIP Phone System Using the Public Internet Less Expensive than a Traditional Phone System Using the Local Phone Company?

For a lot of small and medium sized businesses, VoIP using the public internet as opposed to using a traditional phone company does save money. The bigger question is which is most cost effective and the best fit—a VoIP Cloud Phone System Solution, or a VoIP On-Premise Phone System Solution?

An exploratory meeting with ServiceMark can help determine which is the best. It’s common for ServiceMark Telecome to prepare proposals for both Cloud and On-Premise Phone System Solutions and complete a cost comparison spreadsheet for customers.  The spreadsheet calculates the total cost of ownership of a cloud vs. on-premise phone system solution over 3, 5, 7, and 10 years. We can really help customers make informed decisions!

Tips for Shopping for a VoIP Phone System

Whether you purchase a cloud or on-premise phone system, the devil is in the details, especially for any business with 6 or more employees.

  • Ask service providers “what are the next steps", if you accept their proposal. Be listening for insight about planning, project management, and end-user training processes.  
  • Ask about how additions or changes are made to the system after the initial installation. Is a local vendor involved or does it only involve a service provider with no local representative?
  • Find out if you will be calling into a call center talking with people that don’t really know your local business. 
  • Ask what changes to the system can be made by your own staff.
  • Ask what system administrator documentation and training is provided to empower your employees to make changes themselves.

Do your own due diligence to make sure you’re 100% comfortable with the service provider choose!

Financing for a New or Upgraded Business Phone System

ServiceMark Telecom make it easy for business owners to stay equipped with the latest business telephone system technology with easy and flexible financing options through Mid Continent Capital, a local company in the Kansas City area that has provided convenient financing for our customers for well over 20 years.

Whether the phone system is a VoIP Cloud Phone System Solution, or is a VoIP On-Premise Phone System Solution, both solutions will involve some hardware such as VoIP phones, and if needed, updating the firewall and data switches that need to be installed on the customer’s premises, all of these costs can be financed.