Comparing VoIP Vendors

By Sheila Shanker
Updated: March 07, 2011

When considering buying VoIP systems, you should look at more than one vendor before making a decision. There are many service providers in the marketplace competing for your dollar, and it’s easy to get confused. Below are some tips to help you be more effective in comparing VoIP vendors:

Make a list of your requirements and put them in order of importance with the most important feature at the top. You could talk to your IT person to give you ideas in this area. One the list is setup, you could have columns for each vendor with a score or a tickmark indicating that the requirement was met. Your list could look like this:

  1.  Up to $10 monthly fee for international calls
  2.  Ability to run video on the same line for conferences and training
  3.  Quality of the phone connection should at least match current POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service)
  4.  Low maintenance costs
  5.  Long warranties
  6.  E911 capability
  7.  Local technical support
  8.  Backup options
  9.  Plan of action if Internet service is not available
  10.  Training of own IT staff to create experts in-house

Reviewing Vendors

Review vendors online by googling the name of the vendor and visiting its website. Look for information on past and existing customers, and see if they are in the same industry or size as you are. Many websites provide free whitepapers that you could review and see if they relate to your situation.

Trial Offers

Look for free trials and test the VoIP services to make sure they work, are clear and up to your standards. Verify if you can use your old analog equipment with adapters, or if you need to purchase new phones or lines. Test the system using all your phones at the same time to see if  the quality of calls remains the same at peak usage periods.

Referrals

Ask for referrals from other businesses and individuals. You want to make sure that the vendor you select has a good reputation, and will be around for the long-run. You could also go to online users groups that you could ask questions about the system and vendors you are considering. Be aware that there are many nut-cases online, and any opinions from strangers are to be taken with a grain of salt, but the groups can still be useful.

Security

Inquire about security features that protect your business from unauthorized use of VoIP system and eavesdropping. Vendors may offer basic protection against viruses and worms, and may require you to pay extra for more protection.

Comparing VoIP vendors before making a purchase decision is an important step. The technology in this area has been moving at an amazing speed, lowering costs and making lots of features available to the small business with a small budget. Take full advantage of vendor competition and do your homework before selecting a VoIP service.

 

 


Sources:
http://searchunifiedcommunications.techtarget.com/feature/Comparing-VoIP-vendors
http://www.voipreview.org/Business_Telephone_Systems/business_voip_buyersguide.aspx
http://voip.about.com/od/security/a/SecuThreats.htm


 

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