FREE VoIP Buying Guide

By Sheila Shanker
Updated: August 15, 2011

If you’re in the market to purchase a VoIP phone system, you’re in luck with all the options available these days. It can be confusing, but below are some items to guide you through this process:

Internet Research
Before you buy any system, take a look online for systems comparisons and costs. You could search the Internet for ‘VoIP” and get ideas of what is available in the marketplace. Be careful of websites that are biased towards certain products or services, and look at least at three websites that feature the systems you are interested in purchasing. For instance, take a look at Amazon.com or cdw.com, which will give you ideas about costs and any warranties available.

Brand Names
You want to deal with well-known brands tested and well respected in the market and avoid obscure brands that may be cheaper, but the manufacturer may not be around for the long haul. If you need a replacement part or to solve a problem with your service, you want to make sure the firm is sound and reputable to serve your needs, not only on a short-term, but also on the long-term basis. Consider brand names like Cisco, Polycom, which have a strong presence in the U.S. marketplace.

Costs
When considering buying a VoIP, you probably already know that you will be saving lots of money in long-distance calls; but how much are you willing to pay for equipment and service? What is included in your monthly fee? Be sure to have your most useful functions included in the monthly fee. Ask if you could test the equipment and service before you commit to an yearly contract. Be aware that many businesses have been selecting a hosted solution for their VoIP needs, which is cheaper than an in-house system, especially when dealing with PBX systems.

Scalability
This is about thinking long-term about your system and not just about your current needs. Think about five years from now – what functions you may want to have? Video Conferencing? Remote access to the phone system? Scalability is how easy your system is to add to and change as your business grows. You don’t want to invest on a new VoIP after a few years, and you should ask questions about how the system is built to be sure it will still meet your needs by allowing for easy additions.

On a final note, before buying a VoIP system, be sure to inquire about 911 services. Currently, when you call 911, the emergency response team gets your address; however, with VoIP services, your address could be anywhere and the provider should give you specific information on how it handles this situation. Good luck with your VoIP purchase!
 

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