Hosted VoIP Purchasing Advice

By Sheila Shanker
Updated: July 07, 2011

Hosted Voice over Internet Protocol, also known as hosted VoIP is a popular choice for many small and medium-sized businesses. The idea is to use the Internet for phone service with the possibility of video capability as well. Many firms decide to use a hosted solution for the VoIP, which means that the heavy-duty equipment that manages phone calls is located off-site and is not owned by the business.

This setup offers many advantages over in-house systems, including substantial savings in equipment purchase and maintenance. As you select your hosted VoIP system, you could pay attention to a few items:

  • Technical Connection

Confirm with your VoIP provider that your Internet connection and other technical issues are appropriate to get the best quality of service. Before signing up with a hosting firm, test the system. You never know what issues will come up that needs to be fixed before hosted phone services can start.

  • Security

Ask your hosting firm how calls are handled to ensure that confidential information stays private with no eavesdropping. When you bring a third party into your business, security is a concern and the host firm should show you specific measures it has taken to protect your privacy.

  • Reliability

Hosted phone situations involve the risk of the host system going down and not allowing you to use your phone. Request information about disaster plans, and how they would handle lack of electricity, floods or other mishap. Many firms have complex backup systems to assure uninterrupted service and other plans.

  • Online Resources

You could look online for hosted services reviews from unbiased, objective websites, such as www.cnet.com, www.inc.com, www.forbes.com and other business magazines. Be careful when you look at information online because many websites are just advertising pieces for equipment or services, and won’t give you a good picture of the hosted VoIP market.

  • e911

Let’s hope you never have to use this service, but you should ask your host provider how they handle emergency calls. The enhanced 911 service, also known as e911, presents the callers' addresses as they call, increasing the speed of service. Since your main phone service will not be located in your office, ask how emergency services are managed.

A hosted phone system not only saves you money, but it’s easy to setup and use. If you have multiple offices, the value of a hosted environment is clear—all you have to do is to get a phone and contact the hosting firm—no need to call the old phone company or to handle confusing cables and other hassles.


 

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