Small Business VoIP Q&A

By Neil Zawacki
Updated: September 20, 2011

Small Business VoIP Q&A

Small businesses that are looking to purchase a new phone system often consider switching to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). This article will answer some of the most common questions about the popular phone service.

What are the advantages of VoIP ?

The primary benefit of VoIP is the amount of money saved. You can make domestic phone calls for free, as long you have access to a high-speed internet connection. You can also make international phone calls at very low rates through VoIP (and sometimes at no charge). Furthermore, VoIP provides access to a wide variety of phone features that you normally have to pay a great deal of money to obtain.

What equipment will I need for VoIP?

There’s a good chance you’ve already got all the hardware. You’ll need a computer to run the software application. You’ll need a high-speed internet connection, and thus a modem, router, and wireless or wired adapter. You’ll also need either a headset or a microphone and good set of computer speakers. In addition, some of the special features for VoIP will require additional equipment (video conferencing will require a webcam, for example).

What VoIP features should I get?

Most small businesses will want the following VoIP features: an auto attendant (to answer and route phone calls), extension dialing, voice mail, conference calls, call waiting, and caller identification. You may also want to consider several other features. Call recording is useful if there is a dispute between an employee and a customer. Voicemail transcription is helpful if you receive a lot of phone messages and don’t have the time to transfer them to text format. Video conferencing is also quite popular among small businesses who have a lot of employees who travel or work from home.

How can I increase my bandwidth for VoIP?

There are several steps you can take to improve your internet connection. You can buy a router with Quality of Service and set the UPD traffic to the ports between 10,000 and 20,000. You can purchase a new phone adapter or replace the analog terminal adapter with a LAN switch port. You should also update your firewall to provide VoIP access (provided you haven’t done so already). If you still have bandwidth issues, consider switching to a service provider that is located closer to your business.

Do we need a VoIP gateway?

A VoIP gateway can handle the conversion of voice traffic from a traditional PBX into IP form (and back again). You don’t need to purchase one if you are going with a hosting company – they’ll deal with all the technological complexities. If you intend to run the VoIP system yourself, however, you’ll want to get a VoIP gateway. Some of the larger gateways can handle a huge number (several thousands) of voice channels at the same time.

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