Getting an IP Telephone for Your Business

By Neil Zawacki
Updated: February 24, 2011

You may have some questions about what you need to do to get an IP telephone system for your business. The process is generally quite simple, and this tutorial describes the necessary steps and issues to keep in mind.

The first step is to decide what type of IP telephone service that you want for your business. Hardware-based systems don’t need a computer and are compatible with traditional phones. Software-based systems tend to be cheaper but may not have as good sound quality available. There are also mobile based-systems that offer all the standard services but require the use of a mobile phone.

You will then need to find an IP telephone provider. There are a huge number of different carriers and they each have their own benefits and drawbacks. You will want to compare aspects like the activation fee, terms of the contract, cost of the equipment, and features they have available. You may also want to see if any special promotions are going on and whether they have a money back guarantee.

The next step is to decide on a monthly service plan. There are normally at least two options available – a cheaper version that has a fixed number of minutes (such as 500 per month), and a more expensive plan that provides customers with unlimited calling. Most companies base this decision on how many phone calls they are likely to make each month.

It is important to make sure that your business has sufficient bandwidth in order to properly use the service. Your company will normally want at least 90kbps in order to reduce the possibility of latency and occasional echoes during phone conversations. If you do not have this much bandwidth available, you may need to upgrade your internet connection or switch to a different provider.

You will then need to get the equipment required to use the service. If you’ve decided to go with a hardware-based system, you will have to obtain an analog telephone adapter or an IP phone set, as well as a router. If you have chosen a hosted service, you will normally only need a headset or microphone and a good set of computer speakers.

Your company will then have to make a few decisions about your phone number. You can keep your existing number most of the time, or change if it you wish. You can also switch the area code to a different location through the use of virtual phone numbers. This provides smaller companies with the opportunity to have a New York phone number, a Los Angeles phone number, a London phone number, and so forth.

The last step is to set up the IP telephone system. This process is quite straightforward if you are using a hosted service – you simply download the software and install it onto your computer. If you’ve decided to go with a hardware-based system, you will need to directly connect the phone and router to the analog telephone adapter. You will also have to configure the new telephone system and may want to recruit an IT professional to help make sure the process goes smoothly.

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