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14 August 2020

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Business VoIP buyers guide 2020

Have a question about business VoIP services? We discuss everything in our up-to-date in our 2020 VoIP buyers guide here. The small business VoIP buyers guide we’ve featured here offers custom packages for any budget, dedicated support reps, competitive pricing, and a fully managed, hands-on approach to getting your new business VoIP system up and running in the shortest possible time.

VoIP, Phones, voice

[5 – 10 minute read]

In this guide we will cover the following topics:

Traditional phone lines

Traditionally, single telephones on small sites and larger telephone systems at main office locations were connected directly to a network called the Public Switched Telephony Network (PSTN). This global telephone network managed by “Telcos” or Service Providers is what’s used when someone in the UK wants to call someone in Australia, or Austria or Austin for example.

Connection to this network was achieved using a dedicated connection provided by the local telephone company. The connection could be a single phone line for a phone in a remote office or it could be a trunk line (a large connection that supports multiple phone calls simultaneously) in a large office. This model works well but it can be slow and expensive to connect up new sites, potentially a big headache for the Construction industry and its constant need to open up new sites.

What is Business VoIP?

Business VoIP, also known as a cloud phone system, is the modern version of business phone service utilising an internet-based connection instead of a PSTN landline connection. Essentially, these cloud-based services put the intelligence, call control and phone registration workloads that businesses normally receive from an on-site telephone system and move it to an Internet-based fully managed service.

By sending your voice, video, and data communications through your Internet network, your business can achieve a high-quality VoIP phone system for a fraction of traditional legacy setups. Business VoIP solutions differ from landline services as feature rich alternatives for small to medium sized businesses.

Seemless integration

The features are available to all of your sites and the voice calls from the computer, smartphone or IP telephone goes to its destination (the person you are calling) across the computer network and the Internet via what is referred to as a SIP trunk (an IP version of a trunk line) then onto the PSTN to the final destination. The caller should not notice any difference other than potentially clearer voice quality.

Packed with advanced phone system features necessary to operate a small to medium businesses, such as PBX capabilities, desk-to-desk calling, automated attendant systems, call routing and even music-on-hold, business phone services powered by VoIP technology make it easy for any company to operate with the same level of professionalism customers expect from large scale enterprise systems. 

A Brief History of VOIP

During the 90’s and early 2000’s Voice Over IP (VOIP) that had initially been developed as far back as the 70’s had started to take off as viable products started to emerge. This technology enabled voice communication to be transmitted over computer networks rather than separate dedicated voice networks. This was done by sampling voice sounds translating them into digital signals (encoding) and compressing it all down, so it was easier to transmit across the network.

It was a big deal for organisations that had sites connected over woefully inadequate data connections at a time where bandwidth was incredibly expensive. The intelligence to do this was initially provided by a typical computer server often just running Windows, this new way to communicate wasn’t as scalable or reliable as traditional phone systems but it gave us a glimpse into the future.

The best of both worlds

In contrast, to achieve traditional voice communications typically meant the technology to do this was specialised and located on-site and the connection to the PSTN was achieved via a dedicated phone line. It worked well but there was a lot of complexity and hardware needed, maintenance was expensive, and the management of the telephone system required dedicated skilled staff therefore it wasn’t often duplicated onto smaller sites. Advanced features such as Interactive Voice Response (IVR – the telephone keypad driven menus to get you to the right department or person) were only for the larger organisations or call centres.

Today Services Providers are offering the best of both worlds, fully featured telephone services without the need for complicated expensive equipment on site. Connection to these services is achieved via existing Internet connections and so for the customer it’s a far simpler, flexible and cost-effective proposal. This is called ‘cloud-based VoIP’ and it will greatly simplify the way organisations access features and services that were only previously available to large companies on large sites.

How to choose the best business VoIP provider

From small business VoIP providers to enterprise VoIP phone systems, every business phone service has a different list of feature sets, and prices. Depending on the size of your company, you must take into account system features needed, and the amount of unanticipated usage.

Before undertaking the following steps, you should understand the business requirements, budgets and any other specific needs. Knowing exactly what you need will make the transition fast, easy, and cost-effective.

  • Step 1 –check your internet connection/bandwidth to make sure you have sufficient Internet speed (your phone provider or Internet provider can you help determine this).
  • Step 2 – with your budget, calling needs, and phone system features in mind, narrow down particular small business VoIP offerings to see who can offer you the best service package for your budget.
  • Step 3 – decide which equipment is best for your company’s current and foreseeable needs. You may purchase a phone from £35 up to £500 with all the bells and whistles.
  • Finally – compare companies, available features, and their reliability by reading reviews from small business VoIP users.

Packed with advanced phone system features necessary to operate  small to medium businesses, such as PBX capabilities, desk-to-desk calling, automated attendant systems, call routing and even music-on-hold, business phone services powered by VoIP technology make it easy for any company to operate with the same level of professionalism customers expect from large scale enterprise systems.

Business VoIP systems also include overall Unified Communication solutions to empower the mobility and flexibility needed for any size businesses. With an inexpensive, feature filled phone solutions, your business can operate at a high level on par with large scale systems, without having to worry about the cost.

Things to ask your provider

  • Does the system offer a mobile app?
  • Will VoIP integrate with my CRM?
  • Do I get free calls?
  • Do I pay for the hardware?
  • What set up support is offered?
  • Is there international calling?
  • Which calling features are included?
  • Which features cost extra?
  • Are there any hidden fees?
  • Can you port phone numbers?

Key features

voip, voice over ip

The key advantage of having a Voice over IP solution is that it offers a wide range of functionality and features. Here are some of the most popular features available today:

  • Local or national phone number(s)
  • Unlimited calling
  • 3-way calling
  • Direct phone number
  • Conference bridge
  • Call forwarding
  • Caller ID blocking
  • Caller ID      
  • Call waiting
  • Additional ring groups
  • Call transfers
  • Group call pickup
  • Do not disturb
  • Voicemail
  • Call park
  • Voicemail to email

Business benefits of using VoIP for your business phone service

The days of investing capital expenditure on expensive on-site new telephone systems are numbered. Manufacturers that built their businesses on this technology are pivoting towards cloud-based IP telephony solutions. In today’s cloud based, always-connected world having onsite telephony just doesn’t make sense financially, technically or operationally.

Cloud telephony is the future and it’s happening at a fast rate so why not standardise your telephones, the user experience, the call charges, the telephone connections and management into one fully managed service? Here’s some of the other benefits of cloud-based telephony:

  • Easy fast setup: No more expensive equipment on-site. Just an Internet connection and some new handsets can get you up and running.
  • Predictable costs: Line rental, call charges and telephony features all rolled together in one cost per handset/user makes for a predictable business overhead.
  • Fully managed service: Internet link and phone service potentially managed together making it accessible to businesses who aren’t technically up to speed with how to put it all together.
  • Advanced features to help your business: Integration of phone and email services allowing voicemails to be delivered to your email inbox is just one example of how cloud based VoIP can benefit your business and improve efficiencies.
  • Customer centric features: Access to advanced features that only large organisations could benefit from before that help customers reach the right people quickly such as IVR and group calling.
  • Standardised features and user experience: Sites of all sizes have access to the same features and user experience, no substandard experience for colleagues at temporary and small sites.
  • Location independent marketing numbers: Access to non-geographical numbers to provide UK wide presence or option to use local numbers, without the physical need to be located there to give that local feel to your business.
  • Built in conferencing facilities: Access to audio conferencing via the cloud without the hassle and costs of expensive conferencing solutions.
  • Better security: Due to the nature of VOIP communications being essentially data transmissions it’s possible to encrypt all the traffic that makes up the phone calls making VOIP traffic potentially more secure than traditional telephony that’s often vulnerable to interception.
  • Portability: Due to the nature of cloud services it means accessing the services is far easier than on-prem traditional services, in this case voice services. Cloud based VOIP services can be leveraged once an Internet connection is established and a local area network is in place, for a new site this is far simpler than setting up traditional telephony services.
  • Availability and Reliability: Being cloud based your organisation doesn’t need to worry about reliability of services, uptime and redundancy of core telephony features.
  • Remote and Homeworking: The nature of cloud based VOIP services inherently mean that it’s not just small sites that are easier to deploy, remote and homeworking either as a means to support flexible working or for business continuity is far easier to achieve whilst maintaining the same features, customer and employee experience.

Any way you slice it, an educated business is an empowered business – know what is available and take advantage of it. We hope you enjoyed our Business VoIP Buyer’s Guide if you did then please like and share.

What to know more about VoIP and how it will benefit your business? Get in touch today.

UK Connect are dedicated to communication solutions for the construction industry. Read more about our voice services. Alternatively, give us a call on 0333 900 9860 to find out how we can help you.

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