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What is VoIP?
The technical definition of VoIP is not particularly relevant so we’ll jump right into what it means for you. VoIP is simply an acronym for Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol, which is a relatively new type of digital phone service where calls are routed over the Internet rather than through traditional telephone lines you see everywhere. By eliminating the overhead costs of telephone lines VoIP service providers are able to significantly cut cost, passing many of these savings on to their customers.
Who is VoIP over IP for?
For those that still have a landline at home residential VoIP service offers significant cost savings over traditional landline phone services but the biggest value is usually seen with businesses. Whether you’re a one man operation or having thousands of employees and need a complex solution most business VoIP providers are able to offer a simple and scaleable solution that is feature rich and meets all of your needs.
VoIP vs. Landline phone
Behind the scenes VoIP technology is completely different than a landline but for the end user there is no difference. Similar to a landline phone when calls come in you simply answer them from your phone. Making calls is dually easy, just pickup your VoIP phone and dial a number and the call will go through, really there’s no difference.
In order to use VoIP phone service you will need a reliable and consistent high-speed Internet connection. With the right Voice over IP provider a bulky phone system is no longer needed since services are completely contained within the cloud. A truly cloud based communications solutions that works seamlessly with any telephone is where we’re rapidly heading and any VoIP service provider that doesn’t adapt will soon be obsolete.
Advantages of VoIP
- Eliminate costly hardware
- Eliminate complicated wiring
- Completely customizeable VoIP over IP solutions to meet your needs
- Significant cost savings over traditional phone service
- Cloud based phone systems eliminates expensive and bulky phone systems
- Easily scaleable to any sized business
- Advanced features such as conference calling, texting, auto sync with your mobile device, etc.
Disadvantages of VoIP
- Requires a high speed Internet connection
- Hard to choose between many excellent providers
How to choose a top VoIP Service Provider
Choosing a provider that is right for you isn’t an easy task and the best provider for one person may not be the best for somebody else. The great news is there are many excellent providers of both business phone service and residential VoIP. The best place to start is by checking out our VoIP reviews to get an idea of what is out there.
Obviously if you are a business your needs can vary widely based on the size of your business, conference calling needs, ability to sync with mobile phones on the go and whatever other customizeable features you may need.
Similarly, if you are looking for a residential VoIP provider then your needs will likely vary greatly depending on the number of incoming/outgoing calls you expect, whether you have family and friends overseas you may be calling often and if you need a second line.
For both residential and business customers there are a few basics to consider when choosing a provider.
- Support – How is the support rated by current and past customers? What hours do they offer for support? 24/7 support via phone is the gold standard here and it can go a long way in helping you get the help you need when you need it.
- Cost – Are their prices competitive with the major players in the market? You might need to compare several VoIP quotes to make sure you are getting the best deal as prices can vary quite a bit. Just because the price is less than your landline phone doesn’t mean it’s the best deal.
- Call Quality –How is the providers call quality rated by current and past users? Call quality is of upmost importance if you’re a business trying to win customers and close deals.
- Ability To Scale – Is it easy to scale with the provider you’ve chosen in the event that you experience significant growth? You want to be sure that your service provider can quickly and easily add lines to your plan as needed in the future so you don’t find yourself on the hunt for a new service in just a year or two.
- Reliability of Network –Does the provider you’re considering have a track record of high uptime? The last thing you want is to choose a provider that is known for significant downtime and lose the ability to make and receive calls during the most critical of times.
When analyzing whether a provider is right for you or not, beyond the basic considerations listed above a business or person needs to think long and hard about what customized features they cannot live without and be sure that the provider they go with provides their list of ‘must-have’ features.
Ways you can expect to save after switching
- Lower monthly payments – The most obviously way you will save it by lowering your monthly recurring charge.
- Cheaper or less equipment to buy – A second way you will save it by getting a cheaper less complex business phone system or you might not need one at all
- Free long distance and international calls – Many providers offers plans that are inclusive of long distance and international calls for only a small monthly upcharge so you won’t be paying outrageous by the minute rates.
- Free premium services – VoIP providers usually don’t charge for premium services such as conference calling, automatic syncing to mobile phones, voicemail, texting, auto-attendants, video calling, etc…