Every day we receive great questions from our visitors to WhichVoIP.com either through email or our live chat.
One came in today that is fairly common for larger enterprises and felt it was worth posting to our Blog for other visitors.
Q: We are looking at moving to VoIP. I have been reading about hosted VoIP but we may need as many as 300 lines, what do you recommend?
A: The answer here is really hosted VoIP or a combination of an IP PBX and SIP Trunks.
Let me delve a little deeper…….
Hosted VoIP is great for the 1 to 100 phone line scenario but it becomes more problematic and bandwidth intensive once you go beyond this.
Well remember all call routing is performed in the cloud by the hosted VoIP provider so even if you are calling your colleague in the office next to you the call is routed out of the company to the provider and back in again so you are using perhaps as much as 128Kb/s bandwidth in both directions just for this call. Multiply this by the hundreds and it starts eating up a lot of your Internet bandwidth. Also depending on the hosted plan, you would be paying for those minutes of internal calls either through per minute pricing or a monthly charge.
If I was tackling this and there were up to 300 lines I would look at installing an IP PBX and using SIP Trunks.
The IP PBX could be from someone like Avaya or it could even be an open source Asterisk server, depending on your IT capabilities. An Asterisk based server would be the lowest cost here. Now you would need to connect this to the outside world and have a way to route and manage the calls. For this I would look at SIP Trunks (more info here): http://www.whichvoip.com/voip/sip-trunking-providers.htm
Essentially SIP Trunks allows your IP PBX to communicate with the outside world using VoIP. The SIP provider you select will handle all the routing across the Internet and to the PSTN as needed. Internal calls (configured in the IP PBX) will stay internal which is an advantage compared to Hosted VoIP as described above. The IP PBX would be configured for internal extensions thus keeping those calls in your own internal network and therefore does not need to waste minutes (and $) by sending the call to the SIP provider. SIP Trunks range in price from about $15 to $25 per month typically (as you can see in the table at the url above).
1 sip trunk = 1 concurrent call but usually you do not need 1 trunk for each employee, often a rule of thumb is 30%. So if you have 300 employees, in a typical business you would require 100 SIP trunks. When you compare the cost of this versus traditional circuit switched lines you will likely be saving close to 80% on your phone bills equating to thousands of dollars every month.
Also take a look at our IP PBX section:
Hope this helps.