Our Business VoIP FAQ contains the most common questions and answers related to business use that we have received at WhichVoIP.com since 2005. Click on the VoIP question below that you are interested in and you will be directed to the corresponding answer.
If you have questions related to HOME use, consult our HOME VOIP FAQ page.
Browse through the questions below and click on the question of interest to reveal the answer.
It all depends if you choose a hosted VoIP solution or an in-house IP-PBX. For less than 50 lines we would recommend a hosted solution. For this all you need are the IP phones and a hosted provider. The hosted provider handles all of the calls and their routing for you.
For more than 50 lines you may want to look at an IP PBX. The equipment would be located at the office. Every office has a wiring closet of some sort where the existing telephone system and internet is connected. Some expertise is required to configure an IP PBX. You could then use SIP Trunks to connect your IP PBX to the internet and make low cost calls to the outside world. One advantage here is that internal calls just get handled by your IP PBX - for a hosted solution even internal calls get routed to the hosted VoIP provider and then back to your office so it uses Internet bandwidth.
Not necessarily. There are companies that provide hosted VoIP service. In this scenario, all phone calls would be directed to the hosting provider and all you need are IP phones so no real maintenance at your end. Adding lines or changing elements of your phone system is performed through a simple web portal.
For an IP PBX however, yes there is maintenance required. This is like a large computer server and as such requires software updates/patches and any changes to your system requires someone with the right expertise - often some form of VoIP integrator.
This is again dependant upon the number of users. A typical rule of thumb is to have enough voice channels available for 20% of your users to make calls at one time. So if you have 100 IP phone users, you would want to have at least 20 voice channels available at any time. In this scenario, a T1 would be a good candidate, since it would meet the bandwidth needs and is symmetrical in nature (i.e. same data rate for uplink and downlink). Also it would come with a Service Level Agreement (SLA) so you can ensure a decent Quality of Service (QoS). Lower cost service could work too, it depends on the bandwidth and reliability!
You shouldn't if you ever want to reap the benefits of having a single converged network, and having access to a large number of productivity increasing tools, such as video-conferencing, softphones, etc. Also they can be a nightmare to maintain as they are usually very old pieces of equipment and tough to find people and companies that can maintain it.
Again depends on the particular requirements. For hosted VoIP, an office could be set up in an hour or so.
For a multi-campus corporation, the savings can be huge. Typically we see 50% savings and sometimes as high as 80% over traditional phone service. Feel free to request free quotes on this page.
For a hosted VoIP service it is easy. Assuming you have enough bandwidth, simply log into your secure web portal and add a line. Connect an IP phone and you are done! For an IP PBX there is some configuration required to turn on another phone line but negligible compared to a traditional analog PBX.
First make sure you can port your numbers over to them. Ask if there are any contracts to be signed. Ask how many customers/phone lines they currently support and how often they have network outages. Check out user reviews (we have 4000 user reviews!) and look at their social media channels for outages!
If a business class solution is being targeted (i.e. highly critical in terms of voice quality), then use your router to ensure your phone service has priority thus guaranteeing a good Quality of Service (QoS) i.e. phone service does not go down under heavy Internet traffic at lunch time. If enough bandwidth is purchased for your Internet traffic then the QOS problems may be mitigated. Assuming you need 15 calls simultaneously (unlikely) then you should ensure you have at least 1Mbit/s of throughput available for phone use only.
T1 is approximately $300 to $500 per month for T1 depending on your location and service provider. A T3 will be consierably more!
When you install an IP PBX and you purchase the DIDs (Direct Inward Dial) from the VoIP company (e.g. a SIP provider), you have the option to use 3, 4 or 5 digit DIDs. The phone company only passes the DID to your call manager. If the Seattle and San Francisco offices are connected over a leased line WAN (which is almost always the case), then their phone systems will be integrated. For example the phones in Seattle will actually be registered to the call-manager at the HQ site in San Francisco. As such all call signaling for the phones in Seattle go through the main call-manager. There are software features available which run on the Seattle router to provide back-up call-processing if the WAN connection ever fails. Hence there are no issues with 4-digit dialing. For a hosted system it is simple to set up in your secure web portal given to you from your VoIP provider - just set up a new extension which will correspond to the IP address of your IP phone regardless of its physical location in the world.
Yes you can share your T1 with voice and data but a router configuration is recommended to give voice priority over data thus ensuring QoS.
There are a few options here. The service provider will not manage your network. You can have a hosted system where all the call routing is handled by the hosted provider at their facility so very little needed at your end other than the phones. For an IP PBX you will likely need to employ an outside company to manage it, or hire an internal administrator. Often an IT department will look after this.
Yes, you will need to buy IP Phones for a business class solution. Check out our IP Phones section for guidance.
You only need 1 CAT5 cable from the switch. The cable from the switch will plug into the IP phone (which itself is a layer 2 switch) and then your PC will plug into the phone using CAT5 cable. If the access layer switch is enabled with power over Ethernet, then you will not even require a power supply for your IP phone. The data and voice traffic is segmented at layer 2 by creating a different voice and data VLAN on the switch. The IP phone will mark the traffic at a higher precedence or class of service than the data traffic coming from the PC. Hence both security and traffic prioritization are taken care of by the phone itself.
Most business class VoIP deployments are integrated with switches which have redundant power supplies. These switches are ideally connected to an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). Hence it is unlikely that power will ever be lost to the phones.
If you have purchased a DID, they can call you direct. Otherwise, it needs to be through an operator or auto-attendant.
This is not really necessary as the provider will help you with any questions you may have around these. Every hosted VoIP service should support SIP 2.0 so the only potential area where it might become an issue is if you have very old IP phones that do not support the protocol that the service provider supports. If you are buying new equipment with the new service then it should be fairly straightforward. If you do however want to learn more, you can visit the VoIP Protocols page of this site.
Absolutely! It can be another cube in your office, or another cube in a different office across the country. That's the beauty of IP and MAC addresses (which your IP phone has) - at that point it just looks like a computer on the Internet. Gone are the days where wiring updates have to be made, thank goodness!
We get this question a lot. There are actually numerous options available to you for faxing over IP, some better than others. If you are willing to give up on your fax machine then many providers have a virtual fax service, often for free. All you need is a scanner and email access. If you still need access to an actual fax machine we recommend a solution using the fax relay T.38 standard. For all of your options, potential savings and troubleshooting tips please take a look at our Fax over IP (FoIP) article.
A lot of businesses need a toll free number to give a professional look and so customers can call them free of charge. Some businesses also require vanity numbers so it is easy for customers to remember their phone number. There are a number of options here, take a look at our Toll free numbers guide to learn how this works and compare some providers.
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Author: Tony Campbell
Hosted VoIP - the business case for switching
VoIP Features Guide for Businesses
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#6 : Posted by Priscilla Corona on November 8th, 2013:
I need to have my voice message send an alert to my pager that I have messages waiting for my response. Can this be done with a VOIP phone system?
-> Response: Great question and one we've never had in all those years! The only real feature for this is voicemail to email and we have never come across a voicemail to pager feature. It is likely that this hasn't come up before because fewer people use pagers these days. A smartphone is likely your best bet as you can set up voicemail to email and then your smartphone can notify you when a new email comes in. Alternatively you could forward your calls to your cell for when you are on the move. This likely does not meet your needs though as the pager part is probably a hard requirement here. Doing some searches there are email to pager type services out there so that could be worth pursuing as you could use voip to get the email notification and the email could go to the email to pager service. Sorry we could not provide more assistance here.
#5 : Posted by Abby on July 23rd, 2013:
If we go with hosted VOIP system, do we have to have extension #s or is it possible to have direct lines?
-> Response: You can definitely get direct lines and toll free numbers. Can then add extensions as needed and use auto-attendants and dial by name directory to help direct people if that is of interest. Here is a complete feature comparison for the main providers by the way.
#4 : Posted by Mike Bodenhausen on June 25th, 2013:
Our County is looking to switch our outdated phone system to a VOIP system. Do you have a rating on Cisco? They are the one we are looking at.