Business VoIP FAQ - Common Questions and Answers

Our Business VoIP FAQ contains the most common questions and answers related to business use that we have received at 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.

Business VoIP FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for Businesses Considering VoIP

Browse through the questions below. If you dont find the answer to your questions, use the comment form at the end of this article to ask us.

1. What VoIP equipment would I need and would I need space at my office for it?

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.

2. Would I need to maintain any VoIP equipment?

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.

3. What type of Internet connection do I need for Voice over IP service - DSL/Cable or T1/T3 or even Gigabit Ethernet?

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!

4. Why wouldn't I use a traditional PBX?

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.

5. How long to set up VoIP at my office?

Again depends on the particular requirements. For hosted VoIP, an office could be set up in an hour or so.

6. Will I save money?

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.

7. How easy would it be to expand the number of VoIP phones?

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.

8. What are the 5 most important questions to ask a potential VoIP service provider?

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!

9. Currently 15 people in my office with POTS lines. For VoIP how much bandwidth would I need?

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.

10. How much does a T1/T3 cost?

T1 is approximately $300 to $500 per month for T1 depending on your location and service provider. A T3 will be consierably more!

11. How do we handle inter office extensions - Seattle branch to our San Francisco branch?

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.

12. Can I share my T1 with Voice and Data?

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.

13. Does the service provider handle the VoIP network at my office or do I need an administrator?

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.

14. Should we buy IP phones and how much are they?

Yes, you will need to buy IP Phones. Check out our IP Phones section for guidance.

15. Do I need 2 CAT5 cables to my workstation from the switch, one to phone and one to my PC?

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.

16. Do I need battery backup now for my phone service in case power goes out?

Most 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.

17. Can people outside my office still call me direct or do they need to go through an operator?

If you have purchased a DID, they can call you direct. Otherwise, it needs to be through an operator or auto-attendant.

18. Do I need to be familiar with and understand VoIP Protocols?

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.

19. Can I simply move my IP phone to another cube and keep same phone number?

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!

20. I still need access to a fax machine, what are my options?

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.

21. My company needs a toll free number, what are my options?

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.

22. We currently use call recording software for training purposes, is that possible with VoIP?

Yes it is possible and many hosted service providers offer this feature (sometimes included in their feature set or as an add-on feature for a small monthly fee). There are typically two types of options, one that records all calls based on set parameters (extensions/groups etc.) or one that is an on-demand option (employee can start/stop recording on-demand by using a combination of entries on keypad). Check out our call recording guide to learn more and compare some providers.

23. What is Shared Line Appearance (SLA)?

Shared Line Appearance, also referred to as SLA is a feature that allows one or more phones to hang off the same telephone number. Why would this be useful? Well consider a manager who is fortunate enough to have a personal secretary. It would be very useful for both of them to share the same phone number so the secretary can answer and screen all the phone calls coming in but also see the state of the managers extension at all times.

Another good use case for SLA is for employees who do not sit at a desk. For example let's consider a department store. Telephones are located at convenient locations throughout the department store. An incoming call can be placed on hold by a receptionist (or another employee) and the public address sytem could be used to indicate who the call is for. You have probably heard this in a store "James you have a phone call on line 3". James can simply go the nearest phone and press line 3.

An important point to note here is that the IP phones must be capable of supporting SLA and also the service provider.

Many hosted VoIP providers now support SLA in their call management software and it can easily be configured using the secure web portal that is provided to you.

Have a Question Not Included Above? Ask Us!

Struggling to find your question and answer? No problem, use the COMMENTS section below to post your question and get a response from us usually within 24 hours.

Published: by WhichVoIP

Related Articles for Further Reading:

left arrow PREV
Vonage Business Desktop
NEXT right arrow
VoIP Features Guide for Businesses


Ask us your question or add a comment:

Use the form below to add your comments/thoughts and to interact with us. All comments will be moderated by before going live. We try to answer all questions within 24 hours.

Email: (ONLY used for responding)
Enter code below:

By submitting you agree to our site Terms of Use


WhichVoIP Visitor Comments

#9 : Posted by Robert

I have a small business with offices in Florida, New York and California. Can we have service and work as one office with extensions in separate states and one central number? Also we would like to bounce the calls to our cell phones when we are out of the office.

-> Response: This is a very standard scenario for a hosted VoIP service so there should be no issues Robert.


#8 : Posted by Ralph Buschner

Security issues around using Voip. Are any of the providers PIPEDA or HIPAA compliant?

-> Response: As you probably know there are many parts to HIPAA compliance and the key areas seem to be the delivery of voicemail and fax and also call recordings (and who has access to each). Most providers also offer voicemail to email which can compound the issue at hand even more, though this can be turned off typically.
Another issue is security at the servers where voicemails, fax and recordings are stored. This can be a problem for hosted services since they are often in large data centers that are often not owned by the provider.
The only provider that I am aware of that is HIPAA compliant is 8x8.


#7 : Posted by George Zahn

Does VOIP replace the PBX equipment? Can the existing phones be used if you switch to VOIP? In general how is VOIP priced?

-> Response: My assumption is that you have a legacy (Analog) PBX right now in your office and presumably landline phone service.
Your options really depend on how many phone lines you have. If around 100 or less a hosted VoIP service (also called Virtual PBX) would work well assuming you have a decent Internet connection. Here your PBX can be removed completely. You can then use IP phones (digital) or use Analog Telephone Adapters (ATAs) to connect to existing analog phones, though IP phones tend to be better. The price is usually per line but tends to be a flat rate for unlimited minutes. If you have more than 100 lines you may be better either moving to an IP PBX (digital PBX) or buy a gateway and use SIP trunks to connect to your existing PBX so your calls go over the Internet rather than to the PSTN directly. The benefit here is that internal calls are routed internally rather than always going to the cloud to be routed, among other things. Use our business VoIP tab at the top of this page to learn more.


#6 : Posted by Priscilla Corona

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

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

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.

-> Response: Mike, we do have a review page for Cisco. How many phone lines do you require? If under 100 it may be worth looking at a hosted solution. Check out our VoIP price tool.


#3 : Posted by Rick Kelly

There are just 2 of us in the office. Would we need 10MB x 1 MB for internet or could we use 7MB x 768 KB. We have one computer each.

-> Response: Yes that should be fine Rick, typically you would need less than 200Kb/s for 2 calls simultaneously so that still leaves plenty for data at the same time (i.e. computer traffic).


#2 : Posted by Jackie

Not sure I understand when I would use sip trunks?

-> Response: Jackie you would use sip trunks if you had an IP PBX for your business calls. The IP PBX would be used to manage all of your calls and assuming you want to take advantage of VoIP and its low cost for calls that leave your office, you would buy SIP trunks from a SIP trunking provider to handle those calls. Take a look at our SIP Trunking section by clicking on the tab at the top of this page to learn more. Usually this is cheaper than hosted VoIP but you have the complexities of managing an IP PBX.


#1 : Posted by Jeff

You refer to a web portal for hosted plans, what do you mean?

-> Response: Hi Jeff. For a hosted plan everything is located in the cloud so all you have are IP phones. When you make a call it goes to the hosted provider and then gets routed to its destination by them. When you want to update your account and create an auto attendant or add lines, as an example, you would login to your account on the hosted providers website and make the changes there. You are then good to go.


Top Providers

Provider* $/mo Details
  • SHARE: