We’ve spoken with a number of businesses lately, and we’ve seen a number of posts on various social media channels from small businesses, looking for phone services but stating “No VoIP”. When we tell them EVERYONE is being forced on to VoIP by the NBN, he or she look at us in amazement. “Why weren’t they told this?” they ask.
Our opinion is no-one has told them for the very same reason they initially said “No VoIP” — it scares people. In most cases unnecessarily.
So let’s get our heads around what VoIP is.
What is VoIP?
Voice over Internet Protocol is literally just another way to send your voice from your telephone to the exchange (or in this case a server).
The reality is that most, if not all calls, have been sent using VoIP between exchanges for years. That’s right, years. Your business landline calls have traveled along the copper wires in the ground to the exchange, where they’ve been converted to Voice over IP, been sent to the receiving exchange, then converted back to travel along the copper to the receivers’ landline phone.
If you’re a home user and you have one phone at home, you’ll be able to plug it into your NBN modem and make phone calls just as you always have. It will happen automatically. If you want more handsets around your home, the easiest way to do this is to pick up a cordless phone that has multiple handsets connecting to the base. The downside is your phone is now reliant on the internet. If the internet goes down, your phone will now go down as well. Just as well most people now have at least one mobile phone, right?
But what if you’re a business? If you have one number and one handset, the above should work for you as well. But if you already have a PBX system, it’s time to start thinking about VoIP and how it affects you, because, well, you don’t have a choice.
Does your PABX do VoIP?
Some PABXs already have the ability to use VoIP built in, or they can via the installation of a card. You’ll have to talk to your current PBX provider to find out if yours does. If not, it’s upgrade time. But don’t go buying a $15,000 or $20,000 system on a 5yr contract until you’ve spoken with us! We promise it’ll be worth it.
Why you’re being forced into VoIP
The fast and simple explanation is that the copper in the ground that is currently being used to carry your phone calls AND your internet is being commandeered for the sole purpose of carrying internet traffic. So you need a method to carry your phone calls. That’s Voice over Internet Protocol.
But I don’t want VoIP! I’ve heard it sucks!
The reality is that there can be a transition period to VoIP. The calls sound “different” — they do. So there is an adjustment to be made. You also require a fairly decent internet connection. If you’re a business with one or two lines, you’ll get away with your average DSL connection, but any more than that and you’ll struggle with quality issues. You may also need to purchase new handsets (but we’ll get to that in a bit). Beyond those provisoes, there’s really nothing to be scared about with VoIP. You’ll still pick up a phone, and you’ll still be able to make phone calls, and you’ll still have all the features you currently have (and probably more).
The benefits of VoIP
So you have a decent internet connection and you’re thinking of taking the jump. What are the benefits? How much will it cost?
This section is aimed at those needing more than one line, or those with existing PBXs.
Let’s start with features.
We’re talking call recording, interactive voice recordings (menus), voicemail to email (where your voicemail messages get sent as an attachment to your email address), and the one most our customers really go for — the ability to have your landline number ring on your mobile, without any diversion fees or charges, thanks to an app you can put on your phone. And before, when we said you may have to buy new handsets? You don’t HAVE to. You can use your mobiles (and still have all the functionality of a desk phone) or your computer. And if you do choose to purchase new equipment, you don’t have to worry about it reaching its end-of-life date, or adding new cards if you need to add extensions, or having someone run wires around your office for the phones. You can choose from many phone manufacturers, and the “equipment” itself is software based, so if you need a new extension, it just gets added in. Cost? From as little as $59 per month plus calls.