Cloud VoIP Solutions: Are Small Businesses a Good Fit for the Cloud?
Many small businesses who delay in moving to Cloud VoIP do so because they fear that if they cut their landlines and jump aboard cloud-based VoIP, they’ll end up with a list of problems. On the plus side, VoIP service providers continue to offer more features and lower costs than traditional telephone providers, but the nagging question remains – what are the hidden pitfalls?
VoIP set-up is a definite”pro” for small businesses. Most Cloud VoIP solutions use session initiated protocol (SIP) technology to assign a specific IP address to each phone or VoIP software client on your network, so you’ll need SIP-enabled phones and perhaps a small box of hardware. Once they are in place, your VoIP service provider will take over the rest of the process. broadbandproto9colo
While not necessarily a “con “, but on the questionable side – is the possibility of having a bandwidth problem. VoIP requires a broadband connection. The more internet applications in use at the same time, the more bandwidth you’ll need. If your internet service provider has a bandwidth cap in place, keep that in mind too, since it’s possible that, depending on the codec the provider uses, each call could consume 64kB of data for every second you or your employees talk. And although all your employees should be able to use their phones at the same time, do keep an eye on your data usage just to make sure you’re not exceeding the cap.
A “con ” is also in order if you want to keep your analog touch tone phones or fax machines. You can use analog telephone adapters (ATA), but you may not be able to use many of the features that SIP phones provide.
Costs Are A Major “Pro.”
Not only do you save money by not having to lay out money for hardware, your monthly service bills should go down since most VoIP services offer unlimited calling in the United States and Canada. As for calls outside of the USA and Canada, Cloud VoIP uses data networks for a portion of the connection before tapping into public lines – so your per-minute charges will be significantly less.
The Extra Features are Pros, Too
Most Cloud VoIP solutions come with a robust set of features. In addition to basics like conference calling, voice mail, internet faxing, and caller ID features you’re most likely paying extra for from your present phone company, you’ll also have access to VoIP services such as
- Virtual receptionists and greeting options.
- Customizable call screening that can integrate with customer relationship management (CRM) functions.
- Sequential or simultaneous call forwarding to specified phones or smartphones.
- The ability to transcribe voice mails to text for forwarding to email accounts or mobile devices.
And the greatest “pro” of all: most providers offer these as part of your monthly subscription, and even if your chosen provider should charge extra, the charge is usually less than you’d pay with a traditional phone provider.
Yes, There are Con’s
Although the pro’s outnumber the con’s, there are two things to keep in mind. The first disadvantage is an obvious one. Since VoIP transmits over the internet, if your power goes down, your phone system does too. Although some hosted services try to compensate by automatically sending incoming calls to voicemail or routing them to a mobile phone, the fact remains you will not be able to make or receive any calls from the office for the duration of the outage. The second has not so much to do with VoIP itself, but rather with your in-house network. Although the voice quality offered by all the top VoIP vendors is every bit as good as landlines and mobile phones, if your network is slow, spotty, or crowded, calls may break up or drop off altogether.
If you do decide to go with a cloud VoIP solution, you’ve made the first step. The second is to find a trusted partner like Millennia Technologies who can accommodate your needs, and the third is to read all the fine print before subscribing to any service.