Is Your Company Ready for VoIP?
If you’re reading this article right now, you may already be well aware of the many benefits Voice Over IP (VoIP) provides your business that traditional phone systems don’t.
And by “traditional”, we mean the technology you’re currently using that dates back to the late 1800’s. That’s around the same time that the modern typewriter was invented. You’ve diligently replaced that technology with PC’s, and now it’s time for your phone system to catch up.
Reduced call costs, lower maintenance and the ability to integrate your voice communication with data analytics to track and improve sales and other KPI’s are just a few examples of the benefits VoIP provides.
Sounds pretty good… but is your business ready for VoIP?
Well, before you jump headfirst into the VoIP pool there are a few things to consider.. If you’re going to invest in making the transition to a VoIP infrastructure, the following guide will help you get the best results both now, and into the future.
1. How Many Phones Do You Need Right Now?
Naturally, the first thing you’ll need to decide is how many phones your business actually needs. It’s a simple consideration of the number of employees you have, plus any temporary phone locations such as common rooms or reception desks.
One of the reasons why VoIP is so cost effective is because it uses the Internet to send and receive your phone calls. That means your bandwidth is a key factor here. So, once you’ve added up the number of phones you’ll need, it’s time to think long-term.
If you have plans to grow your business over the next one to five years, it’s important to consider what that might look like when planning the transition to a VoIP phone system. Your bandwidth capabilities should accommodate the number of phones you’ll need now, and those in the future.
2. What Are Your Growth Plans For The Next 1 to 5 Years?
While any good telecom company will help you calculate the bandwidth you need, it’s worth doing a quick calculation of your own.
Also, to ensure your VoIP solution is running at optimal levels, it’s important to calculate for a worst-case bandwidth usage scenario. That means if all your phones are in use at the same time, you’ll want to make sure you have enough bandwidth to support the load.
For example, BullsEye uses the G729 codec because it’s the fastest and, ultimately, the most efficient. With G729, each call requires around 35kb/sec, so it’s simply a matter of multiplying the maximum number of calls your business will handle simultaneously to at arrive the total bandwidth you need.
For example, let’s say you’ve got 100 handsets. Sorry to throw some math at you right after an excellent cat image, but just quickly, the equation would look like this:
(Maximum number of calls) 100 x (Bandwidth per call) 35kb/sec = (Necessary bandwidth) 3.5mb/sec
Keep in mind that upload and download speeds are different. And with VoIP, they’re equally important. For example, if you have a 50MB/sec download, but the upload is only 3MB/sec, it wouldn’t be fast enough for the job, even with that huge download bandwidth.
Once you’ve identified your required bandwidth, you’ll know which type of broadband you should install to handle it.
3. Will Employees Access Your Phone System Remotely?
Next, you need to think about are remote working considerations. Do you have employees who work from home or have remote offices? Will you need to create hunt groups or need simultaneous ringing features?
When someone’s in the office, you can glance in the direction of their desk, ask someone if they’re around, or shout their name really loud and then double check to make sure you hit the mute button on your phone. If your employee’s working at home, none of these are viable options.
The “Find Me Follow Me” feature will ring multiple phones sequentially. You can have the VoIP system call their desk phone, their mobile phone and then their home phone to ensure they don’t miss the call while they’re working remotely…
Advanced and more fully featured office handsets can streamline the work environment, but they may not necessarily be located outside the office. That said a software version of the VoIP client or “soft client” can give you a direct inward dial – DID – number, so the office direct dial number can be used even if they’re not at their desk.
4. Selecting the Right Internet/Broadband Service
1) What is the type and speed of the current internet connection?
Because you’ve properly calculated the bandwidth that you need, you can now determine whether the speed of your current Internet is sufficient to handle the VoIP installation. If you can get a bandwidth upgrade to match the requirements then great, otherwise you may need to consider higher broadband options.
2) Do you plan to use it for both voice and data?
Next, it’s important to understand that the data usage (such as browsing the Internet, checking email etc) will share the same bandwidth as the telephones, unless you plan to have dedicated Internet connections for both voice and data.
That’s important because, for example, if you calculated your required bandwidth is 5MB/sec second and you know your current line is 5MB/sec, you know that in spite of meeting the required bandwidth for your VoIP installation, you need a little extra buffer bandwidth for everyday Internet use.
5. How Many Ports Will You Need?
Because VoIP uses the Internet, you must also consider how many CAT5 (a different type of cat, this time) LAN drops are at each workstation. Broadly speaking, there are two options.
a) The phone shares a connection with the PC
b) Both the phone and the PC get plugged into the Internet with individual ports
Either way, it’s important to know how many ports you have versus how many ports you need prior to scheduling your installation.
6. Make the Call
Okay sure, making the transition over to VoIP means there are a few things to figure out. You need to consider math, cats, fancypants terminology like “soft client” and one or two practicalities.
Naturally, upgrading your system from one that’s over a hundred years old takes a little more consideration than if you were to get another err… “traditional” phone system.
If you’d like to save time and get a little expert advice, make the call for a free telecom consultation with one of BullsEye’s Telecom Solutions Experts at 877-438-2855.