Ways Small Business Can Benefit from VoIP

Guest Author: This week’s blog was provided to us by Matt Larson – a Canadian tech blogger. Matt writes primarily for the VoIP industry and is currently working from the road with VoIP Spear – a global VoIP monitoring service provider. For more about Matt, including links to his blogs, check out his Google+ profile.  

images-3

Small business owners are always in a precarious situation. For one thing, you should give your business – especially if it’s a startup – all that you’ve got. This is the wallet-hurting “you get what you give” kind of relationship, where tenacity, dedication and hard work are required when you want to recoup your investments. On the other hand, you should always get your money’s worth. You can’t just bleed money – you’re in business to make money.

In this scenario, VoIP is your telecommunication salve. You get benefits that lodge your business up there, among forward-thinking movers and shakers. It’s kind to your wallet too.

Save Money

Of course, the foremost benefit of using VoIP is that you can save money. Calls you make from/to anywhere in the world will be cheaper. Account setup is easy and doesn’t cost much too. You can start off using softphones to save money. Or, use analog telephone adapters (ATA) with your old phones. ATAs cost less than SIP phones.

Do More Than Talk

VoIP comes with several functionalities that help your business work more efficiently and reach out to partners and clients more effectively. These functions ultimately fall under “telecommunications convergence.” Cross access and share information through your phone system. Login to your voicemail remotely. Work anywhere and still be reachable through VoIP. Come across as more professional and trustworthy through videoconferencing. These added functions enhance your user experience, and can ultimately create better employee and client relationships.

Enjoy Portability

Your mobility can make a big difference in your business’s profitability. Through technology, the world has opened up into one big diverse market. Your business can be located in a First World small town, and still, you can deal with partners in Asia and Europe. It pays to be accessible wherever you are. People can call you at your First World small town number even when you’re in India, England or France doing business – at the same low cost VoIP rate.

Improve Employee Cooperation

Better cooperation among employees is often a byproduct of the easier flow of information. VoIP, through telecommunications convergence, can do this for your business. Access and sharing of information become more efficient.

Protect Your Investment

For a small business to enjoy the full benefits of VoIP, you have to protect it, as you would your important investments. You can do so through two simple steps:

  1. Ensure that your VoIP is always accessible, at your end, through the set up of emergency power sources and call forwarding.
  2. Monitor your VoIP’s performance through services like VoIP Spear to ensure consistent uptime and quality of service.

Is VoIP Safe From Surveillance Systems?

Guest Author: This week’s blog post was provided to us by Tanya Williams, a freelance writer and blogger. She has been working with telecom companies for over 20 years, writing about new technologies and how businesses and business owners can take advantage of them. Her topics included IP based communications technologies, cloud computing, website development, and many more.

CellPhoneIntercept

Recently, there has been serious objections about government agents’ and other agencies’ spying on private calls, leaving many users are worried about their privacy. There are some doubts on whether VoIP is strong enough to guard against such eavesdropping and phone tapping. However, as technology VoIP tends to provide better security than its pervious systems. Landline communications were easily traceable, while VoIP runs protocols to safeguard information.

Safety with VoIP

Hackers know how to attack Internet-based devices and services, such as VoIP, allowing them to easily get hold of customer account data, records of conversations and voicemails. Additionally, if a user’s account details are compromised, that information can be used to charge third party services. However, it requires a high level of skill and technical knowledge in order to that.

VoIP has its own safety measures, which pose a challenge to such hackers or surveillance agents. All the traffic is routed through a firewall and network address translators (NAT). Utilizing a firewall is one of the most commonly used safety systems for protecting a device from Internet-based attacks. Translators help in interconnecting networks and creating a safe communication system. Services like Skype use proprietary protocols for protection by routing calls through other skype peers on the network. This enables it to traverse symmetric NATs and firewalls.

Encryption is one of the most powerful tools in protecting digital information, but VoIP is not using it currently. Due to this, it gets easier for spies to eavesdrop on voice calls that are made on a data network. There are solutions like Wireshirk, which help in doing that. Protocols like secure real-time transport protocols (SRTP) and ZRTP are used for securing VoIP. IPsec also help in securing point to point VoIP by encrypting all traffic.

Why is VoIP more secure than previous systems?

As we know, traditional phone systems were based on analog signals, which cannot be encrypted. VoIP uses data signals, which are digital, and can be easily encrypted for protection. When the signal is sent, the receiving device can then decrypt the packets easily as they get the respective decryption key. This decryption process is necessary if real information is required. In process transmission if this signal is traced, the hacker would have to decrypt it based the decryption key, which is possible only with the device for which signal was intended.

Privacy

It is hard to tell whether our conversations will remain private or not because powerful authorities, such as the government, might implement laws that could give them the power to do surveillance. In the USA, the FBI recently announced its plan to expand Communication Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) in order to bring Internet calling, such as VoIP, under this law. This law gives them power to intercept calls. If the plan is passed, then providers will have to make the tracing easier for them, which would compromise the privacy of the user.

However, despite the possibility that VoIP may fall under CALEA, several hospitals, military organizations, and large corporations have adopted VoIP. If we see figures, almost one third of businesses in world today use VoIP. When compared with other communication systems, VoIP is still the best possible option because of it’s low cost and higher level of security when compared to traditional systems.

Deciding What to Put in the Cloud

Guest Author: This week’s blog post was provided to us by Tanya Williams, a freelance writer and blogger. She has been working with telecom companies for over 20 years, writing about new technologies and how businesses and business owners can take advantage of them. Her topics included IP based communications technologies, cloud computing, website developement, and many more.

Situation: “I have clients across North America, and some of my critical parts come from around the globe. I have a robust ERO system that helps me keep on top of production, deliveries, and collection. I have decided to move into Unified Communications to speed up everything. – Now, what part of my application should go to the cloud for my vendors and clients to see? What about safety and security?”

This situation may be specific, but is common among many business organizations. Clients and partners can come from different places all over the globe. However, the answer generally lies in the amount of information or applications that will be put in the cloud for general use across the organization, as well as issues relating to security and safety.

Here are some factors to consider when deciding what your company should put in the cloud.

  • Provider Responsibilities: As an organization, it is very important to be comfortable with giving up a certain level of control to cloud providers. Organizations who choose to take advantage of deploying on-premise platforms typically own the unified communications application. Upgrades, enhancements, extensions and other integrations are done as needed. Cloud providers do allow a certain level of management to the users, such as managing their servers, but organizations may not have full control.
  • Potential savings: When talking about savings which can be potentially achieved, it is vital to acknowledge that these savings are indeed, real. Research was conducted by Search Unified Communications in 2013 discussing the cost analysis of cloud technology vs. on-premises IP telephony. It concluded that a significant amount of savings is realized when incorporating this type of technology in businesses.
  • Availability: Cloud-based unified communication services are practically available all over the world. However, only a few companies have the capability of supporting and delivering a single global cloud service through diverse geographies. Therefore, if you have partners, clients and sites distributed throughout Europe, North America and Asia, it is possible to acquire such technology with the help of a limited number of possible partners who can provide support to all sites.
  • Services offered: For quite a while, cloud-based unified communications services lacked some features and applications needed to compare to on-premise solutions. Among such features are mobile extensibility, video and a wide range of end-points solutions. However, the evolution of the technology has increased the popularity of the cloud. Leading providers have developed various platforms that are derived from the original infrastructures, incorporating them to the existing platform.
  • Cloud management: It is a common belief that by using the services offered by cloud technology, a user organization offloads itself from responsibilities, casting the burden to the providers. However, such relationships require a good partnership between the cloud provider and the organization. The overall success of the delivery of services requires access to the company’s internal network coming from the operations center to the provider.

Therefore, the abovementioned tips will certainly assist an organization in evaluating the services offered by cloud technology. It is vital to keep in mind that these applications continue to evolve rapidly. Taking note of any possible future enhancements can also help in making decisions as to the amount of information, and the number of applications that should be put in the cloud. Bottom line is that taking advantage of the benefits now can make an organization well prepared for further enhancements in the future.

Business Phone Systems: VoIP vs. PSTN

Many businesses are struggling with the choice of switching over to voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) or staying with their current phone system through the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Both systems have several advantages and disadvantages, so the type of phone system you choose will depend on the needs of your business. To help with this decision, we have broken down the benefits and drawbacks of each system.

VoIP Phone System

Benefits:

  • Transmission of data, voice, and video can occur simultaneously
  • Scalability; upgrading and extending a VoIP system only requires a software upgrade and an Internet connection
  • Extra features, such as call waiting, forwarding, transferring, and emergency calling, is provided free or at a very low cost
  • Remote extensions typically come standard
  • Free VoIP to VoIP calling locally and internationally
  • The Internet is used as the backbone of the network, significantly minimizing hardware costs
  • Easy and non-intrusive installation

Drawbacks:

  • Sound quality is dependent upon Internet bandwidth availability
  • Service terminates when Internet connectivity is lost. Businesses need to have a continuity plan in place to protect themselves and maintain operations
  • 911 calls are typically untraceable – making it difficult for emergency services to identify your location if the connection is lost

PSTN Phone System

Benefits:

  • Well established technology, making it very reliable
  • Excellent audio quality
  • Hardwire systems typically remain intact during power outages, allowing for businesses to maintain connectivity
  • 911 calls are traceable – allowing emergency services to identify your location if the connection is lost

Drawbacks:

  • No free calls can be made
  • Extra features, such as call waiting, forwarding, and transferring, is an additional cost
  • Only voice can be transmitted during a call
  • Installation costs can be high, as proprietary hardware and telecom expertise is required
  • Limited Scalability; upgrading and expanding your phone system is a costly and complex process
  • Remote extensions typically require their own dedicated line, which can be costly to install

Reviewing the benefits and drawbacks of each system, it becomes evident that a traditional PSTN phone system can be more costly for your business. It also becomes clear that VoIP has an advantage over PSTN when it comes to scalability and special feature availability. Many businesses are hesitant to abandon their traditional landline phone system simply because it’s familiar (the phrase “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” comes to mind). However, this isn’t about the integrity of PSTN phone systems – it’s about utilizing the best technology for your business, and VoIP is capable of delivering more value for less cost.

To learn more about VoIP technologies, check out this video.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

Choosing the Right Business Phone System

Following our previous blog posts about utilizing WAN, LAN, and VPN technologies to connect your office computers, the next step is connecting your office telephone system. Selecting the right phone system for your business is very important because it’s one of your main connections to customers, prospects, and fellow employees. To help you in your search for the right provider, we’ve compiled a list of 3 mistakes you should avoid.

  1. Basing Your Decision Solely on Price: Trying to save your company money where ever possible is only natural, but the best deal isn’t always the best service for your business. Although traditional phone systems may appear cheaper, there are additional upfront costs that you may not be aware of. A traditional land line system requires hardware, intrusive installation, and ongoing maintenance for each office location. As I’m sure you can image, this can really add up if your company has multiple locations or expands in size. Additionally, your call quality may be degraded if you choose to obtain a cheaper service, resulting in a poor connection or dropped calls.
  2. Wrongfully Estimating Your Company’s Growth: This can be a costly mistake, whether you over or under estimate your company’s potential growth. If your company does not grow as large as expected, you’re stuck paying for phone lines that aren’t in use. Conversely, if your company expands quicker than anticipated, you may need to pay an expedited cost to speed up installation. If you choose a cloud-based or VoIP phone system over a traditional wire line service, scaling your phone system to meet your needs is much easier. Since cloud-based and VoIP phone systems are operated through your internet connection, adjustments to your service can be done quickly and with little to no impact on your daily business operations.
  3. Not Considering Your Customers: Obviously, it’s important that your employees are able to communicate easily and efficiently with each other by phone, but what about your customers? You need to examine the type of experience your customers have when they dial your number. Starting from the moment they pick up the phone; what number will they dial? Is it a toll free number? Is there only one number to call for all inquiries? Once you have made a decision on what your company’s phone number will be, you will need to start examining the internal structure of your phone system. Will you provide them with a dial by name or department directory? Do you want certain customers to take priority over others when calling in? Would you like to be able to reroute your calls seamlessly from any location? Cloud-based or VoIP phone systems are capable of offering a wide range of features, such as one number to dial for all inquiries, no matter what part of the country customers are calling from. Additionally, internet based phone services can be easily configured to provide simple call routing, while a traditional phone system requires an IT manager to come out to the necessary changes.

It is important to choose the right phone system for your business because it can impact your company’s performance and productivity. Interrupting the work day to install or repair a traditional phone line can impact your office efficiency, as well as result in a loss of revenue. Finding a phone service that can be easily scaled too meet your company’s needs while also providing a positive customer experience is essential.

To learn about VoIP services offered by TeraGo Networks, click here.

How VoIP Works at TeraGo: Part 2

In our video “How VoIP Works at TeraGo: Part 1”, we explained how TeraGo Networks provides Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services to our customers. Part two of our VoIP video series, posted below, describes the benefits of a VoIP connection in comparison to a traditional land line service. Martin Ramjit, Technical Sales Specialist at TeraGo Networks, explains the additional features and advantages of utilizing VoIP technology for business. Three main benefits highlighted in this video are cost savings, scalability, and optimization. To learn more about how these three features can assist you business, watch the video posted below.

To learn about other benefits offered by VoIP technology, download our whitepaper by clicking here.

How VoIP Works at TeraGo: Part 1

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is becoming an incredibly valuable tool for businesses. It has the capability to provide its users with an array of benefits, such as scalability, multiple features not available with traditional land line service, and overall cost savings. As more businesses migrate to VoIP technology, the staff at TeraGo Networks felt that it would be beneficial to provide an explanation of how VoIP operates in conjunction with an existing TeraGo internet connection. Below is part one of a two part informational video series describing the functions of VoIP – hosted by Martin Ramjit, Technical Sales Specialist at TeraGo Networks.

To learn more about TeraGo’s VoIP services, just click here, or follow our blog to receive an update when part 2 of our series is posted.

VoIP for Business: Common Misconceptions

Several companies are looking to use innovative technologies to advance their business, including Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Instead of using a traditional phone service, businesses are implementing VoIP for their voice communication requirements. However, even though VoIP is a proven alternative to land line services, some businesses are apprehensive about making the switch based on a few common misconceptions.

Firstly, business owners believe that there is a complicated and long installation process associated with VoIP. Like any other new technology, businesses are hesitant to change their ways and employ innovative services because they fear that it will interfere with their business practices. In actual fact, a VoIP phone system is relatively simple to install, whether it is a basic, hosted, or integrated service.

The existing PBX hardware used to communicate with traditional phone services can also be used for VoIP. By attaching an Integrated Access Device, the older PBX hardware is able to function as a type of hybrid that allows for most VoIP calls. A business may also need to purchase new handsets, but the overall costs of installing VoIP is often three times less than a traditional PBX.

Secondly, many businesses assume that VoIP only offers minimal savings. In reality, VoIP services are relatively cheaper than traditional phone lines. Many VoIP providers offer free calls between users on their network as well as lower rates for calls made to any other landline, mobile, or overseas numbers. Since the calls are made through your internet connection, the rates are much lower than traditional phone calls. Also, several VoIP providers offer additional features without any additional costs, such as caller ID, 911, and directory listing.

The scalability of VoIP also contributes to overall lower costs, since businesses are able to only pay for what they need. As your business grows, adding more lines can be as simple as picking up the phone and contacting your provider. 

Lastly, some companies believe that the quality of VoIP is poor in comparison to traditional phone services. However, the only aspect that impacts the quality of a VoIP call is your internet connection. If you have a reliable internet connection, the voice quality can actually be better than a traditional landline since VoIP uses digital technology instead of analog.

These are three of the most common misconceptions about VoIP technology. To learn more about VoIP technology and the benefits that it is able to offer, download our white paper here.

Top 5 Reasons You Should Be Thinking about VoIP for Your Business

It is now evident that Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has multiple benefits to offer business users. In a previous article, Get More for Less, the operating methods and functionality of VoIP technology was outlined. Now let us discuss the specific advantages of using VoIP technology for businesses. We have compiled a list of the Top 5 ways that Voice over Internet Protocol benefits businesses.

  1. Lower Costs: By utilizing the internet to carry voice, you eliminate the need for a dedicated phone line. Accessing your voice communication services through your internet provider also allows for a greater range of scalability, which means that you only pay for what you use. Additionally, the cost of installation can be lowered by utilizing your existing PBX hardware. Attaching an Integrated Access Device enables the older PBX to function as a type of hybrid that allows for most VoIP calls.
  2. Scalability: Voice over Internet Protocol services can be easily upgraded as your businesses grows and requires additional phone lines. In some instances, increasing or decreasing the number of lines that your company is using is as simple as picking up the phone and calling your provider. There is no need for intrusive and costly installation procedures.
  3. Multiple Features: Features that are provided by traditional phone services are also available through VoIP. This includes caller ID, 911, directory listing, and long distance plans. Users are also able to access their phone system from their desktop computer when they are not near their handset. VoIP also allows for free on-network calling, so that you can call anyone on your network without incurring a charge.
  4. Unified Communications: VoIP enables the user to receive all their business communication, such as phone, voicemail, email, text messaging, fax, and more in a single inbox. VoIP also offers portability, which means that you can take your VoIP number anywhere. Users only need access to an internet connection to communicate. This means that relocating your business is easy since you only need to plug in your equipment and connect to the internet after you have moved to your desired location. Traditional phone companies may not be able to relocate all your lines to a new site, and there is the possibility that your phone service could be interrupted during the transition to your new location. These concerns can be eliminated by obtaining your business phone service through VoIP technology.
  5. Consolidated Bills: Accessing all your communication needs from one source means that there is only one bill to account for. Many voice and internet services are sold in bundles as well, making it easier to set up all your business communication needs at once.

Voice over Internet Protocol is the future of business communications and will soon become a necessity. Implementing a VoIP system is the first step to adopting unified communications, so your business can boost its efficiency and productivity. To learn more about how your business can benefit from VoIP, download our free white paper here.

Image provided by thaikrit.

Get More for Less

Innovative technologies are helping small and medium businesses become more productive at a relatively low cost. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology meets this criteria by providing a valuable service at a lower cost. VoIP is the use of IP-based networks to transmit voice signals instead of using a traditional telephone network. From the user’s point of view, VoIP works just like a conventional phone system. 

VoIP has only recently started to grow in popularity because the service is dependent on an Internet connection. Businesses that share an Internet network connection with residential customers are subjected to peak period slow downs, which means that call quality could vary throughout the day. Aaron McIntosh, Product Marketing Manager at TeraGo Networks Inc., has observed that “the rise of broadband internet, as well as internet networks that are designated for business use only, has made VoIP an attractive alternative to land line phone services.”

Since your internet connection can be used to carry both data and voice, the need for a dedicated phone line is eliminated. This also allows for users to bundle their services instead of managing multiple bills with different service providers. Businesses can also customize their telecommunication packages to meet their needs. This can include modified internet services, to ensure that companies are only paying for what they need, as well as a variety of features.

In order to utilize the benefits of VoIP, you will need a provider with connectivity to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) in order to make any type of phone call. Two methods used to connect a VoIP network to the PSTN are Session Initiated Protocol (SIP trunking) and the traditional Primary Rate Interface (PRI). There is no difference in call quality between the two, but there is a difference in cost. SIP trunking is less expensive than PRI because additional channels, or lines, can be purchased incrementally. On the other hand, PRI channels are only available for purchase in groups of 23. As a result, SIP trunking can be better tailored to the customer’s needs since they only purchase what they require.

VoIP services are growing in popularity as more and more businesses recognize its benefits. Many providers, such as TeraGo Networks, are presenting customers with all the same features that can be found on a traditional phone line service, such as caller ID, 911, long distance plans, directory listing, and more. Additionally, customers have the option of using either SIP trunking or PRI to connect to the PSTN. Regardless of which option you choose, the end result is transparency.

Businesses have the opportunity to take advantage of the cost and technological benefits that VoIP has to offer, while still being able to just pick up the phone and make a call to anyone. TeraGo Networks is providing customers with state-of-the-art broadband internet and voice services, allowing businesses across Canada to utilize VoIP technology while lowering their expenses. To learn more about this great service, please download our white paper by clicking here.

Image provided by photostock.

%d bloggers like this: