6 Important Questions to Ask before Buying Hosted VoIP

Firms that may not want to invest in their own in-house telephony system because of having a small budget can opt for hosted VoIP service. However, utmost attention must be taken because of the critical role that voice communications play in business, a service that satisfies the day-to-day operation and offers best reliability is a must.

In deciding whether to move your organization's voice services to hosted VOIP, carefully consider the risks and opportunities of this move, compute the total cost of ownership, and carefully plan the transition from premises to the cloud service. Let's look at the six main questions to ask and answer prior to making the move and review the pricing of a hosted VoIP service for short listing as well.

1. Can the provider satisfy reliability requirements?

High reliability is one quality that's expected of business voice services especially for wired phones. Voice falls behind email in the communication method that's most used ranking. The foremost question to ask hosted VoIP providers is about what they plan to do to guarantee service continuity. Mirrored data centers, regionally scattered and housed in secure facilities should be on your expectations list. This is important to safeguard in-progress connections in-case of failure of the main control point, users can still make and receive calls, other system functions like voice mail and dynamic voice response systems.

2. How will you establish branch survivability?

The local access also called the local loop is the central point of failure in almost all networks. The link that connects your site to the world is the local connection and it doesn't matter the number of redundant data centers your service provider has put in place if the local connection fails, your connection to all the others fails.

The evident solution is to find SONET-based local access options that local exchange carrier may provide. Customer sites are linked on rings to the serving control office. In the case that one side of the rings fails, the other side takes over in less than 50 milliseconds.

Your internet service is another consideration for additional backup options. Hosted VoIP services rely on linking to service provider through MPLS based connection for good quality of service (QoS). In case of failure, traffic may be routed through a VPN link to the service provider. Having two carriers preferably on separate physical links is recommended, but in order to increase reliability, position a gateway device at every site with a number of different PRI or log links directly to the local telecom office. The links are able to relay some of your outbound calls.

3. Are you ready for E911 availability?

Hosted VoIP infrastructure could be situated long distance away as opposed to the central office of Telephone Company. Emergency calls should be routed properly and accuracy of location information be observed as a prerequisite.

4. Is your local network prepared for voice?

Despite the fact that the call control server functionality is taken to the cloud, still a major portion of telephony infrastructure remains at our premises. That includes entire IP station equipment (telephones, IP attendant devices, branch and analog phones, modems and fax machines). These devices will be connected to your physical LAN infrastructure.

5. What are hybrid choices?

Even though you may opt to transfer voice services to the cloud, an in-house system may be the perfect choice for certain locations. A hybrid solution should offer enterprise capabilities such as four or five digit calls between stations. Therefore, designing a number plan is included in the project.

6. Which do you want, voice or UC&C?

One of the most pertinent questions in embracing hosted VoIP is the types of services you would like. You should understand that hosted VoIP basically implies providing a "telephone system" which uses IP instead of traditional TDM technology.

But, usage of IP as the basic transport method enables implementation of unified communications and collaboration. UC&C combines the entire user's real-time (video and voice), asynchronous (Email, fax and voice-mail), near-real-time(text) communications. It further offers a scope of collaboration features (video teleconferencing/audio, screen sharing, web meetings among others).

UC&C blends these services together into one interface which can be accessed from any user's device including laptops, tablets, smartphones and desktops.

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