Ah the new subject of today ! What should we as a business do ? Spend monthly money or purchase a VOIP platform and call to have it maintained ? If you do the math you can find that some deals are not what they look like as there are 2 entities we need to remember . One is the cost of monthly payments , IE : How many phones ? How many ITSP / Telephone lines ? Are hosted services the right choice for our business ?
SO many questions as I am confused as to the cost !!
Example of an estimate :
2 basic monthly charges ;
Telephone lines / SIP trunks
Total number of Telephones for everyone
Total number of phone lines to make and receive calls
Total cost per month - Rates being charged for each of the above for monthly charges added up after discussion
More information :
How many telephones do you need ?
How much is each additional telephone if we need to add telephones ?
If we downsize are we locked into the contract ? 100 telephones now and maybe in the future we see it as 50 in less than a year ?
How many telephone lines do we have now ?
Can we remove Sip trunks if downsizing ?
Note : You can always add services for a cost )
Is this enough or do we need more ?
A PRI is approx 400 to 450 dollars per month via your local Telco
20 SIP trunks ( replacement of telephone lines ) 24.99 per month and this varies -
24.99X 20 lines = 499.98 per month
23 lines equal to a PRI changed over to SIP trunks can cost 574.99 !
Mind you the cost of a phone call too as rates here vary as well !
So do your homework and talk to your SIP provider or Sales man or woman and make sure you are VERY clear on these items !! Some carriers today will give discounts to match or do better than the local Telco's .
Also check into CRM integration if needed ( data needed to find out how many phone calls etc. are being made by downloading or integrating this info to a company app or program or using Sales force or Sugar etc. ) . Most companies today are having issues with this as some of the Hosted Service Companies do not support direct downloads of your telephone info ! HUGE issue is with some Call Centers not receiving the data at the end of the day / week / month to correctly report all of the activities of the Call center and Telephone activity .
Hosted services are an up and coming cloud based service for those who do not wish to maintain a telephone system , whether it be a traditional system or a new VOIP platform . Although you MUST maintain a high degree of network enhanced VOIP equipment and connectivity , IE : Upgrade routers and switches and bandwidth for VOIP traffic , to the latest in order to have error free conversations - Garbled voice , choppy voice or no voice on conversations , It also allows you to pick up a telephone and contact someone to help assist you in either changing some service features or fixing an issue with your telephones but you will still need network support as Hosted Services do NOT resolve network issues . 5 Years ago I had solid arguments that this would be bad , and I still hold some of them true today , but Cloud performance has come a long way . Hence start ups are being built all over the Nation and International !!
Non hosted services :
SIP based trunks or non SIP based trunks
Buying a telephone system today is as easy as it has been in probably a hundred years ! Probably less skillsets are required as most VOIP platforms are of a cookie cutter design supporting a TON of features in which most people will never use !
3 Entities ( Outside of making sure your network is up to par as discussed above )
VOIP Platform :
First step is to determine how large your business is ! A few telephones or many ! Most businesses today are under 400 telephones . Small businesses can range from a few to around 100 . In this area there is probably a few Manufacturers and 5 different sizes ! So one point to consider is expansion or reduction ! Are you building and will need more in the future or are you at your Zenith and possibly will be reducing workforce in the future , OR as some businesses see , Is it that time of year to reduce and in 6 months ramp up production again ?
VOIP ( SIP ) Telephones
The telephones you purchase today can be used on a HOST of VOIP platforms , albeit Cisco and other hard core Manufacturers having button and feature issues using other VOIP Platforms as they have their own proprietary protocols ( Network languages they talk ) and then they have their own versions of the very popular SIP based language or protocol . Most will work on other VOIP based platforms with the exception of button appearances on the phones may not be supported . So , with a very small portion of phone manufacturers today having this issue , MOST phones work on almost every platform and will be able to be customized to your business ! IE : Yealink or Grandstream Telephones work with Sangoma or 3CX VOIP Platforms . You get the picture ! So in the future , you buy a new platform but keep your telephones ! Some phones have more buttons and features but most importantly the cost ! A LOT of phones today are quality units and they are probably the lowest cost I have seen in many years ! So when buying keep this in mind from the lowest cost to the highest in terms of price and features and buttons available !
What is a VOIP Gateway ?
Very simple ! Traditional Telephone lines like analog lines or Digital Circuits ( PRI T1 BRI etc. ) have to conform to VOIP/Telephony standards . In order to do this we need something that will take a traditional Telephone circuit and make it compatible ! Analog to Ethernet conversion maybe ? On that sort of line of thinking ! But a bit more intense ! When purchasing a Telephone system , and you have these types of lines , we need to install a customized product to make the conversion so you can make telephone calls . These gateways come in a LOT of hardware configurations like Digital circuits with 23 or 24 lines to analog telco lines and internal lines for fax machines credit card machines etc. We call it PRI /T1/FXO/FXS type lines ! Telco jargon ! So depending on your business we can order the type of Gateway needed for your business by reviewing your telco requirements with you . Most manufacturers have these readily available to install ! Added cost but benefit is to utilize existing Telco services ! Not everyone wants to jump onto the internet for everything yet !
So remember this in your conversion process to look and decide if you wish to stay traditional or maybe try SIP trunks ?
SIP based trunks - Internet phone lines
SIP trunks are becoming more and more popular every year . Plug your phone system in and attach your telephones and you are 2 /3rds of the way done to connecting to the outside world ! Now the next option is a SIP based ( ITSP ) provider . These providers live on the internet deep in the cloud and give you telephone line services right over your internet connection ! A SIP provider is accessible over the internet by just choosing your carrier and allowing the carrier to access your system via IP addressing . Some systems have a built in program for their provider and in a matter of minutes you can select a telephone number and how many paths ( Calls ) and you are up and running with dial tone !! If you have existing numbers its a bit more complex as you have to contact the carrier and have them "Port " your numbers over . Telco jargon again for changing carriers . Once this is completed then you have your internet trunks and can start making calls ! All secure by the geeks like myself who think about someone recording your conversations via the Internet ! Years ago it came up so They/We invented SRTP Secure RTP and other methods to keep those devils out !
Sometimes internet trunks , if you do not prepare for them , can be a nightmare for calling like garbled speech , no voice , broken voice , etc. To resolve this it is pretty simple as in making sure you have modern VOIP compliant equipment that can handle specifically VOIP traffic or Packets . What My Company does is schedule a site visit and check your local switches , Router(s) for routing traffic and Bandwidth Compliance . These 3 components make up your network and are inherently problematic to VOIP traffic ! If they cannot handle the VOIP traffic correctly then you will have serious issues ( We have requirements - like Network jargon " QOS " - Tagging the traffic so it gets delivered on time and eliminates delay or garbled speech ! ) ! Most small businesses have smaller switches and routers for data networking traffic and only a few computers . So when you go in and advise to spend money on upgrading equipment , well , they hesitate .. We can only speak from experience in that these 3 components can be 150% of all of your problems in SIP based Internet features or functions ! We can build new small VOIP networks for your telephones or use creative ideas , like more network jargon - Vlans- , that we can set up with most Networking gear readily available today on MOST products already installed ! So if you decide to go out on the internet for everything which is becoming more popular today for services just be ready and expect issues after your new system is installed ! Almost ALL issues can be resolved in a short period of time but remember your business still relies heavily on your telephones whether you are a small Taylor Commercial Rental Company with maybe 3 phones or an insurance company with 50 phones or any sort of business that 1 telephone call can be the difference of a LOT of money or a financial loss !
So just remember to take it one step at a time , cost wise , and make sure to check the rates for calls as well !
Hope this helps in considering your services ! Reach out to us if you have any questions as the call is free !! We would be glad to discuss these and other issues with you !
Thank You for reading this and I hope it keeps the conversation simple as there is a lot to think about !
So to recap as there are 3 cost entities :
Hosted or non Hosted Telephone System
Telephone lines SIP or traditional
Open all the time !
(Or it feels like it )
Here to serve Our Customer !!