As VoIP technology becomes more broadly adopted, the number of VoIP providers on the market continues to grow, each with their own unique set of services. The stakes are high when it comes to your phone system, and a misstep may have a detrimental influence on your reputation and business operations. After all, you require a phone system that is trustworthy, has the functionality you need, and can scale with your business – all at a competitive price.
Switching to a different voice carrier may be a challenging exercise, and it would be a waste of your time and money to switch to a VoIP service that does not match your needs. To make migrating to a new VoIP service easier, here is a list of the top 10 questions to ask your prospective VoIP provider.
What features and tools does the company offer?
The majority of providers give a multitude of features. Many are included in the price of your plan, while some, such as call recording, eFax and emergency services may be extra. It is also worthwhile to inquire whether the feature set is self-managed, or if the supplier must configure features on your behalf. Some providers give you complete control when it comes to setting up features, while others take a more hands-on approach to ensure that everything runs well. Also, find out what tools the provider has to offer. Do they provide PBX or softphone applications, as well as all the tools for easy service administration, such as porting, number selection and end-user registration tools.
Does the company offer mobile VoIP solutions?
Mobile VoIP solutions are critical for remote workers and other personnel who need on-the-go phone system access. The majority of VoIP providers offer software-based mobile VoIP services. All you need to do to use software-based mobile VoIP is install a softphone app on your smartphone. VoIP companies may provide a free app for download with your phone service, or they may focus only on softphones and phone applications that integrate with other service providers.
When is the support department available?
Most of the time, your service will perform as expected, but you should be aware of the support options accessible to you in the event that something unexpected happens. Ask if customers have a dedicated account manager who will handle all service-related inquiries. Some other details of importance are, how long does it take to get a response to a support ticket, is assistance located in-house or outsourced to another country and what are the hours of support? Note that it is necessary to know the hours of support operations, as well as any time zone limitations on that support.
What measures does the company take to ensure service quality and reliability?
Business users, in particular, are concerned with reliability and security. Downtime can be caused by unforeseen weather conditions, DDoS attacks, a sudden surge of consumers, a data breach, and other factors. Find out how long it takes for phone network faults to be resolved on average and inquire as to the number of outages during the preceding six months. Is there redundancy in place for the provider’s servers, and are they geographically distributed? To guarantee that none of their servers become congested, a competent VoIP provider will utilize a mix of firewalls, redundant servers and regular monitoring.
Can you keep your existing number?
Make sure you can migrate your existing phone numbers over from your current provider before signing up with a new provider, a service known as a Local Number Portability (LNP). Also, do not forget to inquire about whether the provider charges for number porting, as some companies, such as DIDWW, offer free LNP services. It is also worth asking if you may try out the new service with a temporary phone number and then run an LNP trial once you are satisfied.
Does the carrier support E911?
It would be unusual if E911 was not supported, given that the FCC states it should be, but it is always a good idea to verify that this service is available and learn how the system operates. After all, VoIP handles 911 calls differently from traditional landline services, so it is critical that the provider explains E911 in terms of VoIP and how important it is to maintain an up to date address in the E911 database.
Is BYOD supported?
BYOD stands for “Bring Your Own Device”. If you currently have IP phones, you will probably want to retain them to avoid incurring additional costs. Some carriers do not support all IP phones, therefore you may not be able to bring your own device into their plan. Some carriers refer to BYOD as enabling any device, including almost any softphone, VoIP adapter, gateway, IP phone, or IP PBX system to be used with their service, as long as it supports the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP).
Does the company offer faxing services?
Inquiries concerning faxing services are sometimes overlooked in conversations about hosted PBX and VoIP. Fax over IP (FoIP) is a cost-cutting option that runs on the same SIP infrastructure as VoIP and . Faxing with FoIP works via the T38 protocol, which serves to send faxes via a computer data network. This service requires a T38-capable VoIP gateway as well as a T38-capable fax machine, fax card or fax software to function.
How many PoPs does the VoIP provider have and are they geographically distributed?
Points of Presence (PoPs) are often found in data centers that house servers, routers, network switches, multiplexers and other network interface equipment. PoPs should ideally be placed in different parts of the world and have several power and Internet backups. This architecture lowers service interruptions because if one data center fails, others may take over without creating any downtime for the user. Back-haul redundancy should also exist, thus ensuring that the supplier has several voice carriers for access to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).
Is a contract in place, and if so, what are the terms?
Determine whether the supplier requires that you sign a service contract and, if so, whether the conditions are appropriate for your company’s needs. Inquire about contract length, termination procedures, and early cancellation costs. Some contracts, for example, do not enable businesses to port out supplier phone numbers, which might make service termination more difficult. Also, see if the contract requires the VoIP provider to inform customers of pricing changes or limits the ability of users to change their service. Such terms could bind companies to a service long after that service no longer meets their needs.
There are many advantages to using cloud-based communication systems. IP-based phone systems are less expensive than traditional telephony, can be operated from a single Internet platform, and allow staff to take and make business calls from any location. If your organization is contemplating adopting cloud-hosted business phone services, it is vital to ask questions up front to avoid complications later.