Voip - Voice Over IP and Business: Is It For You?

VoIP allows users to make phone calls using their high-speed Internet connection. This translates into free, or very low cost long-distance calling. Because VoIP uses the power of the Internet, traditional phone companies are left completely out of the loop. Of course, now that the idea of VoIP is catching on more and more, traditional phone companies are developing and offering their own VoIP options so as not to be left out. From the consumer's point of view, this competition is keeping options open and pricing low. For businesses, this is particularly good news, since many VoIP providers will want the business of business--this is a huge market, which providers are aware, of, so the savvy businessperson will take advantage of this, conduct thorough research, and seek out the best possible option to meet the company's needs.

What are the Pros to Using VoIP?

Cost is a number one factor. If your business does a high volume of long distance calling, this can be an extremely affordable way to go. Another positive is that the future of long distance calling is VoIP. As time passes, more and more options will be available and the market will become even more competitive. It is also easy to use, although a business set-up will be more complicated than a home set-up.

What are the Cons?

One disadvantage that many users report is that there tends to be an "echo" when using VoIP. How much of a disadvantage this is may depend on the user. There can also be a slight lag at the beginning of the conversation.

Another potential disadvantage is that the technology is fairly new. As VoIP becomes standard, improvements will take place. In the meantime, it is up to each business to determine if this is a way to go.

Also, because VoIP operates through your Internet connection, should you lose Internet service for whatever reason or power, you will not have phone access until the service or power is restored.

Is VoIP Right for my Business?

As with any business decision, you should examine your needs and available services before making a purchasing decision. VoIP may produce substantial savings, but it could also produce substantial headaches. Whether or not your company can navigate potential glitches with minimal interruption is something you need to determine. Many traditional service providers offer competitive pricing, and the security of the existing structure may not be worth the potential problems with VoIP. It is also necessary to price and compare the technical requirements; will your existing structure support VoIP, or will the investment in technology offset the potential savings?

VoIP Business Options

On the bright side, because VoIP is a growing service, many companies provide business solutions and the offers and pricing are competitive. One thing to consider as you compare options is contract terms. Because the technology is expanding, it is wise to avoid any long- term contract, as a better option may come along in the meantime. A variety of companies offer business solutions. The following list is just a few:

? Sprint:
http://www.sprint.com/business/products/categories/voip.jsp

? Lingo:
http://www.lingo.com/voip/business/unlimited_internet_phone_ service.jsp

? Quest:
http://www.qwest.com/largebusiness/products/voip/

? Pipex: http://www.pipex.net/products/voip/

How to Get Set Up for VoIP The technology required will depend on the service you choose. There are three types of VoIP methods.

? ATA stands for analog telephone adaptor. It connects to your computer or Internet connection and uses regular phone.

? IP phones are special phones that look like traditional phones, but they connect with an Ethernet connector.

? Computer-to-computer is an easy way to use VoIP and long distance calls are free; you only pay for the software. While this method can work in a business setting, it may not be the best solution, even though it is very cost effective.

VoIP requires a high-speed Internet connection, and for business purposes, your set-up needs to be able to handle the additional use that VoIP incurs. Essentially, there is no "one size fits all" set-up guide for business VoIP options. The service you choose and your company's individual requirements will determine what you will need.

Andrew Kelly is a Technology Consultant who helps keep businesses at the leading edge of technology.

For more great tips and resources on everything VoIP visit: VoIP Solutions For Your Business

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