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Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a VoIP Provider

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There are an increasing number of businesses that are discarding traditional telephone infrastructures in exchange for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services due to the many benefits that VoIP offers.  Regardless if you use VoIP over your computer or you are a larger business using a hosted VoIP provider, switching to VoIP has many advantages some of which include cost savings (can be as high as 80%), connecting multiple offices, allowing workers to telecommute, and much more.

Although there are many benefits to be gained by changing to a VoIP infrastructure, in order to enjoy the advantages you must know how to avoid the pitfalls that can end up costing, instead of saving you money.  Here are a few tips on some of the mistakes you should avoid to ensure you end up with a reliable VoIP provider that offers more advantages than disadvantages.

Failing to Understand the Technology

Before you choose a VoIP provider make sure you understand how VoIP technology functions.  Of course, you do not have to become an expert on VoIP technology. However, learning the basics will help you to avoid some of the pitfalls the VoIP provider may not disclose.

Not Learning about Hidden Charges

Although VoIP services are very inexpensive you need to go one step farther than the price you see on the VoIP provider’s website.  Although the price can be very tempting the downside is that there may be hidden charges such as usage, licensing and support.  For example, you may see a great price on unlimited calling on the VoIP provider’s website, but in the fine print it may state that the price does not include calls that are made outside of the network.  The VoIP provider should include local and long distance in their unlimited calling plan.

Choosing a Flagship Provider

If the VoIP provider is new to the VoIP industry it is possible they may be using you as a test subject.  This is not to say that this is true of all new providers however, if you are considering a new VoIP provider make sure they know their craft.

VoIP is a fairly new technology with a lot of vendors having only being around for less than five years. You do not want them to disappear on the fly or worse yet, install a system that buys you a lot of headaches.  Instead, invest the time to learn about the VoIP provider as the investment will return to you tenfold.

Choosing a Provider That Does Not Consider Traffic and Bandwidth

When you implement a VoIP service it is important to remember that the telephone calls will be transmitted over your Internet connection.  Depending upon the type of connection you have the upload capacity may be limited.  If you have a large amount of voice and data you may not have enough bandwidth to use VoIP effectively.  The end result is an unreliable VoIP connection and problems with data transmission over your Internet connection.

Make sure your VoIP provider sits down with you and listens to your needs.  Additionally, you should talk to others who use the VoIP provider you are thinking of working with to learn about their experiences.

Forgetting to Inquire about Licenses

If you use VoIP on your home PC the process is relatively easy for establishing a connection.  You choose a provider, pay the monthly fee, and download the software interface.  It is important to be aware that it does not work this way on the business front and many VoIP providers use licensing to lock you in.  Many of them also use the great value of VoIP to hide licensing which makes the offer look better than it is until you get locked in and it is too late.  Find out about licensing before you sign on the dotted line.

Not Inquiring about Disaster Recovery

Ask the VoIP provider if there is a plan in place for disaster recovery.  Not doing so could leave you stranded in the event of system failure.  Don’t assume that the VoIP provider will provide disaster recovery services.  Instead make sure you know in advance whether or not these services are offered.

Not Fully Understanding What Features Offered

Although some of the phone services you need for your business may seem like a ‘no brainer’ when you choose a VoIP provider, you would be surprised how many VoIP providers leave out the most basic of services such as call forwarding.  Instead, you should insist on a demonstration and hands–on approach to ensure you fully understand what is being offered with each plan.  This avoids any negative surprises later that could adversely affect your business.

Not Inquiring about a Network Test

Some VoIP providers will not evaluate your existing network to determine if it is capable of handling the VoIP system you require.  If the VoIP provider does not offer to evaluate your network then ask them about it.  If things seem sketchy when they answer then move on to the next provider.

Finally, make sure that the VoIP provider that you are placing in charge of your system is competent and offers reliable technical support and maintenance.  This is an area where you should not cut corners and spells disaster if you do.

We hope you will consider the ShoreTel Sky solution, but even if you select another provider, avoiding these common mistakes will go a long way toward ensuring your long term success.