Transitioning to VoIP isn’t rocket science. You can switch to VoIP easily and reap the benefits of digital telecommunications. Enjoy phone bill savings and accessibility. Plus, keep up with changing communications standards through digital convergence technology.
To help you out, here’s a quick guide on switching to VoIP.
Start with the Basics
The first steps are, of course, the basics. These are your network connection and VoIP service provider.
Before switching, make sure that your internet service can take the additional traffic. Digital telephony is a bandwidth eater. You need enough bandwidth allotment in order to have stable VoIP connections. You need to be able to make calls while running other bandwidth-consuming applications, such as online browsing and gaming. If you’re network connections are unsuitable for VoIP, you can either upgrade or switch to a better service provider.
Once you’re all set with your ISP, explore your VoIP service provider options. You can choose from practically anywhere in the world. Although, of course, it would be more practical to opt for a provider that has a good reputation within your circle. You want to choose a VoIP service with a 99.9% uptime, up-to-date equipment and servers, and responsive technical and customer support.
Next, you need to decide how you’ll use your VoIP service.
Will you stick with your computer, headset and softphone? This is a good option only when you have a personal VoIP account. To begin using VoIP, all you need to do is set up your softphone on your computer or mobile devices.
Another option for personal or residential VoIP accounts is to get an ATA (Analog Telephone Adapter) so you can continue to use your analog phone with your digital voice service. ATAs are generally easy to setup.
A bit more expensive than an ATA is an IP phone or SIP phone. SIP phones are phones that are made for VoIP. Get this if you want a truly digital voice experience, and have a little more funds to spare.
Getting equipped for VoIP is a little more complex for businesses. Companies with more than a dozen employees, working for different departments and perhaps different branches or satellite offices are likely to use a legacy PBX (private branch exchange) for managing their phone lines. PBX systems are expensive, and you will need to set up something similar when your office switches to VoIP.
There are two options here. You can use a VoIP gateway device to use with your legacy PBX system. Gateway devices are less expensive than the alternative, which is an IP-PBX system. This is a good way to ease into adopting VoIP for your business.
Transfer Your DID Numbers
DID (Direct Inward Dialing) numbers are virtual numbers assigned to each user, without requiring actual phone lines. When you switch to VoIP, you will need to transfer your DIDs to your new voice call service provider.
Transfers for residential and small business accounts are usually done by the VoIP service provider as an extra service; though the good news is that generally providers will do for free. For bigger companies need to coordinate with their old phone service provider for transfers in bulk. This is something that is happening more often now and in true it doesn’t take a long time to accomplish. All that requires is coordination.
Secure Your VoIP System
Now that you’re all set up, you need to secure your system. Your transition to VoIP is an investment in equipment, accounts and manpower. You should be able to make the most of it.
Foremost here is ensuring that your VoIP performs as expected. You should have good quality VoIP connections and near 100% uptime, especially for business VoIP. You need to always be accessible to clients and partners, as well as employees and collaborators.
This means setting up a VoIP monitoring system that can profile your VoIP’s performance 24/7/365. Services like VoIP Spear do persistent testing of your VoIP connections and provide you with reports and alerts on your system’s MOS (Mean Opinion Score), jitter, latency and packet loss. VoIP Spear is a good personal VoIP, and small- to medium-scale business VoIP option because you can get effective VoIP testing service without additional equipment and manpower requirements. Bigger corporations can opt for large-scale monitoring, like Appneta’s.
Another security measure that you need to have is a backup plan for power outages. For short power downtimes, an emergency power supply or an uninterruptible power source is enough. It is also a good idea to set up call forwarding in case your VoIP phones become unreachable. You can choose to receive calls on your landline or mobile devices during outages.
Matt Larson is a tech blogger, currently promoting VoIP Spear’s call quality testing services. VoIP Spear is a VoIP Monitoring service provider, with strategically-located global testing servers.