Here is a Check-list of things you should take into consideration when looking to move forward with a VoIP Phone System. Since VoIP, Voice-Over IP uses the Internet based on a High-Speed internet connection, also called broadband access, is then critical. Many Internet Service Providers nowadays bundle up Digital Phone services. Whether that’s a good idea to go for such a bundle is a topic for another article. Though in short, we @gonevoip.ca like better the exclusive VoIP Phone providers. It is simple, the focus on offering the Phone service is greater and usually dedicated VoIP providers pack a lot more features and their users are less exposed to system-wide outages. To be fair facing outages and/or service disruption(s) always happen at one point or another, but if your internet services and VoIP phone are separated it will be one or the other, not both.
For what it matters in terms of your hi-speed internet; make sure your Internet connection is reliable, if it isn’t your VoIP/Home Phone experience will suffer. A general rule of thumb is that the more bandwidth you have the better it is for VoIP. Typically you’ll need to have available 128Kbps for upload and downstream download for good voice quality. What that means is that you need at least 512Kbps upload – the ideal minimum is 3Mbps to leave a room when other devices are on. To check your current internet download and upload speeds you can use the services such as Speedtest.net by choosing the test server closest to your location.
It’s also important to consider what so-called premium features are included in the service, such as:
- Voicemail to Email
- Mobile App
- Caller ID
- Call Block
- Call Forwarding
- 3-Way calling
- Fax Support
It’s important that you chose those features that are really important to you. Some providers will offer all you can choose a menu of features, but to a premium price while others offer them all-inclusive.
How much it comes to be per month? Remember you are doing this for the abundance of features but also, and in many cases the switch to VoIP is mainly driven by the cost savings. Also in that, you need to be sure to include the type of Long Distance is already included? Is it local calling only? All of Canada? or perhaps all of Canada AND the USA?
One of the important things to consider is the system availability record of the VoIP provider. System availability, indicates how much time the systems had been down in the past? Ideally, the uptime needs to be 99.9% available. Most reputable providers are or are supported in the back-end by CLEC (Competitive Local Exchange Carrier) – who must adhere to strict uptime of service. A CLEC is an organization offering local telephone service that is not one of the traditional telephone companies; in Canada, CRTC grants CLEC designations.
In Customer Care Access is important to understand how you can reach out to their support, is there a 1-800 number available? Can they be reached via email? Or Chat? Do they provide sufficient online help access? Also in consideration is the web access to your account, can you access it online? Steer away offers that claim once in a lifetime payment – usually, those do not support Number Portability, there’s no customer support nor web interface to manage your account and you don’t know for sure if there is any support for 911. Lastly is e911 compliance, as described in VoIP and 911 – Emergency Calls there are some important differences that you need to be aware of.
Last but not least is to check customer reviews, such as those found in GoneVoIP’s category listings for Home Phone, Business Phone and Cheap Long Distance Calls.
All these can give you a pretty good idea as to what to expect. So in summary what you need to consider:
- High-Speed Internet Connection: The more the merrier & we recommend to try to get your VoIP service and internet from different providers (we know, very Canadian to bundle – but sometimes it pays to unbundle)
- Phone Included Features: As before the more the merrier, for as long doesn’t drive the monthly cost up…
- Number Portability: Essential, it’s included in the package deal or is it extra? Better if it is included.
- Monthly Rate: Another Essential, when all is set and done it has to meet a set budget, whatever you have set, for example, say $10 per month for home phone… or $25 for a business line
- Long Distance Calls Included: This is a standard nowadays, nonetheless check what is included. We @gonevoip.ca like the packages that include Canada/US-wide calling as their standard plans.
- System Availability Record: You’ll get a sense of this by looking at Customers Reviews, and BBB complaints against a provider. As we said before outages always happen at one point or another but how the provider prepares and learns from them makes the difference.
- Customer Care Access: We may have grown used to miss-treatment by the big telecom companies but as consumers, we need to look for better choices. How can you access the providers’ support? Do they cater to only technical gurus or to the average Canadian? Is it only by phone? Is there an address? Do they have online chat? We have found that typically those providers that offer online chat, email, and phone support, not strangely, have the happiest customers.
- E911 Compliance: For Home Phone, this is a must, for businesses depending on the expected utilization it may as well be.
- Customer Reviews: There are hundreds of providers and seems a new one pop-up every week. By going over and considering others’ views/opinions, GoneVoIP has thousands of reviews thanks to Canadians that share their experience. This is a valuable insight. You have an appreciation of how it is to deal with a provider. Maybe your mileage varies, but if a provider has consistently negative reviews, that is the clearest warning sign.
Now the question is, are you ready to switch your phone provider and use a VoIP Phone today?