VoIP Services in St. Louis
5 Benefits of Cloud-Based VoIP
These days, a lot of business functions are migrating to the cloud. VoIP phone services are no exception. In fact, Forbes estimates that by 2020, 83 percent of company workloads will take place in the cloud. In addition to this, 87 percent of respondents in the study cited by Forbes believed that 95 percent of workloads would take place in the cloud in 15 years or less. The top cloud competitors convincing businesses to make the switch are household names, such as Microsoft, Amazon and Google. However, smaller and privately-owned VoIP providers are carving out their own market share as well.
To continue this growth, providers will need to adapt to changing business needs. They will also need to establish greater security to prevent cyberattacks. Listening in on voice over IP conversations can provide hackers with sensitive data ranging from credit card information to social security numbers. As a result, many companies wisely employ the use of SIP firewall and WPA-2 encryption.
So, what are the benefits of migrating to cloud based VoIP phones? And, is it worth the potential for cyber threats? Read on to learn more.
VoIP Saves More Money
One common misconception when it comes to adopting new technology is that it will cost tons of money. In all fairness, this is often true. However, when it comes to cloud migration for VoIP, the cost savings begin with installation. Traditional phone setups often require purchasing expensive equipment and hiring people to set up the system and then conduct routine maintenance.
In contrast, some voice over IP providers charge nothing at all for the installation and may charge another $0.00 for maintenance fees. Because cloud-hosted VoIP systems do not require physical space, they also help companies to either downsize office buildings or use the vacated space more efficiently.
When it comes to operational costs, cloud systems beat traditional phones here, too. The typical billing arrangement for cloud-hosted voice over IP is per-use billing, which sometimes includes unlimited local and long distance calling. International calling is also much cheaper, allowing businesses to better serve their clients worldwide at a fraction of the cost of traditional phone systems.
VoIP Improves Efficiency
Saving money is great, but saving time can be just as good — if not better. Time management savings also begin at installation. For traditional phone services, this is a function usually handled by the in-house IT team. However, when companies host via the cloud, a service provider takes care of the installation.
This allows the IT team to focus on other important functions, not just on the day of installation, but every day afterward. The installation itself also saves time, since it is much faster than dealing with the clunky equipment of a traditional phone setup.
Additionally, cloud-hosted voice over IP systems save energy. This is primarily because the system needs to power less equipment in order to work. This also leads to a reduced carbon footprint, and of equal importance, a reduction in the energy bill. The fact that employees can access the cloud remotely also allows mobile or remote work, thereby reducing time spent in commute as more people can work from home.
VoIP Provides Greater Portability
When it comes to cloud computing, portability is one of the main benefits it provides for any business. Because of this, portability is worth exploring further. According to Forbes, between 2005 and 2015, there was a 115 percent increase in American workers who completed at least half of their work assignments remotely. Nationwide, the number rounds out to about four million professionals.
While many companies are hesitant to allow telecommuting, competitors are beating them to the front of the line. There are many reasons for the increased popularity and these are all tied to the benefits it brings to the table:
- Companies can reduce the amount of money spent on office space rent, office furniture and utility bills. In short, it reduces company overhead costs.
- Companies can outsource key functions to trusted independent contractors or freelancers.
- According to one study, 68 percent of millennial job seekers prefer remote work.
- Working from home is less stressful and often has fewer distractions.
Another way that portability benefits companies is through uniform deployment. Once a company saves money through implementing cloud hosting, it will need to invest it. One way to do this is through opening new centers. When this happens, companies will need to ensure uniform systems across the board to maintain quality control. Portable cloud-hosted systems allow businessowners to basically copy and paste setups, thereby ensuring systems are identical.
VoIP Increases Reliability
Technology isn’t always reliable and VoIP is no exception. When it comes to traditional systems, the chance of call disruptions is even higher. This is because factors that affect the local environment, may affect business operations and the ability to stay online. For cloud setups, disruptions in any one center won’t affect the others. Potential disruptions include the following:
- Fire or water damage
- Natural disasters
- Power blackouts
Cloud-hosted systems remain online because the necessary components are not kept in one central location. The service provider is not only off-site, but has multiple backups in place to ensure business continuity. Needless to say, the ability to remain online, especially if the company provides a service related to natural disasters, helps to keep the business one step ahead of its competitors. For these same reasons, in the event of a man-made or natural disaster, recovery and restoration of company information is relatively easy.
Another area of reliability where cloud hosting delivers is security. At the beginning of the article, one of the identified risks of VoIP phone services was cyberattacks. However, the irony is that cloud-hosted VoIP setups are often more secure than traditional phone lines because of awareness of those threats.
Data encryption, secure voice and network security are just some of the measures already in place that help to protect VoIP services. When machinery is kept on-site, however, companies need to secure not just the lines, but the physical room. This may increase security costs and the difficulty of offering real data protection.
VoIP Ensures Better Flexibility
The business and tech environments are constantly changing. What’s in today could easily be ousted and replaced by something new in the morning. As a result, smart and proactive businesses maintain the best position for flexibility. With this goal in mind, migrating to the cloud holds many benefits over a traditional on-site setup.
For starters, the cloud makes it easier and faster to add new users. This makes the onboarding process a breeze whenever you hire new workers or expand the office. In contrast, traditional systems may require some rewiring in order to work.
Cloud systems are also easy to upgrade. With a traditional VoIP phone setup, companies often need to upgrade key components of their equipment before enjoying new features. However, with cloud hosting, businesses enjoy access to some of the greatest and latest features with minimal if any disruptions to their service during upgrade.
For these very reasons, VoIP systems are easy to scale up. Instead of purchasing additional equipment to facilitate more phones at more desks for more employees, or for opening a new center, companies simply upgrade to a higher plan. Thus, scaling up is often just a click away. Conversely, if a company needs to scale down, it is just as easy.
Another flexible feature is pricing. As mentioned before, pricing is often decided by various packages. While unlimited packages are highly convenient, especially for companies that make or receive a high volume of calls, pay-per-use options may better serve smaller enterprises.
A Few Last Words
With all these features ready for the taking, it’s no surprise that so many companies are migrating their voice over IP systems to the cloud. This decision gives even smaller companies an edge over their competitors, allowing them to respond more quickly to change and take advantage of promoting the ways in which their initiatives create a sustainable business. In an increasingly eco-conscious market, this can only work in a company’s favor.
With all these features and the required maintenance provided mostly off-site and by a third-party, employees can focus on what they do best. Information technology workers can focus on research and development and improving other work processes. Meanwhile, other employees can spend less time managing their phone systems and more time catering to the needs of customers. The customer service experience is even more enhanced by the ease with which calls can be transferred to relevant departments, even several states away. No more giving customers a phone number for them to call on their own, starting the wait process all over again.
How to Get Started
Do these sound like benefits you would like to see realized in your business? Maybe you are tired of the limitations of on-site VoIP telephone services and have been thinking about upgrading for quite some time. However, before you type “cloud hosted VoIP providers near me” into your search bar, start your search here.
The founder of NOW IT Services created the company in 2008 to bridge the gap between companies, employees and their customers. Contact us today for more information about how we can help you achieve a new level of interconnectivity through cloud-hosted VoIP services.
Voice-over-IP: Transform Your Enterprise with Small Business Voice-Over IP Solutions
Technology is constantly evolving. Businesses are changing their work spaces to meet the demands of tech-savvy clients as well as to improve working conditions for their staff. Voice-over-ip solutions are becoming a must-have for many companies. Learn the basics of VoIP to decide whether to make the jump and take advantage of this novel technological advancement.
What is VoIP?
Voice over Internet Protocol is a way to take telephone analog audio signals and turn them into digital data. This is significant because it makes it possible to receive phone calls through an internet connection. A majority of modern work tasks involve talking on the phone, whether it’s with co-workers or clients. Enterprises across all industries are paying a phone bill every month to make this possible. Voice over Internet Protocol allows you to bypass the phone company and its hefty charges, which opens the door for significant savings.
3 Ways to Access Voice Over Internet Protocol
There are three different ways to access VoIP. Interested clients can experiment with each one to decide which works best for their company.
1. Analog Telephone Adaptor
An analog telephone adaptor allows you to connect a phone to a computer to access service. Simply plug the cable that would go in a phone socket into the ATA instead and you’re ready to make calls. Some ATAs come with software that you need to configure on the host computer, but it is nonetheless an easy setup.
2. IP Phones
IP phones include a headset, cradle and buttons so they can accomplish everything a traditional phone can. Instead of a RJ-11 phone connector, however, they have a RJ-45 ethernet connector. This means they can hook up to a router and have all the hardware and software in place for IP calls. There are also wi-fi phones available that allow users to use VoIP service from a wi-fi hot spot.
This is the easiest way to use Voice over Internet Protocol. You need software that is affordable or even free in some cases, depending on where you find it. You also need a microphone, speakers, a sound card and an internet connection, preferably DSL or cable. Apart from a standard ISP fee, there is no charge for placing calls, even long-distance calls.
3 Popular Uses for Voice Over Internet Protocol
If your business is a call center or sales organization, the uses of VoIP might seem obvious. In fact, there are a myriad of ways Voice over Internet Protocol can enhance your organization. These three popular benefits can apply to companies in almost any industry.
1. Business Traveling
It is no longer necessary to give employees a business phone with pre-paid service. Voice over Internet Protocol allows company representatives to access a network from their cell anywhere there’s an internet connection, including in another state or country. Some carriers also offer “softphone” software service that you can download on your laptop. This allows you to place a call from your computer anywhere in the world.
2. Team Meetings
Most VoIP services come with the same features as analog service, such as caller ID, call waiting, call transfer, repeat call and three-way calling. Meetings with co-workers are as fluid as ever, since you can see who is calling and direct the call as necessary.
3. Video Conferencing
Sometimes it is helpful to see the face of the person you’re speaking to. Voice over Internet Protocol makes video conferencing a reality. Since everything is accessed through the internet, you can exchange files and documents while you’re chatting. It can do wonders for streamlining operations, boosting employee morale and increasing profits.
Get Crystal Clear Phone Clarity
Businesses should always be concerned with phone clarity. Too much static and bad sound quality during calls can negatively impact a company, especially if it focuses on customer service, tech support or sales. Detractors of VoIP are quick to point out the potential for minimized quality. Fortunately, businesses can implement Voice over Internet Protocol call monitoring to stay on top of technical issues and quickly resolve them.
The Basics of Voice Over Internet Protocol Quality Monitoring
Having a robust quality monitoring system in place can enhance the efficiency of your organization. Since many companies use a quality system to monitor employee interactions with customers, using a VoIP phone quality monitoring system in tandem is simple. It involves using hardware and software programs to test, analyze and rate calls.
Most programs use mathematical algorithms to rate calls. They are rated on a scale of one to five, with 3.5 five being a “good” score. To come up with this mean opinion score (MOS), programs consider these three aspects:
Latency is the time delay between two callers. Sometimes it can cause the “talk over effect” in which one person thinks their interlocuter has stopped speaking because the delay is so strong. Round-trip latency of over 300 milliseconds is considered poor.
Jitter is another type of VoIP time delay caused by packets. Packets contain between 10 and 30 milliseconds of audio and can sometimes arrive late or in the wrong order. Programs often have a jitter buffer to collect groups of packets, sort them in the right order and deliver them to an end user all at once. Jitter of 50 milliseconds is poor quality.
3. Packet Loss
If a jitter buffer gets overloaded, it might result in packet loss. Callers might notice that sentences are cut off or that their interlocuter sounds choppy.
Active Vs. Passive Call Monitoring
VoIP call monitoring can take two forms: active and passive. Active monitoring is great to use before starting service. A thorough assessment is conducted by equipment manufacturers and network specialists to ensure everything is in working order.
Passive monitoring happens in real-time while your employees are using the service. Network administrators can detect traffic problems and buffer overloads by analyzing recorded phone calls or looking at software metrics. If necessary, they can shut down service and resolve problems during down time. This approach is unavoidable to get the system back to optimal quality, although it can also make employees and clients frustrated.
Having a VoIP call monitoring in place can ensure that customers are receiving the best service with each and every phone call. Sky high customer satisfaction can result in repeat sales and rising above marketplace competitors.
How To Install Voice Over Internet Protocol
Making the transition from an analog phone system to Voice over Internet Protocol can be tricky. After all, your employees have quotas to meet. Following these four steps can help you set up your system with little wasted time and energy.
1. Consult With Experts
VoIP professionals know how to get companies large and small running with an internet-based phone system and can share their knowledge with you. There’s no need to struggle with the kinks of installation when your network equipment vendor can send a pro your way.
2. Test It Out
Before switching every employee to internet phones, test out your service on a select few. If it works out you can gradually roll more people in. Make sure to keep your traditional phone system running as a backup during this phase.
3. Use Call Forwarding
Power outages are a real threat to businesses, especially during stormy weather. Prepare for them by configuring your Voice over Internet Protocol to forward unanswered calls to a landline number or cell. That way you can return the calls when power is up.
4. Secure Your Network
Unfortunately, security breaches by hackers are a common occurrence. They can digitally intercept calls to steal sensitive information or take down your entire system with a denial-of-service attack. Protect your VoIP network by using the most up-to-date technology. Cutting-edge software and devices are more likely to have a strong guard of security features.
Join the Future of Communication
In the age of the internet, VoIP is here to stay. It has a plethora of versatile features that almost any organization can use to the fullest. With careful planning, you can see the following improve in your office:
- Cost per call
- Employee efficiency
- Customer satisfaction
- Software dependability
- Net profits
Companies have to grow and change with technology. VoIP is a game changer that can bring your organization into the digital age. The possibility of cost-free calls, improved remote work conditions, streamlined team communication and video conferencing are just some of the perks of this service. Hopefully learning about voice-over-ip solutions can assist you in making an informed decision for your enterprise.
oYour Guide to Voice Over IP
When you’re operating a business, you want to provide the best customer service possible. This includes your phone service. Technology is changing, and it has many business owners turning to voice over IP services to meet their business needs. Read on to learn more about VoIP, what it is, and how it could benefit your business.
What Is VoIP?
Voice over IP is known as a communication phone service. It works by transmitting information across the internet via a digital signal that converts voice calls into information that is transmittable over a laptop, desktop, or any other data-driven device. Before you can fully understand what VoIP is, you must understand the terminology related to it.
- IP – IP stands for internet protocol. This is how data packets are transmitted across your local or wide area networks.
- PBX – PBX is a short term that means private branch exchange. This telecommunications system maintains your connection to a publicly switched telephone network (PSTN) while also managing your phone and fax machine’s functionality during calls.
- PSTN – The publicly switched telephone network it a traditional circuit network that has been in use since the 1880s. It uses copper wires to carry voice data via analog lines.
- VoIP – Voice over internet protocol is a phone system that connects your phone service provider via your internet protocol technology.
When combined, you’ll find the two most common terms associated with VoIP service: IP PBX and VoIP PBX.
What Are the Types of VoIP Phone Systems?
There are six common types of VoIP phone systems available for business owners today, each with its own type of functionality. It helps to understand what each one offers before deciding which one will best fit your business needs.
- Hosted PBX – A hosted PBX (aka hosted VoIP) system is hosted by the service provider. The provider controls the technology and the IP phone system’s services.
- Hybrid Phone System – Hybrid phone systems are typically viewed as an upgrade. They are perfect for business owners who want to migrate their company to a VoIP system without re-wiring the entire building.
- On-Premise PBX – An on-premise VoIP system is set up like a traditional PBX system in that it works from the business owner’s property. Most of the time, it’s housed in a phone closet or equipment room.
- Open Source VoIP System – An Open Source VoIP system is a free operating system that uses PBX software and allows you full access and control.
- Open Source-Based VoIP System – This is much like the open source VoIP system, although it also has proprietary code built on top.
- Proprietary VoIP System – This is the underlying operating system of a VoIP phone system. Consider it the “black box” of the phone technology. Keep in mind that you’ll have no access to this information.
The specific features you receive will depend on the type of VoIP service you choose. However, several features are standard for most types of voice over IP services. Look for services that include call reporting and conference calls, integrated messaging, web-based management, scree notification, call queues, and voicemail features. You may also benefit from mobile applications, direct inward dialing, call forwarding, and analytics tools.
When deciding which system is right for your company, consider how much control you need, the monthly payment your company can afford, how fast your business is growing, and the features you would like to receive.
What Type of Headset Is Used With VoIP?
Voice over IP headsets have three main components: earpieces, microphones, and connection cords. You must consider all three components when choosing the right equipment for your VoIP system. When choosing earpieces, you’ll need to decide whether you want those that go over the ears, traditional earbuds, behind-the-neck models, or something custom-molded to each employee. Microphones are available as a standard voice tube with basic sound or as an upgraded model that cancels background noise and makes it easier to hear the phone conversation. Finally, consider the connection cord. You’ll need to ensure it fits into the rest of your equipment. The most common types are 2.5mm, 3.5mm, micro-USB, or traditional USB.
What Is a VoIP Gateway?
VoIP gateways are hardware devices that convert Time-Division Multiplexing telephone traffic. Simply put, they transfer PSTN traffic into the digital IP packets requires to use VoIP service.
They gateways work by acting as bridges between the PSTN and the IP networks. The gateway determines where the voice traffic is originating from and converts it into a format ready for the destination network to hear. If the traffic starts from the PSTN, the gateway changes it from an analog signal to a digital one. The digital version is then compressed by a codec and broken down into the IP packets. Finally, the packets move across the IP network using the appropriate protocol. On the other hand, if the traffic started from the IP network, the gateway decompresses the digital packets and converts the digital signal into an analog one to reach across the PSTN.
Is Wireless VoIP Available?
Businesses are becoming increasingly concerned about going wireless, and their VoIP services are no different. Wireless voice over IP services work exactly like traditionally wired VoIP phone systems, except the Ethernet port does not need to be connected to a computer or LAN (Local Area Network) in order for you to make or receive calls. The built-in WiFi (also known as a Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications transceiver unit) connects to an access point. That leaves you free to move around your office as needed.
No matter which type of voice over IP service you choose for your business, it is important to remember that there are pros and cons. Never choose a service simply because you feel pressured to or because you assume a cheap rate means a service you can afford. After all, if that cheap service doesn’t work properly, you could actually lose out on money in the form of missed calls. Research your options thoroughly before choosing the VoIP phone service that works best for your company’s needs.
A Guide to Voice-Over IP Services
Although many businesses and consumers now do business via email, text messaging, apps, and even social media, these advancements in technology have not completely negated the need for a comprehensive phone system for businesses. Of course, that doesn’t mean the phone systems themselves haven’t gone through some updates as well.
These days, more and more business owners are tossing out their traditional company phone systems in favor of using Voice-Over IP services. The new technology is often more affordable, more flexible, and a better fit for companies that are looking to remain relevant in an ever-changing business climate.
What Is Voice-Over IP?
Voice-Over Internet Protocol has several other names, including Internet Calling, Internet Telephony, and IP Telephony. Voice-Over IP is a money-saving method that allows people to make phone calls for extremely cheap. In some cases, they can even do it for free.
Despite having names that refer to the telephone, VoIP calls often do not have telephones at all. Instead, callers use computers or smartphones and special software and headsets. The technology converts the caller’s voice into a digital signal over data-driven services, and then transfers it to the listener via packet-switched protocols transmitted of local area networks or any other VoIP-compatible network.
Why It Works
Because Voice-Over IP service uses packets, it allows for more information to carry over the network, which enhances the caller’s ability to communicate. It also provides advanced applications that allows for better flexibility and productivity or staff members.
It is best suited for businesses that use unified communications. This means they treat all their communications alike and allow them to work via any VoIP-enabled handset or cell phone. The result is that a staff member can receive a phone call, email, fax, or any other type of communication no matter where he or she is.
How Switching to VoIP Saves Money
One of the biggest reasons that business owners switch to Voice-Over IP service is because it saves them money. This occurs in several ways, but perhaps the most important is that it cuts the cost of telephone lines. When replacing a traditional phone line with SIP trunking for VoIP, it cuts a company’s monthly phone bill by as much as 50% right off the bat.
These savings are just amplified when you factor in the enhanced performance features. Of course, with fewer traditional telephones and fax machines, businesses cut back on wiring needs as well. The lack of traditional equipment means fewer dollars spent on maintenance and upgrades of phone services. Even making long-distance phone calls is cheaper when using Voice-Over Internet Protocol services.
Voice-Over IP Is a Portable Service
An increasing number of companies do business on the go. The days of employees spending 8-10 hours a day behind their desks are over, which means businesses need more flexible ways to communicate. This is exactly why so many are turning to VoIP services.
Whether a company’s owner and managerial teams travel the globe or employees telecommunicate, they need the ability to make and receive phone calls as a business entity no matter where they are. Voice-Over IP service works anywhere there is internet access. All an employee needs to do is log into the company’s VoIP service to get a dial tone and make and receive calls using the business’ official phone number.
VoIP Service Is Multi-Functional
Multi-functionality is another big selling point for VoIP. In the past, when a company needed to hold conference calls, it needed special phones and multiple phone lines, not to mention the ability to for everybody involved in the call to work it into his or her schedule at the same time.
These days, the multi-functionality of Voice-Over IP service makes conference calling, whether voice only or with video, much easier. Businesses can set up meetings between two or more people and easily share files, calendars, and other company information over the internet service. It especially makes it much easier for global brands to stay on top of things. It even allows users to send all their voicemails to their email, meaning someone will get important messages even if he or she is not in a position to pick up the phone and listen to them.
Businesses have even been known to save money by using these flexible services because they can hire more remote workers. Allowing more telecommunication eliminates the need for commercial property, providing real estate savings. It also makes it easier to track employees who work outside of the building since the service allows employers to verify locations and work status via busy buttons programmed into phones or viewable desktop management screens.
Choosing the Right VoIP Provider
Not all VoIP service providers are created equally, so any business owner who is looking to make the switch should do thorough research on the available providers first. Ideally, the provider makes it easy to make the switch. Plug-and-play host capabilities are especially important, because it allows the business owner to make the switch with almost zero downtime to the company’s phone lines. In addition, the provider should include enhanced services, such as call forwarding and full call control. Many providers also offer unlimited calling for discounted rates, including international calls.
One up-and-coming Voice-Over IP provider is NWO IT Services. The St. Louis-based company is proud to provide businesses with VoIP that includes high-quality calls, flexible product enhancements, and lower prices than traditional phone lines. The business stays on top of trends and enhancements in the industry to ensure it provides its customers with the best possible business communications solutions.
Why Make the Switch Now
Businesses that haven’t already made the switch from traditional phone lines to VoIP should do so as soon as they can. After all, technology is going to keep advancing, and companies that don’t keep up with it look outdated and unprofessional. By enhancing the company phone system and proving an updated view on changing technology, a business does two things.
For one, it shows customers that it will do what is necessary to keep up with consumer needs and continue to provide excellent service. For another, it brings in a better caliber of employees. Workers who are part of the younger generations, especially, are interested in beginning their careers with technologically advanced businesses. An old-school phone system just doesn’t give that vibe.
Of course, when deciding to switch to Voice-Over IP services, research should be done first. Find local companies with high-quality services and a strong reputation with the Better Business Bureau, as well as with current and former customers. Asking questions, such as how long installation takes, what services are provided, and how pricing is calculated, is essential for ensuring to receive the best service possible.