How to buy VOIP
A VOIP buying guide
Voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) technology allows telephone calls and services to be offered over broadband Internet wires. VOIP services offer numerous benefits, making them an attractive option for many consumers who are looking at what phones and accessories are available in their area. VOIP services are able to provide residences, as well as small and large businesses, with Internet-based communication services. When deciding how to buy VOIP, there are a few points you will want to keep in mind before you go shopping for various VOIP phones, VOIP accessories and VOIP services.
>> Which is the right VOIP service type for your needs?
When discussing how to buy VOIP, the different types of VOIP services should be a major consideration. Three main types of VOIP services are available. The main determinant of which package is right for you is the size of the communications network needed.
- Business VOIP services connect office technology in a central communications network. VOIP services can be hosted offsite, on-premise or connected through analog telephone adapters.
- Hosted VOIP services are suitable for businesses or other high-traffic calling environments and can be used with a wide range of office products. Hosted VOIP services maintain connection during times of high call volume.
- On-premise VOIP services are well suited for large businesses or office buildings. When using on-premise VOIP services, the technology necessary to maintain the IP network is hosted on-site.
- Analog telephone adapters are beneficial in residential or small business environments. Analog telephone adapters enable a level of services similar to that experienced using land telephone lines, and all telephone equipment connects through a small device in the home.
By choosing the type of VOIP service best suited to your needs, you are closer to determining the best VOIP equipment and services for you.
>> What VOIP features do you want?
There are numerous VOIP features available today. Most VOIP programs offer unlimited national calling programs. There may be an additional fee for calls placed to other countries or specific rates for calls made to specific countries. VOIP programs also offer caller ID. The caller's number is displayed through the phone system. Customers who use VOIP services are able to reserve toll-free numbers and utilize emergency numbers. Call directory assistance is available for customers as well. In some business VOIP packages, conference-calling features may be available. In addition, call logs can be requested for any phone on the VOIP system. Different accounts can be set up for different users and can be password-protected. Voicemails can also be sent to email, calls forwarded to other phones and call reports generated to meet the needs of both individuals and businesses. Evaluating the available VOIP features allows you to select the VOIP model and service that will best meet your needs.
>> Which required equipment will you need?
When selecting VOIP services for your home or business, it is important to ensure you have the correct electronic supplies to allow for an immediate connection. Some commonly needed equipment includes modems, routers, telephones and broadband Internet service. A modem is a device that allows individual homes or businesses to connect to the Internet or other computers. Depending on the type of modem, you may have to connect additional devices to it directly through an Ethernet, hardwire or other type of cable. Alternatively, the modem may allow wireless access. If more than one device will use the modem, the modem then connects to a router. The router splits the signal between devices. Routers can be purchased at stores selling electronics and are available in many models, including wireless routers. The router sends the signal to your computers, phones and the VOIP adapter. The telephone then connects to the VOIP adapter to provide telephone services. The final required item to establish VOIP telephone services is some sort of broadband Internet service. Broadband Internet services are available from several service providers. Service must be established before VOIP services can be connected. By ensuring that these main requirements are met before connecting VOIP equipment, you can ensure that the connection occurs smoothly and without delay.
Be sure that whatever equipment you are using is compatible and meets the minimum requirements of the VOIP products and services you are looking at purchasing.
>> VOIP Comparison
One final task in determining how to buy VOIP is performing a VOIP comparison. A VOIP comparison identifies the different types of VOIP, the size of the network needed and additional features available in each type. By comparing this information, you are able to determine which VOIP model is best for you.
VOIP hosting type
Usual size of the network
| Hosted VOIP network ||Business environments ||Conference calling, voicemail to email, user accounts with password protection |
| On-premise hosting ||Large businesses or office buildings ||Call logs, call reports, activity logs, server usage reports, conference calling, voicemail to email, user accounts with password protection |
|Analog connection ||Residential or home environments ||Call waiting, call forwarding, emergency calls, toll-free numbers |