Tag Archives: Advantages of VoIP

The 5 Most Important Aspects of VoIP Business Phone System Preparation

VoIP Business Phone System preparationVoice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has innumerable benefits, but there are a few accompanying challenges. The good news is that these challenges aren’t difficult to overcome if you prepare accordingly. We’ve listed the six most important aspects of VoIP Business Phone System preparation below.

Calls

The first thing you should determine is what kind of calls you need to make. There are a couple of different ways to make a VoIP call; from a desk phone, from a computer, or from your smartphone. Prior to making any networking decisions, you need to figure out how you are going to make calls.

Cables

Another important VoIP Business Phone System preparation is to get the correct Ethernet cables. Cat 6 cables are one of the better choices, but they may prove too costly for smaller businesses. Cat 5e cables are a more budget friendly option, and should work fine for most businesses. However, potential VoIP users should avoid older Cat 3 cables, as their capacity and compatibility is not a good fit for VoIP.

Power Supply

Next, you need to ensure that you have the appropriate power supply. Power over Ethernet (PoE) cables are the best option; they allow devices not plugged into an AC source the ability to draw power from your internet.

Router

Like many things on this list, you need to determine if your router is able to handle the new traffic from VoIP. If your router doesn’t have Packet Per Second (PPS) capability, you should upgrade it. PPS capability provides traffic shaping and allows you to prioritize voice and video data on your network.

Firewalls

Software-defined firewalls are vital to VoIP Business Phone System preparation. Software-defined firewalls are designed to filter internal data traffic and packets as opposed to only data traffic.

These tips should aide you in making the proper decisions regarding your new VoIP system. If you have any questions regarding VoIP or business phone systems in general, please contact Advanced Communication Systems today at 800-750-3624. You can also follow us on Facebook.

Five Features to Look for When Selecting a School Business Phone System

school business phone systemIt may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to the needs of a school system, but business phone systems are one of the most important aspects of keeping students, teachers, and staff better informed and safe. Unfortunately, many school systems are still using decades-old phone systems. Such systems necessitate frequent maintenance and typically end up costing more than merely purchasing a new system. Newer VoIP (voice over IP) offer a much better alternative business phone system for a school system. Below, we’ve listed five features to look for when selecting a school business phone system.

Emergency 911 Monitoring

These days, schools must be vigilant about the safety of their students and staff. Whichever school business phone system you purchase must include a built-in emergency monitoring feature. Newer VoIP systems can notify school administrators via their desk phones and email when someone makes a 911 call. The notifications even tell you which room number initiated the call. This is important because the emergency dispatcher can also quickly recognize which room to send emergency assistance to.

Flexible Extension Dial Plan

Emergency 911 Monitoring is quite dependent on this next feature. Most schools require six-digit extension dialing, which will permit them to build an organized dial plan. Schools typically use the first two digits in the extension to specify the building, the third digit to specify the floor, and the last three to specify the room number. Flexible extension dialing not only makes emergency 911 monitoring possible, but it also creates cohesion and convenience in your dial plan.  

Ease of Use

Once you finally have a new VoIP phone system, you don’t want to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to use it. A properly designed school business phone system should be easy to operate. It should also be easy to access via the internet so that you can make adds, moves, and other changes.

User Training

Many people don’t like change. Attempting to switch your staff to a new phone system can present a difficult adjustment period. To ease the growing pains, you should have training sessions on the new system. Not only does this shorten the adjustment period, but it also allows your staff the opportunity to take full advantage of VoIP’s features.

Price

As with any purchase, price can make or break your decision. Who wouldn’t love to have the latest and greatest? Sometimes though, you have to prioritize your needs so that you don’t burst your budget. However, one of the advantages of VoIP is that it tends to pay for itself; with little upkeep and maintenance fees, you’ll inevitably find that after time it costs you less than hanging on to your old system.

If you have any questions business phone system questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on LinkedIn.

Why You Shouldn’t Forget About VoIP Security

VoIP SecurityEver since VoIP was developed, it has been an enormous aid to businesses everywhere. It has allowed businesses the freedom to communicate in ways that weren’t previously imagined. However, you shouldn’t forget about VoIP security. While VoIP has a plethora of benefits, it is also vulnerable to fraudulent activity, security breaches, and DDoS Attacks. Fortunately, you can achieve VoIP security if you enact some preventative steps.

Fraudulent Activity

Regrettably, any business that uses VoIP can become a fraud victim. Sometimes, they won’t even realize that there has been fraud occurring until they receive their phone bill. When you choose a VoIP provider, you have to ensure that they offer fraud detection and protection. You can also prevent fraud by placing authentication systems on your business phone system. One example of this are personal passcodes.

DDoS Attacks

A DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack is an attempt to overload a network with requests. DDoS attacks don’t penetrate your system, but busy signals do render it unusable. The best way to avoid a DDoS attack is by working with your VoIP provider to make sure detection and deployment methods are in place. Also, be sure that your team is knowledgeable about DDoS attacks so that if it happens to your business, they will know what they are dealing with.

Consider Carefully

Don’t fall into the trap of feeling as though your company isn’t large enough to break into. Unfortunately, attackers will find reasons to target any system, and attacks can happen anywhere or anytime. VoIP has certainly been a major asset in providing more connectivity to users, but it does come with risks. The best way to stay safe—and get some peace of mind—is to put your security in place. 

If you have any questions regarding VoIP security, please contact Advanced Communication Systems today at 800-750-3624. You can also follow us on Twitter.

The Four Most Essential Business Phone System Integrations

Business Phone System IntegrationsHosted phone systems are popular for a plethora of reasons, but one of the best things about them is the business phone system integrations that you can use to link to other software/solutions. If you adopt a VoIP system that permits you to manage numerous business functions through a single, unified system, you can have better customer service and reduced operating costs. I have listed the four most essential business phone system integrations your business phone system should have.

Cloud Backup Features

Cloud business phone systems are great, but some businesses worry about what will happen if their VoIP provider doesn’t take the proper steps to ensure that customer contact information and calls records are kept safe. Having cloud backup features can minimize the risk of losing important data and automatically copy your VoIP information. Regardless of what happens to the provider, your information will remain intact.

CRM Software

Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, software compiles customer data, organizes it, and uses it to manage sales and find new opportunities for growth. When you combine your business phone system and your CRM software into one integrated interface, customer service reps can have relevant data at their fingertips during calls. By keeping records and details about all customer service calls, you can serve your clients more efficiently. This will strengthen your relationship with them and increase the likelihood of them becoming repeat customers.

Accounting/Bookkeeping Software

Reliable accounting software is a must for any business. When you integrate your account software with VoIP, your accountants can monitor transactions from their phone or laptop. This allows them to quickly identify errors or irregularities . Marrying accounting software with VoIP also allows you to send reminder calls to clients who are late in their bills.

Microsoft Outlook & Email Clients

The best thing about integrating Microsoft Outlook and VoIP is that that you can simultaneously make calls and manage emails. Companies that opt to use Outlook usually store the bulk of their contacts there—including phone information. When you integrate them, you don’t have to look up numbers in Outlook before you want to make a call. Instead, your Outlook information is automatically available in your phone network. The other nice feature is that you can receive messages as audio files in Outlook, which means that you can check your phone messages without having to leave your computer.

If you are interested in Business Phone System integrations or have any other business phone system questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on Facebook.

The Pros and Cons of Desk Phones and Softphones

Desk Phones and SoftphonesThe primary types of VoIP business phones are desk phones and softphones. As you’re probably aware, desk phones are the physical phones that sit next to your computer at work. Sometimes they appear akin to and analog phone, but instead of being a landline, they are actually connected to the IP network.

Softphones, while also a type of VoIP business phone, are entirely different. They are apps that are installed on your PC or laptop. They have dialing pads not unlike a cell phone. Softphones can also have applications for your mobile devices.

Determining the best fit for your company can be tricky. Below, is a quick guide to the pros and cons of desk phones and softphones, so that your company doesn’t spend money on a phone that doesn’t work for your business.

Desk Phones

Desk phones have been entirely redeveloped since the creation of VoIP. What you might imagine when you think of a ‘traditional desk phone’ is not relevant to a VoIP desk phone.

Advantages and Disadvantages

This may go without saying, but people are used to desk phones. Even if the VoIP desk phone is entirely different than that of a landline, people are still comfortable with them. The other great thing about desk phones is that they tend to have superior call quality. Unfortunately, desk phones are more costly than softphones. Furthermore, the cost of a desk phone can increase with the more features you add to them.

Softphones

A softphone isn’t truly tangible; it is a software program on your PC or smartphone. It, via the Internet, allows users to make or receive calls over that Internet connection. Softphones generally offer a very friendly user experience.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Softphones are installed quickly, because tangible equipment isn’t required. They also boast a budget friendly option to businesses. As long as a user has Internet connection, they can get or receive calls from anywhere. However, if your lose your Internet connection, or your equipment computer or smartphone crashes, you will be unable to use it. Also, if you aren’t a fan of headsets, you may not prefer using a smartphone on your computer, as you will need it to respond and listen to calls.

At the end of the day, you will have to decide which pros appeal most to you and which cons are deal breakers. As with all business phone systems, you have to determine what your company needs to fulfill its’ communication requirements.

If you have any business phone system questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on Twitter.

Cloud hosted VoIP – Telephone Service Option

VoIP is extremely cost effective and can be accessed nearly everywhere, from businesses and at-home offices to mobile use. It requires none of the hardware investments of the traditional on-premise POT (plain old telephone) systems of the past.

Because VoIP requires Internet infrastructure to send and receive voice communication, it can face some of the same security issues online users have experienced with their computers. 

Firewall

A successful disaster recovery plan requires that your VoIP phone system protection is included in the network’s firewall settings.  A VoIP firewall is an application that defines whether to allow or deny certain calls. To provide superior quality, the firewall must be not only reliable, but durable with no latency to voice traffic.

A VoIP firewall or application firewall protection should be part of any VoIP managed plan. These firewalls should support common VoIP protocols including H.323, Session Initialization Protocol [SIP] and Network Address Translation [NAT], which assigns a public address to a computer inside a private network.

Passwords

Put simply, passwords help prevent security breaches. No matter the size of your company, it is important to educate one’s staff on best practices pertaining to password usage. CEO’s or IT techs need to monitor and track unauthorized conversations to eliminate abnormalities or spikes.  It is important to view and identify employees who are using the system and assuring their online communications are in accordance with the companies guidelines.

WI-FI

WPA2 [aka Wif-Fi Protected Access] now provides a stronger data protection and network access control than its predecessor, WPA.

WPA2 provides a high level of assurance that only authorized users can access their wireless devices and networks.

There are presently two versions of WPA2;  WPA2-Personal, and WPA2-Enterprise.  WPA2-Personal will protect unauthorized network access by issuing a “set-up” password. WPA2-Enterprise verifies network users directly via a server.

Stay tuned tomorrow when we will discuss DDoS, Phantom Calls and more about security.

Three Common Myths About VoIP

12727848 - voip logo word and orange earth globe

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is a technology still shrouded in mystery in today’s business world. Misconceptions and general unfamiliarity have given VoIP a bit of a negative reputation, causing reluctance for businesses to adopt the advantageous solution.

There is room for substantial growth in adoption rates as more and more companies learn that VoIP puts the user at the center of the communications experience and creates increased flexibility and efficiency for businesses.

Let’s talk about a few of the common misconceptions that are still out there about VoIP.

Expense

When VoIP technology first came on the scene, it was extremely pricey, so it only appealed to larger companies that could afford the expense. Now, the technology has advanced to the point where prices have dropped dramatically, making it cheaper than traditional phone service in most cases. Another significant cost-saving factor for companies is the ability to cherry-pick from a variety of services and features that meet their specific needs so they’re not spending money on services they will never use.

 Is it Difficult to Set Up?

One common misconception of VoIP phone systems is that they are labor-intensive and difficult to set up. Employers shy away from the hassle, envisioning bundles of wires, connection issues and intricate operations. In reality, VoIP systems simplify everything, requiring only a reliable internet connection and, of course, outlets to power the phones.

VoIP is different than traditional phone services because it connects directly into computer networks (router/modem) – users need only connect their VoIP phone system with their internet connection. Additionally, most VoIP devices come provisioned for plug and play, cutting down on the need for configuration.            

Call quality 

Another primary concern is reliability. Since VoIP systems require a fair amount of bandwidth, substandard equipment or poor/slow internet connections have historically been major hindrances, causing bad voice quality and dropped calls. However, any good VoIP provider will work to ascertain the business needs of a company to ensure that it has a solid internal infrastructure and that its bandwidth is sufficient to properly support its systems.

 Another important layer to add to the mix is quality of service (QoS). Voice traffic is more sensitive to network congestion than data traffic, so any blips in a connection are very noticeable. QoS essentially analyzes and assigns a certain level of performance to different data flows and applications. In the case of VoIP, if a lot of bandwidth is being consumed, QoS will prioritize voice traffic over data so that call quality does not suffer.

 

VoIP Tools For Your Business Phone

VoIP allows us to be more efficient and productive at the office place.  Here are some features that offer greater business communication.

Flexibility

6308410_sVoicemail is not bound to your desk phone. VoIP allows you to access your voicemail from any device, including via your email. If you access your voicemail through your email, it will come through as either a transcript or audio file.

Most of today’s workers are attempting to manage their households as well as a business career. Employees may have doctor appointments or struggle to get into work by 8 A.M. due to family obligations. With mobility, employees now have a greater flexibility in handling their household while remaining connected to the office!

Faxing through VoIP

You can also eliminate your fax machine with VoIP.  It is much like calling and gives you all the same benefits.

Connections

Some ISP’s have figured out that the better solution for perfect VoIP calls is to offer a dedicated VoIP broadband connection. Many of them are already offering their large customers this option, but the writing on the wall is clear: sooner, rather than later, a separate VoIP network will become the norm rather than the exception.

Only one phone number

If you are a service company or a real estate office, your staff is usually out in the field. In this case, they have to use their cell phone. With a VoIP system, you only have to use one phone number, whether you are calling from your office phone or cell phone.