How to Choose the Best Internet Phone Provider

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone providers quickly gained popularity among corporate communications services and are now used by multi-national companies and small businesses alike. VoIP systems provide access to conference calls, extensions with transfers, direct internal dialing and much more. These systems put branch offices on one phone network and make in-network calls free—even from opposite sides of the globe.
On-premise or hosted VoIP system?
This is the most important question when choosing an internet phone provider, and your answer depends on how hands on you want to be with your system:

Hosted VoIP:

A hosted system is managed by a third party and uses their servers. Some local phone companies provide VoIP services. Whether your host is local or not, you’ll need to connect with them through the Internet. The market is flooded with hosted systems, so you can get some great deals here if you shop around. Start-up is generally fast and inexpensive, and adding more services as you need them a nice way to slowly learn the ins and outs of your new system.

The best things about hosted services are the level of technical support they provide and the regular upgrades. Staying up to date is essential for hosting companies, so you can expect to work with the latest software. Switching hosts once you’re set up can be difficult and time consuming, so be sure to do your research before selecting one.
Keep the following issues in mind while comparing hosts:
1. Safety - When you sign up with a host, you’re entrusting them with your precious data. Accidents happen, so make sure your potential host is prepared for emergencies and has invested in quality backup systems.
2. Service agreement - Acceptable service terms should be defined in any contract, and it’s important to read these carefully. Look for contracts that promise 99.999% availability—which means the network won’t be down for more than 5.26 minutes of any year. When the network’s out, your company’s communications are going to grind to a halt, so this is really important.
3. Ease of operation - Even if a host has a great system, it might not click with you. Ask for demo account to play around with. There will be a steep learning curve at first, but if it doesn’t feel natural pretty quickly, it might not be the right setup for your needs.

On-site VoIP Systems:

When you host your own VoIP system, you’re in charge. This means you buy all your own VoIP software and hardware, and you manage what the system’s set up to do. If you like the technical side of things or have an IT person you trust, this option provides the most security and flexibility. The initial investment can be substantial; hardware and software costs can result in a high per-extension cost, and you’ll have to pay for setup yourself. Once the system is installed, costs are limited to maintenance.
Phone over internet services are great for businesses looking to lower costs and stay up to date. Whether you choose a host for your internet phone calls or decide to host them yourself, this exciting new technology will streamline your business while helping you, your employees and your clients stay in touch.

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