VoIP phone services: Which one is right for your business?
VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, describes the technology by which phone calls can be made and received over your broadband Internet connection rather than over traditional telephone lines.
This provides a number of business benefits, with two key ones being
- Savings: low installation costs, low monthly line rental and low rates for both local and international calls
- Flexibility: scalable service (increase/decrease lines as required) with the ability to use phones anywhere you have a high-speed Internet connection
Alltel offers three different VoIP services—each one designed to meet a specific business need:
- Alltel VoIP
- SmartConnect® (Hosted PBX)
- SIP Trunking
Business VoIP, which is also known as IP Telephony or Internet Telephony, works just like your traditional landline service in that you make and receive calls in exactly the same way. About the only difference you’ll see is at the end of each month when your phone bills are much lower. Your VoIP calls are carried over your broadband Internet connection rather than over the standard telephone lines.
In many cases, your Business VoIP telephony can share the same network as your computers and other communications equipment. With Alltel VoIP plans starting from just $15 a month and the ability to use your existing Internet connection, this business-grade service is a great solution for small businesses, start ups, and home-based businesses.
Hosted Business Phone System (Hosted PBX)
SmartConnect® is just like having a phone system in your office, except that the features and functions run from Alltel’s servers and are delivered to you over the Internet. You access the system through your high-speed broadband Internet connection, and configure and manage it through Alltel’s easy-to-use web-based management portal.
This means that even though the physical equipment is located in our data centre, you’re still in total control of your phone system and can make changes to it at any time. You don’t need to have all extensions within the one physical office either. This is a “hosted” system, which means you can set up additional extensions in employees’ home offices, and even in distributed offices across Australia. And you’re not limited to a maximum number of extensions like you are with a physical PBX phone system. Pay for the number of lines and extensions you need today, and increase (or decrease) as required to meet your business needs.
There are free calls between all extensions, and incoming calls can be managed through features like time-of-day routing and call forwarding (IVR) menus. Other features include call queuing, call recording, intercom/paging, voicemail and voicemail to email, customisable hold music and voice prompts, an easy-to-use management portal and low VoIP rates. With plans starting from just $30 a month, Alltel’s Hosted Phone System delivers "big business" features and functionality at a price that small to medium businesses can afford.
Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) Trunking is a business-grade VoIP solution that is ideal for any business running its own in-house IP-PBX phone system. You can save money not only with low VoIP rates, but also by paying for only the lines you need.
Most businesses use only 30-40% of their phone lines at any one time. That means that in an office with 10 staff where everyone has their own phone, the business is often paying rental for 10 separate phone services. With SIP Trunking, you can still have 10 extensions, but only pay rental for the 4 lines that are used concurrently (and share those 4 lines between all 10 extensions).
SIP Trunk runs over Alltel’s Business-grade VoIP network, so you not only save money on your line rental, you can also take advantage of low VoIP call rates. Alltel’s SIP Trunking service is the ideal solution for any Australian small to medium business with an in-house IP-PBX system.
Here's a Picture to Sum Things Up
With Alltel VoIP, you get a single line in/out. With both SmartConnect® Trunking, you get multiple lines in/out, which are shared between an even greater number of extensions.
- Lines in/out: This determines the total number of simultaneous calls. For example, a plan with 4 lines in and 4 lines out supports 8 simultaneous calls (four inbound and four outbound). These lines can be shared between multiple extensions.
- Extension numbers: Hosted PBX and SIP Trunking systems typically have many more extensions than lines (often 70% more!). An extension can be a physical phone from which calls can be made and answered. Extensions can also be used for dedicated services including Fax2Email and dedicated Voicemail extensions.
- Direct in-dial (DID) numbers: These are the phone numbers that external people dial to call your business. You can have a single DID number for your entire business, or may decide to use multiple DIDs and assign numbers to individual extensions so employees can receive direct phone calls.
- Hosted vs In-House PBX: With a Hosted PBX, all PBX features and functions run from Alltel’s servers and are delivered to you over the Internet; with SIP Trunk you have your own IP-PBX on your premises.
Which is Right for You?
It really comes down to the size of your business and your business needs.
- A Business VoIP solution is ideal for sole traders, start ups and home offices who are looking for a flexible and inexpensive solution for their phone communications, but who don’t need the added capabilities of a Hosted PBX system.
- Hosted PBX is ideal for businesses of all sizes (including sole traders and home offices) who are looking for "big business" features and functionality from their phone system.
- SIP Trunking is the solution you’re looking for if your business has its own in-house IP-PBX and you’re looking for a cost-effective and reliable VoIP provider.
So, Should You Make the Switch to VoIP?
- Do you want to take advantage of the latest advances in business telecommunications and get ready for the NBN?
- Do you want a scalable phone system that makes it easy and affordable to add new numbers and handsets/extensions?
- Do you want to save money on your business landline rental and phone calls?
- Do you have an always-on, high-speed broadband Internet connection?
If you answered YES to the above questions, VoIP services are right for you!
Call Alltel today on 1300 ALLTEL and find out how we can help your business make the move to VoIP.