A Quick Guide to Migrating to VoIP

Does the prospect of smarter, lower cost phone communications appeal to you? That’s the promise of VoIP. Cost savings may be available to both residential and business users. It’s also clear that a group of people using VoIP can together make bigger total savings than just one person. But there’s also the question of initial investment. For home users, there may be little or none. VoIP bundled in with home Internet connections and a VoIP adapter mean you can use your existing phone and see the benefit for a fixed monthly fee. For businesses, things may be different. Greater numbers of users mean greater loads on existing networks.  So compare the time, effort and money needed at the start with the advantages you can expect to obtain afterwards. Then decide how – maybe even, if – migration to VoIP can work for you.

Figure Out Which Kind of VoIP You Want

Different kinds of VoIP are available. The first kind uses an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) and hooks a normal phone up to your Internet router and then out over the Internet. This works for one VoIP conversation at a time. If your business is very small, or if all the people in it are working from separate (perhaps home) offices, then this configuration may make sense. But with two or more people in the same office, you’ll probably want another solution. The next step up is a phone switch (PBX) that can route calls via the Internet. You use the same internal wiring and handsets. Finally, you might choose to go completely VoIP. In this case, you replace your conventional handsets with VoIP handsets that use your computer network for communication to a VoIP switch. You might also have wireless connectivity to allow employees to use mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) to make VoIP calls while they are in the office.

Check Out the Current Status of Your Network

While ‘total VoIP’ for a business may sound great, it may require some significant upgrade. With conventional telephony, your calls are made over separate connections to your computer data network. With VoIP, all these communications run over the same network. That means that you’ll need links that are reliable and have enough capacity to handle time-sensitive voice traffic. Depending on which sort of desktop phones you want to use, you may also need switches that provide Power over Ethernet (PoE) to power them. In addition, your wireless communications may need an overhaul if many people start to use them for voice and video communications. As a general rule of thumb, the more money you think you can save by opening up VoIP communications, the more closely you should scrutinize the capacity and performance of your current installations beforehand. For smaller businesses, it may take a long time to recover initial outlay through reduced phone call costs.

Test Before You Leap

More basic VoIP implementations may require less checking, but make sure you can communicate properly with them before you cancel any conventional phone contracts. You may want to keep at least one conventional phone line in place to make sure you always have ingoing and outgoing communication ability – just in case of web connection problems for VoIP. More sophisticated systems should be tried by staff before implementation. There’s no point in installing a new system that saves money, but that people refuse to use. You also need to make sure your VoIP connections let you call at least all the local, long distance, international and mobile numbers you were calling before. Remember to check your VoIP system is protected against hackers and malware as well. If all of these points – cost-effectiveness, upgrades, network capacity, user-friendliness, communications, security – can be checked off, then you can migrate to the VoIP solution you’ve chosen.