The Internet we have today is a far cry from its early days. Far from the limited means of communication a few decades back, it has grown into a ubiquitous network that permeated so many layers of our daily lives. It is, at present, a very effective platform for communications, and this goes well beyond the usual emails and instant messages. Thanks to Voice Over Internet Protocol or VoIP, people can now make calls online as well as multimedia calls — what was once the stuff of science fiction and obscure novelty is now well within the domain of mainstream use. Nextiva has an interesting comparison that shows how a VoIP system is a more convenient and cheaper alternative to maintaining a landline connection. It is, thus, unsurprising that many entrepreneurs invest time and effort to learn how to set up a VoIP phone system for their businesses.
What to Consider Before Setting Up a VoIP Phone System?
According to The Business Journals, before you decide to buy those VoIP phones and other necessary devices and call your local VoIP provider, you must consider the following:
How many people are going to use the system?
Before you learn how to set up VoIP systems, you will need to determine which employees will use the VoIP system, and that does not necessarily mean every person in your company will get access to it at a given time. This will determine the lines that you will need and the Internet connection plan that you will need to support the call volume that you are expecting.
Is your Internet connection fast enough?
This is important as it determines just how much call volume can your system support without sacrificing call quality, and whether or not you should do an upgrade before you deploy your system.
What is your budget?
Grounding yourself on a set budget lets you determine just how many features is your system going to need. Basically, it keeps you from biting off more than you can chew.
What features are you going to need?
Know the deliverables that you expect from a VoIP system like, say, voice over IP phone numbers or video conferencing. Determining your company’s goals with regard to the implementation of a VoIP phone system lets you know just what features is your system going to include. It also helps if you segregate the features that you need from features that you actually want but are totally unnecessary. Putting these lists side by side with your budget gives you a clear picture of the scope of your system, i. e. whether or not it will only have the bare minimum or will include some or all of your preferred features.
So How Do You Set Up Your VoIP Phone System?
Having calculated your budget and identified your requirements, you are now ready to take the following steps towards setting up a VoIP system for your business:
Find and choose a reliable VoIP systems provider that can deliver on your requirements
Different VoIP providers provide different features — some offer custom voice over IP phone numbers, for instance, while others let you keep your old phone numbers. PC Mag has a comprehensive list of VoIP providers that you can use as a reference for starters. This should help you explore the available options and how they compare with each other. The piece also links to reviews of each respective service that will further help you determine which provider should take the cake. This is where your final list of deliverables as dictated by the budget that you have set during the planning phase comes in. Finding the best VoIP provider is so much easier with such a handy guide on hand.
Hook up your IP PBX to your Internet service provider
Apologies for that mouthful of technical jargon, but PBX stands for private branch exchange; this is essentially your organization’s private telephone network. It is a piece of hardware that is designed to automatically receive and route calls via VoIP or other communication channels sometimes provided VoIP service providers. IP PBX, as per Search Unified Communications’ definition, specifically refers to PBX that makes switches to the calls between users of your VoIP system on local phone lines as it allows the use of a certain number of external lines by all of the system’s users. To connect this device to your Internet connection, all you need to do is to plug it into a power source and then connect it to your router via the usual Ethernet cable. Note, however, that many VoIP service providers prefer hosting your PBX in their own servers, so you might end up skipping this step if you opt for the major providers.
Get VoIP phones and plug them into your VoIP system
Most VoIP systems do not require dedicated VoIP phones as you can always use adapters to connect existing handsets to the network. However, many providers will recommend that you have actual VoIP-dedicated devices if you are looking to make the most of the system’s features. If you are looking for the best VoIP phone for your system, though, you can always turn to the Internet for recommendations. Tech Radar, in particular, has a detailed list of the latest VoIP phones that you can check out for starters. Connecting your VoIP phone to your system is as easy as simply plugging the Ethernet cable to your device, in most cases. Once you have physically connected your device to the VoIP network, you will need to configure your phone’s settings. It certainly is not as easy as it sounds; you will have to deal with firewalls in well-secured networks, for one, and will probably need to be in constant contact with your provider to make sure that everything works smoothly. Fortunately, though, pretty much every VoIP phones come with a manual and the VoIP providers themselves provide tutorials that go deep into the set up process, and if you are savvy enough with modern computing tech, you will be able to pull this off on your own without a hitch.
Do tests to make sure that your system works
Make and receive different types of calls to see whether or not you have set up your hardware, configured your settings, and have listed your voice over IP phone numbers correctly. You can also simulate emergency scenarios like power and Internet connection outage to have a more concise picture. All the while, be sure to monitor and record the calls to collect the necessary data which will reveal what adjustments need to be done to your system and whether or not you will need to further train your users on its use.
Learning how to set up a VoIP phone system right will help you make the most out of its features. Properly set up, a VoIP system can last a good number of years and save you a lot of time and money on maintenance, redesign, and repair.