Choosing a VoIP Service
Differentiation of VoIP Services
Unlike with the traditional PSTN phone system, people have a lot of options when selecting a VoIP provider. Due to the low barriers of entry, the marketplace has a wide selection of SIP services. In a way, this presents a challenge since it is difficult to choose amongst so many. What do you look for, and how do you make your decision? It goes without saying that there's no right answer, but here are a few things that you will need to check out for yourself before picking one.
All VoIP services will save you money both on domestic calls as well as international ones (especially the latter). But not all of them have the same pricing options. Some of them try and replicate the "all-you-can-eat" style of business and provide you with an unlimited number of calls and usage for a fixed monthly fee. Others implement the "pay-as-you-go" system that is more in line with prevailing standards in the cloud industry today. The general consensus is that a fixed fee puts you at risk of overpaying since it is highly unlikely that a VoIP provider would choose to reduce its profit margins if you're using too much of their services.
If you choose the pay-as-you-go plan, ask for a sample of a typical bill that you receive. All of the charges must be itemized and laid out in as transparent a method as possible. After all, if you're going to try and save money you need to know exactly where it is going and how effective it is.
Since VoIP is a web-based application, the number of features provided to you will very from service to service. Here is where a lot of the planning and foresight comes into play. Consult with your stakeholders and determine what features you would like to have and then narrow down your list of service providers based on that. A few functionalities such as SIP forking and number portability are absolutely essential if you want to get the most out of your VoIP service. Ease of management and configuration options are also big plus points.
This will probably be the feature that will make or break your relationship with an SIP hosted VoIP provider. It's also the most difficult to gauge beforehand since all services will claim to have the best customer service. The only way to find out for sure is to speak to older or existing customers, and read reviews online. It's hard to over emphasize the importance of customer service when implementing business VoIP systems.
Keep these factors in mind and good luck!