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Do organizations have to pay for VoIP?

Updated on September 7, 2013

VoIP services are essential to any organization that needs multiple channels to keep in touch with customers and suppliers. They offer an inexpensive alternative to traditional phone lines with many advanced features such as virtual numbers, conferencing and automated assistants.

When it comes to software, there has always been a choice between free and paid applications. For example, organizations can opt for OpenOffice instead of paying for Microsoft Office. The popularity of free apps like Skype and Google Hangouts/Voice has brought the debate to the VoIP industry as well. Obviously the most important advantage of free services is the savings. Paid in house VoIP services can cost businesses thousands of dollars, depending on the configuration they need. Even the most basic setup might require a significant capital cost that small business owners cannot afford.

While the upfront costs of paid VoIP from Cisco or Siemens can be a little steep, it does offer significant benefits to companies using them:

Paid vs Free VoIP Services
Paid vs Free VoIP Services

Reliability

No service, paid or otherwise, can guarantee 100% uptime. But free apps which are generally geared toward consumers can often have outages for extended periods of time. If Skype is not available for an hour or two, it will likely be an annoyance to the average consumer. But for an enterprise which depends on phone communication, it may mean losing valuable contracts or substantial revenue.

Support and troubleshooting

Free VoIP providers do not offer any help in installation or setting up your network to use their services. Doing everything by yourself can be time consuming, especially for complex configurations, even for your IT department. Paid services will usually send their technical staff to assist your employees in getting started. Once installed, getting support for bugs and other troubleshooting is also easier when you are a premium customer.

While suppliers of paid VoIP will claim better quality compared to free apps, the difference might actually be due to connectivity problems. Organizations opting for free VoIP may not have adequate bandwidth or a poor connection causing poor audio quality. High bandwidth, good quality hardware and giving priority to VoIP data over the network can help businesses get the most out of free apps.

Many small organizations usually start with free software, which provide adequate functionality at zero cost. However, as they grow, it becomes imperative to switch to paid services that provide instant business VoIP functionality. The reliability and support they provide become indispensable to the smooth functioning of larger companies.

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