Read this before your business counts Hosted VoIP out.

Hosted VoIP business phone systems allow their users many advantages; your business’s interest in one (or multiple) of those advantages is probably the reason you are reading this.

Alas, your business has some hesitation about transitioning to a cloud-based (AKA Hosted VoIP) phone system. And, we understand. Smart businesses do not jump into anything without doing their due diligence to explore options, weigh costs and benefits, and, ultimately, make the most-informed decision possible.

The market’s consensus on the biggest concerns presented by the adoption of cloud-based business phone technology probably translates directly into your business’s leading trepidations. Here, we will address the advantages that FluentStream’s cloud-based business phone system offers for users in direct response to the market’s leading concerns, as reported by telecom research firm Software Advice.

Concern #1: Maintaining Phone Connectivity During a Power or Internet Outage

Flexible business continuity features set cloud-based business phone systems apart from the pack. If your office loses power, your calls can be forwarded to mobile devices, to softphones on your employees PCs, or to analog phones. You don’t  need to make the change manually (although, of course, you can). If our live monitoring detects that the phones at your primary location are offline (because of power or internet outages) then your calls will be automatically routed to your designated “Emergency Route”.  If your business has multiple office locations and/or virtual employees, calls can be re-routed to those locations, either manually or as a defined “Emergency Route”.

Concern #2: Voice Quality

Cloud-based business phone systems have come a long way from their origin in terms of their ability to deliver exceptional voice quality.

Most voice quality concerns reported by cloud-based system users are due to one of the following things:

  1. There is not enough bandwidth reserved on the user’s local-area internet connection to move voice data without interruption (in other words, the users purchased amount of bandwidth is not being prioritized efficiently or is not enough).
  2. The user’s internet service provider (ISP) is not delivering a solid, error-free connection (IE the user’s internet provider is not delivering the purchased internet bandwidth consistently).
  3. The user’s cloud-based provider does not intelligently design or appropriately invest in the proper infrastructure.

Voice quality concerns related to #1 are easily resolved by either implementing Quality of Service (QoS) settings or codec changes. QoS settings are managed on local routers, and allow you to prioritize or reserve bandwidth for your voice communications. Codecs convert voice signals into their digital versions and vary from version to version in sound quality, bandwidth required, and computational requirements.  A codec that is compressed will minimize the required bandwidth for a single call, while not noticeably impacting voice quality.  Your business’s cloud-based phone provider should be able to manage both of these settings on behalf of your business.

Voice quality concerns related to #2 are trickier to solve. If your ISP is providing a connection that does not deliver the purchased speed reliably, no amount of QoS settings or other fixes will allow for sustained and reliable voice connection. However, internet connections that are too bad to effectively deliver voice data are VERY rare and are increasingly more rare as time goes on.

Unfortunately, voice quality concerns due to #3 still exist and contribute to the market’s concern that the voice quality delivered by cloud-based system is poor.  These providers are usually using very low cost carriers to originate and terminate phone calls and are only hosting their infrastructure in one data center.  It also is likely that their servers are less powerful than ones used by higher quality cloud providers, and therefore do not process information efficiently.

The bottom line for the majority of businesses who are interested in the advantages offered by cloud-based business phone systems but are concerned about voice quality: With a good internet package that delivers more bandwidth than your business typically uses, nothing additional will be needed to ensure exceptional voice quality. If the internet is suspect, or has given your business reason to be wary in the past, Quality of Service settings can be updated on your router to ensure proper bandwidth priorities. (And as a feature of our hosted system, the experts will do it for you.)

Concern #3: The Up-Front Cost

In the past, choosing a new phone system for your office came with a big price tag. The  phone systems of yester-year depend on a lot of specialized, bulky and expensive equipment. Cloud-based business phone systems move the technology to the cloud. Resultingly, the up-front costs are lower than ever before.

A fully-featured office phone system can be set-up (and ran quite happily) with just a laptop and your employees’ mobile phones and PCs. For a slightly larger initial investment, internet protocol (IP) enabled desk phones can be purchased.  The cost for these devices is also considerably less than one might expect, with entry-level phones available for around $50.  Cloud-based providers are also likely to offer discounts or incentives toward the purchase of IP phones

Concern #4: Security and Safety

Cloud-based systems let your business outsource your security concerns to a team of experts. Responsible cloud-based providers monitor their customers’ traffic in real-time, and are instantly aware of any odd behaviors happening on their customers’ accounts. When usage that is excessively abnormal occurs, the account is blocked until the behavior can be verified. International calling can be password protected so that unintentional charges can be avoided. In most cases, a cloud-based provider will be hosting infrastructure in data centers that are held to extremely high security standards – additional proactive monitoring, enterprise firewalls and on-site security policies.

Everyday, we get to see how the implementation of a Hosted VoIP phone system positively impacts the operations of the businesses we serve. We hope your business is the next to make the transition, and we are here to answer your business’s specific questions. Give us a call and let us know how we can help!

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