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Phone system: Advantages and disadvantages of a VOIP system for small business
A VOIP system for small business comes in with many advantages, both on the technological side and on the economical side. With VOIP systems, business can do more, for less, and small businesses are more and more often convinced.
However, as conventional, analogue landlines are increasingly abandoned in favour of cheaper VOIP lines, it should be known that this technology still suffers from a few flaws.
Advantages of a VOIP system for small business
VOIP systems allow business to take advantage of many advanced call features that used to require cumbersome installation procedures and expensive hardware in the days of analogue lines.
Current offerings are much cheaper, more reliable and more powerful for small business compared with the traditional phone systems.
• Cheaper equipment, cheaper bills
For many reasons, VOIP systems are cheaper for the corporate customer:
- There’s much less hardware to buy or lease,
- Monthly fees are lower too,
- Intra-network communications, no matter how far the correspondents are, are usually free.
• Technological advantages
Technological advantages include:
- Call forwarding to mobile phones trough dedicated apps,
- Greater scalability, with the possibility to make and take hundreds of simultaneous calls,
- Typical features like call forwarding, conference calling, internet faxing out of the box,
- Customisable call screening and forwarding rules,
- As many geographical or 0800 numbers as might be needed, for the same pool of phones, depending who’s calling, or who’s being called. And they can be changed anytime.
Disadvantages of VOIP
Despite the massive trend towards rapid adoption of VOIP systems, this technology is not without faults.
• The outage fear
The major argument against a VOIP system for small business is the big “if...”
- What happens if there is a power outage? Contrary to analogue phones, VOIP phones and the whole network they work on need power to operate.
- And there’s also the possibility of an internet connection outage.
Which is why many providers advertise their “99.999% uptime”. Be weary of such promises, as they are more often than not contradicted by facts.
• Emergency calls
Even to this day, the problem remains: emergency numbers are either impossible to reach or extremely expensive when using VOIP lines.
Small business should make sure the option is included in their VOIP plan.
• A VOIP system for small business is not necessarily the cheapest option
No, VOIP is not necessarily cheaper.
When considering switching to a VOIP plan, small businesses should be especially weary of the following:
- “Fair use” policy and how it is precisely defined,
- International call rates,
- Call to mobiles rates.
Also, if a complex network has to be installed, small businesses will often need to pay for a network technician either for the installation, or maintenance, or both.
• Call quality and related hazards
The fact that VOIP systems are integrated in complex networks makes every part, every wire, every device on the network a possible cause for problems. Therefore:
- Voice quality can be affected by any problem on any device in the network,
- In extreme cases, acoustic shocks may happen
In either case, finding the precise cause behind the problem is dramatically complicated.