Choosing a service provider might seem like an easy task. When it comes to VoIP however, there are a few housekeeping items to keep in mind. Before you sign up with your preferred provider, I’m going to walk you through a few key points to look out for when choosing a VoIP service provider.
Make sure your Internet connection can handle VoIP- It’s important to check that your Internet connection and speed are VoIP ready. You will not only be using the Internet for data, but will also be running your entire voice and video communications platform over IP. Having a consistently fast Internet connection is vital. Also important is making sure that your VoIP connections won’t be effected by packet loss, latency and jitter. Our engineers recommend speeds of 1Mbps for bidirectional video calls and 100 kbps for bidirectional voice calls with a delay of no less than 150 ms. MegaPath offers a comprehensive speed test that also measures other important factors. Check it out here.
Compare options to save money- One of the best things about VoIP is the rich telephony features that comes with the IP device, not with the service. With VoIP, you don’t have to pay for extra services like three-way calling, call waiting or forwarding. Most VoIP features come from your IP endpoint, and all you need is a VoIP service to take advantage of them. This can potentially save you hundreds of dollars per month compared to your current landline connection. Also, take a look at what you are currently paying for international or out-of-area calls with your landline provider. A great feature of VoIP is that out-of-area and international calls are done through the Internet vs. an analog line— eliminating long distance costs entirely.
Choose between different VoIP service options- There are hundreds, if not thousands, of VoIP providers out there that range from free or basic providers, hosted or cloud providers, and SIP trunk providers. The best choice for you will come down to the extent of your needs.
- Free/Basic Providers: If you need one or two lines or just want to communicate with mobile device and computer apps, free or basic services like Skype and Google Voice are a good choice.
- Businesses: SIP Trunking or Hosted/Cloud: For business needs, we recommend a hosted/cloud provider or a SIP trunk provider. Both of these offer comprehensive VoIP service plans that not only support voice communications but will also support video, data and mobility options. If want complete control of your solution, purchase an IP PBX (like our UCM series) and then purchase SIP trunk service from a VoIP provider. This allows your entire network to be built and housed on your physical location. If you want the bulk of your network and your network settings to be off-site and controlled by someone else, choose a cloud/hosted provider and simply connect your endpoints back to that provider.
- Residential: Residential VoIP services replace existing phone lines at home and most commonly require an ATA for easy analog-to-VoIP adaption. Most business VoIP providers will offer residential service as well as more basic plans ideal for residential use. Most residential users will be best served by a cloud/hosted service.
Pay Attention to contracts, terms, guarantees, compatible equipment, number portability, etc. – Pay close attention to any contracts, terms, guarantees (or lack-there-of), equipment policies, annual fees, etc. Be sure to research the terms and conditions of service providers as some will require contracts while others will not. Upgrading might also have restrinctions, so pay close attention to the fine print. Check to see if a provider requires any fees for adding features or users, and keep an eye out for a list of supported or compatible equipment to see what options you have for building your VoIP network. If you are getting all of your equipment directly from your provider, make sure to understand how that equipment is built-in to your contract. For example, if you cancel your service, what fees are associated with your equipment. If you are interested in keeping your existing numbers, many providers will allow you to port your phone number over to VoIP.
Once you’ve gone through this list and checked off the items that apply, head over to our list of preferred VoIP Service Providers that operate in your area, and complete your VoIP journey.