In addition to making sure your internet service can handle your VoIP traffic, you also need to make sure your local area network (LAN) can handle it. What makes network management tricky with VoIP is that if you simply drop it onto your network, that traffic will get processed the same as any other traffic, meaning your shared accounting application or those 20 gigabytes worth of files your assistant just stored in the cloud.
On the physical side, you'll also need to plan for providing Ethernet drops to any new desktop phones you'll be placing on user desks, or even adding capacity to your Wi-Fi network should you decide to use wireless calling. For many organizations a separate network is often winds up being the preferred solution. If that's what happens in your case, you'll need a separate VoIP gateway. You'll also need security that understands voice protocols, and you'll need to have switches and routers that understand VoIP, too. By the time you've covered all those bases, a separate network is often the more effective solution rather than attempting to not only install but also integrate that much new equipment into an existing LAN.
Our real estate investment company has 14 phone lines altogether. For a phone service, we needed a local number, good call quality, uninterrupted service, calling apps for our laptops and cell phones, and an internal messaging platform for team communication. We started out with a niche company called Sound Communications, but their call quality and app were not very good. So once we made a bit more income, we decided to switch to RingCentral. RingCentral provides great call quality and is highly recommended in the real estate investment community. They are on the pricier side—$419.88 per line per year—but I’m OK with the price because their service is worth it and the high-quality phone calls are very important to our business.
SIP networks usually have a proxy server and a SIP gateway. The proxy sever helps lighten the functional requirements of SIP endpoints. It also acts as both client and server, but it adds functionality around call routing and policy-based management. SIP gateways handle the routing and connectivity requirements for connecting SIP calls to other networks. Typically, the advanced features of the VoIP vendors we review here are largely based on the proprietary management technology they build into their proxy servers and gateways. By offering VoIP solutions where these elements of a SIP solution are hosted in the cloud, the providers reviewed here have more flexibility in building advanced features since they have more control over deployment and reliability.
VoIP solutions aimed at businesses have evolved into unified communications services that treat all communications—phone calls, faxes, voice mail, e-mail, web conferences, and more—as discrete units that can all be delivered via any means and to any handset, including cellphones. Two kinds of service providers are operating in this space: one set is focused on VoIP for medium to large enterprises, while another is targeting the small-to-medium business (SMB) market.
With all the features and functionality Nextiva includes, the fact that no plan exceeds 60 bucks a month is notable. A micro-sized office could get by easily with the bare-bones Office Pro setup, but the advanced features of Office Pro Plus and Office Enterprise are tempting for a few dollars more: the Nextiva mobile voice and video app and the Team Presence status indicator (both included in Office Pro Plus) are useful upgrades, as are call recording and the number-meshing Nextiva Anywhere app (Office Enterprise).
The technical details of many VoIP protocols create challenges in routing VoIP traffic through firewalls and network address translators, used to interconnect to transit networks or the Internet. Private session border controllers are often employed to enable VoIP calls to and from protected networks. Other methods to traverse NAT devices involve assistive protocols such as STUN and Interactive Connectivity Establishment (ICE).
Setting up a residential VoIP system can mean big savings on your phone bill, especially if you make a large number of long distance and international calls. In addition, these systems are mobile-optimized, and provide a wealth of features that may just change the way you think of your home phone service. Take a look at the features you need and the budget you can handle, and make the decision that’s right for you.
The majority of plans are loaded with a great selection of features that can come in handy when you are making or receiving calls. Many providers offer over 30 features included in the low monthly fees. These include basic call management features such as call waiting, call forwarding, call blocking, caller ID name, do not disturb, and voicemail. More advanced features such as the voicemail to email feature let's you access your messages at anytime, even when you are away from your home, simply by checking your email inbox. Distinctive ringing, additional virtual numbers, and Smartphone Calling App's are other examples of more advanced features that can be useful.