Even in the age of email, messaging, and live chat, every small business needs a reliable phone system. Unfortunately, traditional business phone systems can be an expensive undertaking that many small businesses can’t afford. Consequently, voice over internet protocol (VoIP) for small businesses has gained popularity to replace traditional phone lines.
Suppose your small business is ready to use VoIP. In that case, you need a reliable IT partner, like EZComputer Solutions, to help give you business-grade communications with excellent call quality. We can help you save thousands of dollars on your phone bill! Get a quote from us today to get started!
What is VoIP, and How is it Different?
VoIP is a technology that transmits your phone calls as data over an internet connection rather than using traditional phone lines. In comparison, traditional landlines use copper wires and a physical network of cables and switch boxes to create a dedicated link between you and the person you’re calling.
To illustrate the difference, let’s think back to the early days of the telephone. Every phone had copper wiring running to the local telephone exchange, and that exchange was, in turn, connected to others across the country. Before the 1960s, when you made a call, a live operator would manually plug in electrical cords to establish a constant circuit between you and your recipient.
You were essentially renting those copper wires during the call, and no one else could use them. If you were making a long-distance call, multiple operators in different cities would need to route your call to create that dedicated connection (hence why it was so expensive). While today’s phone system has replaced live operators with automatic exchanges, the basic technology hasn’t changed much in the last century.
How VoIP Works
On the other hand, VoIP technology doesn’t rely on a constant connection between the two phones. Instead, it breaks the phone call into a series of digital packages and uses your existing internet connection to transmit them over the least congested and cheapest routes possible. When the packets get to their destination, the digital signal is decoded back into voice so that the recipient can hear you.
VoIP is inherently more efficient for multiple reasons. First, typically, only one person is talking at once during a phone call, and there are plenty of breaks where neither person is speaking at all (like those awkward pauses). Traditional landlines will transmit everything, even silence, but VoIP will only transfer the bits where someone is talking, which means you save a lot of data. Second, since VoIP doesn’t require a dedicated connection, multiple conversations can use the same digital pathway at once.
Advantages of a VoIP Phone System
While VoIP is a more advanced technology, what does that mean for small businesses considering switching from landlines? Let’s look at some of the key advantages.
Perhaps the most significant benefit of VoIP for small businesses versus landlines is cost savings. VoIP uses your existing broadband internet connection rather than dedicated telephone lines. Not only does that save you from paying fees to the phone company, but it also means you don’t have to run wiring for two different systems in your office. You probably already have internet access set up, making a VoIP system quicker and easier to install than a traditional phone line.
The newer technology makes it cheaper to make long-distance or international calls (because you’re not renting thousands of miles worth of copper wire). Plus, it’s simple to add, remove, or change phone extensions. With the latest advances in cloud technology, you can even host your VoIP phone service remotely without worrying about maintenance or complicated hardware.
A recent article from FitSmallBusiness quoted current phone system costs. It revealed that VoIP costs range from $10 to $60 per phone line, and many include toll-free numbers with unlimited domestic calls. While traditional landlines cost between $50 and $75 per line, and you may pay extra fees for setup, domestic, international calls, and business phone numbers.
In addition to saving money with VoIP, you can answer your office phone line from anywhere you have an internet connection. This makes VoIP great for remote work because employees working from home or on the road can answer their standard extension, just as if they were at the office.
Additionally, many VoIP providers also have a mobile app, so even your cell phone can become your desk phone. Calls into your desk phone will ring simultaneously on your mobile phone, so you can give your customers just one number to reach you, no matter where you are.
Landlines only do one thing: phone calls, but VoIP systems can do a lot more. First, you don’t have to be glued to your desk with a traditional handset and cords. You can use a desktop app to be hands-free with a wireless computer headset and microphone or your cellphone via a mobile app to access your business phone network.
Because they work by transmitting data, VoIP systems can also carry other data besides voice. Features included with VoIP for small businesses are text messaging and video meetings. This flexibility means you can use your VoIP system for conference calls or get faxes and voicemails delivered directly to your email. Other features of VoIP for small businesses from EZComputer Solutions include:
- See who is calling with caller ID
- Route incoming calls to a voicemail
- Unlimited extensions
- Simple set up and management
- Easy backup and restore
- Customer support from your expert EZComputer Solutions team
- Auto-attendant or digital receptionist
VoIP also has advanced features, like integrating with Outlook or your CRM for call recording and even placing calls directly from your address book (so no more fishing through that Rolodex).
Disadvantages of VoIP
While VoIP is a popular and fast-growing option for small business phones, it still has its downsides that you may want to know before setting up VoIP for your small business.
Bad Internet Connection = Poor Call Quality
VoIP uses the internet to transmit your call, so you need a fast, stable connection for it to work well. Businesses largely ignored VoIP because it was known for unreliable service and poor call quality when it first started. As internet speeds have become faster and more reliable over the years, VoIP has improved dramatically and is often just as good as landlines.
Still, landlines are an established system that is incredibly reliable. Especially if your business is in a remote area where you don’t have good internet service, you may still want a traditional phone system.
No Power = No Phone
Traditional phones are some of the simplest technology we use—so simple you can create your own telephone network with two phones, a nine-volt battery, and a resistor. Landlines require so little electricity that they get it directly from the phone wires and will still work, even when the power goes out.
Not so much for VoIP. When there’s a power outage, that means there’s no internet, and no internet means no VoIP phone. So, in the event of an emergency, you might not be able to reach 911. You can still use your cell phone and cellular data, but it won’t be as reliable.
Also, VoIP phones are not easy to trace, so emergency services may have more difficulty locating you. Consequently, even businesses who switch to VoIP sometimes maintain a single traditional phone line, just for emergencies.
So, is VoIP Good for Your Small Business?
While VoIP does have a few drawbacks, the positives greatly outweigh the negatives. VoIP for small businesses offers a cost-saving alternative for companies that need professional phone service but can’t afford a traditional business phone system.
Landlines are still often considered the more reliable choice. That may be true if you can’t get a good internet connection. Landlines are an obsolete technology, which has remained stagnant for decades, while VoIP is constantly improving. Personally, our bets are on VoIP.
EZComputer Solutions remains the preferred IT partner for small businesses like yours in the Lancaster, Harrisburg, and York, PA, areas. With top-notch customer service, our team of experts can get your business set up with VoIP in no time, so you can take advantage of features like greater mobility, call routing, text messaging, and more. If you’d like to explore how to install a VoIP phone system for your business, give us a call, or send us a message!