According to research firm In-Stat, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) penetration among businesses expected to reach 79 percent by 2013. That’s an amazing statistic when you consider that just 10 years ago, VoIP was considered a dirty word, thanks to concerns over quality and reliability. But with the lingering recession and vast improvements in VoIP technology, many businesses are giving VoIP another look. For good reason too. VoIP — and a next-generation model called «hosted» VoIP — offer numerous benefits over traditional phone systems, including lower monthly costs, simple controls, and productivity enhancing features.
Hosted VoIP is a fast-growing section of the market because it further simplifies the VoIP process. For example, getting started requires no upfront capital investment – just a monthly phone service fee. Employees get a convenient «plug and play» phone that can be set up anywhere there’s an Internet connection, and the rest of the equipment is «cloud-based» (hosted over the Internet) and out of the business owner’s hair. Employees can access a convenient web-based portal that gives them powerful features that help them better connect and communicate with important contacts.
The benefits of hosted VoIP are even more pronounced for businesses with more than one office location, or with telecommuters. Some of these benefits include:
– FREE Office-to-Office Calling – It’s common knowledge that calling rates to outside lines («off-network») are substantially lower than traditional carrier rates, BUT what many do not know is that for businesses with multiple locations or telecommuters, office-to-office calling is free…. even to international branches! This is because they are considered «on-network» calls, which travel over the Internet and never actually hit the public telephone network.
– 3-Digit Extension to Anywhere – Instead of dialing a completely different 10-digit number for each location or remote employee, a hosted, cloud-based VoIP system enables businesses to use the same main number for all its locations, with convenient three or four digit extensions. This enables a workforce to function as if they are all in the same office. This is also convenient for customers who may need to be transferred to another location (without having to hang up and dial another 10-digit phone number).
– Flexible Call Forwarding – With hosted VoIP, a business can leverage a centralized auto-attendant service that can centrally answer calls and route them to the right department or telecommuting employee, wherever they might be. The employee can easily set up call forwarding from their office phone to their home and cell phone numbers, as well as voicemail-to-email alerts. This can often be done through a web-based portal for live administration of the phone system settings. A feature like this can be invaluable for a business like a doctor’s office, where the physician must be reachable on certain days in cases of emergency.