Archives: April2013

Summer Telecommuting with Hosted VoIP

Balmy weather can make even the most dedicated employees and small business owners feel trapped in their workplace, while warm, beautiful days of summer wait just outside. Blue skies and sunshine can lead to distracted workers who find excuses to take lots of time off. Flexible workplaces that allow summer telecommuting often see higher returns on employee productivity and satisfaction by allowing their workers to maintain their connection to the office while enjoying everything that summer has to offer. One way to support summer telecommuting is to use hosted VoIP services to maintain network connectivity to the main office while working from a fixed remote location or while on the move.

By shifting to a hosted VoIP solution, businesses are able to provide an extra perk for employees who wish to work from home office locations or any other location that supports a broadband connection, instead of a traditional workplace. Businesses that offer telecommuting as an option can attract top talent to help them grow and expand.

Moving away from a traditional PSTN network also allows small businesses to easily and inexpensively scale their phone services as their size increases and new lines must be added to accommodate extra employees. An on-site PSTN infrastructure is notoriously expensive to maintain and expand. By replacing it with a hosted solution, both the upfront infrastructure costs and ongoing IT costs are marginalized and sometimes eliminated altogether. Hosted VoIP providers take on the expenses of scaling their customers’ phone networks since the databanks and supporting infrastructure are located at their facilities rather than by the end user.

Modern VoIP providers are able to provide telecommuting options through a range of services, most notably softphone applications, which allow smartphones or computers to function as natural VoIP extensions of business phone systems. Through the use of softphones, small businesses are able to provide telecommuting options to employees who wish to take advantage of working from home, as well as providing flexibility and across-the-board savings to their office phone networks. If these features are attractive to your small business, consider a hosted VoIP solution today.

Why Small Businesses Turn to Hosted Services

When small business owners wish to cut expenses, they prefer to avoid anything that would interrupt their business operations or devote their precious time to learn how to manage another communications system, which is why more and more they turn to hosted services versus on-site options whenever available. Instead, they’d rather have a solution that will reduce costs, yet allow them to focus on their business operations and their customers. When it comes to small business phone systems, hosted services, including hosted VoIP, provide simple and reliable communications that include top-of-the-line features for a fraction of the price they pay to use old, legacy PSTN networks. This is probably the biggest reason why small businesses turn to hosted services.

Today’s modern small business uses a variety of technology and requires substantial IT support. By shifting to hosted phone service providers, small businesses can limit the network equipment managed at their on-site location and allow their overall IT budgets to shrink. Hosted VoIP networks eliminate the need for on-site phone servers and shift the burden of maintenance onto their service provider rather than the end user. Entrepreneurs can then concern themselves with running their small business, secure in the knowledge that professionals from their service provider are ensuring that their communications remain secure and reliable.

Another benefit of hosted services is the safety afforded to phone networks as part of business continuity and disaster recovery plans. By having phone networks hosted in a different location, businesses that are affected by disaster situations are able to maintain free and open lines of communication to ensure that their customers, partners and agents remain connected and available. This diminishes downtime and allows businesses to quickly bounce back from otherwise crippling crisis situations.

Hosted services also provide greater mobility than legacy systems. Softphone apps available from many of today’s hosted VoIP providers allow any smartphone or laptop to be turned into a business phone extension. These apps provide mobility for businesses that require their employees to work off-site and allow the flexibility that is desired by many of today’s top talent. Modern softphones make it possible for entrepreneurs to have their business extension available anywhere that is reachable by Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G networks.

When it comes to phone services, hosted VoIP networks provide small businesses with the versatility, features and price-points that traditional PSTN providers cannot offer. They offer an intelligent alternative for comprehensive disaster recovery plans and a flexible option for employees working from home or on business trips. These features, coupled with the hosted VoIP system’s ease-of-use, make them the right decision for small business owners everywhere.

Ensuring System Capability for Hosted VoIP

Small businesses looking for a way to cut costs will find that hosted VoIP solutions provide an excellent way of improving their bottom line. However, not all internal networks are compliant with modern VoIP solutions. To ensure that a business can take advantage of today’s VoIP technology and fully enjoy the variety of benefits it provides, VoIP service providers suggest a thorough vetting process of network infrastructure before switching to a hosted VoIP product.

Here are several things to keep in mind when inspecting your system for hosted VoIP system capability.

  • Bandwidth:  Every data network will have a speed with which data is transferred. Hosted VoIP products like Virtual PBX Complete with VoIP Anywhere require an allocation of 80 – 100 KBPS of bandwidth per active phone. This number is in addition to the regular bandwidth use for email, messaging and Web surfing. It is important to know what your network bandwidth is to ensure uninterrupted service and prevent lost signals or data.
  • Packet Loss and Jitter: When voice data travels through the network, it is compressed into packets. If these packets are degraded or lost, the quality of the transmission – the voice you hear on the other side – is degraded. The higher the traffic, the more likely that some bits of data will fail to reach their destination. Usually, a packet loss of 0.1 percent is acceptable, but any higher rates need to be addressed by your system administrator. Jitter is the delay between the arrivals of these packets. Too much jitter and voice quality suffers.
  • Latency: The length of time between a person speaking into a phone handset and that message reaching the ear of the listener is called Latency. Although some delay is understandable, delays higher than 50 milliseconds reduce voice quality, making the speaker sound garbled and unclear.

Low bandwidth coupled with high packet loss, jitter and latency will degrade a hosted VoIP network, rendering it unusable. To prevent this, popular VoIP service providers offer comprehensive VoIP Tests to help gauge system capability of their users’ networks and provide recommendations to optimize their system to better handle hosted VoIP services. Although most business networks are able to handle hosted VoIP, savvy small business owners are encouraged to confirm their system capacity ahead of adoption to ensure uninterrupted data flow and high-quality voice service.

Softphones: What They are and Why Small Businesses Need Them

Investing in technology is invaluable for small businesses that wish to cut costs. Whether streamlining paperwork or optimizing your workday, entrepreneurs and companies of all shapes and sizes look for ways to make their businesses leaner and meaner. With the popularization of Voice over Internet Protocol, (VoIP) business technology, softphone systems have become widespread.

Most small business entrepreneurs probably use or have used softphones at some point – and just didn’t know it.

A softphone is a program (or app) that allows its’ user to make telephone calls over the internet. Some softphone systems have special headsets, but generally, the service requires a regular computer and audio system – speakers and a microphone, to function. Modern softphone applications also exist for smartphones and other mobile devices. Put simply, it makes the whole phone system virtual, without any wires or handsets to worry about.

There are also several other features that make softphones a great choice for small businesses, which include:

– Flexibility: By not relying on any hardware, softphones can work in conjunction with an already existing VoIP PBX system. Integration with the pre-existing network allows smooth service and minimal downtime for business owners who need to shift offices or continue working from home.

– Cost-efficiency: With a softphone, customers are no longer reliant on traditional phone service providers and are thusly spared the expenses of running a separate business Private Branch Exchange (PBX) network. By relying on VoIP technology, all they need is a stable internet connection to maintain contact with their customers.

– Portability: A business VoIP softphone allows entrepreneurs who often commute to use their desk phone outside the office. It is designed to allow full access to all the features of their work phone from their laptop or smartphone. Since there’s no physical device, their office space is less cluttered as well.

Regardless of whether you’re aligning it with your business VoIP PBX solution, using it in place of your regular phone or as a supplement to your smartphone, a softphone is a smart idea for small businesses looking to cut down on their bills, unclutter their workplace, or have their employees telecommute . If your small business can benefit from these changes, consider a softphone solution today.

New! 3-Way Calling Feature

Now, Virtual PBX customers can use 3-way calling to connect a third person to an existing two-way call.

3-way calling can enhance many aspects of your business, acting as an intermediary in any situation. Examples: connecting a supplier to a customer while you control the discussion, bridging between managers of different departments or easily bringing in another person to give a different perspective, or validate anything that was said. This feature is truly invaluable.

Here’s how it works:

When you’re on a call on one of our VoIP phones, select the Conference option to put that call on hold. When you hear the dial tone, simply dial the other party, and press Conference again to connect the two parties.

We welcome you to review the extensive features and advanced plans offered by VirtualPBX.

Also feel free to leave a comment explaining how you best use 3-way calling to improve your business, or share this blog with your favorite social networks like Facebook and Twitter. To learn more about Virtual PBX call us at 888-825-0800.

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