Smaller businesses have historically relied on landlines and mobiles for their communication. Mobiles, in particular, have been important because in a small organisation there’s a good chance that key people spend more time away from the office.

But as VoiP systems have fallen in price and gained in reliability, the technology has become an attractive proposition for companies of all sizes. VoIP is now as reliable as older PSTN systems and offers additional benefits in scalability and cost. It also opens up the possibility of having a fully hosted solution with no need for a PABX on site, saving space as well as money.

Moving with the times

BT has already announced that the national telephone network is moving to IP, with switch-off of the old PSTN system scheduled for 2025. It’s not surprising, therefore, that attention has been focussed on switching to VoIP before this date.

Lack of reliability is an issue with many existing business phone systems. Issues include connectivity problems and dropped calls. Capacity is an issue too, with organisations hitting the maximum number of lines they have available and needing more phone lines in order to accommodate business growth.

Switching to a VoIP solution offers answers to all of these problems. The reliability of the latest systems is on a par with or better than older systems. It is also far easier to scale the number of lines in order to grow with the business and to take account of seasonal peaks in demand. Costs are lower too, not just for calls, but you also save on the costs of maintenance and power consumption associated with having a PABX on site. Neither do you need to have an expensive ISDN line in order to connect to the phone network.

In upgrading to a new system, there is the added advantage of being able to move to a hosted solution in the cloud. This delivers additional features such as voicemail, automated menus and redirection which may not have been available on older systems. Here again, it’s easier to scale, but there’s also flexibility in being able to reconfigure the system via a self-service portal with no need for an expensive, time consuming engineer visit.

International VoIP wholesale provider features

If you call overseas on a regular basis then VoIP is able to deliver significant cost savings. However, in many cases, it’s other features that make the switch attractive to smaller businesses. Many smaller organisations may not have had a PABX in the past, relying on a simple landline or mobiles to carry out their communication.

Switching to VoIP opens up a world of extra features that can put a smaller business on a par with larger competitors. Popular options include call menus to redirect customers to the appropriate person without having to go through an operator. This can lend a small business the air of a larger enterprise, giving customers confidence.

Other in-demand features include conference calling. This can reduce the amount of time spent travelling to meetings and consequently boost productivity. Voicemail is another popular option, helping to end the loss of opportunity associated with abandoned calls. Of course with VoIP, you also have the option of redirecting calls to another number. This can be a mobile or someone working from home, ensuring that calls to their ‘office’ number still reach them. A further advantage of VoIP is that this can work two ways, by using a mobile app or a softphone, employees can make calls from anywhere while having them appear to come from your business number. This further enhances the professional image of the business.

Number portability when switching providers is also important. You will, of course, want to keep your existing number when switching to a VoIP provider. You may also want to take the opportunity to add extra numbers. A significant advantage here is that you can decouple area codes from the physical location, so you can give customers in one area a local number to ring, even if the call is answered in a different district.

Given all of these benefits, it isn’t surprising that more and more smaller businesses are making the switch to proven VoIP providers such as IDT for their telecoms solutions. They are also increasingly moving towards unified communications strategies that integrate all of their voice, email and mobile traffic. This becomes easier with VoIP.

Of course, making the switch does throw the reliability of your internet connection into relief. VoIP needs a good deal of bandwidth to work effectively. You will need to look at how you prioritise traffic on your web connection. If you’re still using broadband, you might also consider switching to a leased line connection in order to benefit from synchronous bandwidth and eliminate the contention from other users at peak times.