What to ask your VoIP supplier

Despite its technological maturity, VoIP is seen as a relative newcomer in some quarters within the telecoms industry and some business buyers may not fully understand what’s involved. Since the telecoms services requirements of each business are slightly different, it’s important to ask the right questions.

Many people make the mistake of believing that switching to VoIP is all about call costs, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Here are some of the things you need to consider when you approach a VoIP provider.

Future proofing

The first thing to do is to look at the features you need from a telephone system right now. How many people are going to be using the system? Where are most of your calls made to? What is the volume of incoming versus outgoing calls? In addition, you need to consider your future needs. What happens as the business expands? Will you need to relocate to a larger office? Will you be setting up branch offices? All of this is key to determining your current and future telecoms requirements.

You will also need to understand the supplier’s plans for the future. How big is the company? Is the platform they are using their own or are they renting it from someone else? What happens if you need additional features? Do they have their own development team?

Wholesale VoIP termination – extras

There’s far more to choosing a provider than just the core system. What kind of IP handsets are on offer? If you change supplier at a later date or when the contract ends, do you get to keep the hardware or is it in some way locked to the service provider? Are you buying the handsets or are they on a lease deal? If the latter what are the options for upgrading at a later date?

What types of call bundling are on offer? This is tied closely to the nature of the calls you are going to make and, for example, whether much of your business is overseas. A mature provider such as IDT will be able to offer a package which delivers the best value based upon your current and projected call profile.

It’s vital to think about what happens when things go wrong too. If the supplier’s system fails, what continuity measures are in place to ensure your VoIP service isn’t cut off. Ask to see statistics for uptime over the past year.

Think about the contract too. Look at the service level agreement and make sure it ties in with your operational needs. In particular, consider the length of the contract: are you comfortable with any minimum contract period?

It’s vital that you don’t fall into the trap of buying a VoIP service purely on price. Vendor maturity, reach and international voice termination partnerships with local PSTN operators are all significant factors in identifying the best possible VoIP telecoms provider. Anything less may be a false economy.