VoIP Phone Systems Buyers Guide
Choosing a VoIP system
Table of Contents
Once you have decided that VoIP is right for you, the next step is to determine how much of your existing telecom equipment you can keep. Many PBXs can be IP-enabled with software upgrades and minor hardware additions, and you may be able to use digital phones you already own. The potential cost savings are here significant, and can also increase the overall reliability of your phone system.
When comparing phone systems, make sure you investigate the details carefully. Many systems say they include "everything" but may not include the specific features you require. Exactly what makes up a "complete" system varies from vendor to vendor, so be sure you are comparing equivalent systems.
Open standards and open source
You may also want to learn whether the phone systems are built on open standards. While all VoIP systems use the industry standard Internet Protocol (the "IP" in VoIP, remember) to route calls, some use proprietary technology for administration or integration features. Having a system run entirely on open standards can allow for greater flexibility in integration and customization.
Going one step further, open source VoIP programs and applications offer a great way for many businesses to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars every year in telephony costs. Better yet, open source programs are fully customizable to a business' specific needs, making them a popular choice in many IT departments.
On the other hand, you may not be as concerned about flexibility as long as the features and costs match your requirements. The technology used in a particular system may impact whether you can leverage your existing equipment, so be sure to inquire about compatibility issues.
Lastly, remember that some common business devices require analog phone lines - notably fax machines, but also credit card terminals, some security systems, and other devices. Make sure your vendor knows and plans for these types of uses when planning your phone system.