Tuesday, 3 December 2013

VoIP Telephony

This blog is one we like because it sets out the key differences and considerations when choosing your business VOIP phone system. We’ll help guide you through the specifics for your own business in a way which gives you a very straightforward like for like comparison and show you the benefits for your business.

Reference : Understanding VOIP Pricing 

Telecoms pricing has always been something of a mystery to many – with so many tariffs, charges, rates and acronyms for add-ons and extras that are not always clear.

Similarly with VOIP – the cost of data and connection charges can vary enormously. So asking how much a given system costs is pretty meaningless. Understanding how the various models work, as well as their advantages and disadvantages, is far more useful, as you can then calculate how much you would spend on each type of solution over a given time period under given circumstances. Importantly, it will help you understand the full range of benefits that each has to offer.

Premises VoIP is similar to traditional premises systems of the past. You buy, install and operate a complete phone system including call-handling (PBX) and end-user (phone) equipment. You can use your own staff to handle technical tasks, or use an outside firm or the vendor itself via a service contract.

But premises VoIP also differs from the traditional premises model. Traditional PBXes are expensive pieces of specialized hardware. The more users you want to support, the more you have to spend on hardware. IP PBXes, by contrast, consist of sophisticated software running on relatively cheap hardware, often generic servers or appliances. Adding users thus doesn't require big spending on more hardware. But IP PBX vendors still want to make more money when they support more users. Thus their tendency is to sell per-seat licenses, keeping revenues rising in proportion to user numbers. Bundling phones in the per-seat price also supports this revenue/user link.
  • Advantages of premises VoIP:
    • Once purchased, all you pay for is maintenance, upgrades, support etc.
    • Security: You have physical control of the equipment and data, including voice mail messages 
  •  Disadvantages of premises VoIP:
    • Major upfront expenditure
    • You are responsible for equipment management, maintenance, upgrades etc.
With hosted VoIP, your phone system runs on equipment in the provider's data centre and you pay a recurring monthly fee per user or some other measure to the access to use the system. The fee covers not only PBX call-handling functionality, but also the cost of inbound and outbound calling. Hosted VoIP offers more pricing variations than premises VoIP. Many providers include desk phones in the monthly fee, but others have you buy the phone separately. Some charge per user, some per extension. This may be an important difference if you have a lot of extensions that see little use, such as in reception areas or loading docks.

Some providers charge only for minutes of inbound and outbound calls, focusing on the telecom rather than the call-handling part of the hosted package. And some even charge by bandwidth: You can have as many calls for a fixed fee as your IP connection (which may be bundled with the service) can support.
  • Advantages of hosted VoIP:
    • No upfront expenditures
    • Flexibility: It's easy to add users by paying for more seats
    • No responsibility for maintaining system, keeping it technically up to date, etc.
  • Disadvantages of hosted VoIP:
    • You have to keep paying monthly fees forever
    • This could become the more expensive option in as few as one or two years
Another possibility is an approach one might call premises-based hosted VoIP. In this case, the hosted service provider installs its equipment in the customer's premises, retaining ownership of the equipment, as well as managing and maintaining it. This method could make sense for the provider if the customer's call volume merits a dedicated IP PBX. It could have both benefits and drawbacks for the customer.
  • Advantages of premises-based hosted VoIP:
    • The usual price and flexibility benefits of hosted VoIP services
    • Call handling and data on premises
    • Quality: Calls don't travel over the public Internet between employees' phones and the IP PBX, as with traditional hosted VoIP
  • Disadvantages of premises-based hosted VoIP:
    • Takes up space at customer's premises
    • Pay forever
There are so many different options, it’s a case if knowing up front what you really want, and then finding a supplier that you can trust. We careful of contract arrangements that don’t give you flexibility to grow and change and you need to.

You can discuss any of the above with us at Merlin Telecom on 0800 877 8810 or email us info@merlin-telecom.co.uk

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