Self-Installed VOIP for Small Business

Example of residential network including VoIP

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VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) is the fastest growing area of IT related business communications for both office and business mobilecalls. VOIP services are available from small applications for consumer use, to the most sophisticated systems that have replaced PBX systems and provide a huge range of extra options. VOIP communications are the ultimate solution for business. VOIP communications allow us to transfer files, make calls and more importantly, make video calls for communications. Video calls are an excellent tool for business. Having closer relationships with your clients and providers can greatly improve your business. Video calling is fast becoming the norm for business and personal communications. Many people are not even using standard mobile or phone calls because they have become accustomed to video calling.  If you are in small business, you may not want to pay the higher cost of sophisticated VOIP business phone systems, but want the benefits of VOIP call savings and technologies. Here is a look at how to install and use VOIP for your business without spending much. In essence, you save money by avoiding the costs of hardware for your system.
  • Application Choice. Skype is the single most popular application for VOIP communications. Skype to Skype calls are completely free. The number of Skype users has exceeded the number of Facebook users for a long time. Skype was recently sold to Microsoft for a whopping 8.9 billion dollars. The advantage of Skype is that it users peer-to-peer communication technologies. This means as the number of users has increased, the quality of calls has also greatly increased. Skype should be your base-line standard for any VOIP application. There are a number of solutions available with Skype, depending on your business size. Without trying to push Skype too much, it has to be said it is the world’s most popular application. The application is free, calling costs are incredibly cheap, and purchasing a telephone number is instantaneous. If you are looking for the most secure applications, you want to go beyond Skype and look for a provider that has dedicated servers to manage and control calls and communications. Installation is easy and per normal, and setup the features of the application you wish. Even the most simple and free applications have voice mail.
  • Internet Connection. If your small business is not using an internet plan that gives you a large amount of data transfer, you will probably want to increase it. While VOIP communications do not use as much bandwidth as many other activities on the internet, such as downloading news and video, it is better to have a plan that gives you the most amount of data at the cheapest price. In my experience, VOIP always works better with land-based internet or satellite connections compared with 3G wifi, although call quality is improving. You will need your computer on, and your internet connected at all times once you are using VOIP.
  • Phone Number Considerations. One of the biggest advantages of having a VOIP phone number is you can choose the location of the number. Again, Skype makes this very easy. If you have a lot of customers in HK, for example, you can purchase your number in HK while you are in Australia. This means those people calling your VOIP number will only pay a local call when calling from HK. You can have multiple numbers on the same account and application.
It is easy enough to use VOIP communications on your standard laptop with microphone, video camera and speakers. You can choose to a headset or other tools. There are even inexpensive handset devices that are very similar to a standard telephone for as little as a few dollars if you want.
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Stephan Miller

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Kansas City Software Engineer and Author

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