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guide to voip

The Guide to VoIP Internet Phone Service for Small Businesses

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What you don’t know about internet based phone services could hurt your business. You could end up paying too much, dealing with unnecessary infrastructure hassle and losing out on the features that can help your business operate effectively.

But this is an easy problem to fix. With this introduction to internet-based business telephone service, you’ll learn the essentials about what VoIP is, how different business phones compare and how to use VoIP to get a business advantage.

Get started with VoIP 101, a lesson in internet-based phone service.

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What are your business phone service options?

Your business has three main categories of phone service to choose from:

Landline phone service is a traditional phone system where calls are transmitted over copper phone lines. Typically businesses also use an on-site PBX switch so employees each have an extension and calls can be transferred between those extensions.

Mobile phone service provides wireless connectivity via cell phones. While wireless phone service dominates personal phone lines, businesses find that using mobile phone plans for work can mean losing out on professional features, scalability tools and interconnection between staff.

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is an internet based phone service. Even though telephone calls are transmitted over the internet, the behind the scenes technology still gives users the ability to make or receive phone calls from any other phone number. Voice over IP can give businesses similar functionality to a landline PBX with call transfer, call hold and extension dialing. Plus, with VoIP, users can access their work phone from any internet connection by using either a connected desk phone or a smartphone app.

How does the cost of VoIP compare?

As you may expect, both landline and mobile phone services can be very costly. For a business with several employees, the cost of phone service can add up quickly, and this overhead can make it more difficult to expand.

How much should your business expect to pay for phone service each year? Here are the average annual phone costs per user:

  • Landline PBX: $800 – $1,000
  • Mobile Phone Service: $720 – $960
  • VoIP: $300 – $480
  • VoIP from Ooma: Just $239 per year

The clear winner on price is Ooma Office business phone system. Its monthly cost is just $19.95 per user for unlimited local and long-distance calling in the U.S., plus unlimited calling with Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Ooma Office users can save up to 76 percent compared to a landline business phone. In running the calculations, we found a business with 15 employees could spend at least $11,000 less per year by using Ooma Office. It’s also less expensive than many other VoIP providers, and the calling plan has no contracts!

The savings are so impressive that 85 percent of new Ooma customers say their decision was driven by its low price. As Adam Henley from Axis Flight Systems puts it, “It sounds like I spent tons of money on a phone system.”

Use the Ooma Savings Calculator to see how much your small business could save on phone service.

How does VoIP affect workplace connectivity?

The type of business phone system you use can also affect how employees can communicate. Here’s how the phone systems compare:

Landline

Traditional business phones usually limit employees to making and receiving calls when they’re at their desk. This can mean employees easily become disconnected, whether they’re just down the hall at a meeting or traveling for a sales trip.

Mobile

If you go cell phone-only, businesses have two options on how to manage work calls. They could use a work-issued cell phone, meaning employees will carry around two devices to maintain workplace connectivity. This inevitably adds a level of chaos to communications. There can be instructions for which phone number to use when. Plus with multiple voicemail boxes to check, important messages could get lost in the shuffle.

The other option is for employees to use a personal cell phone for work tasks. This means work calls and personal calls would be jumbled together, and a personal phone number would be handed out to clients or listed on a website. This option can also add a level of risk for your business. If a client regularly connects with an employee via their personal phone number, that client may be lost if the employee leaves your company.

VoIP

Ooma Office helps you solve the connectivity issues of landline and mobile phone service. Workers have anywhere access. They can seamlessly go from using their desk phones when they’re in the office to using the Ooma Office mobile app when they’re away from their desks. No matter what device they’re using, the same calling features and connectivity tools are available.

Anywhere access can be a game-changer. You can make your business calls even if you’re stuck at the airport. You can give employees the freedom to work from home without the risk they’ll be out of the loop. You can even fully integrate remote workers into your staff so that, for example, an incoming call to your HQ in Indianapolis can be transferred to a technician who lives in Dallas.

With this flexible approach to connectivity, your business can maintain a high degree of professionalism. You may see fewer incoming calls go to voicemail since employees won’t need to be at their desks in order to answer. You can also avoid the confusion of multiple phone numbers.

Which type of phone service is easiest to use?

The longer you spend installing your phone system and figuring out how to use it, the less time you’ll have to make business calls. Not only does an easy-to-use phone service make life better, but it’s also a good business decision. Here’s how the three phone types compare on ease of use:

Landline phones are hardwired. This can mean that to add a new employee, you’ll have to add a new phone jack next to a wall outlet. Plus, to change your office configuration, you could have to update your wall jacks or run very long wires along the wall, both of which can be a hassle. Moreover, if your business uses landline phone service, your provider would likely be a traditional telecom provider. These companies are commonly making headlines for having the worst customer service and being some of the most hated companies in the country.

Mobile phone service can be easy enough to deploy. However, your customers would bear the brunt of the inconvenience during everyday use. Instead of being transferred within your business, they would have to hang up and dial another number. Not only does this add complication, but you could lose out on sales if there isn’t follow-through.

VoIP is often an easy-to-deploy solution. Internet service is widely available, so you probably already have the infrastructure in place for internet-connected desk phones and for using the mobile app with wifi.

In particular, Ooma VoIP is known for plug-and-play installation, simple configuration and straightforward administration. Plus, users have the hardware flexibility to use either IP phones or analog phones.

In their review of Ooma Office, the editors of PC Magazine said: “Easy to set up and manage for those with limited telecommunications experience. Easy to use. Good online documentation. 24×7 support.”

What VoIP phone features are available?

IP plans commonly include the business phone features you have to pay extra for with other plans. In combination with lower per-user phone costs, this means businesses using VoIP systems can get more while paying less.

The features included with Ooma Office are particularly notable — professional calling tools, free add-ons and high-tech features all let you customize your business internet phone service to suit your needs. Included is a free toll-free number, virtual receptionist to automate call routing, conference bridge, call blocking, voicemail audio to email, a main business number, a unique phone number for each user, electronic fax, ring groups and so much more.

Choosing the best VoIP

For the past seven years, Ooma Office has been named the #1 VoIP service in PC Magazine’s Business Choice Awards. It beats the competition on overall satisfaction, reliability, call quality, setup, management and likelihood to recommend.

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As one Ooma customer shared:

“I switched from Verizon where we were in a constant battle to keep costs from escalating with changes in service we didn’t want or need. Ooma provides better service, lower cost, pleasant company to deal with, and now the phone line is no longer a daily concern. I never really think about it anymore, which is the way it should be.”

Learn more about how Ooma’s small business phone system can help you

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Business Phone Plans

We offer three service plans, designed to suit a variety of business needs. Ooma Office Pro includes extra perks like Video Conferencing, Desktop App and Call Recording in addition to Ooma Office’s 35+ business features. For forward-thinking business communications features, choose Ooma Enterprise where we will also assign an expert to guide and support you throughout the entire process.

Core Features Ooma Office Ooma Office Pro Ooma Enterprise
Price $19.95
/user/mo.
$24.95
/user/mo.
$34.99
/user/mo.
Mobile App
Virtual receptionist
Call park/Call transfer/Call forwarding/Call flip
Ring groups/Multi Extension Dialing
Music on hold/Transfer music
7-digit dialing
Voicemail with audio email attachments
Call log
One Conference Bridge/Virtual Fax per user
Extension-to-extension dialing
Forward calls during device outages
One virtual fax per user
Call blocking
Intercom
Smart phone app: 2-phones-in-1
Multi-device ring
Virtual extensions
SMS messaging
Overhead Paging
Video Conferencing
Desktop App
Call Recording
Enhanced Call Blocking
Voicemail transcription
Higher usage limits for: Extension Monitoring,
Call Park, Audio Conference Room Participants
Softphone
Integrations/API/Custom applications
Call monitoring
(● Included) GET OFFICE GET PRO GET ENTERPRISE

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