So you are thinking of moving your office phones over to VoIP? Before you do that, do yourself a favor and read this blog post. It will not only save you money, it will educate you about the various details of VoIP phones.
1. Do I have to change the configuration of my firewall or do I have to replace it?
If your hosted VoIP provider is suggesting that you replace your firewall/router, they are trying to get around the limitations of the SIP VoIP protocol. You see, SIP was never designed to have to go inside your network. Hosted providers, however, have no choice but to do that, so they have to resort to purchasing expensive routers that compensate for the extreme delay than can be introduced when SIP has to navigate through a firewall. Another thing you should never have to do is open holes in your firewall to get VoIP working. That’s another example that your provider is doing a work-around.
2. How many data centers do you have and are they geographically disbursed?
If the answer is only one, run away! What happens if that data center (and where is their data center?) goes down? Or more commonly what happens when the VoIP equipment inside the data center goes down? Your business is down and out! Insist on a provider that has at least two redundant data centers that are states away from each other. Ideally the provider will have 2 or more spread throughout North America.
3. What was the up time last year? What’s your guarantee for uptime?
Anything less than 99.999%, find a different provider. Seek a provider who can produce documentation proving the reliability of their network. If they can’t even do that, run away! If they don’t have a guarantee for uptime, you should keep on lookin’ elsewhere!
Note: uptime is for the system’s ability to make and receive calls. If an individual office happens to be down due to an internet outage this does not affect the overall reliability of the system because the system was ready and able. As of this writing, one VoIP carrier managed an unheard of 100% uptime over the past 18 months.
4. If my phone is unreachable do you have automatic failover to another phone?
If your provider’s system isn’t constantly monitoring the status of your network, VoIP system, and VoIP phones, you should consider going with another provider. If your internet goes down, or even a single phone dies, the system should know that within a few minutes and automatically forward the calls to a predetermined destination (like a cell phone). Further, the system should know which cell phone to forward to depending on the extension. What good would it do to have all the company calls going to a single phone in the event of a major internet outage?
5. Do you monitor my phones and system 24 x 7 x 365 for any potential issues?
If you have to tell your provider the phones aren’t working then it’s time to move on. In this day of cloud services the system should be monitored and corrective actions taken on a daily basis. As alluded to in question 4, the system should monitor and know if a phone or system is offline and make the correct call routing adjustments automatically. Then, a technician should contact you to address the problem. If you are missing calls move on to a different system.
6. Will our telephone features be the same when we move to VoIP?
Although you would think some features would be a ‘no brainer’, when you choose a provider, you would be alarmed to find out how many of them leave off the most basic of services, such as call forwarding. You should insist on a hands-on demonstration in order to see the system for yourself and how it will work. This will avoid future ‘surprises’ when the system is implemented.
7. Do they offer a money-back guarantee?
If your provider is not willing to backup your purchase with an unconditional money-back guarantee, look for a vendor that does.