In last week’s segment of “Hosted VoIP vs. Premise Based VoIP: The Honest Truth
,” David Byrd, VP of Marketing and Sales at Broadvox and Eric Thomas, CEO of FreedomVOICE, provided valuable answers to questions on security, bandwidth, equipment, and costs.
This week, we bring you the final segment of the 3part series. Read the Q&A below to hear Byrd and Thomas respond to questions on SIP trunking, best practices for shopping an IP-PBX, the main benefits of the two technologies, and the best system for each business.
The first two questions are for David Byrd. David, Broadvox provides the service, not the equipment. So what tips can you offer to distinguish between the different SIP trunking providers?
Our engineering and customer service really set us apart from other SIP Trunking providers. Our personnel are credited with being able to do things that other carriers can’t or won’t do. What has allowed the company to grow even during these times at double-digit rates has a lot to do with the investment we put into our network two years ago. Our network reliability has improved by almost a full 9 and our voice quality has improved as well. In general, IP networks have improved substantially.
If you’re in this business as a real player then improvements in infrastructure and quality are the kinds of investments you’re making. Many VoIP companies are not making these kinds of investments. They are buying time on other networks or standing pat with their network infrastructure. They are not investing in QoS, they’re not investing in engineering, and after awhile customers figure that out.
If I’m a business’s owner and I’ve decided that I want to go the IP-PBX route, how do I shop that? What do I look for?
The first thing that I try to get my guys to ask is, “What type of PBX is the customer working with?” If we have not done operability testing with that equipment, then we should not be trying to sell them service. It’s extremely important.
If it’s a TDM platform, then we have to inform them that they have to buy additional gear. But if it’s an IP-PBX then we need to know the maker of that PBX. The good news is we interoperate with more IP-PBXs than any other service provider in the country. Encountering incompatible IP-PBXs doesn’t happen very often, but we still have to say no to certain platforms.
The next step is to find out how many lines the client currently has, in terms of phone lines, not end users, and then we will try to draw a match against our local calling plan with unbundled minutes or our local and long distance plan which is bundled in one price. We find most small businesses tend to go with our unlimited local calling plan and purchase long distance separately. But the “GO!Anywhere Trunk” does address a certain audience; probably 1 in 3 businesses don’t want to worry about the cost of their long distance bill. If that is the case, then they can get local and long distance with a GO!Anywhere package.
Next, there is the question regarding connectivity. Existing connectivity needs to be tested to ensure it works properly. If you’re using a carrier who is going to sell you service without testing Internet connectivity then you are dealing with someone who does not have quality as one of their key criteria.
The final step is the issue of voice quality. We try to get people to understand that if they want to cut costs they can use G.729. People can use G.729 to compress up to 48 calls on to a single T1. Otherwise, we’ll start with G.711. If they’ve got sufficient broadband and it’s not going to mean additional costs we’ll support 18 calls per T1. But if it looks like they are going to have unnecessary T1s or bonded T1s then we’ll recommend G.729. That is saving $300 to $400 a month in terms of connectivity and most people can’t hear any difference between the two codecs.
This question is addressed to both of you. Overall, what are the main benefits of the solution you provide?
On the benefit side, moving to an IP-PBX platform is going to reduce costs. The platform is the next generation for telecommunications services and cross departmental application services. Overall, a converged network will make it simpler to manage your communications and transition to unified communications.
I think the benefits are the same for hosted. I think you’re reducing your costs. You are no longer just getting a phone system, you’re getting a suite of applications which help your business run smarter and be a lot more productive. Also, the tools the system provides will let you monitor what your employees are doing. Those are all critical business issues if you ask me. The nature of VoIP and the fact that you can process the information centrally lets you create something that is a much bigger resource to the company than making and receiving calls.
Who would you recommend your solution to and what should business owners keep in mind when making a hosted or IP-PBX phone system purchase?
Clearly, small businesses should be looking at hosting services. They should be examining it for multiple reasons: rates of expansions for their business, because it can be more flexible, etc. I’ll be blunt; if you buy a platform that can accept no more than a T1 and your business grows quickly, you’re going to be stuck. It’s not for everyone to go out and buy an IP-PBX. We also talked about just having the technological skills, of being able to select, install and manage your system. Therefore, I think it’s clear that small businesses need to examine their existing IT and growth curve of their business and make a decision based on that.
It becomes less complicated the bigger you get. If you already have an IT infrastructure and you already have all of these capabilities it’s less of a question as to whether or not you want to outsource. The decision becomes strategic rather based upon capabilities. Strategic decisions can be driven by a number of business factors several of which we described earlier.
I think it comes down to whether or not you want to take on that responsibility and what your company makeup and situation is. Do you have the desire and resources to put towards managing the equipment?
Originally when we started off with the hosted PBX platform I expected that the largest companies would shy away from it, and that we’d mostly have an uptake with the smaller companies. What I’ve seen is that now there is a trend towards larger companies using the hosted service. So from my point of view I recommend the service to anybody to at least evaluate and see if it’s the right fit for them.