One of the great things about an internet phone service is the opportunity you get to choose your own business phone number. Traditional phone service providers will allocate you a random number; with VoIP, you get to pick your own. You even get to choose which area code you want your phone number to start with – even if it’s not the one that’s local to you.
It can be hard deciding which phone number is right for you; whether you want to look like a local company or opt for a non-geographic number, it has to depend on your business and who your target market is.
You may only have one main business phone number for your company, but if you employ a team of people, chances are you’ll want to be able to transfer and route calls internally between them. Phone extensions allow you to do just that – connect multiple employees to your system and assign each of them an internal number on which colleagues can reach them, completely independent of any outwardly facing numbers on your account.
If you have a landline at home, for example, you will have one ‘master’ socket in the house, and potentially one or more additional extensions that branch off that main socket. And although it’s not exactly the same thing, extensions on a phone system (whether cloud-based or not) work in a very similar way. The master socket in this example is the line (phone number) coming into your home, and the extensions are the multiple places that calls can ring and be answered internally.
VoIP telephony is incredibly versatile. You can answer calls on a huge range of devices, using your preferred softphone or app. The only prerequisites are an account with a VoIP provider (such as Sipcentric) and a decent internet connection.
But when we say ‘decent’, what do we mean? Is fibre broadband required? What about 3G speeds on your phone? Every case is different, but we’ll try give you some general tips.
Note that we’re only talking about audio calls in this article – not video calls.
According to IBISWorld, VoIP was worth $15.4 billion in 2012. But this number excludes all the people who use VoIP for free.
There are a few key reasons why VoIP is gaining in popularity, and why traditional telephone providers are offering VoIP solutions alongside old-fashioned fixed line services.
You may think internet telephony is only beneficial to larger businesses, but this is certainly not the case. In fact, small businesses – particularly start-ups – are able to benefit enormously from the added freedom, flexibility and reduced costs an internet phone service can offer. Here are 10 very good reasons to trial a hosted VoIP solution in your small business.
Skype is a communication service that changed online communication. It was launched in 2003, and has since been acquired by eBay and Microsoft in turn. In 2013, Skype announced that it had 300 million users.
Skype is certainly very established, but for many businesses, it may not be the best internet phone service. It gained a massive foothold because it was first, and free, but many business VoIP services are better, despite being technically very similar.
PBX is a legacy abbreviation that stands for Private Branch Exchange. It takes back to the days of fixed phone lines, when businesses would effectively install a mini-exchange to handle their own lines. One typical example is a hotel, where telephones are installed in each room, in reception and in the various departments and facilities.
Now, the term PBX has carried over into Voice over IP (VoIP) telephony. Using VoIP, you can set up a virtual PBX that offers similar features to the traditional PBX but with much more efficient deployment and management.
The new flexible working laws, which came into force on the 30th June 2014, allow workers (who’ve completed 6 months’ service) to request more freedom in their working arrangements.
There are many ways that employees can be flexible, including: job sharing, working from home, part time or compressed hours, flexitime, annualised hours and staggered hours. All of these arrangements allow employees to find the best solution for them to achieve a work/life balance.