In the business world, traditional landlines and mobile phones are making way for VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). They offer superior features and are suited for the challenges of an increasingly digitalised world. If you’re considering it, it would be wise to know the advantages and disadvantages of VoIP for small businesses.
First, let’s understand the technology. VoIP lets you make and receive calls over the internet as opposed to a traditional phone line. For this reason, it’s also called IP telephony or internet telephony.
A VoIP system converts analogue signals into digital data that are transferred through the internet. VoIP lets you make and receive phone calls to mobile phones, landlines and importantly, to any device that’s connected to the internet.
While there are certain advantages and disadvantages of VoIP for small businesses, what’s undeniable is the fact that it offers several features that traditional phone systems don’t have. You can make video calls, share files and use instant messaging with a VoIP number.
While most tech giants now offer VoIP service, there are certain companies that focus on delivering VoIP service specifically for the needs of small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Compared to the traditional PBX system, VoIP offers several benefits for small businesses:
The biggest advantage of VoIP is that you’re not bound to any location or device. If you use a landline for business, you’ll have to be present at the location to make and receive calls. While you can forward calls, this is not a feasible or user-friendly option. Even if it’s a mobile phone, you can only use it with the corresponding SIM.
A VoIP frees you from the constraints of location and device. You’ll be able to make and receive calls from any device that has the service and a stable internet connection. The person on the other end won’t know where you are or if you’re using a different device.
With a landline, you have to buy the hardware and then wait for the installation. If you go for a mobile phone, you’ll have to buy a device and then get a SIM. Both of these require money, effort and time. But a VoIP service can be installed in a matter of minutes.
All you have to do is download the browser extension or the app. Once you select a subscription plan, you immediately get a number. Importantly, in a remote world, the fact that you don’t have to move away from your laptop to get a VoIP service is a big advantage.
With VoIP, you get additional features such as caller ID, voicemail, call distribution, blocking, interactive voice recognition, remote management and call forwarding. These features are either unavailable on the traditional systems or come as part of premium plans.
These features can significantly improve the productivity of your team. Since the calls can be directed to remotely placed team members, it leads to better collaboration.
Another reason why businesses like VoIP is its ease of scalability. Adding lines or functionalities is cumbersome and expensive in older phone systems. It includes the purchase of additional hardware, SIM and upgrades to premium plans.
If your business uses VoIP, you can easily and seamlessly increase the functionalities. The best apps have easy-to-use interfaces that allow you to choose more features or numbers.
While it’s becoming popular, these inherent disadvantages of VoIP prevent many small businesses or entrepreneurs from using it:
The audio quality of VoIP primarily depends on the speed and stability of the internet connection. It’s also affected by the kind of hardware that you use. In certain cases, there could be echoes or other noise.
The data that’s transferred in a VoIP call is broken down into data packets that are reassembled at their final destination. If there is any congestion in the network, there could be a delay in transmission or improper reassembly of data packets, referred to as ‘latency’ and ‘jitter’.
When discussing the advantages and disadvantages of VoIP, the biggest concern for most people is the stability of the internet connection. While it has several enhanced features, none of that’s useful if there is no reliable and steady internet connection. Your phone and all its features will be offline.
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The app continues to have business-friendly features with everything from auto-reply and contact organisation to chat management.
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