Sunday, March 15, 2015 10:06:40 AM
One of the leading trends this 2015 is Cloud VoIP. The technology makes headway because it makes VoIP a viable option even for small- to medium-scale business. Arguably, it is these businesses that can use this the most. VoIP – specifically cloud-hosted VoIP – levels the playing field. It allows you to take advantage of VoIP without needing to make a big initial investment.
So, is it a good idea to switch to Cloud VoIP? Here are some considerations:
No Hardware, No Problem
Typically, there is little investment needed when it comes to upgrading your hardware if you switch to cloud VoIP. If you can't afford much at the start, you can keep your VoIP implementation simple through softphones used via desktops and Bring-Your-Own-Device mobile phones and tablets.
Of course, keep in mind that you need at least a Cat5e network cabling in order to enjoy good VoIP audio and video. Traditional phone lines use Cat3 cables. So, check first and then plan your switch around your cabling requirements.
For the most part, you can expect to keep hardware investments low. This is one of the advantages of VoIP, in general. You can plan your hardware upgrade around what you can afford. You can start with softphones if you need to; then upgrade to SIP phones.
Expert-managed Top-of-the-Line IP-PBX
One of the things that help ease making the VoIP switch is cloud-hosted and third-party managed PBX systems.
In the past, before cloud VoIP took off, you needed to consider your PBX system – whether you keep your old PBX and just attach a gateway device to convert digital calls for traditional phones or you invest in an IP-PBX system. This requires a huge chunk of funds and has deterred many businesses from switching.
It is no longer an issue with cloud VoIP. All third party service providers take care of managing and maintaining your cloud-hosted PBX system for you. You lease this system so it is their responsibility to update them and ensure its in tiptop shape.
This is a load off you and your company budget. You can immediately take advantage of the productivity and communications benefits, improving your work flow and profitability.
Scalable, As Needed
In a typical in-house VoIP setup, you need to plan ahead and equip yourself with communications systems that can service your medium-term projected users and needs. This is always the case. IP-PBXs, gateway devices, cabling and SIP phones aren't cheap. You should get hardware that you could use for at least five years.
This has also deterred smaller businesses from making the switch. In comes cloud VoIP.
With cloud VoIP, this concern is a thing of the past. You get incomparable scalability such that you can add or deduct users, as needed. You can also add and deduct features, as needed.
This gives you so much leeway when it comes to growing your business. You do not have to worry about cost projections when it comes to your communication needs. You spend for what you need now. You can always just add or subtract when your needs change.
Plan Your Growth
Perhaps the best thing about cloud VoIP is that you can take advantage of digital communications without needing to make as much hardware, software and manpower investment.
This frees up your business' funds, time and available manpower. You can potentially put this to use where they can make the most difference in terms of productivity and profitability. Put in Product Development or Marketing. Instead of hiring an extra IT person to manage your digital communications systems, get an awesome sales team.
There is so much potential when it comes to refocusing your priorities, from digital communications system maintenance and support to tasks and activities that actually add to your production and profits.
A prerequisite to all these cloud VoIP advantages is VoIP monitoring. Your switch becomes useless if you do not stay on top of your VoIP system. And this is done through call testing services, such as VoIP Spear.
Through call monitoring, you get to see service peaks and dips. You are alerted when there are strange activities in our VoIP service, which can be indicative of security attacks among other issues.
VoIP monitoring truly makes your switch to cloud VoIP worthwhile. It ensures that you're on your way to sustainable business growth.
Friday, January 24, 2014 10:16:50 PM
Our VoIP testing and monitoring partner, VoIP Spear, has become a trully global company with the addition of several testing servers in North America, Asia, Europe and South America. Users can now select testing locations when they configure their endpoints. The closer the testing server is to the endpoint, the more accurate is the VoIP quality score. Specifying VoIP testing location means that results will now take varying location-specific call traffic into consideration. In the past, VoIP quality test scores took into account the call traffic from North America testing servers only, which may not be reflective of VoIP activity in your area at certain times of the day.
This development is great news for clients outside of North America. It also expands VoIP Spear's market.
Users can now choose to originate VoIP tests from these places:
North America: New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami
Europe: London, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Moscow, Milan, Madrid
Asia: Hong Kong, Japan (Tokyo), Singapore, India (Chennai)
South America: Chile (Vina del Mar), Panama (Panama City)
VoIP monitoring servers can be specified when you add or edit endpoints. Select a testing server from the bottom section of the page. It is a good idea to select a server that is closest to your endpoint. This considers the most likely origin of calls to your VoIP phone. However, if your VoIP calls come from North America, then you might benefit from selecting a North American testing server.
In any case, it always benefits a VoIP user to monitor their account -- actually, even if you disregard the location/ origin of VoIP tests. If you want to check out VoIP Spear: http://voipspear.com/signup
Saturday, January 04, 2014 12:21:20 AM
As VoIP service providers, it is important that we make sure new VoIP clients adjust to the nuances of the technology. There is a number of factors that affect the quality of VoIP service, as enjoyed by your clients – some of which may not even be your fault. For instance, network problems affect how your clients perceive your VoIP service. It is important that you get your client to use a network and VoIP monitoring tool. This way, they can know exactly what’s going on, as well as what’s going wrong. You can deal with problems that’s attributable to your systems. In the same way, network service providers can try to fix their errors, as well.
There are several VoIP monitoring tools to choose from. The most ideal of which is the VoIP Analyzer, which is perfect for both you and your end user. This is where VoIP Spear falls under. A VoIP Analyzer does several things: It does what network analyzers (another option) do. It analyzes network traffic to access network quality, from which you can determine suitability for VoIP. Plus, on top of this, it also checks the RTP stream, jitter, packet loss and latency, among other. It is focused on the quality of your VoIP; hence, it is superior to network analyzers. With VoIP pear, individual users with one VoIP endpoint can opt for a free account. Bigger ones have several options to choose from.
The other network and VoIP monitoring options are more suitable to bigger users, such as service providers and corporate users. These tools include the VoIP Probe and the VoIP Quality Tester – both of which are a little more intrusive than a VoIP Analyzer and a Network Analyzer. Your system needs to be powerful enough to take this, without affecting the quality of conversations. A Probe analyzes traffic at select points in the network. On the other hand, a VoIP Quality Tester uses a test file to compare using P .862 and P .OLQA.
Sunday, December 15, 2013 11:42:30 AM
By what it’s called alone, you’d immediately think negatively about packet delays – that these are VoIP problems right off the bat. This isn’t really true. Packet delays are actually normal occurrences in digital communication. Data, as in audio and video packets, travel through the system, from the sender to the receiver and back. So, of course, there will be some delay.
When it comes to VoIP problems that have something to do with packet delays, it is when the delay is too much such that it affects user experience. Packet delays should be imperceptible. They should only be a few milliseconds long. When delays are too long, the user experiences problems, such as pauses in the conversation, low quality audio and feedback.
Where Packet Delays Occur
Within the system, packet delays mainly occur during the data packet’s network transmission, or at the end system. In both instances, it is the quality of the network which affects packet delays the most.
Network delays happen because of poor connection or clogged networks. You can imagine what this can do to an online conversation. Delays reaching to thousands of milliseconds cause gaps that can frustrate the typical VoIP user. Clogged networks happen during peak hours or peak season, such a Christmas. Poor connection, on the other hand, pertains to internet service that is not enough for VoIP. There may be limitations in bandwidth usage and speed, among other issues.
End system delays, in some ways, are also caused by delays within the network. At this point, data packets have reached their destination. Before this is transmitted to the receiver in an intelligible format, they need to go through decoding, encoding and jitter buffer. The biggest culprit here is jitter buffer, which reduces the gaps between packets. If the network delay is abnormally long, then the jitter buffer increases the waiting time for messages to get to the recipient.
Solving VoIP Problems Yourself
For certain circumstances, you might want to do something about your VoIP problems yourself. It could be that you found out about the packet delay problem on the same day of an important VoIP call. It could be that it’s the weekend and your VoIP technicians are on vacation. This is actually one of the reasons why you should set up your VoIP account to use a third party call quality monitoring service, such as VoIP Spear. With this service, you can know about any VoIP problems before they affect how you enjoy the service.
In the meantime, here are a few things to try when you want to solve your packet delay problems yourself:
- Lessen the systems that packets need to travel through. This means that, instead of connecting to the net via Wi-Fi, plug into the router directly.
- Check your gears and wires for damages. Your gear should be of good quality. Likewise, wires shouldn’t have cuts.
- Power cycles can do magic, sometimes. When experiencing some delays, turn off your router for at least 20 seconds, and then restart.
- Close all other running applications that use up bandwidth, especially if these are file sharing and gaming applications.
- Tweak your QoS such that it triggers the bandwidth prioritization of voice and video application.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013 10:47:50 PM
As VoIP technology shifts to high gear, businesses follow and make the big switch. There is some investment involved at the start but the long term savings that is possible with VoIP can make up for it a hundred fold.
However, the reality is that switching to VoIP may not be for everyone – at least not at this point. There are considerations that you need to think about before making that big switch. Here are some of them:
Will switching increase productivity?
It is natural for a business to want to increase productivity. This can lead to more profit and better operations. VoIP can be a tool toward this goal. Through convergent telecommunications technologies, different platforms of corporate communications can be merged into a single interface, making coordination and operations easier and faster. However, if your business is not dependent as much on vertical and horizontal corporate communications and actually seldom use your phone to conduct business, then you might not see any changes with switching to VoIP.
Will VoIP improve your company’s efficiency?
Because VoIP can improve how your office operates (and cooperates), it can increase overall efficiency. People can do more, at a faster pace. Cooperation can be easier too. However, VoIP can also hamper productivity. For instance, you are only allotted limited bandwidth. Adding VoIP to the data that needs to go through your network will make data exchanges run slower. This can lead to slower operations. If you are planning to make a switch to VoIP, make sure that your systems are ready for it first.
Is your network ready for VoIP?
Similar to the last item, you need to make sure that the network that you’re on can take the additional bandwidth necessary for VoIP. For residential VoIP, internet should at least be via DSL. For businesses, a T1 line is necessary. Check with your network service provide. Shop around for options, if you must.
Can you afford the installation and maintenance cost, on top of monthly VoIP billing?
Needless to say, great VoIP services don’t come free. Businesses should get corporate accounts that include multiple lines and extensions. Network access should be powerful enough for VoIP, which means that internet access accounts are necessarily on the higher end of the spectrum. A good approach here is to make a monthly projection of costs, against savings.
Once, you’ve decided on shifting to VoIP, it is a good idea to protect your investment. This entails ensuring that your VoIP is working for you at least 99.99% of the time. To do this, you need to install some safeguards. First here is an account with a VoIP quality testing and monitoring company, such as VoIP Spear. Consistent checks on how your VoIP is performing allows you to get to problem area ASAP, without waiting for it to affect your operations. Another safeguard that you should have around is a backup plan for power outages. Basic here is setting up your VoIP numbers to forward to mobile phones and backup landline accounts when the VoIP account is out of reach. Another is to setup backup power, such as generators and Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013 1:23:05 AM
With developments in communications technology, VoIP is fast becoming the better and more practical telecommunications option. It is not just something to replace residential lines. As the capacities of network connections – speed, bandwidth, and gear – improve, businesses have begun to deem the technology as the reliable, if not more efficient, communications alternative. It is capable of converging multiple corporate communications platforms, making everything more accessible and organized.
For homeowners and office managers, it is a good idea to explore switching to VoIP. VoIP goes beyond Skype. There's a lot more to enjoy, especially with paid accounts that give you access to exclusive conveniences and perks.
If you want to transition to VoIP, make sure you have a paid account with your service provider. Free accounts are “samplers” and don't necessarily get priority access to the network. During peak hours, when online traffic clogs networks, paid accounts get service priority.
At the same time, make sure that you at least have DSL connections. This is the least that you can have if you want okay quality VoIP services. VoIP is still dependent on your network access. So the better internet you have, the better your VoIP.
Then, you need gear. For single endpoint and single user homes, a softphone installed on your computer, plus speakers and a microphone, will do. For convenience, you can also use a SIP phone or an ATA unit for your analog phone.
Businesses that want to transition to VoIP need a lot more gear to get things done. For starters, you can use a gateway to connect your legacy PBX with your IP network. If you're feeling like doing away completely with your legacy PBX, you can buy an IP-PBX instead. This is usually toward a more permanent shift, and is the more cost effective measure in the long run. When you have an IP-PBX, you would need to buy SIP phones for your users.
When you have all this ready, begin to transfer your Direct Inward Dialing (DID) number/s, which is your publicly accessible number/s. VoIP service providers do this for individual account users as part of their service. Business users, which typically own blocks of DID numbers, need to do it in coordination with their phone company.
Once this is done, consider the application software that come with your hardware, as well as those you can add to make your life easier. This includes many convergent communications software in the market, which can organize the different communications platforms used within your organization.
There, you're all set. But wait... you need to plan for contingencies. First here is the possibility of dips and peaks in VoIP quality. This is mostly because of variations in network quality, caused by traffic and other issues. You need to be on top of this and the only way to do that is to sign up with a VoIP quality testing company. There are many in the market. VoIP Spear is one of your best options. By taking care of this issue early on, you can address problems or get your VoIP service provider to fix major system issues.
Lastly, you need to prepare for power interruptions. This might be a once in a blue moon occurrence but it would greatly affect operations. If you use residential VoIP, just have your account forwarded to a backup landline or your mobile phone. Businesses can do something similar by transferring calls to backup analog lines. Of course, this lessens call quality as it adds another layer in the data flow. It is better to buy a generator or backup batteries that can support the power needs of your phone systems for the duration of the outage.
Now, that was easy, right? Making VoIP your main means of communications isn't as complicated as it seems. Taking these easy steps can eventually take a chunk off your phone bills.
Friday, May 03, 2013 5:03:30 AM
Here at Wholesale VoIP Blog, we've talked about the wonders of VoIP, how it's made telecommunications better and more affordable, and all that. We talked about the business side of it, and how VoIP resellers can position themselves to succeed in the increasingly competitive VoIP market. However, we haven't really touched on the technology that VoIP is highly reliant on – the internet. How your VoIP service performs remains dependent on the quality of internet networks.
As VoIP resellers, no matter how great your VoIP service provider is – regardless of the technologies employed – your customers' satisfaction and overall quality of experience are still subject to something external to the service. You may be providing VoIP service that is solid as a rock but if one of your user's network can't carry that rock, you will end up with one unsatisfied customer.
On the flipside, your VoIP service provider may also be dealing with network issues. In a typical service provider platform, data courses through IP end points to get to the provider's switches and servers. This will affect the quality of the VoIP service enjoyed by your end users.
As VoIP reseller, it is important to test VoIP quality where you can. Here are some tips:
Encourage your end users to test and monitor their VoIP through services like VoIP Spear's call quality monitoring services. VoIP Spear offers free trial accounts for customers who need to monitor single end points. This way, they can know for themselves if the problem is with their network or their VoIP service provider. If it's a network issue, it preempts customer service problems on your end.
Test as a service provider. If you know end points used by your VoIP service provider, monitor these to stay on top of the service. In case there are patterns of service quality fluctuations, you can consult with your provider about it. Worst case scenario, this can help you decide about switching to another service provider.
Test as a user. This is especially true if you are providing niche services to specific towns or cities. You can get an approximation of your customer's experience if there is a predominant internet service provider in the area.
Friday, May 03, 2013 2:18:08 AM
Alliance Solutions recently agreed to an exclusive partnership with VoIP Spear, a VoIP quality and call quality monitoring company that provides services to consumers, businesses and service providers in North America. With testing servers all over North America, VoIP Spear will ensure that Alliance Solutions rolls out the best possible consistently great quality VoIP connections.
The agreement comes in the wake of increased demand for high quality VoIP services. Since there are several factors that affect VoIP calls, testing and monitoring are straightforward means of pinpointing issues with internet networks and/or VoIP service providers. After all, VoIP is not about the technologies used by the service provider. It is also dependent on the internet connection of the end users. Jitter, packet loss and latency, among others, affect how end users enjoyVoIP.
VoIP Spear offers services to consumers and businesses who've switched to VoIP. This way, they can monitor the suitability and service patterns of their network connections. When you rely on VoIP, it is important to also have consistently good internet connectivity.
For a service provider like Alliance Solutions, VoIP Spear's call quality monitoring services are crucial tools in service provisioning. Alliance Solution's VoIP services rely partly on the internet and partly on wireline telephony. Here, it is in the internet where quality becomes inconsistent and dependent on factors external to Alliance's technologies. Through multiple end point monitoring, Alliance – through VoIP Spear – can spot problems areas and take action immediately. Alliance Solutions clients can rest assured that their service provider is always working to give them the best VoIP service, bar none.
Friday, June 18, 2010 2:49:14 AM
If you are new in the VoIP industry, you might mistakenly set your sights on big shots like Vonage as your competition. At face value, a company like Vonage seems like a giant to your small start-up VoIP business. The reality is, though, you might actually be setting your sights too low if you target these companies. Plus, you are only causing yourself undue stress and worry by focusing on the “wrong” VoIP industry players.
First of all, Vonage sells low-cost and arguably low-quality services. As a new VoIP small business, aligning yourself with such company will only set you up as either no-profit or no-quality. Doing so may be your only way to compete with a company like Vonage. This isn’t really that much of an incentive to get into the VoIP industry, right? More importantly, this isn’t much incentive for customers to pick you over your more popular chosen competition.
Taking Aim at Your Real VoIP Competition
On the condition that you get with a good wholesale VoIP provider – one that gives you good-quality VoIP services at competitive prices – your true VoIP competitors are actually cable companies. This gives you enough leeway to focus on service quality while pricing your products for enough profit.
One of the main considerations is the niche market of cable companies that offer VoIP. Your prospects here are people who put value on quality. Low-pricing won’t sell much if it comes with low-quality VoIP services. Thus, you can package your VoIP small business as quality-focused – never mind if your rates are slightly higher than others.
Also, there is an ingrained distrust of cable companies, which you can harness to benefit your VoIP small business. For too long, these companies have provided poor to zero customer support, been impersonal and “cold” to customers, given bad service and the like. This will bite back ten-fold when offering VoIP services. As their competitor, you can counter this image by being a customer-focused, professional and quality VoIP provider.
With cable companies as competition, you can push for higher reliability and quality. If your VoIP small business provides this, your prospective customers will all look at cable companies as a second choice.
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Saturday, May 22, 2010 12:29:46 AM
There are many VoIP services that purport to be the best and/or the cheapest VoIP around; and, in some ways, they’ve been successful in selling this image to the public. How else can you explain the immense popularity of Vonage and MagicJack? True though, Vonage has earned its slot in VoIP “royalty.” It is a pioneering company and has paved the way for the rest of us. This, however, does not make it the best one around. The company has dubious billing practices, which make them a not-so-cheap VoIP alternative. MagicJack, on the otherhand, did a wonderful marketing innovation with its USB device and configuration – kudos for that! However, as many have found out, there are disadvantages to using the device; some of which negate the “savings” from using it.
Clearly, these may not be the best VoIP services around. There are more alternatives available; albeit, these are less popular than Vonage and MagicJack. All that’s necessary for consumers and prospective resellers is to look beyond “rock-bottom” list prices and see where real savings come from.
The Real Price for a Vonage VoIP Service
Even when they market Vonage as one of the cheapest VoIP services, a quick look at the bill will tell you otherwise.
You’ve got your basic VoIP fee, which is unsurprisingly low. Yet again, you also have “odd” fees, such as the Enhanced 411 fee and the Regulatory, Compliance and Intellectual Property fee. You normally won’t find similar fees with other VoIP service providers. These significantly up the rate that you pay regularly.
Of course, you will only get to see this bill if you pay for some upgrades to the systems that you already have in place. Your broadband connection should average between 90 and 200 kbps. You should also get Vonage branded routers or adapters. This sums up to a quite a lot for an initial fee.
There is a 30-day money back guarantee, just in case you change your mind about your VoIP services. When you do, you will need quite an amount of patience when you make that toll-free call just to cancel. Wait time averages at 30 minutes. In case you go beyond the 30-day guarantee and before you hit your second year with the service, prepare to pay a cancellation fee.
The Not-So Amazing MagicJack
On paper, the MagicJack seems like an amazing contraption. Here, you have a simple-looking USB device that you can get for free for the first year (following years carry a $19.99 fee). You plug it in and then you can make free calls to the US and Canada, and free international calls to other MagicJack users worldwide. That’s great, right?
But then again, you will need to contend with so much ads whenever you log in to use the service. There’s also a policy where MagicJack can mine and analyze the numbers that you call. This will then allow them to push targeted ads your way. Such practice is intrusive, to say the least.
Do not forget too that your computer has to be on all the time if you want to use your MagicJack. This is a great inconvenience. Computer usage cost can also sum up to quite a lot.
Real Savings for the Best VoIP Services
Real savings from the best VoIP services rarely come with the lowest price. It is practically impossible to offer good to great VoIP services without going over the rock-bottom pricing of the popular VoIP service providers. There are so much technology and systems investments necessary when it comes to VoIPs. A Vonage-like pricing will actually doom a VoIP into bankruptcy; that is, of course, unless they resort to “other fees.”
Real savings from the best VoIP services come with a mid-range to high-range pricing. You see your savings only once you’ve gotten set up and actually used the service. If you are a user/consumer, you may get more mobility. Your computer need not be turned on. Minute fees are smaller; and there are no hidden fees. If you are into reselling the service, you’d probably find it easier to sell a solid VoIP service even when this does not carry the lowest price tag. Performance keeps customers more than claims of lowest pricing.
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