If you’re like most small business owners, you rely heavily on the phone to communicate, so the reliability of your phone system is critical. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) uses data packets to digitally transmit voice calls over the internet and performs extremely well – as long as your network is set up to accommodate your needs. Internet speed, routing gear and office data network configuration are all crucial factors in getting the best VoIP service for your company. Here’s how to optimize VoIP at your business.
Editor’s note: Looking for a business phone system? We can help you choose the one that’s right for you. Use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) uses the internet to carry voice calls instead of the traditional copper wire network that standard phone lines use. To make a VoIP call, you must first connect a handset to the web via Wi-Fi or an ethernet cable. On a cell phone, you’d open your VoIP app and connect it to a Wi-Fi network or to 4G/5G service.
>> Learn More: What Is a VoIP Number?
When you dial a number, your VoIP service provider sets up the call. It converts your voice and the voice of the person you’re speaking to into small data packets, similar to how web pages and online videos are transmitted. Both your phone and the phone of the person you’re calling then turn these packets into the sounds you can hear. You can place VoIP calls to any number in the world, even if you’re calling a standard landline or cell phone number.
VoIP relies on the internet to work. To optimize your company setup for VoIP calls, follow these recommendations.
VoIP requires a latency of 250ms or less for the best results. If your latency exceeds that, call quality and speed diminish; you’ll also experience delayed sound and increased disconnections. Ensure your latency rates are within limits when checking for adequate bandwidth. Learn more in our business internet buyers guide and take advantage of BroadbandNow’s bandwidth calculator.
Your office computer network is a local area network (LAN). A virtual local area network (VLAN) is a LAN that is both on top and within your LAN. If you want the best VOIP connection, create a VLAN that gives the highest broadcast priority to voice packets.
Purchase a business-class router with QoS features and pair it with a managed or smart switch. Create a VLAN with a separate Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) range and apply it to the switch to specific ports. Give high priority to the ports used for VoIP lines. Invest in switches with high throughput gigabit ports and auto-configurations that adjust to QoS for each phone.
Wouldn’t it be helpful if you didn’t have to find a mains connection to power up each VoIP device your business uses? That’s exactly what a Power over Ethernet (PoE) switch with a UPS backup power can do for you. With this setup, if the mains electricity goes off, your VoIP system will still have power, as will all other devices connected to it, like wireless access points, security card readers and IP intercoms.
A regular PoE switch can output a maximum of 15.4 watts, whereas business-class smart and managed PoE+ switches offer up to 30 watts per port. This means each switch can send power to a greater number of connections. Some VoIP phones require more power, especially those with cameras or video displays. Check the maximum power wattage your company’s phones need and the minimum power budget of the switch. The consumption by phones or other powered devices in the office has to be less than the switch budget.
>> Learn More: What Is Non-Fixed VoIP?
To work out the minimum PoE budget of the switch, multiply the number of devices connected by the maximum PoE consumption of the peripheral (camera, VoIP phone or another device). Don’t forget to plan for the future. Buy a bigger switch with more ports and one with a bigger PoE budget so you can easily add devices as you need them in the future.
All of the best business phone systems incorporate VoIP technology. That’s because this type of communication has many advantages. The main benefits of VoIP phoning for companies include the following.
With a standard business phone system installation, your provider’s engineers are responsible for ensuring all technical requirements are met to provide the required level of service. With VoIP, you’re responsible for ensuring you have a good enough connection, the right networking gear and a battery backup to protect your office in case of power failure. That said, if your business is big enough and you’re willing to commit to a VoIP provider for a minimum time, the provider may foot the cost of systems integration so you don’t need to pay a developer separately.
>> Learn More: Types of Phone Systems for Small Businesses
In any case, the investment in VoIP is worth it, especially for companies that rely on phone communications. Make sure you plan as far in advance as possible. If problems occur after your VoIP system has been fitted, work closely with your provider and IT team to get the most out of your investment.
Wayne Newton contributed to the writing and reporting in this article.