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How To Set Up Your VoIP System In 4 Simple Steps – Forbes

Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, is a technology that’s been with us for some time. If you have ever used a service like Skype or Google Voice, you’re already a little familiar with the technology. As VoIP services expand in use and popularity, the industry could be worth up to $194.5 billion by the end of 2024. Many American households lack a landline and use wireless phones and internet services to stay connected.

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From a business perspective, VoIP is an affordable, modern alternative to the more traditional landline system. Additionally, service providers often include add-ons and integrations that elevate day-to-day operations in a manner that landlines can’t.

Keep reading to learn a bit more about the technology and a step-by-step guide on how to set up VoIP phone service.

Understanding VoIP Systems and How They Work

Simply put, VoIP is a technology that lets you make or receive calls using a broadband internet connection. It’s possible to use any phone for this purpose. Internet Protocol (IP) phones convert analog voice signals into digital signals, which then get sent over the internet.

Some VoIP setups could require Power-over Ethernet (PoE), or you might not need any hardware at all. That’s because, by its very nature, VoIP is not only available to use through phones but practically any internet-ready device, including your tablet or laptop.

Now that we have discussed VoIP and what to do before getting service, we can move on to the step-by-step process of getting your VoIP phone set up.

Step 1: Do Vital Research Before Getting Your VoIP System

Even so, before you decide on how to set up VoIP phone service for your business or home office, there are a few vital factors to take into consideration.

Internet Speed, Quality and Reliability

Before setting up a VoIP system, you should take the time to determine your internet quality. You can test your internet speed or contact your service provider and ask questions about quality and reliability in your area. The devices themselves might also play a role in the speed and reliability of your online connectivity. Because VoIP requires constant, good-quality internet, you want to ensure that your telephone system holds up to the transition.

If You Intend To Purchase IP Phones or Other Hardware

VoIP system setups can resemble traditional landlines, except ethernet cables take the place of telephone cords. That said, it is also possible to make use of VoIP without phones at all or having to purchase phones, headsets or other hardware.

When seeking out service, you might need to consider if you’ll be connecting virtual numbers to existing devices or if you’ll need to invest in accompanying hardware. This answer will usually depend on factors such as the size of your business, its location and your current budget.

Enhanced 911

One complication of cloud phone service that is rarely spoken about is that it’s not always easy to contact emergency services. In fact, the FCC requires interconnected VoIP telephone services to meet enhanced 911 (E911) regulations. That means making 911 service available to customers as a standard feature. Additionally, they must provide emergency service personnel with the 911 caller’s call back number and location.

It’s generally a good idea to understand how E911 will work through your chosen VoIP service provider. Also, you should ensure the information you intend to provide is accurate and that it gets updated as needed.

Step 2: Decide How Many Users and Lines You Will Need

If you’re a sole proprietor working from home, chances are you’ll only need one or two lines. It is a different story for a company employing hundreds or thousands of people across dozens of departments and subdivisions.

Yet, even with a sprawling organization, not everyone needs a phone line. It might be that you only require one unique phone line per department with a few extra lines for top-level personnel. Your VoIP phone network setup should function according to how much phone traffic your business expects. That means you shouldn’t buy more phone lines than you need, even if discounts are involved.

Step 3: Calculate Service Costs and Add-On Fees

Monthly VoIP costs will range according to how many lines you purchase. Of course, it’s common for cloud phone service companies to employ a flat rate charge if you buy a certain number of phone lines. Let’s say that you need 10 VoIP phone lines; a provider might ordinarily charge $50 per line, but drop the price to $10 per line if you purchase between six and 10 lines. Instead of $500 per month, you would only get charged a monthly flat rate of $100.

In addition to per line fees, you may be charged month to month for particular add-ons such as the use of toll-free or international numbers or CRM integrations. When budgeting for VoIP service, don’t forget to include installation costs or activation fees.

Step 4: Find a VoIP Phone Service Provider

There is no shortage of options when it comes to getting VoIP phone service. If you’re simply looking for a virtual number for your business, you can get one through Google Voice, free of charge. It’s also possible to upgrade your Google phone service by signing up for Workspace.

Google Workspace service plans:

  • Starter: $6 per user, per month
  • Standard: $12 per user, per month
  • Plus: $18 per user, per month
  • Enterprise: Contact for a quote

Other popular VoIP options include:

  • RingCentral: From $19.99 per user, per month
  • Nextiva: From $23.95 per user, per month (with <5 users)
  • Grasshopper: From $26 per month

If you’d like to learn more about VoIP service providers and which top brands we recommend, Forbes Advisor has compiled a list of the best VoIP services on the market.

After You Get VoIP Service

Once you decide on and pay for VoIP service, there are a few things you may need to do from time to time. For instance, keep tabs on potential price changes, particularly if you signed on at a discount that may run out after so many months or within a couple of years.

Now that you know how to set up a VoIP phone system, you should also know that you’re always free to move to a new service should it provide better service options at a better price.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What does VoIP stand for?

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. VoIP is a technology that lets you both make and receive phone calls using internet broadband.

How do I get VoIP phone service?

Getting VoIP service is easy since there are a variety of carriers, big and small. Popular options include Google Voice, RingCentral and Nextiva.

How much does a VoIP phone system cost?

The average cost of a VoIP system is about $25 per month, per user. Some system setups cost more than others, and it’s entirely possible to pay a few hundred or a few thousand per month, depending on the size of your organization and the number of lines necessary.

Do I need a new phone to use VoIP?

The nature of VoIP means that as long as your device has an internet connection, you can place or receive calls using their software. If you prefer, you do have the option of purchasing VoIP hardware such as IP phones.

Can I get free VoIP phone service?

It is possible to get VoIP service for free using apps like Skype, WhatsApp and Google Voice. For multiple lines and more professional integrations, there are affordable options like RingCentral.

Can I use my existing phone with VoIP?

Yes, as VoIP service doesn’t interfere with the existing function. If you have an internet connection, the virtual number provided should be usable through your old phone and any other online-capable devices.

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