8 IP Phone Questions to Ask

image courtesy Cisco Systems
More than a third of small business are using desktop IP phones today. If you want to join them, make sure you know your company’s answers to these seven key questions:

1. Is HD voice important? High-definition voice is clearer than older VoIP or landline calls, and has become a standard feature in business-class IP phones. It is especially important for international, technical, or long conversations; conference calls; and speakerphone use.

2. How many lines do you need? You’ll likely need eight or more lines for the front desk or a group assistant. A single-line phone is probably best for backroom and warehouse locations.

3. Where will the phone be used? Most IP phones connect to your data network through Ethernet. However, if you have mobile users who move around your site Wi-Fi support is a must.

4. What will the phone need to do? Like other phones, IP phones offer features such as speakerphone, caller ID, call forwarding, and conferencing. But some IP phones can also:

  • Answer calls from (and continue conversations) and integrate with your smartphone
  • Combine voicemail, email, and fax into one inbox
  • Use the web and XML documents
  • Access information on your network
  • Monitor video, play MP3s, and display digital photos.

5. Are the features easy to use? They must be intuitive or end users may have difficulties. The keypad should be easy to touch, the button lights and display screen (monochrome or color) easy to see.

6. What VoIP system will you use now? In the future? Since there are differences in their VoIP protocols (though Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is the most widespread) no single IP phone is compatible with all VoIP systems. Your options are:

  • A hosted VoIP or Centrex service that you contract from a service provider
  • An onsite VoIP system that you own or lease

7. What security do you need? Voice encryption, password protection, and other security features can prevent unauthorized use. An embedded VPN client can allow secure connection to your network.

8. What technical support will you need? Make sure your staff can easily set up, move, upgrade, and manage users and phones, or determine if  it’s part of your free and/or paid support package.

Via the Cisco Innovators Program

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