Thanks to the convenience and cost savings offered by new technology, many Americans are saying goodbye to traditional landlines. In fact, “The Wall Street Journal” reports that more than 25 percent of households in America have stopped subscribing to home phone service. Small business owners are now wondering if it’s time to also cut ties with their phone company in the office. One popular landline alternative is voice over internet protocol (VoIP).
If you want to find out if VoIP is the right communication solution for your business, you’ll benefit from taking a close look at how VoIP and landline compare head to head in this week’s BuzzBattle.
How VoIP is Different Than a Landline
VoIP converts audio signals from your speech into digital data that travels via broadband Internet (fiber optic, DSL or cable) to its destination. Instead of plugging into a traditional phone jack, the phone line is plugged into a VoIP adapter, and the adapter is plugged into a modem or your computer. While it sounds a bit technical, VoIP is fairly easy to use.
Round One: Features
The landline service offered by phone companies provides access to a variety of features, such as caller ID, call forwarding, call blocking, call waiting, three-way calling, voicemail, and of course domestic as well as international calling. Basic landline packages come with a range of offerings that include some or nearly all of these services. It’s worth noting there are devices on the market that allow the user to communicate via landline or VoIP, depending on his or her need. This means your employee could use the same device to communicate from a landline and through VoIP.
VoIP providers offer all of the communication features you’ve come to expect from your business’ landline. On top of that, VoIP offers features that may be particularly beneficial to your business. For example, with VoIP your employee can place or receive a call and listen to voicemail right from their computer, laptop or tablet. VoIP providers also offer the option of managing your service and features right online. Plus, with VoIP, your business can take advantage of videoconferencing.
Round Two: Sound Quality
Landlines generally provide outstanding sound quality. Whether you’re communicating with a new client or conferencing with your international team, voice clarity and dependability are paramount.
VoIP connections are usually good, but because data is sent over the Internet, their quality can’t be considered 100% reliable like a landline call. Crackling, echoes, and interruptions are a few of the potential difficulties with VoIP communication.
Round Three: Reliability
Landlines are more reliable than VoIP. A phone line is not powered the same way electricity is, so even when the power goes out or is interrupted, you’ll still have phone access.
If the power goes out, you’ll lose your Internet connection and as a result lose VoIP service. Even if there isn’t power outage, whenever your Internet service is disrupted, your VoIP service will be impacted. If your business doesn’t have reliable Internet service, using VoIP could be risky. Even if you decide to use VoIP for your business, you may want to keep basic landline service in case of VoIP interruptions.
Final Round: Cost
The cost of landline services has dropped over the last decade, making the traditional way of calling more affordable than ever. Additionally, most phone companies now offer solutions and bundles specifically for small business. Taking advantage of those business packages can further reduce the cost of service and simplify billing. However, when comparing the cost of landline to VoIP feature to feature, VoIP usually emerges as more budget friendly.
Even basic VoIP packages include a number of features. For example, in the U.S., it’s common for VoIP providers to offer free international calls (a specific number of minutes per month) and free unlimited calls to anywhere in the U.S. and Canada. Generally, calling internationally is very cheap with VoIP, and can offer a substantial savings if your business makes a number of international calls. In fact, it’s common to discover rates as low as two cents per minute. If you switch to VoIP, your business can usually continue to use the same phone number and the VoIP adapter is often included at no charge. Like landline service, VoIP providers offer business plans and encourage you to sign up for a long term contract by rewarding you with discounts.
As a small business owner, you know that analyzing how your business communicates is the first step to deciding which service is best for your business. One service may come out as a clear cut winner or you may conclude a combination of services fits your business best. In any case, keep in mind that as your business grows, changes and develops, you should reevaluate your options.
If you’re ready to compare business phone providers and find out which one works best for your small business, take a look at our informative BuzzGrid comparison tool.