You only need a VOIP-capable router if you're using a VOIP service that requires a VOIP-capable router. If you purchase a hosted VOIP service, where the provider runs all routing off its own server, all you have to do is connect a VOIP-enabled phone to your Internet connection, or use a standard phone with an adapter that attaches to your cable or DSL modem. No router required.
One reason businesses want PBX services is to allow conference calling between different locations across the network. But if your network includes either people calling from the road via your IP PBX network, or people gathering in a conference room from a remote location, you're going to need the proper accessories to make these conference calls work. Meanwhile, you'll want a conference speakerphone to allow everyone in your conference room to speak and be heard.
You definitely do not need to have a special VOIP Phone with your home VOIP service. Virtually all residential VOIP services allow standard phones to be used with special adapters. However, you can purchase a VOIP phone for under $100, avoid using a special adapter, and take advantage of Internet-only phone services, like video calling.
One unavoidable cost of converting to over to a VOIP phone system -- especially a PBX phone system -- is the cost of hardware. You'll need to have a data network extended to every desktop. And you'll need to have PBX-capable phones that are also VOIP-friendly. Often, you can use your current phones with special adapters. But if you have to lay out cash for new VOIP phones in advance, start-up costs can grow in a hurry. One way to ease these costs is to look for a provider that offers either free, or deeply discounted, phones with a new service contract.
Now just because setting a a virtual PBX system is supposed to be easy, doesn't mean it will be. This is especially true if you have to extend your Internet network to make the phone system work. So if you think you might have trouble installing a VOIP PBX system yourself -- or if you don't have IT support to lean on -- consider hiring a professional consultant.
Make sure that any VOIP PBX system that you are considering purchasing has a much better range of services than the traditional PBX system that you are ready to replace. Any PBX system should do the following:
* Voice mail
* Caller ID
* Three-way calling
* Call forwarding
* Direct-dial extensions.
Since VOIP PBX systems are web-based and Internet-enabled, you should also make sure your system includes the following:
* Unlimited calling.
* Phone-to-email connections.
* Conference calling.
* Web-based administration.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|