Somebody just asked me about VoIP options. Here’s what I know about vendors:
- Packet8 is now 8×8, and they still stink. Lots of options, but complex and clunky, and my clients didn’t like the hardware at all.
- RingCentral is quite good. The phones are fancy, and the handsets have a nice feel. Setup was easy, and the web app gives lots of options but not too many.
- Internet service providers such as Time Warner Cable often have options that are not terrible, but are also not terribly full-featured.
- Many SOHO businesses (1-3 people) can get away with a single, free Google Voice number, pointing it to ring on multiple landlines and mobile phones. Every user needs to have access, so it’s best to use a Google ID to which several people can have the password. (Really only those people who need access to the voicemails.)
Here’s what I know about the network infrastructure your office needs for something like RingCentral:
- You need a nice, fast Internet connection.
- You might need to pay your ISP for a “static IP” address to improve traffic.
- You need a separate dedicated Ethernet port in your wall for each phone.
- If that is totally out of the question, for whatever reason, each phone has two Ethernet ports. You run a cable from the wall to the phone, and one from the phone to the computer.
My problem with that last scenario is that it creates bottlenecks in your network. I spec CAT6 and gigabit (1000 Mbps) Ethernet switches for all businesses to get the best performance from their LAN and their file server, but those phones only have 100 Mbps ports, decreasing throughput 90%. Yuck. Any businesses running network-based user accounts will experience a serious degradation in productivity.