According to research firm In-Stat, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) penetration among businesses is expected to reach 79 percent in 2013. That’s an astonishing statistic when you consider that just 10 years ago, VoIP was considered a dirty word, thanks to concerns about quality and reliability. But with the persistent recession and huge improvements in VoIP technology, many companies are taking VoIP another look. Also for good reason. VoIP, and a next-generation model called “hosted” VoIP, offer numerous benefits over traditional phone systems, including lower monthly costs, simple controls, and productivity-enhancing features.

Hosted VoIP is a fast growing section of the market because it further simplifies the VoIP process. For example, getting started doesn’t require an initial capital investment, just a monthly phone service fee. Employees get a convenient “plug and play” phone that can be set up anywhere there is an Internet connection, and the rest of the team is “cloud-based” (hosted on the Internet) and out of reach of the owner of the company. company. Employees can access a convenient web-based portal that provides powerful features to help them better connect and communicate with important contacts.

The benefits of hosted VoIP are even more pronounced for companies with more than one office location or telecommuters. Some of these benefits include:

FREE office-to-office calls – It is well known that the rates for calls to external lines (“off the network”) are substantially lower than the rates of traditional operators, BUT what many do not know is that for companies with multiple locations or telecommuters, the Office-to-office calls are free. … even to international branches! This is because they are considered “on the net” calls, which travel over the Internet and never reach the public telephone network.

3-digit extension to anywhere Instead of dialing a completely different 10-digit number for each remote location or employee, a cloud-hosted VoIP system allows businesses to use the same primary number for all of their locations, with convenient three- or four-digit extensions. This allows a workforce to function as if they were all in the same office. This is also convenient for customers who may need to be transferred to another location (without having to hang up and dial another 10-digit phone number).

Flexible call forwarding – With Hosted VoIP, a business can take advantage of a centralized auto attendant service that can answer calls centrally and route them to the appropriate telecommuting department or employee, wherever they are located. The employee can easily configure call forwarding from their office phone to their home and cell phone numbers, as well as voicemail to email alerts. This can often be done through a web-based portal for live management of the phone system configuration. A feature like this can be invaluable for a business like a doctor’s office, where the doctor must be available on certain days in cases of emergency.

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