The Quick Start Guide to VOIP for the Home, Home Office, and Small Business

How to Switch to VOIP

There's no dispute that one of the biggest attractions of VOIP is the low-cost.

In most plans, the basic monthly fee is lower than traditional phone service and you also get free services such as call display and call forwarding to boot.

The cost savings alone sound good, but if you are considering switching to VOIP, here's a few tips to keep in mind.

  1. Check with the VOIP provider to see if it is possible to keep your old telephone number when you switch to a VOIP service. Local number transfer is not always available. It has to do with agreements set up between the VOIP provider and the telephone company. If you run a home-based business or small office, keeping your old phone number may be essential because advertising, business cards, letter head, and client contacts would be affected.
  2. Determine how the VOIP provider delivers 911 emergency service. Some service providers, like Vonage have you to register your address so that the information can be used to route the call to the correct emergency call center when necessary. However, 911 service still may not work as you expect in your area, so be sure you understand your service provider's 911 solution. If 911 service important, you should keep an existing phone line or a cell phone for emergency calls.
  3. Decide if you require a backup line in case of power outage. Remember, VOIP telephone service relies on "wall power", unlike traditional PSTN service. Battery backups are an option for short outages but if your area is prone to blackouts you may want to keep a cell phone handy.
  4. Evaluate a VOIP service provider based on the type of calling you do. First look at and compare the "free" features like call forwarding, call waiting, and call display. Secondly, scrutinize the rates for long-distance or overseas calls. Choose a plan which will be the most economical.
  5. Check where in the world the VoIP provider offers additional phone numbers. For example, you may want to have local phone numbers in several different cities or countries allowing people to call you for the cost of a local call (ideal for out of town or overseas family). If you receive a lot of calls from a certain geographic location, make sure your VoIP service provider can give you a local phone number in that place.
  6. Understand what equipment is supplied with the plan, and what you must supply yourself. Usually, VOIP providers like Vonage supply an ATA (Analog Terminal Adaptor), when you sign up, which allows you to connect a regular analog telephones to VOIP service. But, if you want to buy your own equipment, see if you can get a better rate on the monthly fee charged by the service provider.

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