You’ve done your research and you’re ready to put your business on the communications infrastructure of the future–VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol). What’s next?
STEP ONE: Select your broadband connection
VoIP requires broadband, and you probably already have some form of broadband connection to the Internet. Is it adequate?
Avid is your broadband broker. Our services are compatible with a variety of broadband connections, ranging from under $100 per month to $5,000 per month. You can buy a connection from one of nearly a dozen local providers–including us. We will help you make the right choice. (PS. We make very little margin on our own broadband services, so we won’t be pushing you to buy from us.)
Here’s a quick summary of the usual choices:
- DSL service–cost effective for small businesses and delivers generally reliable service and adequate capacity for small businesses
- Cable-based service (including “business class” services)–great value for the downstream capacity but limitations on (and variability of) upstream capacity can cause problems
- T-1 service–this is the mainstay connection for Avid’s customer base, primarily because it is reliable, has good upstream capacity, is available nearly everywhere without special construction charges, and because we charge about half the industry average for the service. Multiple T-1s can be combined at a single site to serve medium to large businesses.
- Fiber-based high-speed services (eg. 10Mbps, 50 Mbps, even 500 Mbps)–these have very limited availability and are quite expensive from most service providers. Avid has a growing list of buildings where these services are available from us at strikingly low cost. (We believe this is the future, by the way, and we’re investing heavily in it.)
We will help you define the capacity requirements for your business and explain the differences between these choices when it comes to these important factors:
- Connection reliability
- Speed of repair
- Quality of voice conversations
- Flexibility in supporting future growth
STEP TWO: Identify number of phone users in your company
Our pricing is on a “per seat” basis. Each user gets a phone line, an array of features superior to that of an expensive phone system, unified messaging capability (souped-up voice mail), and domestic long distance for a monthly price that is based on the size of your company. Per-seat rates range from $35/month to as low as $15/month.
Our Hosted PBX service includes all common and many advanced features, and we will consult with you to determine the exact setup that will meet each user’s needs. Because of this, feature evaluation is much less critical as a part of the purchase decision.
STEP THREE: Select the phone sets
Most VoIP phones come with good speakerphones, LCD screens, and a load of function buttons that can be customized for each person. Some have wireless units, too.
They cost about the same as an old-style phone and have the huge added benefit that they work directly with our network and don’t require an on-site phone system. That alone saves hundreds of dollars per user in upfront costs and often thousands in ongoing maintenance and configuration service charges.
You can even choose to use a “softphone,” which runs on your PC, avoiding the cost of phone equipment altogether.
STEP FOUR: Examine service terms and conditions
Don’t gloss over this part! With Avid, you will not be required to commit to a term agreement. With other providers, you will almost always need to sign for three- or five-years to get a decent price. Ask yourself why this would be the case?
Also analyze how much you will be charged for service and maintenance. With Avid, these charges are included in the monthly rate.
Determine what happens if your business needs change. If you move, how much will you be charged? Can you upsize or downsize easily, quickly and without a financial penalty?
Finally, call their service line and see what happens. Does a person answer? Do you negotiate a complex automated menu? Can you see them face-to-face if need be?