Don’t Skimp on a Phone System for Business

When choosing a business phone system, remember the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’. If you put in the effort to start and grow your business, cutting back and using a free phone service will only cause you problems.

So you have a growing company, and you currently pay very little for your phone calls because you are using a free service. It might seem like a good idea now but what about as your business grows? Do you want people to continue to view your business as a one man shop? If not, then you need to upgrade to a professional phone system. And with all the inexpensive VoIP hosted PBX options out there (telecom in the cloud) you not only set yourself up as a professional business but are ready for growth.

VoIP hosted PBX systems normally offer many features that free phone systems do not offer like: call queues, call reporting, call recording, and transcribed voicemails (voicemail to text).

Now, don’t get me wrong, those free phone systems a lot of fans who rave about the features it gives them. But, it’s simply not a professional phone system that any size business should utilize for their day to day operations.

Here are the reasons why you should NOT use a free phone system as a business phone system:

1. It Isn’t a Phone System

No admin login, no separate user logins, no call reporting, no call queues, no unlimited phone numbers, no toll free numbers, no logs for different users, no logs for different numbers, no e911, no dial by name directory, no web faxing, no music on hold etc. etc. It’s just NOT a phone system.

But… if you need more reasons:

2. Most free phone systems are not Based on SIP (Session Internet Protocol) and therefore Lacks Features

Systems that use SIP have many advantages over a POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) in that they can utilize many of the programmable features that only calls sent over SIP can provide. As an example, Asterisk is a programming language based on SIP and is constantly coming out with new features for VoIP providers. Asterisk is an open source software and therefore available for free. Some of the features free services are lacking that a business will need include: Call Queues, Conference Bridges with a Pin Number and email reminders, Call Reports, Administration and User level logins for managing lines/extensions, web faxing, a dial by name directory, music on hold, e911, and much, much more.

3. You Cannot Use Free Services on a Soft Phone

Since most free phone systems are not based on SIP, users of the system cannot use a SIP based client like a soft phone. Soft phones are software programs that run on a computer that enable users to make/receive calls over the internet. An example of a soft phone is Skype. Soft Phones are used by many companies for call centers and in place of a company phone. Soft phones are free to start and then can cost a small one-time cost for a lot of extra features. One company that sells soft phones is Counterpath.

4. Most Free Phone Systems Only Offer One Local Number

With most of these free phone services you are only given one local number. With the advent of VoIP, businesses can finally get local business numbers for any location in the U.S. without having to have a physical location there. So, many businesses are seeing the benefit of maintaining multiple local phone numbers. For example, if your business is located in Austin, Texas but you have vendors in New Orleans, Louisiana, you may want to give them a local number that they can call instead of having to make long distance calls or using your toll-free minutes on your toll-free number. If you have a VoIP hosted PBX system, you can purchase as many local numbers from as many local U.S. destinations as you want. And, you can forward these numbers to any location you want including your cell phone, an extension at your business, or your VoIP phone (wherever that might be located).

5. Free Phone Services Usually Do Not Work with Powerful VoIP Phones

Many of the features that are making businesses more successful when using VoIP are only accessible using a VoIP phone. Polycom, for example, has a entire line of VoIP phones used just for conference rooms. There are also phones used by secretaries that show who is on the phone, as well as basic VoIP phones with buttons like ‘hold’, ‘mute’, ‘headsets’, ‘conference’, ‘forward’, ‘Contact Directory’, ‘Call Lists’, ‘Messages’ and much more. And with a VoIP phone, you can use your phone anywhere in the world you have a dedicated internet connection.

6. HD Voice (wideband audio) is Not Available with Free Phone Services

Wideband audio is an audio technology used in telephony. It extends the frequency range of audio signals transmitted over telephone lines, resulting in higher quality speech. With HD, Voice calls sound clear and crisp, almost like the person is standing right next to you. HD Voice is available with most VoIP hosted PBX providers and with most VoIP phone providers but not with free phone services.

7. Free Phone Services – Voicemail to Text Service is Crummy at Best

Perhaps one of the free phone services coolest features is also currently among its weakest. The transcription service can give you some less-than-literal translations. Voicemails may or may not come through perfectly when transcribed to text. “I hope to see you soon” may come through as “I love your friend June.” Ouch.

8. Privacy Can Be An Issue for Free Phone System Users

Preston Gralla of Computer World says “Lost in all the hooplah about the release of — is this disturbing fact: The service will give (Internet Browser Company) — enormous amounts of information about the intimate details of your everyday life, including recordings of your voice mail and possibly your phone calls. Combined with what (Internet Browser Company) — already knows about you, it could mean your privacy is at an end.” Gralla goes on to say: “— will be offered for free. (Internet Browsing Company) —, though, will certainly be looking for ways to make money from it. One of the most obvious ways is via targeted advertising, particularly because the company recently announced that it’s going to figure out new ways to target ads based on your interests. It already does this with — So don’t be surprised to see ad targeted based on who calls you.”

9. Free Phone Services Do Not Offer Phone Support

Okay, this has to be the biggest problem with relying on a free phone service for your companies phone system needs. Have you, or anyone you know, ever been able to actually talk to their support for anything? I doubt it. Go with a provider you can talk to any time since having a working phone system is most likely a crucial factor in your businesses success.

10 Free Phone Services Do Not Look Professional

Bottom line is, when you are trying to get a new customer to trust you, the fact that you are using free phone services instead of paying for a better phone system shows that you just don’t care. You don’t care that your phone calls are possibly being monitored, don’t care that your phone calls are breaking up and sound terrible, and you don’t care about having reliable business telecommunications.

Conclusion

Free phone systems are not meant to be used to run a business’s telecommunications system. The “fun” little features that they tout are just that, fun. They won’t help you run your business more efficiently and in fact will most likely slow you down. I mean who has time to set up different voicemail greetings for different callers when you are trying to run a business?? And do you really need that?? So stick with what works and grow your business without having to worry that your phone system will drag you down. Choose a VoIP hosted PBX system and you can’t go wrong.

Setting Up the Asterisk Phone System at Home

The Asterisk phone systems are Linux-based VOIP PBX systems. PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange, and this refers to a division of the phone line within a building, be it a business or home. PBX systems are commonly used in businesses. Several phone lines come into the building and then are distributed to several individual extensions spread throughout the company. A few lines out of the building connecting to the phone lines are also part of the system, allowing outgoing calls. You typically have to dial a number, such as 9, to get one of these outside lines. Some people find that setting up a PBX at home is convenient, but not work the thousands of dollars necessary. With Asterisk, this type of system can be set up for relatively little cost.

The Hardware

There are some pieces of hardware that you will need to set up an Asterisk phone system in your home. One is a Linux server with an extra PCI slot. While the program can run on Windows based servers, it does not run well. Linux is a must if you want everything to run efficiently, as the Asterisk system was designed to be run on Linux. Most people find that a dedicated server works best for this application, especially if they are going to use a Windows based system. The system will need 40 GB of available disk space.

Besides a server, you will also need a Digium Wildcard TDM400P. This is the card that allows you to connect your phones and your phone line to the Asterisk server and the VOIP PBX system. The card has four ports, so you will need to decide how many lines you need. The ports can be configured to be incoming or outgoing, depending on your needs. Incoming ports take the phone line coming from outside of your home and connect it to the system, allowing you to receive calls. Outgoing ports allow you to connect your regular phone to the system, so you can receive calls. If you need more than four ports, you will need to buy an extra card.

Software

Once you have the hardware, you are ready to set up your operating system and install the Asterisk phone system software. The best way to do this and avoid the need for Asterisk consulting as you install the product is to download the ISO of [email protected]. This will begin to install automatically and will reformat your disk if needed, so installing it on a machine that does not have important information on it first is a good idea. There are other ways to set up the system, but they are quite confusing.

Setting up the System

After you have installed the software, you can use the new Web server to view the Asterisk Management Portal. This portal has an interface where you can set up your system. The interface is fairly straightforward and has documentation to help with any questions that you might have.

Once you have the basic setup entered, you will need to add your extensions. This is simple to do on the “Ring Group” screen. Simply add the number of extensions you intend for your home to have. This is also the page where you will configure your voicemail box. To record your voicemail messages, call the chosen extension from a phone inside your system and record the message.

The final step to completely configuring your system is configuring the rules for incoming calls. You can choose whether you want to have the calls go to the phones or an operator, where the caller can choose an extension. Once you have made these choices, you are ready to start using your new VOIP PBX system!

Once installed, Asterisk phone systems work much like a regular PBX system. You simply pick up the phone, dial the extension for an outside line, and make your call! Soon you will forget that you are using a high-tech VOIP PBX Toronto system at all as your new phone setup becomes part of your daily life.

Cellphone Spyware: Worried About Your Partner? Set Your Mind at Ease With Cell Phone Spy Software

Let’s face it: no one likes the idea of their spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend cheating on them. Alas, in today’s digital age, it’s all too easy to find yourself wondering, especially if you notice them wracking up text bills or receiving calls at odd hours. Here are a few ways that cell phone spy software can benefit you and answer some much needed questions.

The benefit of cell phone spy software is that it enables you to keep an eye on your partner without them knowing. However, not all such software is the same. Here are a few things to look for in a quality spy software system.

What makes a software system work? Essentially, it should be compatible with a wide range of phones, whether your partner uses a BlackBerry, iPhone, Symbian S60, Nokia, Android phones and more, as well as one of the thousands of smartphones out there.

Ideally, it should be able to track everything from phone conversations to texting. Some even track address book contents or snapshots taken with phone cameras! Most importantly, however, cell phone spy software should be able to track where their location is. Many manage to do this through a GPS, allowing you to track them via Google Maps. Finally, the software should be reliable and remain absolutely undetectable. Their price range varies as well, so be sure to choose something that works well without breaking your budget.

Installing the software is easy: simply create an account, install the software on the phone, reboot the phone, and you’re done! Once installed, the software will send you up to date information regarding your partner’s whereabouts, text logs, call history, context list, and more. There is no limit to how long the spy software will continue sending you updates-as long as the phone is on, you will be able to know where your partner is at any hour of the day or night.

Do you wish you could put those nagging questions plaguing your mind to rest? Don’t torment yourself with wondering. Whether you’re suspicious of your partner’s loyalty or you simply want to make sure he or she is safe during long business trips or grueling commutes home, this is an ideal piece of software for making sure you’re in the know.