BT will switch off PSTN, or traditional telephony, by 2025. For businesses up and down the UK, the clock is now ticking furiously. But how much thought have you genuinely given to moving over to VoIP?
Voice over Internet Protocol, to give its full title, has been around for a few years now. It’s long been positioned as the natural successor to PSTN, with cost savings, scalability and ease of connection being three reported reasons why offices have already made the switch.
But what’s the truth behind these costs, and these supposed benefits to your run-of-the-mill SME? Is there anything VoIP providers are hiding from us? We did a little bit of digging and came back with some serious answers.
FACT: VoiP costs will vary from provider to provider
It’s easy to assume that VoIP’s going to cost the same no matter where you look. In fact, research tells us you could be paying as much as £40 per user per month for VoIP – but that really is the top-whack rate.
If you’re serious about moving to VoIP soon (and yes, you really should be), we’d advise you shop around a little. The first provider you’ll come across on Google isn’t necessarily going to be the best fit for your budget. That, and there’s extra costs to keep in mind, too…
FACT: You’ll need to invest in more than just a VoIP connection
The common misconception with VoIP is that you can just plug in and you’re ready to go. More honest providers, thankfully, make it abundantly clear that you’ll need a few bits and pieces – which will, of course, cost you money – before you can get started.
For example, take headsets into account. While some VoIP providers will provide these with your chosen package, you can expect to pay anywhere between £20 and £200 for each VoIP model. You’ll also need VoIP phones, which can range from £40 anywhere to £300 per set.
That said, a whole new kit is an investment that will start paying for itself by 2025. By then, your older PSTN equipment will be good for recycling – it’s an expense you’re going to face sooner or later.
No, you probably won’t have to worry about fiddling around with VPS hosting on your own (providing you find the right VoIP phone system provider), but it pays to have a few pieces of kit ready to go at launch.
FACT: You won’t have to pay line rental
Most VoIP providers tend to avoid the specific ‘no line rental’ benefit as you will, of course, need to still pay a monthly fee. However, depending on who you sign up with, you get a lot more under that fee than just the permission to use a cable.
For example, some VoIP packages will allow you to set up custom voicemail and call divert features alongside. The bigger VoIP companies you’ll find on Google will also likely give you access to SIP trunking, which lets you set up custom suites, programs and conferencing with clients.
Line rental, at its most basic, is just that. It’s the rental of a line and the privilege of being able to use telephony, full stop. Thankfully, it’s going away by 2025, and if you’re quick off the mark, you can get clear of it even sooner.
FACT: One size never fits all
Not all VoIP providers are clear on the fact that different companies will have different telephony needs. It’s tempting to just throw yourself at the first package that comes your way if it looks cheap enough, but consider the size and scope of your company.
VoIP business phone systems from Planet Numbers, for example, rank into three categories or ‘levels’ depending on what you need. You’d pay around £30 per user month for the full kit and caboodle at ‘Enterprise’ level, for example, and an entry-level rate of £10 per user month if you’re just starting out.
Clarity is key, but then again, as a consumer, be ready to do a little digging. Not all VoIP providers will give you the keys to the kingdom right away, which can lead to you getting stuck in packages you want zero part of.
If you really want to get into VoIP, choose a firm that offers a bespoke deal, or clear pricing based on your business’ size and expectations.
FACT: Yes, VoIP will save you money
What we find really bizarre is the fact that so few VoIP companies are willing to go all-in on how much cash the standard will save business users each month, at least compared to PSTN. Admittedly, we only have two years left until it’s retired outright, but still – there are always people left to be convinced.
Pound for pound, VoIP will save you money, even if it doesn’t seem that way from the get-go. Yes, there are installation costs, and yes – you won’t get by with a bare-bones VoIP phone system alone.
But, where you’ll save money is in customer retention and the potential for saving lost business. All around, VoIP helps to keep people talking – literally – with clearer, more stable connections, and fewer opportunities for your callers to disconnect.
A more stable connection also means more uptime, too. There’s much less risk of you watching the money drip away minute by minute until Openreach fixes your cabling.
Far too many people look at the bare cost of VoIP up front and don’t see the potential for saving money along the way. Consider how much you’re shelling out for PSTN and all its faults, and come back to VoIP with a clear head.
FACT: VoIP is worth the money – and it’s worth installing now
Like it or not, by 2025, your hand will be forced. You’ll need to switch over to a VoIP phone system, and if you do so too late, you could be faced with days or even weeks of potential downtime as your PSTN service bites the dust.
We’ve done the research for you – VoIP is heading your way, and the sooner you embrace it, the sooner you can save some serious money.