Internet based phone systems have become increasingly popular in businesses today. However most businesses don't understand all the benefits they get when implementing these types of systems.
Its important to note that all systems are not created equally but in general there are three types of models when it comes to billing for sip based phone systems. They are unmetered, metered, and hosted sip. We typically don't recommend hosted sip as it is not extremely scalable and we will cover that a little bit late on.
In addition to the Sip providers themselves you need a system to actually run your phone system itself. We prefer Kerio Operator for this. Kerio sales their system in a hardware appliance as well as a virtual appliance. The hardware appliance typically sales for around $900 dollars for 5 users and the virtual appliance will sell for $400. Both come with a 5 user license and additional packs of 5 users go for $135. We will go over the benefits to a system like this a little bit later as well.
Internet phones work based on a sip trunk and within that trunk you have what providers call lines or channels. I tend to find channel to be a better word for describing it because it is different from a traditional telephone line. A sip channel is a way of transporting a single call you can have multiple channels in a trunk but only one call can be received per channel. Im hoping I haven't lost you yet lol.
The unmetered model will bill you based on the maximum number of calls you want coming into your office at any given time. This pricing is relatively cheap and should be around 15-20 dollars. It is important to note that while most companies in this market place will not bill you for long distance some local providers will so make sure that you ask when you are signing up.
The Unlimited per channel model allows for a level bill each month as you are not billed for the actual time you are on a call. This is perfect for someone who gets a lot of long calls or needs a consistent bill.
For someone who gets a lot of calls at a specific time of day that tapers down is better going with a bill per use model. This model allows for as many channels that are needed throughout the day and instead bills you based on the time you spend on the phone. You typically will have a 15 dollar a month fee plus $0.008/Minute or something around that number.
This allows for a lunch restaurant who gets around 20 calls during lunch but hardly any calls the rest of the day to not have to pay for 20 channels.
A hosted plan is good for a small office of less then 5 people. It provides the sip service as well as the system to run it but bills on a per user bases. Typically at $20 per user per month. While they typically offer unlimited channels and and unmetered setup the system doesn't scale appropriately. For instance an office of 10 users would pay 200 dollars a month and may only get a few calls a day.
Kerio Operator is a feature packed phone system that allows for Auto Attendants, Call recordings, Voicemail to email, and much more. Systems like these also provide analytics on how many calls you are receiving and how many callers hang up before you answer the call. This type of information is not collected and distributed to you with traditional phone systems.
In addition to this you can easily set time based auto attendants to play different messages and route calls differently based on when your business is open or closed. We typically set the system up as a virtual appliance in a data center in Atlanta called macstadium. Doing so allows us to reroute calls to your cell phone in the event of power or internet going down at the office and easily reroute it when it comes back up.
If you would like to know more about SIP phone systems or are interested in setting it up in your office feel free to reach out.