Many businesses are switching from traditional telephone systems to Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP). That’s because opting for VoIP can result in savings of up to 75% on communication costs.
There are many different routes to go when it comes to installing VoIP—but there’s also an easy way. In some situations, you’ll even be able to do it yourself.
For example, homeowners, small offices, and businesses with a strong in-house IT team probably won’t need professional help.
However, if you have more than 10 phones to install, need to secure communication between multiple locations, or are setting up a call center, it’s probably best to have an expert on-hand.
7 Steps to VoIP Installation
Setting up your VoIP doesn’t have to be complicated.
Most if not all of the top VoIP services for businesses offer hosted solutions. And although some of them offer other types as well, hosted services are by far the easiest. There’s several reasons why that’s the case.
- There’s no hardware to buy. A hosted VoIP eliminates the need for expensive phone hardware, reducing upfront costs.
- People can sign in from anywhere. Users can sign in and make calls from any location with an internet connection.
- There’s little or no maintenance. Service providers handle system upkeep, relieving your business from maintenance and updates.
- Security responsibilities are minimal. Service providers implement security measures so your business isn’t burdened with IT concerns.
- It’s scalable and flexible. Hosted VoIP solutions let you easily adapt to your business needs, such as adding or removing users or integrating CRM applications.
Once you’re ready to install, follow this step-by-step tutorial for easy VoIP installation.
1. Check Your Internet Connection
The first step of VoIP installation is to ensure that your home or office meets the system requirements.
VoIP services rely on the internet to make and receive calls, so it’s important that you have a stable internet connection. A single call doesn’t require a ton of bandwidth, but a busy office does. With so much riding on your internet connection, such as VoIP, apps, downloads, uploads, and everything else, you need high-speed internet with lots of bandwidth to handle your daily operations.
VoIP systems need an internet speed that is less than 0.5 Mbps download, which is extremely low! For context, streaming videos can use at least six times that.
If your internet connection can handle YouTube or Netflix, your internet is fast enough for VoIP.
However, it’s recommended that you have the following equipment for proper VoIP installation:
- A high-quality cable, DSL, or fiber-optic modem
- An account with a VoIP software
- Reliable network router with Ethernet ports
It’s best to avoid wireless internet connections, as satellite is often slower and has higher rates of packet loss. That leads to disruptions in voice calls and data transfers.
Busy offices or call centers should opt for fiber optic connections. These often have an internet speed of 1 Gbps, which is usually 10 to 20 times faster than the typical 50 to 100 Mbps you might get with cable. Fiber optic connections are also more reliable, especially during peak traffic times when the internet tends to slow down.
If you’re an individual or small team, DSL and cable internet should be more than enough. Generally, VoIP phone calls require 5 to 25 Mbps of download speed. That said, you need to consider the number of devices your office uses simultaneously and add up the bandwidth for each.
You can test your internet speed and bandwidth through a VoIP speed test tool. Make sure you meet the requirements to ensure excellent call quality.
Most modern internet providers have plenty of bandwidth. But if you have a large office, such as a call center with many reps, you may want a faster connection. In that case, you can:
- Use faster internet services that offer fiber optic connection
- Choose the best VoIP provider
- Update your software and equipment, such as your modem, router, or softphone
You should ask your internet service provider (ISP) about upgrade options. Your internet speed must fit the required number of office devices. Many ISPs offer extra bandwidth support if needed. While you shouldn’t use Wi-Fi, you can add a Wi-Fi booster to designated areas of your office for additional support.
Also, the best VoIP services give you access to quality calls and integrate seamlessly with your systems.
2. Determine Number of Users
Because we’re installing a hosted VoIP, there is no hardware to buy and nothing to set up at the office. That’s unless you want desk phones, a PA system for retail, or conference phones.
For most businesses, you won’t need a PBX or a room full of phone equipment that has to be running 24/7.
Instead, users will sign into the VoIP solutions like any other software. Most solutions charge a flat fee per seat or minute.
We recommend per-seat subscriptions for most people since you can easily rack up higher costs when charged by the minute. Per-minute plans are only good for people who aren’t expecting to get calls. For example, if you aren’t on the phone often and mostly just accept voicemails.
Determining the number of users for your VoIP software will allow you to budget your expenses. You may want to ask yourself:
- How many people on your team are currently making calls or video conferencing?
- How many more team members do you foresee using it in the future?
Calculating the number of users for your VoIP system isn’t always a simple case of one person equals one user.
Some people might need multiple lines for their required scope of work, while others may work as a team, accessing a single common business number. If you share a number, ensure the VoIP software provider offers multi-user access.
The good news is you can always add or remove users along the way, so you can easily update your plan as needed.
3. Select a VoIP Provider
There are many reputable business VoIP services, making it difficult for business owners to choose the best provider.
A VoIP provider offers more than just a phone service to its users. These platforms can be used for instant messaging with colleagues, video communication, and more.
Here are some of the most important features to consider when choosing a VoIP provider:
- Automated attendant: This menu system uses voice prompts to help direct callers to the right department.
- Call forwarding: You can forward a call to another extension, so your customer’s calls will never go unanswered.
- Call analytics: You can collect data such as agent performance, call session metrics, behavioral trends, and more. That way, you can make data-driven decisions for better customer support or sales conversions.
- Softphone: A softphone application lets you make a call with any Wi-Fi-enabled device, so you can take your conversations on the go.
- Business text messaging: VoIP software allows you to send SMS messages directly from the platform.
- Video conferencing: Most providers offer video chatting, so you can collaborate with team members or customers in the most convenient way possible.
When researching a VoIP provider, ensure you’re clear on the features you’d like, customer support, quality of service, and security measures you’re looking for.
You can also expect a VoIP line to run anywhere between $20 to $30 per month per user.
For example, Nextiva’s essential plan is their most affordable solution. It comes with basic features such as unlimited voice and video calling, voicemail, toll-free numbers, Outlook and Google contacts integration, and online fax services.
The largest fees associated with a VoIP service are the installation and the price-per-seat charges. But there are some additional fees you may have to pay extra for:
- VoIP hardware: You might need to purchase additional hardware for higher-quality calls, such as an analog telephone adapter or headset.
- Toll-free minutes: Your plan may include toll-free minutes, but it may not be unlimited. For some VoIP services, if you go above the allocated amount, you’ll be charged.
- Upgrading plans: If you want premium features such as call recording, voicemail transcriptions, call monitoring and custom integrations, you would need to upgrade your plan.
That said, Nextiva is the best business VoIP provider on the market. It’s easy to use and set up and offers an extensive list of premium features to help grow your business.
If you do need hardware, a VoIP vendor is the perfect place to buy or lease from. That’s because different VoIP providers may have specific hardware requirements, so you’ll ensure the hardware is compatible with your chosen platform.
One of the biggest benefits of a VoIP tool is that it usually comes with built-in third-party integrations. Integration should be a major consideration, especially with CRM and workforce management software.
VoIP solutions that connect with your CRM software help you track the necessary data from your phone call. It’ll also help to provide a better customer experience since you can connect your agent to the caller’s profile and even automatically create a new support ticket with the information from that call. However, be careful about pre-built integrations – nothing is going to work perfectly off the shelf.
For example, Nextiva integrates with the most popular CRM, helpdesk, productivity, and ERP tools, giving you everything you need to connect your phone calls to your customer data and workflow.
4. Get a Business Phone Number or Port Your Old Number
When signing up for a business number, you have two options — get a new business number or port over an existing one.
All you need to do is choose an available toll-free number or a local number. Many business phone number services, like Google Voice, let you pick a toll-free number based on your city or area code so you can find the perfect business number that fits your geographic location.
For most businesses, there’s a good chance you want to retain your existing phone numbers, and understandably so.
Your valued customers are familiar with your current phone numbers, so getting a new number may confuse them.
Porting is where you move a phone number from your current phone provider to a new VoIP solution.
If you want to port your number to your new VoIP, all you have to do is:
- Let your old provider know that you’ll be switching.
- Send a Letter of Authorization and your business information to the new provider. The switch can’t be made official until the new provider receives the authorization letter.
- Find your port date so you know when you need to cut ties with your old provider.
That said, it can take up to 10 working days for the number to be transferred. To avoid service disruptions, wait until the port is complete before closing your current account.
Your new VoIP carrier will tell you your port date so you can cancel your old service at the right time.
5. Choose Your Hardware Options
Once you have your provider, you can choose the type of hardware you want. If you want your phone calls to sound crystal clear, you should invest in a high-end desk phone.
VoIP headsets are hands-free, so your agents can add notes to a CRM, look up customer information, or chat with their team.
But if you want to keep your existing desk phones, all you need is a VoIP adapter. It connects with your phone and network, digitizing the analog signals.
If you get a specialized VoIP phone from a provider, you often only need to plug an ethernet cable into your router.
Nextiva offers practically every type of hardware based on your office needs. Whether you want cordless options, a desk phone, or conferencing tools, you can easily find the hardware for your business.
Of course, you don’t need hardware either. You can use a VoIP provider with a built-in softphone app, so you can even make and track calls with your smartphone.
Hosted VoIP is the best option because it’s pre-provisioned to work with just about any hardware, so they are truly plug-and-play.
6. Test Your New System
61% of customers stop doing business with a company due to poor customer service. If your phone service is unreliable, you run the risk of losing customers.
That’s why you’ll want to test your new VoIP lines, ensuring your transition from your old phone system to your new provider is as smooth as possible.
When testing your phone lines, make sure to pay attention to the following:
- Connection stability: Do your calls temporarily drop?
- Audio quality: Are calls clear and easy to understand, or do you hear static?
- Latency: Are there delays between when you speak and when the receiver hears it?
There are plenty of ways to perform VoIP quality testing. As mentioned, make sure to use the free VoIP speed test tool to determine how many calls your network can support. It will check whether your network has enough bandwidth to support VoIP calling for your devices.
Another way is to run a ping test on your computer to determine where your internet traffic is experiencing issues. It’ll measure key metrics such as latency, jitter, and packet loss.
In addition, you should be running ongoing tests with call monitoring. You should listen back to the call and detect signs of jitter or latency to ensure your conversations don’t have any delays or other signs of poor call quality.
7. Train Your Staff to Use the VoIP Features
Adopting new technology in the office can take some time. If you want to get the most out of your VoIP service, it’s important to train your staff to make use of all of the features.
First, help your team get set up. This includes integrating the phones into your CRM, forwarding voicemails to email, and creating custom routing policies.
Then, begin to implement the VoIP features into your company procedures. For example, use the call recording and monitoring features to provide feedback on sales and customer service calls. Another way is to establish new KPIs around your VoIP’s call analytics. Track metrics like number of inbound or outbound calls, call times, and phone leads.
Most VoIP providers have a support team and knowledge base to help. You can take advantage of their FAQ pages, video tutorials, and user manuals to ensure you understand their features.
For example, Nextiva offers 24/7 email, chat, and phone support, so you’re never left in the dark. You’ll be able to receive one-on-one guidance whenever you feel stuck with an issue.
There you have it. You’ve now successfully installed and set up your new VoIP system. You’re ready to reap all the cost-saving benefits and boost in productivity that it provides.
Choosing a VoIP Solution
With the VoIP services market expected to hit $194.5 billion by 2024, traditional phone networks are fading into the past. More businesses are recognizing that VoIP solutions are the superior option for cost-savings, convenience, and functionality.
That said, not all systems can scale alongside your business or meet your company’s demands.
The best VoIP providers are hosted solutions, so you have all the features needed to grow your team. It should have an easy-to-use interface; you can bypass the VoIP setup woes and skip straight to interacting with your customers and colleagues.
If you’re ready to choose a VoIP provider, Nextiva, RingCentral, or Ooma are great solutions to choose from. You can see how they compare with other options by checking out our post on the best business VoIP phone services.