VOIP and Telephone at a Virtual Company

The telephone is the life line of a virtual company. Since we rarely see each other face to face, we use the telephone and email as our primary methods of communication. We began using VOIP services from Vonage all the way back in 2004. In fact, I believe that I was one of Vonage’s first customers. Since that time, I have personally moved off of Vonage and use a service called BroadVoice. The primary reason is that Broadvoice has superior international calling than Vonage and it was also less expensive. Now days, VOIP is quite common and is offered usually by your internet provider. Virtually all PC Pitstop employees have some sort of VOIP for communications puroposes.

Given how long we have been customers of VOIP technology, we have unique view of the quality and benefits of the services.

The most important reason that we went with VOIP is due to price. Back in the old days, telephone carriers would charge by the minute for long distance calls. This became cost prohibitive¬†as we didn’t want to be skimping on our telephone conversations¬†because we knew the clock was ticking. Since then, almost all telephone plans have an unlimited option. In addition, VOIP comes with a slew of features such as call waiting, caller ID, and 3 way calling. All of these features are invaluable when running a business. Another very cool feature is that they record all of your incoming and out going calls into a password protected database. This has come in handy, when you are looking for a telephone number of someone, or you need a record of when a telephone call actually occurred. It has been a life saver more than once.

We at PC Pitstop are certainly heavy users of VOIP but this technology is far from perfect. Here are some of the common problems with VOIP.

1. Garbled audio. This happens in both directions. At times, it is difficult for others to understand what you are saying, and it is sometimes difficult to understand what the other person is saying. The main reason why this happens is because your internet connection has lost some of its capacity. It happens from time to time. It can also be because someone else is downloading something across the same router that is connected to your VOIP box. It also happens when you are uploading something. Often, I want to upload something to the other party and then discuss. Frequently, we will need to wait for the file to upload before we can resume our conversation.

They say that there are settings on your router to give priority to the VOIP box. I have tried several times, and this solution has never been too successful. In fact, it sometimes makes the problem worse.

This problem does not happen frequently. Let’s say once a month, but when it does happen, it can be frustrating.

2. Missed Calls. This happens to me about once a month or so. Just yesterday, I called one of our employees and left a message. The problem is that the phone never rang on the other end so they never had a chance to pick up. I get all my voicemails in my email (which is another handy feature), but sometimes the phone never rings and then I get a voicemail. This doesn’t happen a lot. Let’s say once every two months but it does happen.

3. One Way Calling. This one is the most frustrating, and when it happens it makes you want to go insane. Sometimes when I call someone, they can hear you but you can’t hear them. Or vice versa. Usually, we just hang up and call again. The problem is that the issue does not go away that quickly. Quite often, it will take 4-5 calls until you are having a conversation.

4. Dropped Calls. Sometimes you are just talking and then the entire call is lost. Often, in mid sentence, you suddenly hear a busy signal. This one is no big deal, because you just call back again and you are back in business although you have to remember where you left off.

Like I said before, we are still big fans of VOIP. In my case, it is particularly important since I live in Brazil and the calls would be international and more costly. I save literally save hundreds of not thousands of dollars a month. That said, VOIP is not without its flaws and certainly when compared to a plain old land line.

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