Can I fax using a virtual phone system?
Yes, many virtual phone systems offer fax and other advanced features. Most providers offer both inbound and outbound internet faxing - which means you do not need a physical fax machine anymore. Some providers however only offer inbound internet fax, so be sure to check with your provider if outbound internet faxing is important to you.
Can I get a toll-free number?
Yes. However true toll free numbers of the 800 type are extremely hard to find now. All of the providers we review offer toll free numbers that start with 888, 877, etc., and function the same as the 800 we are used to seeing.
Can I set up an automated answering system?
Yes. Many virtual phone systems include an automated answering system with a menu to make your business look as professional as possible. You can usually record your own greeting as well.
Do I have to pay a setup fee?
It depends on your provider, but the answer is usually no. This is especially nice because you won’t have to pay setup fees after moves – just take your equipment to your new location, plug it in, and you’re all set.
Do I need to change my phone number?
No. You can change your phone number if you want to, but it is not obligatory. Most providers will transfer your local and toll free numbers into their system without a fee, while others will charge a nominal one time fee of anywhere from $10 to $30. Be careful when transferring in an established phone number, because some providers - Halloo for example - will not transfer out/port out a phone number once they have it. They specifically state that they own the phone number. Most providers we review will gladly port out/transfer out a number, however. But it is an issue to be cautious about and double check with your provider of choice.
How can a virtual phone system help me with my business?
Virtual phone systems can lend your businesses professionalism without breaking the bank. Because many virtual PBX systems come with features such as automated menus and call forwarding, they present a highly respectable front for your business. Despite the perks, virtual phone systems are extremely affordable. Furthermore, virtual phone systems are easy to expand and relocate to accommodate your changing business.
How is a virtual phone system different from a normal phone system?
PBXs are standard practice at almost any business – they connect the business’s phones, fax, and modems to outside lines. A virtual PBX simply substitutes the traditional land phone line for an internet-based one, and they host all of their services in the cloud rather than having the equipment located at the customers site. This allows a virtual PBX to offer better services and pricing than standard providers.
How much do virtual phone systems cost?
There are several costs involved in virtual phone systems, including equipment purchases and monthly fees. You also have to maintain a high-speed internet connection. Even taking all of this into consideration, however, you will be saving 40-80% over what you would be paying with a standard phone provider. Equipment: You can often use phones and network equipment you already own – some providers can even forward calls to mobile devices. However, for optimal connections in an office setting, upgrading to phones specially designed for internet calling may be a good idea. You can discuss this with your provider beforehand. These phones are usually in the $60-$200 range apiece; needless to say, they are a one-time investment. Internet: For crystal-clear calling, you will need a high-speed internet connection of about 80-100 kbps. If you don’t have an internet connection that fast already, you will want to purchase one to optimize your everyday business activities as well as for your new virtual phone system. You can easily get a business-grade internet connection through any major provider for as little as $70 a month. You may also want to buy a router or network switch specially designed for small businesses; these start at about $100. Monthly Fees: Costs are often on a per-line basis. The more lines you have, the fewer each one costs, although single lines hardly break the bank. If you have just a few, they may cost $10-$20 each per month; if you have many, they may only cost you $6 to $8 a month. For all-in-one services that offer fax and other features, expect to pay around $25-$50 a month per line (less if you have more than a handful of lines).
What is a Virtual Phone System – Virtual PBX?
A Virtual PBX (virtual public branch exchange) is an office phone system with business-class phone features originally only available to very large companies. Virtual PBX services are provided in a hosted service; standard features include auto-attendant, call forwarding, call screening, call recording, advanced call routing, internet fax, voicemail, and conferencing. These systems prevent companies from having to purchase and maintain costly phone equipment.
What kind of equipment do I need?
You will need compatible phones and high-speed internet connection equipment. Sometimes you can use things you already own, but you may want to talk to your provider to find out whether your current equipment will work well with their virtual phone system.