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Why My Business Chose VOIP

Why My Business Chose VOIP by: Michael Anthony James
My world got smaller, my business grew five times over, and I got talking.
I'm a web designer and I work wacky hours, push buttons on a computer, talk to a lot of people, send out email, drink coffee, like the Discovery Channel and enjoy running my own business. My business consists of working with people, helping businesses out, generating ideas, communicating with others, creating reports, talking to people. Sometime I talk about business, sometimes about the internet and sometimes I talk about nothing. If you catch me in an espresso moment, you'll probably want to stop talking to me after a while.
My business has clients that are everywhere in the world. My clients need me at all hours at times, hence the cappuccino moments. My clients want things done yesterday. My clients like good work, good communication, and good results. My clients can be demanding, abrasive or reactive. I put out fires to keep my clients happy, its part of my business. Sometimes my clients can't wait for me to call and sometimes I can't wait to not talk to them at all. My business relies on me being in touch with my clients. These days, who do you know that does not need to be in touch with someone out there?
At the end of the day, I need to keep in touch with my business customers, because if I don't, I won't see any steak or cake next month.
I have a cell phone, a computer, a scanner, a printer, a telephone, a pda, a new iPod, a digital camera, some speakers, headphones, a wireless mouse and various other gadgets to keep my life simple and keep my business running smoothly. Little did I know that there is this something new out there called VOIP. Voice over Internet Protocol. Sounds high tech huh?
With all the phones, cell phones, internet phones, pagers and everything that is out there to communicate with, why would I now need VOIP?
Do I really need another device on top of another device? Do I really need to figure out how to use another gadget? Do I need to download more software to my computer? What all do I have to buy now? I pride myself in being up to date and with the times and on top of all that is new out there, but this thing surprised me, because it's been out there already for a while. The more I looked in to it, the more I found there to be people subscribing to this technology of getting free, or shall we call it, unlimited long distance. I'll explain more about the technical parts of the technology a bit later.
Here's my most recent scenario of why I chose to even consider VOIP.
I recently moved to community where for some reason I am out of the local calling area for the district that I live in. That's not exciting when all my clients live in the city and now it costs me money to make a simple phone call. Long distance during the day is not cheap yet. So I decided to look at my options.
Do I use my cell phone and make long distance calls? If I did that, I run the risk of using up my valuable daytime minutes. It turns out, long distance on some cell phone plans are almost double the rate the normal landline rates. I can just see my bills now running close to a thousand a month.
Second option was email to stay in touch with everyone. Email is great, but when you need that answer right away or a simple yes or no, somehow it just did not work out for me. I'd heard the common feedback, "Sorry, I was away from the computer", "My computer has a virus", "What email?” Don't get me wrong, I rely on email daily, but for some matters it just was not there for that instant touch.
I called the phone company and they gave me a few options. Would add a bit extra on to the phone bill, but I was limited to time and to when I would be able to make call. Sure I can make call during the day, but guess what, climb that money tree and shake some more coins out of it.
I tried downloading some of these free long distance internet software applications. Worked fine, but to have free calls, others would wither have to have the same software and they would need to be in front of their computers. Remember, their computer is still in the shop and they are away from it most of the time. Don't get me wrong, for some people, these systems work great and productivity is greatly increased. My issue was I could not get everyone I wanted on board to download the software without me having to troubleshoot and guide through the usage.
Then I talked to a friend and she told me about the service she was using for all her long distance needs. Somehow I do recall her calling me from Toronto and us talking forever about nothing. Then the following week she called me from New York and we talked again. I began to wonder what her phone bill was like every month. So I asked her.
It turns out she was and still is paying a flat rate per month and gets unlimited long distance calling anywhere in North America.
What? Run that by me again? Unlimited, there's no such thing as unlimited. There has to be limits. Even on some of these advertised cell phone plans where they tell you that it is unlimited, if you read the fine print, somewhere in there it says you are limited to ten thousand something or another.
I asked her for more information. She basically told me that she signed up with this company, they sent her an adapter, she plugs any home phone in to it, plugs the adapter in to the internet and starts calling. That's it. Any software downloads? Anybody else to call to set it up? Turns out, she simply went online, chose the package the wanted, the unlimited one of course, selected her phone number and within days had her phone adapter arrive in the mail. After that, wherever she traveled to, she would take the adapter with her, plug it in to the internet and start making calls. Best of all, people would call her on her local number and no matter where she was in North America, she would be able to take the call. If the was away from her phone, voicemail would kick in. If she decided she wanted to go mobile, she would call forward the calls to her mobile.
I called her a couple of times on her local number and instead of asking where she was in the city; I'd have to ask where she was in the country right now. Quality of the call was the same all the time. Unlimited means unlimited. Does not limit you to the city you are in, does not limit you to how many minutes you want to talk. Does not limit you from what device you want to talk from. That's this new thing called VOIP.
When she told me the price she was paying per month, I was immediately on the computer looking up the website and signing up. Obviously I ended up taking the unlimited plan for only a month. This I had to try out.
So I go on with my day. I go on with my next day. Pushing buttons, sending emails, making calls when all of a sudden the mail dude finds my doorbell.
The package arrives.
The unlimited phone deal thing arrives. My answer arrives. The box arrives. The box with the thing inside arrives. You get the point.
Now what?
Eagerly I open the box only to find a small silver device within it. It's called the Sipura! Exciting.
I see it has some places where I can connect things to, so being the type of person that does not read manuals, I start plugging things in. One connection is obviously to my high speed internet connection. Another connection looks like a phone connection. Last one would be the power to give it juice. Done.
Now what?
I look around the box looking for software, but see none. Something is wrong. Now I dig out the manual and look to see what I do next. Apparently nothing, start making calls. Ok, this is way too simple. I pick up my phone receiver and hear a dial tone. Now, I could get in to what that meant to me and how it made me feel, but we won't go in to that right now. I call my friend only to find I have a connection and I can communicate. It's that simple. I call another friend who is 3 hours in a different time zone, works just perfect. I more people and my working day is now corrupted calling friends and family with whom I haven't talked to in ages. Another new wonder in my life.
What I did find out after the fact was that I also had all these cool features included in the price of my plan. Voicemail, caller ID, call forwarding, 3 way calling and more. Yikes, I would be paying how much extra with the phone or cellular companies just to have them. When you do you research, you find that most, if not all, VOIP service providers have these features included in their plans. Another benefit and star for VOIP.
Something I did like right away was that the adapter is about the size of my wallet. I can easily stow it away in my laptop bag and take it with me wherever I go out of town and still make call without paying long distance - day or night.
On to the technical part ... we'll keep this brief.
VOIP is short for Voice over Internet Protocol. Some companies will call this technology broadband phone service, digital phone service, voice over IP, internet phone service and other variations on this name. Basically what it means is that is allows you to send and receive audio, such as your voice, back and forth over the Internet. IP is the acronym for Internet Protocol and is the standard for sending and receiving information over the Net. The adapter that you receive from you VOIP company in most cases is called the ATA adapter (Analog Telephone Adapter) and this will convert your analog audio signal (which is your great voice) and to a digital signal so that it can be transmitted via the internet. By doing this, you are bypassing the local telephone company and making and receiving call over the internet. Hence the name Voice over IP. For most providers, it's as simple as taking the ATA adapter out of the box, plugging your phone in to the device and start making phone calls. There are also IP phones which are dedicated VOIP telephones. Instead of having the standard RJ-11 connections, they have a RJ-45 Ethernet connection. Once again, take the phone, plug it in and off you go.
Where to get this voip unlimited long distance service?
There are a number of voip providers out there from offering various services, deals and promotions. Explore your options, determine your needs, and ask questions. One resourceful site to consider is for current deals on Voice over IP services.
At the end of the day, I ended up getting a few of my friends and clients signed up with VOIP. They're happy, especially when some of them opted for the service provider that offered 2 months free unlimited plans.
It is getting late here and I should be off to bed. Then again, someone out in New York is just getting up and really deserves an early morning call from me to let them know I'm thinking of them.

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