By Mikal E. Belicove|For Entrepreneur.com|April 14, 2010
As small businesses continue to play a significant role in the changing economy, technologies addressing their unique requirements follow suit. One of the most compelling concepts at play in enterprise technology with profound implications for small businesses is hosted Voice over Internet Protocol, which enables smaller businesses to conduct national and even global communications with increased functionality and reduced cost.
With the promise of minimum hardware investment, lower phone bills and converged voice and data services, hosted VoIP holds the potential to set an efficiency standard for a powerful segment of the global economy. This is probably why analysts have pegged the VoIP industry to reach 79 percent of all U.S. businesses within the next three years.
But the promise of hosted VoIP–as with any promise–is only as good as its fulfillment. And some businesses have been turned off by what they’ve experienced as the true costs of VoIP.
The hard costs of purchasing new, VoIP-enabled phones are the most obvious financial hurdles, but the oft-overlooked soft costs can be even more expensive to a company’s reputation, growth and survival. Ironically, most of these are related to VoIP’s very backbone–the internet. Poor quality voice systems and dropped calls due to limited bandwidth or power–all of which can cause immediate damage to business relationships–are among potential soft costs companies must be aware of and protect against.
The good news? Companies have the power to sidestep each and every one of these VoIP drawbacks. A strong broadband connection, high-quality hardware and a reputable service provider are essential assets that empower small businesses to…
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