15 Point Checklist for Choosing a VOIP Service Provider

Writen by Tommy Goldman

One of the new telecommunication buzz words these days is VOIP, or Voice over IP. This new technology allow you to place telephone calls using your high speed internet connection anywhere around the world using software or hardware provided by various VOIP service providers.


With so may VoIP service providers to chose from, questions should be asked to determine the best value for your or your business. The following is a quick 15 point checklist to ask when looking to sign up with a Voice over IP service provider:

- Evaluate your hardware and determine if additional hardware is required. Certain VOIP service providers give the option of using VOIP adapters, which they provide or can be purchased in retail store, or the option of using VOIP software, also known as a soft-phone. In most cases a dependable router, high speed internet connection and a standard telephone is all that is required. It is a good idea to also perform a broadband speed connection test.

- Hardware provided: Does the company provide the VOIP adapter or do you have to purchase, rent or lease the equipment. If you do purchase the equipment, are you locked in with that particular service provider? Many companies also allow to bring your own hardware to use with the service.

- Unlimited or package plans. Unlimited plans usually provide you with no limit calling within a certain territory, like Canada and USA. These plans can be a bit pricier, but well worth the value. Package plans usually consist of a certain amount of minutes per month with additional charges after the package minutes have been used. Weight your options here and try to determine the amount of local and long distance calls you currently make.

- Number portability and changing your current phone number to a VOIP service. Questions to ask are how long does the process take and is it possible to transfer the telephone number that you currently have.

- Features. How many features are included? Common features are voicemail, caller ID, call blocking, 3 way conference calling, call return, call forwarding and more. Many companies will have these features included in their monthly service price.

- Virtual numbers. Many VOIP companies allow you to purchase additional virtual numbers for a minimal monthly fee. What cities are available and what are the charges?

- Voicemail. How can voicemail be access and how many voicemail accounts do you get. In most cases, you will get one voicemail account with the ability to access your messages through the phone, online account manager or through email.

- Does the company run their own network or are they a reseller? In most cases you can simply ask the service provider and they will tell you. In a reseller scenario, the pricing may be cheaper, but need to analyze what features and service is provided as well.

- Contracts. Some companies will want to lock you in for a yearly term or monthly term. Pay attention to the terms of the agreement and see if there are penalties for getting out of a contract. Some VOIP companies offer month to month contracts or pay as you go plans as well with no penalties for canceling service.

- Sign up incentives. A few VOIP service providers offer incentive to sign up: free phones, free first month of service, discount off service price. Evaluate this carefully, some companies offer great sign up savings.

- Promotional coupons. A few VOIP companies offer coupon or discount codes. When choosing a provider, perform a Google search for the company and the keyword ‘coupon code’. The savings can be anywhere from 2-10% off or $5-$15 off the service price.

- Long distance charges. Calls to Europe or Asia may vary from provider to provider, especially to mobile or cell phone users. Determine what international calls you usually make and research the international pricing for each VOIP provider

- Are you able to travel or move with your phone number? In most cases you will be able to use the service wherever high speed internet connection is available, check to see what the options are with the service provider.

- E911. How does the service provider access or set up 911 service and are there any additional charges for the usage.

- Technical support. Is technical support provided by email or by a 1-800 number? Some companies charge for technical support, while many operate support during normal business hours.

Because VOIP is becoming the alternative to traditional telephone service, your will see minor and major differences between the broadband phone service providers. At times the differences may seem minor, but over the long run, choosing to make calls with VOIP will save you a substantial amount of money, which in the end is a major difference! Best of luck.


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