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How do I find a VoIP Provider Reliable Enough for Business Use?

Our top tips for making sure you don’t go with a weird third or fourth tier SIP provider are as follows.

1) Consider going with a SIP service from your carrier. It is usually more expensive but if you are nervous, I would recommend it. Many carriers are bringing in SIP to your premise anyway and then converting their SIP into a PRI for your old phone system’s PRI card – moving to SIP at least takes this conversion equipment out of the picture.

Your carrier having control of the connection helps all the voice packets arrive in order and on time, as demonstrated in the animation below.

2) Read the Terms and Conditions. You want to really focus on what amount of uptime they promise, how strong the remedies are for downtime, and what their Service Level Agreement (SLA) looks like with other factors. A lot of the time if you are bringing your own bandwidth these items may not apply, or be watered down. But if your carrier has no teeth at all when they are completely down, or gives you a few pennies for putting you out of business for a day, then it might be time to consider a different carrier. Is it easy to cancel if the service is terrible? An informal rule I follow is that if the T’s and C’s are immensely long, it might be time to look at other carriers unless you are a patient person with a lot of legal training.

3) Try before you buy. See if you can get SIP test trunks for a week to play with. Reputable SIP carriers can provide test trunks without too much trouble, or can provide a month-to-month contract.

4) It is OK to be a snob. What I mean by this is that if the marketing materials look like they were made in MS Paint, and the images are awful and low resolution, and you always seem to get the exact same person on the line every time you call the 800 number, then you have a pretty good idea already as to the size and sophistication of the operation. I think we should all remember our roots and support local entrepreneurs, but at the same time, I prefer my doctor to have a little gray hair and my phone company to show signs of having some staying power and 24×7 support. Let other people be the guinea pig when it comes to mission-critical services for your business, because there are reputable, reliable SIP carriers out there that truth be told are far more pleasant to work with than the incumbent phone and cable companies.

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