Many businesses across Australia have already moved to a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system and plan or will need to soon. Since the rollout of the nbn™ started, Australia’s old copper line phone network is slowly being shut down, typically within 18 months of the nbn™ becoming available in an area. What this means for businesses of all sizes is that soon the only way for your business to continue making and receiving phone calls will be through a business VoIP phone system or using mobile phones.
Switching from an analogue business phone system to a VoIP phone system isn’t an overly complex undertaking, but it does require some thought and planning. This starts with understanding the types of VoIP phone systems available for small businesses and choosing the right one–and also involves considering the right phone plans. And although cost is an influential factor, there are other things you need to look for in a small business phone plan for VoIP systems.
VoIP uses an internet connection for making and receiving calls. Similar to how you can make and receive audio and video calls using Skype, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and even FaceTime, but with the ability to use a regular phone handset. IP-enabled handsets–and regular analogue handsets connected to an Analogue Telephone Adapter (ATA)–convert voice signals to digital data that are then transmitted over the internet.
A small business can either use an NBN business line, a hosted PBX system, or SIP. But for each of these to work, you also need an appropriate phone plan. Good VoIP providers offer both business-grade VoIP phone systems and plans, but there is more to look at than the simple convenience of a single provider for your entire business phone solution.
Overall Cost & Pricing of Small Business Plans
Look at VoIP providers that allow you to scale as your business grows. And going with a provider that doesn't Lock you in with long-term contracts will give you the freedom to adapt your plans and phone system more easily.
Always read through the Critical Information Summary for any plans you are considering. This will give a detailed breakdown of the minimum cost for each plan, the cost of calls to standard local, national, and mobile numbers, along with basic terms linked to bundled discounts and termination fees. Many VoIP phone plans include unlimited calls to certain numbers but checking what these are and what conditions are attached can help you avoid unexpected charges. If your business regularly makes calls to international numbers, look at what the rates are for each destination you frequently call, and whether there are any extra connection fees involved.
Ease of Setup & Use
Whether you use your own handsets or new handsets offered by your phone plan provider, setting them up and using them should be relatively straight forward. In most instances you simply need to be able to connect each handset to power and the internet, and if you do need additional cabling installed, your provider might be able to refer you to a professional for this. Softphone features, where you make and receive calls using a desktop computer or laptop, are also easy to set up and use once you’ve installed the necessary software.
However, with a hosted PBX system, the advanced features a PBX system provides are set up and managed using an online portal supplied by our phone plan provider. Ask for the manuals of any systems and plans you are considering to better judge how easy they each are to setup, configure, and manage. Pay particular attention to features such as auto receptionist, Fax2Email, and call forwarding, but not neglecting conference calls.
Included & Add-On Features of the Plan
Pay close attention to what features are included with plans by default, and which are optional add-ons. Features such as:
- Simultaneous Ring
- Line Hunt Groups
- Voicemail to Email
- Auto Receptionist
- Call Waiting, Transfer & Hold
- Call Forwarding
- Mobile Apps
- Call Queue Management
are all popular features of business phone plans, but not always included as standard. It is important that your phone plan includes the features that are critical to your business right now, while still making it possible to access more advanced features as your business grows. Pre-packaged phone plan tiers can seem convenient, but again you want to make sure any tier aimed at a business of your size offers access to essential features.
The type of support your business has access to with your phone plan is a crucial factor. Which is why it makes sense to go with providers that specialise in business phone solutions and plans. Not only will the plans be tailored specifically for business needs, but the network and hardware will be designed for business use, with available support options to match. Consider the self-help tools and troubleshooting materials you would have access to, along with the ease with which you are able to escalate more serious issues. This includes the operating hours of any technical support call centre.
Looking for a new phone plan for your small business? Use our online tool to build your own plan, selecting only the services and hardware you need, and get an instant quote. You can also call one of our VoIP experts–or visit one of the many walk-in Commander Centres located across Australia–to find the perfect phone plan for your business.