How Is a VoIP Phone System Set Up?
Before we jump into the details, we need to establish what sets Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone apart from an analog phone.
An analog telephone connects directly with the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) through dedicated landlines. Phone calls are facilitated by the local telephone company, effectively require a direct connection to a phone jack.
IP phones connect to the telephone network via a VoIP provider through the internet. It turns the audio into data packets and transmits them using the Internet Protocol (IP). The provider’s data center then transforms the signals into analog and transfers them through to the PSTN.
Since SIP phones don’t need dedicated landlines, it’s easier to scale an office with VoIP. With a traditional phone system, to share phone service with multiple employees, an on-premises Private Branch Exchange (PBX) is required.
Now that you know what VoIP is, let's discuss how you can begin setting up your VoIP phone system.
1) Test Your Network and Internet Connection
You might be concerned about how much bandwidth VoIP uses, but a rule of thumb is about 100 kbps upload and download per line.
Most internet service providers now offer gigabit speeds with their business plans. So your current connection is more than likely fast enough for a VoIP phone system. One caveat is that some home connections have much slower upload speeds, such as some DSL connections.
In addition to speed, the issues that impact VoIP call quality are often related to the instability of a connection. Jitter and packet loss are two metrics to examine. A wired internet connection, like fiber or cable, is preferred. Microwave and other options are too unstable.
And your network hardware can also become a bottleneck. If the router or network can’t handle peak traffic, you could experience choppy audio or other issues like dropped calls. Wifi works fine in most cases, but a wired connection is always better.
Take a VoIP speed test to stress test your network and identify potential issues. The results will give you a good idea of whether or not your connection can handle a VoIP installation.
You might also explore configuring Quality of Service (QoS) to prioritize VoIP packets and data. That way, voice traffic is placed above traffic like YouTube or Netflix, ensuring less latency and packet loss.
2) Invest In The Right VoIP Hardware
Since VoIP has become standard for businesses over the last few years, there are a lot of cutting-edge options.
If you want your phone calls to sound great, you should invest in a high-end VoIP desk phone like the Polycom, Yealink or Grandstream products.
VoIP headsets are great to complement your business phone so you can walk around while on calls. Agents will have their hands available to look up customer information, chat with their team, or add notes to a CRM.
Want To Keep Your Old Desk Phones? Use a VoIP Adapter
If you want to use your existing office phone equipment, you can still use it with VoIP. With an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA), you can make the switch to VoIP and keep all of your analog phones. The VoIP adapter functions between the phones and your network, digitizing the analog signals.
Since you don’t change any equipment, all staff members already know how to work the phones. You won’t need to train your staff.
Minimize Hardware Costs with Softphones
Another way to lower your costs is to consider using the Jabbertel phone app instead of a desk phone. These apps are also known as softphones. You can download the softphone to your computer or smartphone.
Because VoIP uses the internet, you don’t need dedicated hardware. That way, you can skip some of the steps of an office phone installation.
A softphone is a piece of software or a mobile app that lets you receive and make phone calls. It works like a regular phone to handle phone calls. With a VoIP service, you can dial numbers on any telephone or mobile network.
With the Jabbertel App for desktop, all you need to handle calls efficiently is a quality USB or Bluetooth headset. If you're on your laptop, you already have a microphone and speakers ready for instant phone calls. The Jabbertel App is also available for any Android or iOS device so your team can handle business calls on their cell phones.
3) Think about your features
- Advanced Call Routing:
- Route incoming calls to available agents in your business
- Auto Attendant:
- Welcome inbound calls with a recorded message and options to help guide them to the right department.
- Call Analytics:
- Access detailed reports that show individual agent and call center performance.
- Voicemail to Email: Improve the efficiency of responding to voicemail by receiving them via Email.
4) How To Get a Business Phone Number
Different Types of Phone Numbers:
- Local Phone Numbers: A local area phone number is perfect for small businesses and companies that have a limited market area.
- Toll-Free Phone Numbers: A toll-free number is an 800 number untied to location, and can seem more professional and trustworthy to your customers. Your customers won’t have to pay when calling your support lines. A toll-free number typically costs around $10-$12/month plus overage.
- Vanity Numbers: Vanity numbers are typically memorable toll-free numbers that spell out specific words, for example, 1-800-FLOWERS. These numbers usually cost somewhere between $10-50/month or one time charges anywhere from $99- $3000. To secure a recognizable number, you may also need to buy the number from a third-party vendor. For example Number Barn.
Keep Your Existing Business Number with Porting
Number porting is how you transfer phone numbers from your existing service provider to your new one. We handle the number porting for free for all Jabbertel customers.
To transfer any number to Jabbertel, follow the three simple steps below.
- Pick your business phone plan.
- Request temporary numbers. Let us know that you need temporary numbers, and we will have them ready on day one. You can set up call forwarding with your old provider, and begin using Jabbertel right away.
- Complete a Letter Of Agency (LOA). Provide all the necessary details including a bill within the last 30 days so our staff can handle the porting process with your old provider.
After you complete this process, our team handles the porting in 10-20 business days. We'll keep you aware of its status so switching to VoIP is easy and seamless.
5) Set Up Your VoIP Phones
Once you have your hardware and your account has been set up, it’s time to complete the setup in your office. The specific steps depend on hardware and the number of employees you have.
We only sell phones and handsets that are ready to plug-and-play. So below, we outline the simple process of getting your service up and running with us. If you use other providers or purchase phones from a third-party, the process may require additional steps.
How to Set Up VoIP Desk Phones and Handsets
The necessary steps depend on the model that you’ve bought and your network setup. With a standard network switch in place, the setup process is simple. If you have Power over Ethernet (PoE), the electrical signal is carried in one wire — saving you from needing an AC adapter.
VoIP desk phones or handsets without PoE:
- Plug the AC adapter into the outlet, then plug it into the phone or handset base.
- Connect the IP phone to the switch or router using a CAT5e or CAT6 cable.
- Wait for the phone to initialize, then check for dial tone.
If you have a router that supports Power over Ethernet (PoE), the process is slightly different but is even quicker.
VoIP desk phones to PoE-enabled routers:
- Connect the phones with the PoE-enabled switch or router with Ethernet cables. Stay within the recommended max length for twisted pair cables of 328 feet.
- Once connected, the phone should turn on. It should automatically establish a connection to your VoIP provider.
How to Set Up VoIP Headsets
Not all headsets offer the one-touch answer feature. To use it, you need a modern headset with one-touch enabled and connect it with Electronic Hook Switch (EHS) cables.
Wireless VoIP headsets and phones with EHS cable support:
- Plug the AC adapter into the closest outlet, and the base unit of the headset.
- Attach the EHS cable into the headset’s base unit.
- Plug the other end into the desk phone into the headset network port, and EHS port. For more detailed instructions, follow the EHS instruction manual.
- Put on the headset, and press the call control button to check the connection.
For wired headsets that use a regular phone jack, the process is even more straightforward.
Headsets and desk phones with headphone jacks/ports:
- Plug the headphone cable jack into the marked headset port with a direct connect cable. Many models mark the headset port with a small icon on the left.
- Put on the headset, and press the call control button to check for dial tone.
- Make a test call to confirm the volume and call quality. If the headset volume is low, you may need an amplifier.
6) Test Your New VoIP Lines
If you did everything right, and you have a fast connection, you won’t have any issues. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Things you should pay attention to when making the calls:
- Audio Quality: Are calls clear and consistent? Is there any static or other sign of low-quality audio?
- Latency: Are there significant delays between when you say something and the receiver hears it?
- Connection Stability: Did any of the calls temporarily drop? Some firewall settings can cause calls to drop entirely after 11 minutes, so it’s worth testing for at least 15-30 minutes.
You should also try to test your lines when there is a lot of other network activity. Network congestion can lead to a variety of line issues, from dropped calls to choppy audio and more.
Tip: A wired, direct connection is always preferable to using WiFi. For minimal latency and other VoIP issues, go for Ethernet rather than Wifi connection.
7) Train Your Staff to Get The Most Out of VoIP Features
Everything you need to know is right here in our Jabbertel Help Portal.