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Risks and Rewards of Over-the-top Business VoIP and UC Services

Posted November 9, 2015

Over-the-Top business hosted VoIP (Hosted PBX) and Unified Communications services have become commonplace. In this post, I’ll discuss the risks and rewards of Over-the-Top (OTT) compared to full-service (fully managed) Hosted PBX services. Each has its place in meeting the communications and collaboration needs of today’s workforce.

Over the Top: What it is

With over the top (OTT) business hosted VoIP service, you purchase a voice line with a package of features. You may also buy a long-distance plan and buy or lease telephones, depending on your needs. The VoIP phone system uses the access circuit from the provider you choose, and you supply the necessary networking equipment, such as a voice-aware router.

Decision Factors: Over-the-Top vs. Fully Managed

Some businesses prefer a more complete, fully managed Hosted Voice Solution in which the VoIP service provider supplies everything: VoIP service, access circuit, voice-capable router, and phones. Choosing between a fully managed Hosted Voice service and an Over-the-Top (OTT) Hosted Voice option comes down to two factors: (1) Reliability and (2) Management. Let’s consider each.

Reliability. Reliability and call quality are must-haves. You need your phone to simply work, so you can carry on a conversation unimpeded. You can get a quality experience with both options, but with OTT, it’s not always guaranteed, and the burden for managing quality and the components that support it falls to the customer rather than the provider. We discuss reliability and call quality in greater detail below.

Management. With OTT, responsibility for managing the router, fine-tuning how it works with the voice service, and balancing voice service with your other bandwidth needs, as well as troubleshooting issues, falls on you. All of this requires technical skills that you can either retain on staff or outsource to an IT vendor. You’ll also need someone who can manage vendor relationships. The more vendors you work with, the more time staff will spend on contracts and chasing down issue resolution. Also consider the fact that the more vendors you work with, the more invoices must be reconciled and paid. Consider whether your organization has the resources and skills to cover these management aspects of OTT.

Advantages and Rewards of OTT

  1. OTT gives you flexibility with regard to installation. You can do it yourself, quickly. This might be important to you if you need to set up a new office, for example, or hire and onboard seasonal workers. Self-installation is particularly well suited to small, uncomplicated implementations and for companies that have the skills either on staff or through their IT vendor.
  2. OTT also gives you greater choice in terms of vendor(s). You can shop around and choose who you work with for voice and for business Internet based on pricing, features, and customer service.

Potential downfalls and risks of OTT

  1. Your business VoIP service relies on data access, and you need to make sure that your bandwidth is adequate for your voice usage needs. If you purchase your access and voice services from different VoIP providers, you may need to perform a bandwidth needs assessment of your own to ensure that there is enough for the real-time needs of voice calls. On the other hand, if you buy access and voice from the same provider, the provider will typically perform a bandwidth needs assessment to ensure that you have enough bandwidth.
  2. Buying voice and access from separate VoIP service providers could cause you to lose out on package pricing and bundled services price negotiation advantage.
  3. Because the Voice provider has no control over third-party bandwidth, the responsibility for QoS lies with the customer. When there’s an issue, like latency or jitter, it can be harder to identify the cause. Often, QoS / quality of calls outside your network cannot be guaranteed.
  4. When you provide your own router, the Hosted VoIP service provider typically cannot monitor the router, diagnose or troubleshoot issues with service, or manage your router remotely. This could lead to longer delays in returning your service to normal should an issue arise. Plus, when you work with multiple vendors and you have service and support concerns, sometimes there is confusion over which vendor to call for help. It is also sometimes difficult to track down where the issue lies. In contrast, full-service solutions that bundle voice, access, and equipment from a single VoIP phone service provider typically enable the provider to monitor your router and your voice service and rapidly pinpoint and resolve any issues.
  5. Managing multiple contracts and paying multiple invoices can be a hassle and consume time better spent elsewhere.
  6. Service level agreements typically are not supported for OTT simply because the provider can’t ensure the quality of service unless they also control the behavior of your voice calls as they travel over the WAN outside your network. Check with your provider as to whether they offer service guarantees for quality and reliability in an OTT setup. Many VoIP service providers, like MegaPath, can ensure QoS of calls within your LAN when you use a router supplied by the provider. And MegaPath’s voice network is among the most reliable in the industry, regularly attaining 99.999 percent uptime.

From cost savings to increased mobility, MegaPath Hosted PBX helps businesses immediately and for the long-term. Hosted Voice can lower voice communications costs, improve team collaboration, and scale as you grow. MegaPath Unified Communications offers a more diverse set of standard features than alternative UC solutions.

Our 24/7/365 customer care, self-service management portal, and simple small business phone system installation make MegaPath a compelling choice for your communications. Discover how MegaPath Hosted Voice and UC can help your business. Contact us today at 877-611-6342 or sales@megapath.com.

 

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