The VoIP Solution: Cheaper Phone Calls for Small Business It may be time for your small business to can- tion. Some VoIP providers still don’t offer 911 cel its old-fashioned landline. Voice over In- emergency calls. You should ask your pro- ternet Protocol (VoIP) offers online phone vider about call security and privacy. Sound services, often for a fraction of the cost of quality can also be an issue, although strides landlines or cellular phones. have been made in that area. How the VoIP Solution Works VoIP Providers and Costs VoIP allows you to make and receive phone Price wars are bringing down the cost of VoIP calls via an online connection. Your phone solutions services, and there are many cor- will be fitted with a router or adapter that is porate and small ventures that offer services. connected to the Internet, and the calls are Most offer small-business VoIP packages. routed through broadband or DSL lines in- Ask about month-to-month contracts so that stead of traditional phone lines. you can try out the service. You will have a phone number, and some Vonage offers a basic plan that gives small providers let you keep your current one. businesses 1,500 minutes a month, plus a fax line, for $39.99. Vonage also offers a small- 92,3 %HQH WV IRU 6PDOO %XVLQHVV business VoIP unlimited plan for $49.99 a month, including a fax line and free calls to VoIP providers are targeting small business- some European countries. es with VoIp solutions of bundles of services and lower rates than landlines and mobiles. Voilà IP offers small businesses several VoIP is expected to be used by almost half of packages that include desktop fax, three-way all small U.S. organizations by 2010, accord- calling, call forwarding and other services. ing to Infonetics Research, a market-research Its most popular small-business VoIP service, and consulting firm. the ExpressIP, costs $29.95 per month. Some VoIP solutions providers offer three- Aptela is offering a promotion at $24.50 way calling, voice mail, call routing and mul- per month, and a free demo. Unlimited long tiple phone lines especially for small busi- distance (U.S. and Canada) VoIP services are nesses. Most have flat-rate fees for unlimited, priced at $39 per month. anytime calls to the U.S. and Canada that are Verizon offers its VoiceWing service for a less expensive than those offered by phone competitive price of $24.95 per month, but and mobile companies. this plan may work best for the self-employed. Verizon warns that using more than 5,000 VOIP Drawbacks minutes per month is considered “beyond normal use” and may be investigated, which Internet traffic can interfere with your VoIP probably won’t work for small businesses that phone calls. This largely depends on the have heavy call volume or employees. speed and quality of your Internet connec- AT&T offers its CallVantage for $50 per month for one line or $65 per month for two lines. Skype is an Internet telephony service. You connect a headset to your computer to place and receive calls. (Think instant messaging, but you can talk.) Or you can get a $50 device that lets you use any phone, including your cell phone. Skype-to-Skype calls are free. A phone number with voice mail and unlimited calls in the U.S. and Canada costs about $110 per year, combining the SkypeIn and Skype- Out services.