Selecting the right IP Phone should not be a hassle. After all, IP Phones are not the most important part of a VoIP deployment. If you couple this with the fact that you have better things to do with your time (like running your business or department), no wonder you might be a little frustrated. The following guide is designed to assist you in finding the right IP Phone based on the needs of your business. Its advice is based on over six years of experience and the tens of thousands of IP Phones I have sold to companies of all shapes and sizes.
Selecting an IP Phone should not be that hard
But sometimes it is. IP Phones are flooding into the VoIP marketplace. At last count, there were over 250 different IP Phones to choose from. If it seems to you that IP Phone vendors do nothing more than confuse you with features, functions and technical jargon, you are not alone. Fortunately for you, selecting the right IP Phone does not have to be that hard. No matter if you are a small medium business or a large enterprise, there is a basic set of questions you need to answer before selecting an IP Phone.
Things to consider before selecting an IP Phone
- What phone system or VoIP service provider are you currently using? What good is an IP Phone if it is not compatible with the phone system or service provider that you are using? With the advent of open source phone systems, SIP and BYOD service provider’s, it is easy to think that every IP Phone works with every phone system or service. Unfortunately, this is not the case so before looking into an IP Phone, check with your phone system or service provider for a list of compatible IP Phones.
- Who will be using these IP Phones? Depending on the job function (or position) of the person using the phone there will be a different set of needs and each person will be looking for something different in a phone. An executive for example, will want the latest and greatest phone with all of the bells and whistles, while a receptionist will only be concerned with the number of total calls they can handle at one time.
- What features and functionality does that person/position need? Most people want the standard features in a phone such as Call Waiting, Call Transfer, Call Parking, Conference, etc. What you need to look for are needs such as a speakerphone, a large display and sidecar capability for extra extensions. For instance if an employee is going to make heavy use of the speakerphone functionality, you may want to sell a Polycom IP phone rather than a Grandstream IP phone.
- How many incoming calls will the person/position receive at a time? This is an important question because it will determine how many line appearances the recommended phone should have. While the average office worker will probably be okay with 3 to 5 line appearances, operators, administrators and receptionists will typically need more than 10 line appearances.
- How often will the phone be used? If a person is on the phone all day long, everyday, they probably deserve a higher quality phone. Even if they do not deserve to be using a higher quality phone, a high quality phone will last longer under frequent use than a lower quality phone. In many respects, you get what you pay for, so make sure you buy a better phone for those that need it.
- Do you need an IP phone with routing capabilities? Believe it or not, there is many an office where there is only one Ethernet run to each desktop. If this is the case, both the desktop computer and the IP Phone will need to share a single Ethernet connection. In this situation y will need will need an IP phone with dual RJ45 Ethernet ports. If your office already has a VLAN (separate voice network), then you should will an Ethernet drop run to the desktop just for the IP phone and will be okay with an IP phone with a single RJ45 Ethernet port.
- Will you be utilizing a Power over Ethernet with this deployment? If you are currently (or plan on) using Power over Ethernet, you will need a phone that supports Power over Ethernet . If you are not using Power over Ethernet and simply using AC power, make sure you will have enough outlets for one more device at each work station.
- What protocol and codec does your service provider/IP PBX support? Most of the IP Phones on the market support SIP and all of the major voice codec’s such as G.711, G.729, etc. Often times, however, your provider or phone system might only support a H.323, MGCP or SCCP compatible phone or a phone that supports the GSM codec. Don’t get stuck with an IP Phone that is not compatible.
When selecting an IP phone you will may encounter more questions, problems and issues than the considerations named above. However, if you answer the eight questions listed above prior to selecting your IP phones, you will find that you will be better prepared to make an informed decision. They result of which should be a user who is satisfied with the IP Phone they use each day.
If you have more questions about IP Phone solutions for your business, please contact us, or check out the IP Phone offers to the right.