Making the Switch

Evaluate Your Needs

Make the right decision on your hosted Digital Phone Service the first time. Every business has its own particular needs. A small call center or sales organization will require different services than a medical practice or real estate office. Before you begin contacting vendors, here are five things to consider:

  1. What are your calling habits? How many hours does your business spend on the phone over a given time period? How many calls are long-distance or international? What is your call volume like during peak hours? It's important to know the capabilities and bandwidth you will require. Not sure what your needs are? Grab a copy of your last phone bill and share it with the service provider.
  2. Which services/capabilities are most important to you? Buying services ala carte can result in additional costs so it's important to determine what you truly need. Document your team's work functions. Do you want an auto-attendant? Or a call queue to handle incoming calls? Does your team conduct conference calls or send and receive faxes?
  3. Is your network service ready? Now that you've defined your business requirements, you need to determine whether your existing infrastructure is service ready. (This isn't as daunting as it sounds.) If you're a heavy web user or send lots of large files, you might consider a separate network or VLAN just for voice. As switching prices come down, the minor cost investment is worth the ability to ensure quality of service.
  4. Do you have a high-speed Internet connection? Most problems occur in the "last mile." You may need to increase the size of your Internet connection to handle the additional phone traffic generated by your new phone system. Digitel's test will help you understand your current bandwidth and broadband performance.
  5. What is your budget? Pricing can vary widely since there are so many different ways to deploy our services within a small business. Do you want to pay for everything upfront? Have a monthly recurring charge? Or pay for some of the system upfront and pay the rest off monthly?
Questions to ask your vendor.
  1. Are there any early termination penalties? What is the impact of getting out of a contract early? Are there termination fees? Be sure to check policies on equipment, as well as those that apply to basic service. At Digitel, we are so confident that our service will meet your expectations that we do not require term agreements and do not apply termination penalties.
  2. Are there additional (hidden) start-up costs? Although digital phone service is less expensive to set up and maintain than traditional phone services and premise systems, be sure to understand all start-up fees. Initial discussions with vendors revolve around software and/or telephone fees. Ask each vendor what you need to set up and get the service working. You may need to purchase SIP phones or invest in a router or other network add-ons. If the phone is free, check that its capabilities meet all of your needs. Digitel Sales Agents include all fees in quotes and will ensure that you understand them completely.
  3. In addition, consider costs related to other network requirements. The service provider should help you assess capabilities and determine in you can use your existing broadband service. Your Digitel Specialist will help you qualify your current network.
  4. What day-to-day costs are not going to be covered by your quote? No matter what phone service technology you are looking for, additional fees for calling features and services may magically appear on your first bill. Even vendors that bundle services into a monthly rate provide options to add on functionality for extra fees. To prevent surprises, make a list of the features you need and ask vendors whether those features are included in the monthly recurring fee or will appear as a separate charge. Any quote you receive should detail all fees. Your Digitel Specialist will help you create a list of features your business needs—and provide a quote that identifies all fees.
  5. Can I "plug-and-play" my fax machine? Some providers require special fax solutions. Others can't handle them at all. Most digital solutions set up a "user" to act as your fax line and require an adapter to interact with a standard fax machine. Digitel supports electronic faxing (sending and receiving faxes into an email box), as well as standard fax machines with an adapter.
  6. What are additional costs for upgrading? Ask your provider whether there are any hidden fees to upgrade or downgrade your account. Making changes to an account is cheaper than with traditional or hardware-based solutions—however adding services and users does add fees. At Digitel, upgrading fees depends on the type of functionality, service plan and number of users you are purchasing.
  7. Will my business phone system be useful to mobile workers or when I am away from my desk? At the heart of Digitel is the promise to deliver the same services whether a worker is remote or in the office. Digitel specializes in remote users. In addition to web-based call management, Digitel provides mobile controls that extend the power of Digitel to employees on mobile phones.
  8. How do I use my old phones on my new Business phone system? For old analog phones, you need a handset. Digitel can provide you with inexpensive handsets to replace what you currently have. With basic handsets, you get the kind of features you'd get with complex and expensive in-house PBX systems.
  9. Can you guarantee a certain level of Quality of Service? We deliver quality and stability better than traditional phone systems. However quality of service depends on several key factors: a) your office network, b) phone hardware, c) carriers who handle calls to termination, and d) the service provider's network. You want to be sure that your provider will support you and act quickly to resolve issues. If you have a problem with your local network, they should help you understand the issue and work with your provider on a solution. If the issue lies with a carrier, the service provider should "own" the issue, contact the carrier and work to resolve the problem.
  10. In addition, many providers resell off-the-shelf software and often have little insight into quality, much less an ability to make improvements. At Digitel, we recognize that we are delivering phone service—a critical need for your business—and not just providing software.
  11. If I dial 911 from my phone, will dispatchers know my location automatically? All providers are required to provide emergency services. Digitel's Small Business VoIP provides three kinds of 911 service—Enhanced (or e911), Basic 911 and Operator-Assisted 911.
  12. Can I keep the same phone number? Most providers support Local Number Portability. Check for fees associated with managing this request and the timeframe to deliver. Portability turnaround cannot be guaranteed because of the careful negotiation required with carriers. On average, it takes about 5 to 10 business days for a number to be released.
  13. Do I need a broadband connection? All digital service requires access to the Internet. Some providers will sell you network access directly, while others require you to "bring your own broadband." Be careful of hidden markup fees for Internet access. Broadband access fees vary widely based on the provider and proximity to the network. At Digitel, we do not sell broadband services. We recommend using partner master-agents who provide the highest quality and competitive price for your business.