Taking Hosted VoIP To The Next Level

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Many small-business VARs may never have had access to phone revenue before because they lacked experience selling PBX solutions. But the game is changing.

Hosted VoIP services are not only opening the doors to IP telephony sales, but play to the channel's core strengths in network integration and management.

And now, Microsoft's new Office Communications Server, which will allow VARs to integrate VoIP services with Office applications, promises to open additional avenues for VARs to add value around VoIP without having to wrestle with PBX switches and custom integration work.

In this Solutions That Work, we look at some of the key ways solution providers are adding value to hosted VoIP solutions and how Office Communications Server will enable them to take those solutions to the next level.

Hosted Services Lower Barrier To Entry

PBX is dying, but it's a slow death. For small businesses, their investments in PBX systems were so high that many are reluctant to toss them out and invest in a new infrastructure. But a hosted service can remove that barrier. With PBX systems, customers often pay for excess capacity, winding up with idle investment. With hosted services, customers can add new phones as they grow so they only end up paying for what they use and need. And as the number of connections go up, the price per user will go down because service providers offer volume discounts.

So all customers need to do is plug the VoIP phones into a network. Well, not quite. They will still need a solution provider to make sure their network can optimally handle the converged voice/data traffic and ensure they have enough bandwidth from their broadband carrier.

In the past, networks were expected to have some latencies and even function with packet losses. Solution providers used to plug in switches and routers, run cables, do some simple bandwidth tests and the job was done. Customers were satisfied as long as data was able to pass across the network most of the time, and quality of service meant having enough bandwidth for P2P traffic.

Next: Quality Of Service -- The Starting Point

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