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News Bulletin : ADA News Bulletin August 2010
24 AUGUST 2010 INTERNET-BASED VOICE SOLUTIONS for SMEs There has been a lot of talk recently about using the Internet to make phone calls. Some people have been doing it for many years now, and enjoying the cost savings. Others are still wondering if it really works as advertised -- perhaps it's too good to be true? Well, invisibly to their customers, the telephone companies have been using the Internet to transmit your phone calls all around the globe for many years, so you can rest assured the technology does work. WHAT IS VOICE OVER INTERNET PROTOCOL? The system is called Voice over Internet Protocol, usually abbreviated to VoIP. The IP part of the name is just the way the Internet connects things together. Your PC uses it for email and to surf the web. By using the same connection and a VoIP- enabled phone, you can make phone calls over the Internet at typical rates around 10c untimed to anywhere in Australia. But you don't need to use your actual PC or even sit in front of your PC to use a VoIP phone. The VoIP phone looks like any other phone -- it just uses an Internet cable instead of a telephone cable. You could use one for your business, and indeed, many are already doing so. Typically, they have the usual office PBX and one or more separate VoIP phones to take advantage of the cheap call rates. Some people then integrate their VoIP lines into their existing PBX, so they can use the same handsets and choose, for example 'Line 6' to make low cost STD or IDD calls. But now there's an even better way to save money on telephone calls by getting rid of your PBX altogether -- and its associated costs and maintenance headaches. Instead of having a real PBX in the corner of the practice, you use a Virtual PBX. That is, you access a real PBX somewhere else, owned by a service provider, using just telephone handsets, over the Internet. You don't even need a real telephone line or have to pay the real telephone line rental costs. Of course, you might be rightly concerned that if the Internet drops out, then so does your Virtual PBX telephone system and nobody wants to run a business without any phones. However, these Virtual PBX systems are very clever, and can be easily configured to forward calls to your mobile phones if they can't reach you via the Internet. This feature also means you can leave the practice and still have people reach you automatically on your mobile when they dial your practice number. IS IT EXPENSIVE? Installing a Virtual PBX does cost money. For example, VoIP service provider MyNetFone offers a package of four handsets with a receptionist's console, plus a wireless router and an Ethernet switch to connect everything together for around $1,500. But then, installing a real PBX will cost you upwards of $5,000, so it's easy to justify the virtual option if you're in the market for a new phone system for your practice. If you already have an existing PBX it's a little harder to justify the expense, but you'll still make significant savings over the first year of ownership. Paying around 10 cents per call to anywhere in the country, and just 15 cents per minute to mobile phones, soon translates into significantly lower phone bills. And when you choose to switch to a Virtual PBX, you can keep your existing phone numbers. WHAT ELSE CAN IT DO? The Virtual PBX service also allows you to send text messages, using your PC keyboard, at a cost of just 15 cents per text. Very handy for sending reminders to patients about their next appointment. You can see it's not just about saving money -- it's about additional features as well. Because you are paying for access to a very sophisticated real PBX located in your service provider's offices, you can do things you could never do with a small (but still expensive) PBX located in your own practice. Of course, you still get the receptionist's console, to answer all calls and transfer them to the right person, but you also get features like automated transfers to any other phone -- perhaps to an assistant or co-worker or maybe to your mobile phone, or even to your home phone. Your home phone can also be just another extension of your Virtual PBX. No such thing as running late to the office -- finish your breakfast and still answer those early calls from work. If you still can't (or don't want to) answer the phone, your caller can leave you a voicemail, which can be sent to your email address as a sound file, and picked up from anywhere that you have access to email. You could be on that well-earned overseas holiday and your patients wouldn't even know you'd left the practice. A Virtual PBX is simply a smarter way to run your practice. Your patients will appreciate always being able to reach the right person, no matter where they are, and you will appreciate the savings. In fact you'll wonder why you didn't think of it sooner. After all, it was your idea to go virtual wasn't it? To find out more about MyNetFone and the Virtual PBX package mentioned in this article, please visit https://www.mynetfone.com.au/ offers/ADA-Offer. special feature Compiled by Ian Yates
ADA News Bulletin September 2010