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VoIP Solutions

I am about to move from AT&T to a VoIP solution for my solo law practice.  What are others doing for office phone systems.  There are three people in my office but rarely do we use the phone at the same time (damn economy).  Looking for others experiences. 

Comments

  • samgloversamglover Minneapolis, MN
    There's some information on VOIP options in these two threads:

    http://lawyeristlab.com/forum/starting-a-law-firm/starting-a-firm-do-i-need-a-dedicated-firm-phone-number/

    http://lawyeristlab.com/forum/starting-a-law-firm/google-voice-no-phone-numbers-in-my-area-code/

    I'm a big proponent of using Google Voice and forwarding it to whatever phone(s) you use otherwise. For example, my main number is a Google Voice number that rings Skype (which I use when I'm in the office) and my cell phone (which I use everywhere else).

    You can basically do the same thing if you use Skype as your main number.

    There are lots of other VOIP options, as most internet service providers are getting on the VOIP bandwagon. But few are as flexible or cheap as GV or Skype.
  • thedanshermanthedansherman Maple Plain, MN
    We've got VOIP from our cable provider (Mediacom), and it works great. As far as I can tell, the prices between cable/dsl companies is all about the same for adding voice. For us it's about $30/month per line, we have 5 including fax. Quality has been great, and we haven't had any more outages than with our traditional phone system.

     

    VOIP from your ISP will be a little more expensive than others (Vonage, PhonePower, etc), but it seems to be higher quality. The way they explained it to me was that they only use IP to get to their headend, then switch to classic phone lines. Vonage uses IP to get to their office, which might be quite far away, before switching. There are fewer IP links with your ISP, so quality doesn't suffer. Something like that anyway..
  • samgloversamglover Minneapolis, MN
    I think that's basically right. Plus, cable customers are expecting a "perfect" alternative to their phone, so the quality has to be great.

    That said, I've rarely had problems with Skype. The internet is running fast enough these days that those extra connections don't mean much.
  • Can you port an exisiting business to number to Skype (I don't think you can to Googlevoice)?
  • samgloversamglover Minneapolis, MN
    You definitely can port numbers to Google Voice. I think it's $20. I don't think you can port numbers to Skype, though.
  • I have been using Vonage (VoIP) since Nov 2009 when I started my firm ($50 a month/1500 min plan (don't use their fax # because it doesn't work well). I worked from my house for the first 1.5 years and had some good 'ol AT&T  U-verse internet that was great.

     

    I moved to Regus in May 2011 and bought their 'shared' RegusNet ($100 a month). Although the sales guy told me I could use VoIP, a few months into it, we are realizing the internet is not fast enough to hold Vonage. We do Internet Speed tests and it shows C grade of internet and is just crap.  I put up a stink and now they are telling me VoIp isn't allowed on their shared net, I need to buy the next thing - dedicated bandwith 1.0Mb is $300/mo.

     

    So, should I get the dedicated bandwith and hope Vonage works on it or should I get their old school land line and try to forward Vonage calls to it (so I don't lose my number when I move?)?  I have tried using Skype#s in the office but it depends on fast internet as well and it isn't very reliable.

     

    Suggestions? I am also concerned about not losing my office # I have been advertising for two years.

     

    Thanks, Ruby
  • samgloversamglover Minneapolis, MN
    I don't know what Regus is, but it sounds like you're getting screwed on bandwidth. I pay the same for Comcast, and we can stream five different video streams to different computers at the same time and still have enough bandwidth left over to make VOIP calls (we did this during the World Cup last year).

    Find a different provider. Also, $50/month is barely less than a regular phone line. If I were you, I'd see whether I could port a Vonage number to Google Voice and point the number at a Skype account ($3/month), instead. That's how I've done it for the last few years, and it works great (I use Skype at the office, and my GV number also rings my cell phone during business hours).
  • Regus is a huge old company that rents out short term offices and has shared receptionists and waiting rooms. Another quote I had was with Cogent for $400 a month for a 3 year contract for 2Mbps with a $1000 set up fee. (!) My assistant is in the office 3 days a week so whatever I get is for 1 person for 12 days a month. 

     

    I need to get more quotes for internet prices. I don't know if a wireless usb or hub will be good enough and work in that office. ( I am working out of the US right now which makes it harder for me to run around and ask people what they use).

     

    I already have 2-3 Skype numbers and use my Skype manager to manage my assistant's and other contractors Skype accounts and phone numbers. 

     

    I looked into your advice. I can't port the Vonage # to GV according to GV. And since I am not using a carrier they use, I can't set up my Vonage # with GV. I have to either set up a new # or just keep vonage and forward as needed to Skype, etc.

     

    So I think I either have to get the Regus phone service for $100 more and forward my Vonage # through there or pay for better internet. I do think I am getting screwed with this arrangement and am hoping I can find a solution or am counting the days until my contract is over.
  • I just moved to a new home office and wanted to explore cheaper alternatives to the Comcast "land line" I had at my previous home. My AT&T cell phone isn't a good alternative because of poor voice quality and dropped calls. So after doing quite a bit of research I've been using an OBi 110 plugged into my home phone wiring with Comcast Internet and Google Voice for the past week or so and so far it's working great. The Obi was $50 from Amazon and (until Google starts charging for Voice) it's free after that, so the payback should come in just over a month based on what I was paying to Comcast. 

    I've used it for several conference calls using GoToMeeting and the voice quality has been excellent. No one has complained on the other end either. As a bonus I can take the OBi with me to my summer place and plug it in there and, assuming it also works with Charter Internet, no one will know the difference. 
  • I would recommend RHUB web conferencing appliance. It provides free audio conferencing service, wherein, all participants in a meeting can attend an audio conference and get land-line quality.

  • I just switched from a POTS system (plain old telephone service) to a VOIP with Vocalocity (now Vonage). Its great.

    My goal is to have my billing program on my computer hook to the voice recognition on the VOIP line so as to pull up relevant files for incoming calls and automatically link a time entry to each client called or calling in. I have not achieved this Nirvana, but I am getting closer.

    Best feature so far is the Simultaneous Ring feature so my cell phone rings at the same time as my office line and I can answer the call on either a deskphone or the cell phone. Great for when I am down the hall or out of the office.

    Worst discovery was that I had to keep a POTS line in order to use my credit card reader! It was too expensive to get one that works on a VOIP line.

    Good luck!

  • I love my OBi 110 but Google is changing Voice such that OBi devices will not work starting in May. Please be aware of this when planning your technology.

  • @louie - seriously? I'm running Google Voice through an Obi 202. Do you know what will be compatible after the change?

  • gwchasegwchase Albuquerque

    I am using VOIP through RingCentral and have been very pleased. It includes all long distance and the quality is very good. It is very easy to set up conference calls. We have a very fast internet connection which I understand helps. RingCentral plus Ruby answering service makes me a happy guy. RingCentral offers a variety of phones and I kind of wish I had upgraded but what I have is working.

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