One of the earliest and most fundamental decisions a business owner makes is choosing a phone system. “Bottom line, the type of telephone system you choose should support the type of business you’re in,” says Holly Hinze, director of commercial products at Charter Communications. “It’s smart to start by thinking about your phone needs at a high level.” ____Holding the phone Different employee roles call for different types of handsets—the hand-held device that has both a transmitter for talking and a receiver for listening. The handset may be attached to the phone by a wire, or be cordless or wireless (meaning it is portable and communicates with the base by radio). Let your phone system’s form follow employee functions. For example, if you have a small retail establishment with a lot of in-person interaction and few inbound calls, one wired line in the front and one in the back may be enough. If you have warehouse workers, they may need cordless handsets so they can roam the premises while talking. A lobby receptionist or customer service employee may require a headset (which has the same basic components as a handset) so he or she can type or transfer calls while talking. For group calls, you may want to include a conference speakerphone, which offers enhanced microphone capabilities that are ideal for meetings. ____Keeping lines open

VoIP Hard Phones vs Softphones: What’s the difference and Which is Better?

VoIP has become commonplace in recent times, both in business and as a personal communications tool. The benefits are such that it becomes a no-brainer for both individuals and businesses to move to VoIP, principally because of the reductions in long-distance comms costs. Cordless home systems based on DECT technology, with a core unit attached to the PSTN, and satellite units communicating over wireless had been around for some time before VoIP.  They were similar to VoIP systems but lacked versatility and features in comparison with the later true IP based systems. Recently, the use of WiFi as a primary network topology, coupled with mobile technology, has become more and more common. As a result, one of the considerations when planning a VoIP environment is the type of handsets needed. The handset type will depend to a large extent on the network environment and the type of anticipated usage. It is important to look at the two primary environments in which VoIP Phones operate since that can dictate the type of handset required. These are cabled networks and mobile. First, though, let’s dispose of DECT systems. DECT systems are proprietary in nature with dedicated handsets, and the question around the best type of handset is academic, since there may not be a choice.   DECT is incorporated in networked VoIP systems with an appropriate connection and configuration, but that is not always possible.  Besides, because of software incompatibilities, they may not work following upgrades to the VoIP software or hardware. Users may also be confused between the different operating environments.