Author Topic: Simple Business Phone - Wireless or VoIP  (Read 1049 times)

Michael in ABQ

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Simple Business Phone - Wireless or VoIP
« on: October 21, 2021, 09:59:45 AM »
I run an ecommerce business and have a toll-free number on the website that gets 5-10 calls a day. Right now it's setup with FreedomVoice which is $40 a month and provides an emailed transcription of the voicemails. Then I have to call the customer back on my personal cell phone - or have my employee call back on her cell phone. Not an ideal solution.

I would like to get a simple phone that would generally stay in the office and ring during business hours but go to voicemail after-hours. The emailed transcriptions are still very nice. Either a cell phone or VoIP/landline with a mobile handset as we often find ourselves talking to a customer and walking over to a shelf to verify an item is in stock or some detail about it that's not apparent from the website. The cell phone would be preferable as it's more flexible and I could take it home if I needed to make some calls while working from home occasionally.

My current personal cell phone is with Verizon but when I looked at their business plans they have about far too many options and most seem to be bundled with internet. Currently there's shared Wi-Fi in the office split with our neighbors and landlord for $33/month that works fine for just 2-3 laptops mostly dealing with email and basic web browsing.

Does anyone have any recommendations for a cheap cell phone I could pair with FreedomVoice for the transcription/call forwarding aspect? Or a different provider that would also include a cell phone or VoIP phone as part of a bundled solution? I'm hoping to spend around $50/month. Another option would be some way to use my current cell phone but have the outgoing calls show up as the business number (877 number).

Daley

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Re: Simple Business Phone - Wireless or VoIP
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2021, 11:35:52 AM »
You might try and see if you can port the 877# to VOIP.ms (VOIP.ms is great for lower volume PAYGO virtual PBX management as you can do everything you're after, including IVR, voicemail transcription, fail-over, and availability times with them), or use a virtual 800# host like Avoxi to forward to other phone numbers (potentially great for rerouting during infrastructure outages to alternate working numbers as long as their exchange routing isn't hosed as well) like one hosted at VOIP.ms. Unfortunately, your question and my answer is going to introduce an awkward discussion about telephone infrastructure, redundancy, service outages, and security to help you understand any negative reviews you might find from last month during your own research.

VOIP.ms went through the wringer last month with a brutal DDoS for ransom attack ($4m+ in buttcoin was demanded, for the record - screw crypto currencies for enabling this sort of garbage) that lasted two weeks before they could mitigate it enough to restore connectivity to customers with the help of Cloudflare, and the instant they did, the attackers hammered Bandwidth.com, a top-level CLEC and one of the CLECs VOIP.ms trunks with, who themselves were so overwhelmed that it took a week of reduced quality and switching to Cloudflare as well themselves... yielding nearly a month of none to spotty service for VOIP.ms customers... ourselves included. It wasn't a fun time.

The important thing is, nobody is immune to this sort of thing anymore given all telephony is technically some form of VoIP service now, they didn't cave to the absurd ransom demands, and they restored service. Communication wasn't great, but understandable under the circumstances. And the yahoos doing this have been randomly bringing to bear on a whole slew of VoIP providers the past few months, and may or may not be the same outfit that did the Colonial Pipeline hack a few months back. The Bandwidth.com DDoS attacks peaked at 130 Gbps and 17.4M pps across network layers 3, 4 and 7... which is absolutely bonkers.

The only mitigation to potentially avoid downtime in this day and age is using redundancy and flexibility with multiple providers who don't share the same backbone providers, which is difficult given how incestuous the telecom industry is. It requires you to have fallback service options and keep info on hand to port your number in and out of providers if necessary. The Bandwidth.com attacks had knock-on effects that even spilled over and impacted quality of service with massive business VoIP providers like 8x8 and RingCentral, cable phone providers like Charter and Cox, healthcare/hospital communications networks and some Fortune 500 call centers, conference platforms like Zoom and MS Teams, a Canadian cellphone provider who's name I can't recall off the top of my head currently, Google Voice and Republic Wireless were directly impacted, and even some spillover was experienced with some Verizon customers during that week with call quality and reliability. These two threads over at DSLReports are enlightening, horrifying, entertaining, and frustrating to read as a crash course on how miserable it is to try and route around these sorts of attacks:

https://www.dslreports.com/forum/r33210774-Voip-ms-VOIP-MS-may-have-an-outage-right-now
https://www.dslreports.com/forum/r33218866-Apparent-attack-on-Bandwidth-com-25-September-2021
« Last Edit: October 21, 2021, 11:42:15 AM by Daley »

Michael in ABQ

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Re: Simple Business Phone - Wireless or VoIP
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2021, 11:56:18 AM »
You might try and see if you can port the 877# to VOIP.ms (VOIP.ms is great for lower volume PAYGO virtual PBX management as you can do everything you're after, including IVR, voicemail transcription, fail-over, and availability times with them), or use a virtual 800# host like Avoxi to forward to other phone numbers (potentially great for rerouting during infrastructure outages to alternate working numbers as long as their exchange routing isn't hosed as well) like one hosted at VOIP.ms. Unfortunately, your question and my answer is going to introduce an awkward discussion about telephone infrastructure, redundancy, service outages, and security to help you understand any negative reviews you might find from last month during your own research.

Looks like VOIP.ms is significantly cheaper than what I have now. Any recommendations on equipment? I really just need 1-2 handsets for the office. Most of our suppliers call me directly on my cell phone. 

Also, can you send me your referral code? https://voip.ms/en/features/referral-program

Daley

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Re: Simple Business Phone - Wireless or VoIP
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2021, 01:59:53 PM »
Heh, they have a referral code? I didn't even know that.

As far as equipment goes, if you just want an ethernet plug-in or WiFi desk phone, something from Yealink or Grandstream are on the more affordable end, there's also Polycom, and nobody got fired for recommending Cisco. If you want an ATA to plug existing POTS landline phones into, look for something from Grandstream or Cisco. Just be sure the hardware can do secure TLS/SRTP call encryption.

VOIP.ms has a wiki with a list of supported for configuration hardware here. You can also use softphones on your existing smartphone, and Android has an SMS client for them as well. It's pretty much DIY for all the configuration both on their end and yours, but their wiki is exhaustive and documents how to do everything well.

You can also do call forwarding from the VOIP.ms number to your cellphone if you're feeling froggy.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2021, 02:06:13 PM by Daley »