Business VoIP vs Consumer VoIP – What’s the Difference?

Posted on: 2018-04-27 | Categories:VoIP

Business and consumer VoIP use the same underlying technology and offer similar features. But there are significant differences between the two segments. Business VoIP is designed specifically for small, medium, and large organizations. Consumer VoIP is developed for individuals to use for personal communication.

The distinction between the two offerings is more than nomenclature. Business VoIP services offered features that are absent in consumer VoIP (BYOD, ACD queues, auto-receptionist). It makes business VoIP more expensive than consumer services. Other differences include security, ease-of-use, time to set up, flexibility, scalability, and quality among others.

Features

Consumer VoIP services like Skype offer audio and video calling over the internet. Many also provide additional features like instant messaging, texting, calling mobile and landlines, group calls etc. While these are important features for individual use, businesses will find it insufficient for their requirements.

Business VoIP services offer many more sophisticated features in addition to those listed above. Key features like music on hold, auto-receptionist, call recording, automatic voicemail transcription and others that included by default. Organizations can register toll-free numbers, vanity numbers, and local numbers in different regions. They can also take advantage of third-party integrations with enterprise systems such as Salesforce or Slack.

Pricing

The gulf between features manifests itself in another area – pricing. Consumer apps like Skype and FaceTime operate on the freemium model. Customers can use core features of the service like basic audio and video calling for free. Other features like calling mobile numbers and landlines will require either a subscription or a one-time fee.

The price of enterprise VoIP services depends on many variables including the number of phone numbers or lines you wish to purchase, the number of employees in the organization, the type of features included in the plan etc. As such, business VoIP can cost as little as $50 a month or hundreds of dollars.

Security

Both consumers and businesses would like their communication to be private and secure. However, there is a significant difference in the type of protocols used in consumer and enterprise VoIP. Quite a few apps like Skype use proprietary protocols that third-party experts cannot examine or verify.

Business VoIP offerings generally utilize industry standards and proven algorithms. Business services may also include extra security features that can be managed by the organizational administrator. Individual users have control over their own account and phones but sitewide changes can only be made by the admin.

Consumers services don’t have such options and users have no choice except to trust the service provider.

Service Guarantees

Consumer VoIP calls travel over the public internet where you have no assurance of network speeds or quality. Consumer services also use peer to peer connections instead of dedicated bandwidth. Many users rely on Wi-Fi or mobile data to place calls. All these factors affect call reliability and audio quality. There is no guarantee that your calls will complete or that you will have clear audio.

Business services offer Service Level Agreements that guarantee a certain level of quality. The SLA outlines quality standards, defines downtime thresholds, and offers compensation if certain criteria are not met. Businesses have faster internet connections with more bandwidth than residential users. It ensures reliability and quality.

Audio and Video Quality

VoIP uses codecs to convert sound signals into data packets that can traverse the internet. These codecs also compress the data to allow for faster transmission. Some codecs utilize aggressive compression algorithms that sacrifice quality for speed. Others will use less compression to preserve quality but it means calls require more bandwidth.

Consumer VoIP services prefer high compression codecs to compensate for slow internet speeds. Business services, on the other hand, utilize codecs that are geared towards preserving audio quality.

Customer Support

Many consumer apps do not offer support options. In these cases, users have very little help if and when something was wrong. It is especially true for services that use the freemium model. Residential VoIP services offer a bit more help with troubleshooting.

Business VoIP services have a much wider array of support options. Clients can contact the vendor via text, email, phone, online chat, and many more channels. Large service providers even provide dedicated agents to handle specific clients. Some vendors also offer free or paid consultations to assess network readiness before the company switches over to VoIP.

In general, consumer services are easier to set up and use. Business services require manual setup and settings can be targeted on an individual basis. The services offer more control and customization options as well.

Keep in mind that some service providers specifically prohibit businesses from using residential plans under their terms of service. While some entrepreneurs and small business owners make do with consumer VoIP, you will outgrow it sooner or later. Business services offer more bang for your buck and it’s only a matter of selecting the right vendor for your needs.