In an attempt to clear up the murky waters of the telecom world, we will break down the components of the average Voice over IP hosted solution and what you should expect to see on your invoice. Many bills are difficult to read, and a majority of this can be blamed on how the telecom industry has operated during the past 100 years. Over that time, the government has become more and more involved piling taxes and fees that are mandatory with all telecom solutions. The expansion of Voice over IP has introduced some new components that you may or may not see on your bill, but we will attempt to at least explain what is included on a Neo Voiceworks invoice. Here we go…
This can also be referred to as concurrent calls or the number of simultaneous calls that your company will make during peak times of the day. This is often determined by looking at your history and it is important to know that if you have 5 virtual paths, the 6th call typically receives a busy signal. Neo Voiceworks offers an optional service that you only pay for when used that allows for “bursting” of additional paths so that 6th call goes through. This burst setting is adjustable so there aren’t any surprises or can be turned off if you don’t mind the occasional busy signal. Over time, we have reports that will show exactly how many paths you actually used in case adjustments need to be made. An example report is shown below:
This one is easy, extensions are, well, the extensions that you are using. We offer two varieties of extensions, standard and cloud. If you want a phone on the desk of your employee, these will be standard extensions. If you have outside employees that are happy getting all calls on their cell phone or home office phone, these can be set up as cloud extensions. Basically, it is the lack of physical hardware to program. Our extensions come with voicemail and a host of other standard features common to a voice solution.
Our solution packages your local and long distance calling into bundles to save you money. We do offer unlimited calling, but this can be misleading and often more expensive than investigating your average usage and providing a package with some buffer minutes. If you have 8xx numbers, this usage gets billed separately as well as international if you do this type of calling. So that is potentially 3 line items on the bill for your usage.
Of course, the numbers. Wouldn’t be worth much if customers couldn’t actually reach you right? There are two different types of numbers, locals and toll-free.
Now the fun stuff…
Because this solution is somewhere out in the ether cloud, local police and firefighters need a way to know where you are calling from physically. Old POTS lines were each assigned an address and stored in a database. E911 is similar where your main number that outgoing calls appear as to the outside world is assigned an address. This way, the 911 operator will know where to send the authorities if needed.
This is the computer operator that we have all come to know and love. We can set up virtually any type of call routing using this system.
Taxes and Fees
Everyone’s favorite, the taxes and fees. You will see a few that are not your everyday taxes. These are taxes on taxes so to speak. You always have your sales tax as well as a special telecom fee called the USF or Universal Service Fund. Every usage based product will contribute a percentage to the USF and this percentage can change quarterly. It is also only applied to a percentage of your usage, so it’s actually a percentage of a percentage. Luckily, we have computers that calculate this for us and it shows as one nice number at the bottom of the bill. What the heck is it you ask? Well, we are contributing to the subsidization of phone lines to rural or under privileged areas in the United States. I am not sure if this is a charitable write-off, please ask your accountant.
So that about does it. There are a few other items that may or may not be on the bill such as fax lines or other equipment that you negotiate into your deal. You will also see some non-recurring costs on the first bill such as phones, number ports and any other one time costs. The above mentioned items are what we call the core items and will be on every installation of hosted voice that we deploy. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.