Small Office VoIP: Skype Pros/Cons

skype_logo.pngBefore the 2007 tax year ended, OpenRain decided to finally solidify a telephony strategy for the next year or so. Key requirements were..

  • Easy ad-hoc and scheduled conferences.
  • Mobile flexibility and continuity across physical locations.
  • Scalability for the next couple years.
  • Voice mail
  • Call forwarding.
  • Little to no management overhead. (I don’t want to run a dedicated PBX.)
  • Usable hardware.
  • Practical prices for worldwide incoming/outgoing calls.
  • Less than ~$2K initial investment.

It came down to one of two primary directions..

  1. Hosted VoIP (such as with Vonage or Qwest) with SIP phones such as from Cisco or Avaya.
  2. Skype with 3rd-party hardware and Mac soft-phone.

After some debate, we chose to use Skype exclusively for services, and have been fairly satisfied. I have a few beefs, but at less than $100 per year per person, I can’t complain too much.

Skype Pros:

  • Instant gratification. Easy to set yourself up for calls to/from landlines.
  • Good soft-client with videoconferencing support; Address Book.app integration is present in the latest Mac beta client.
  • Inexpensive. Less than $100 per seat per year for SkypePro and SkypeIn (an incoming number).
  • Awesome value when bundled with an IPEVO SOLO.
  • Extremely simple web interface for distributing company credits.
  • Concurrent logins from multiple locations. I leave my SOLO on 24/7 and use the soft-client on the road.
  • Great quality on Skype-to-Skype calls. Good quality to landlines.

Skype Cons:

  • My biggest gripe: In the U.S., outgoing calls do NOT show your SkypeIn number on the recipients phone.
  • Vendor lock-in, since Skype uses a proprietary protocol. Since cost of entry for services is so low, however, it may not be a huge deal if your want to switch to a SIP-based provider.
  • The WiFi-Phones all suck. The IPEVO SOLO is the only desktop model I like.
  • Possible future screwage of SkypeIn numbers if they ever change.
  • No 911, which is a general issue with VoIP services.

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