A crucial decision for any person doing VoIP is selecting your VoIP Gateway. This organization will be the one providing you your route back to the analog telephone world from the world of VoIP telephony. They’re sometimes referred to as A2Z termination as they typically will provide you access to call EVERY SINGLE COUNTRY on Earth at cheaper rates than calling Long Distance!
There are of course the popular ones such as Vonage, Net2phone, etc…but guess what…there are probably Hundreds if not Thousands of gateways to choose from already. So here are some tips:
- Shop Around for Costs. Most gateways will post the rates they offer. These rates vary depending on where they’re located and their target market. Find one with the cheapest rates to the destination you’re likely to be calling most!
- Try before you Buy! Most gateways will offer you a few minutes free. So start registering to different gateways and compare the voice quality. Note that VoIP gateways are not created equal! Some will have lousy connections over cheap bandwidths.
- Determine your Latency to the Server. One of the worst disadvantages of VoIP is latency. Basically this is due to the distance your voice has to travel to your server, onwards to the other party and then back again. An easy way to check this is to ‘ping’ the provider you’re evaluating. A good rule of thumb is that Latency should not be more than 200ms. Also, good practive would be to have a VoIP gateway ‘near’ the primary region you intend to call. For example, if you need to call Japan often, it doesn’t make sense to go with a Europe-based gateway…as the signal goes all the way around the world before going back to Japan.
- Research the company. Since deploying a VoIP gateway has become so cheap, it would pay to research the company your looking to go with. Make sure they have a track record and are not fly by night operations. Although since this is a young industry, you might find it difficult…a rule you can follow is to go with businesses that have other services/products…e.g. a lot of NEW gateways are also OLD ISP’s. Thus, you have a proxy track record you can base your decision on.
- Don’t tie yourself up longterm. As mentioned, this is a young industry. Eventually the players will consolidate and the market leaders will emerge. Thus, it wouldn’t be wise to commit to a company and find out you betted on the wrong horse a year down the line. Keep your options open, jump from provider to provider if you wish or have subscriptions to multiple providers! Most providers offer call as you go accounts, hence you can have $10 here and $10 there and have no long term or heavy investment in one player.
I’m sure I’ll think of more tips later. But these should be enough to start you on your GoogleQuest. 🙂