Are You Wasting Money on Your IP Phones?
A recent article in CIO Today based on a report from Gartner Inc. revealed that businesses will waste $20.3 Billion on IP Phones with features that will not be needed by the user over the next five years. As IP Phone manufacturers race to produce the latest and greatest IP phones with all of the bells and whistles in order to gain market share, the simple fact remains that most businesses simply will not use the advanced features and functionalities these IP Phones provide. The report found that the majority of businesses are over-spending on IP Phones with screen-based displays. The report estimates that companies are wasting more then $150 per phone on features and functionalities that they will never use. Gartner analyst Bob Hafner stated,
“We are not saying that you don’t need an IP phone on your desk, but with limited budgets, companies should immediately reset their priorities to have a low-end IP phone and UC applications that improve productivity.”
It is estimated that businesses worldwide will buy more 150 Million IP Phones in the next 5 years.
As the number of possible IP Phone solutions increase, the process for selecting the proper IP Phone becomes more complex. As a result, the likelihood that you will be over-spending and or selecting the wrong IP Phone solution increases. Here are ten questions (in no order of importance), that if answered prior to investigating any solution, should make the selection of an IP Phone much easier.
- Who Will Be Using the Phone? Executive, Manager, Sales Associate, Associate, Receptionist, etc.
- What Features and Functionality Does That Person/Position Need? Call Waiting, Call Transfer, Call Parking, Conference, Speaker Phone, etc
- How Many Incoming Calls Will the Person/Position Receive at a Time? This Decides How Many Lines Appearances the Phone Will Need.
- How Often Will the Phone Be Used? Is the Person/Position on the Phone All Day Long or Will They Hardly Need to Use the Phone?
- What Phone System Are You Using? Make Sure Your Phones Are Compatible With Your System Prior to Purchasing Them. This is Especially Important With Open Source or Open Source based Solutions.
- How is The Office Wired? Do You Have Seperate Ethernet Connections For the IP Phone and the Computer, or Does the IP Phone Need a LAN and a WAN Port in Order to Connect to the PC?
- What are Your Power Requirements? Will You Be Using an AC Outlet or Does Your Network Support Power Over Ethernet?
- What Protocol and Codec Does Your Service Provider/IP PBX Support? SIP, MGCP, H.323, G.711, G.729, etc.
- What is the Standard Manufacturer’s Warranty and What Level of Support Do They (or Their Resellers) Provide Free of Charge? It is Always Wise to Make Sure That a Defective Phone Can be Returned and That Any Installation Issues That You Might Encountered Can Be Handled Without Lengthy Time Delays.
- What is Your Budget? What Are the Financial Limitations to the Phone Deployment and Which IP Phone Offers the “Best Bang for the Buck?”
By answering the ten questions above you should be well on your way to making the proper selection for your IP Phone needs. Below you will find my recommendations on the best IP Phones for your dollar!
- Grandstream GXP-2000 – The Grandstream GXP-2000 is hands down the best phone under $100. With a street price of only $89.99, the Grandstream GXP-2000 is suitable for almost every IP Phone applications. The Grandstream GXP-2000 is a SIP based IP Phone that features six line appearances, dual RJ45 Ethernet Ports for LAN/Wan connectivity, and supports PoE. In addition, the GXP-2000 comes standard with everyday features like call waiting, caller ID, and call hold.
- Linksys SPA-941 – The SPA-941 marries the functional design of a Cisco phone and the innovative technology of Linksys in a way that creates one of the most popular IP phones on the market today. With a street price of $139, the Linksys SPA-941 comes equipped with two line appearances (upgradeable to four), a single RJ45 port for LAN connectivity, a 2.5mm head-set port, and a booming full duplex speakerphone. Although the Linksys SPA-941 costs substantially more then the Grandstream GXP-2000, the full duplex speakerphone makes the SPA-941 an affordable business phone solution.
- Polycom IP501 – The Polycom IP501 is a benchmark IP phone. The IP501 comes equipped with three line appearances, dual RJ45 ports for LAN/ WAN connectivity, a high quality full duplex speakerphone, and Power over Ethernet capabilities. With a street price of $199, the Polycom IP501 is the most expensive phone listed here, but it also comes with every feature that an executive level IP Phone should possess.