BYOD is the practice of bringing your own device. The “device” in question is usually thought to be an IP phone, also called a SIP phone. But there are actually several difference “devices,” some of which stand alone, and others are software built into other devices. There is both free and paid software for your computer that can be configured to connect to your VoIP provider’s SIP proxy. Likewise, there are free and paid mobile apps for iOS and Android that can make calls over Wi-Fi and 3G/4G using your VoIP provider. This article will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of bringing your own device as the primary, or even only device.
Shopping Around For the Best Price
You can get great deals on used and refurbished IP phones from e-commerce websites. You can buy a popular and highly rated phone at a deep discount if you buy it used or refurbished. For the most part, new phones on sites like Amazon, BestBuy.com, and the Google Shopping Portal are less expensive than their pre-programmed counterparts. If your primary reason for upgrading to VoIP is to save money - what better way to get started on saving by buying your own device?
Many Devices You Already own are SIP Compatible
On a related note, you can save money by not even purchasing equipment at all. You can download free software on your computer or iPhone/Android Phone that connects to your VoIP provider’s network. Some of these phone apps already have presets for popular VoIP providers, so all you have to do is select your network, enter your user name, phone number, and password, and you’re good to go. Some premium SIP clients can connect to more than one provider at once. By connecting to more than one provider at once, you can have different caller IDs for work and personal calls, and you can also select the best network depending on whom and where you are calling.
If You Change Your VoIP provider, You Keep Your Device
If you like VoIP, but found that your business VoIP provider just wasn’t the right fit, there’s no need to go through the hassle and expense of shipping back your device. Beware, though, that some business VoIP service providers have very rigid deadlines concerning when they will or will not accept returns, and you may risk being stuck with equipment that you wouldn’t have bought, or at a price you wouldn’t have spent, had you brought your own device from the start.
If you own your own equipment, you can automatically provision all the phones in your business to connect to the new provider’s IP address. It’s usually very easy, and, in the rare cases that it isn’t, the customer service reps are quick to add a helping hand. If you own your own device, there’s no need to wait for your equipment to come in the mail—it’s your service, you’re paying for it, start using it! If you BYOD, you sign up either by phone or on the computer, and within five minutes, you’ll get a dial tone.
Keep Your Old Device
You can by a two port analog telephone adapter for less than thirty dollars, and use your existing phones. It’s a great way to save money and not have to buy all new phones, but it does come at the expense of some of the more advanced features of VoIP. You can buy an unlocked ATA, or you can unlock it yourself, which takes about as much skill as programming a DVR. If you have an unlocked ATA, you can get service from any provider.
Your Equipment May Be Incompatible With Some Providers
We have firsthand experience of not being allowed to bring our own device to a business VoIP provider. It turned out that the powerful desktop software had to be configured to each individual model of phones, and even then, was locked to their network. It was a case of “water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink.” We had to make the decision to set aside perfectly good (and very expensive) phones in order to try out their service.
You Need to be Tech-Savvy
The savings you get of buying your own device may not be worth it if you can’t figure out how to program your phone. You have to also know how to shop for the right phone. You may get a great discount on a phone not realizing it’s at its end-of-life and support from the hardware manufacturer will only be available for a year or two. You have to know which features are worth having and which are just shiny features to get your attention.
Free Software is Sometimes Inconvenient
Programs like Eyebeam Lite are free, but that doesn’t mean they are fun to use. If you don’t have a good headset or Bluetooth device, you’ll find that sound quality is severely lacking. Having a mobile app on your cell phone is great, but it also limits you to only using that phone. If your battery is dead, you may miss an important call.
Your Equipment Will Not Always Be State-of-the-Art
When you sign up for a VoIP provider, you also purchase or lease phones from them. Two or three years down the road, new technological breakthroughs will make your phones outdated. Some VoIP providers let you trade in old equipment for a discount on new ones.
Concerns About Distraction
It may sound great on paper to have your smartphone or tablet as your primary device. But, as silly as it may sound, those birds and fruits and tiles are going to be calling out to you as much as your important clients. There is something to be said for turning your phone off and being in a distraction-free zone.
BYOD is a great option for tech-savvy customers. But, as with everything else, you have to do your research ahead of time to make sure you are getting the best equipment for the task at hand. If you are new to VoIP, we recommend taking the advice of the customer service reps that you talk with. If you really have a grasp on it, maybe BYOD is the way to go.