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UK small firms leading the way with VoIP

The percentage of small businesses using the internet to make phone calls is set to almost double over the next 12 months. According to new research commissioned by BT Business, 48% of small businesses will be using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services this time next year. Currently the figure is 25%. The research, which questioned decision makers in companies with up to 50 employees, also showed that smaller businesses are leading the way with VoIP. 57% of companies with two to ten employees and 48% of sole traders are planning to use VoIP in the next 12 months, compared to 20%of companies with 31 to 50 employees.

The research highlighted that there was a clear regional split among the companies using VoIP. With a third of businesses making calls over the internet, London topped the table, followed by the Northeast of England (24%) and the Southwest (23%). In fourth place was Northern Ireland (20%), followed by the Northwest (19%) and the Southeast (18%). Scotland came seventh (17%), ahead of the Midlands (15%). Businesses in Wales have been the slowest to adopt VoIP, with only 5% Northern Ireland leads the way for companies planning to adopt VoIP over the next year, with 54%, followed by London (36%) and the Southeast (29%).

The survey, which was carried out on behalf of BT Business Total Broadband and BT Business Broadband Voice reports that 86% of smaller businesses in the UK (up to 50 employees) now have broadband in the office, with 20% currently use broadband calling services.

BT has also published a case study on how 'virtual' law firm Woolley & Co uses telcoms services…

Rather than being based in an office, the firm's 10 partners all work from home, and are equipped to work flexibly on the move. This dramatically reduces costs, allows them to provide excellent service and be available whenever clients need them, no matter where they are. At the heart of the firm's success is its use of broadband, combined with Voice Over IP (VoIP) services.

Woolley & Co. is using BT Business Total Broadband to give its team everything they need in to get online, be secure, work on the move at BT Openzone hotspots across the UK and Ireland and collaborate across the firm, sharing files and documents using BT Workspace. The firm also make the most of a VOIP line that is currently being offered free as part of the standard BT Business Total Broadband packages . This gives them access to an additional telephone line along with great rates to local, national and international destinations. It also gives a range of special functions such as online call forwarding, conferencing and voicemail. This means that whether they are in the office, working remotely or on the move, Andrew Woolley and the other partners can take or respond to calls from clients, colleagues and other lawyers.

“What many small businesses don't realise is that the benefits extend of making calls over the internet go far beyond cheap calls. Using VOIP allows my team to work from wherever they have a broadband connection. Yes, there are cost savings to be made, especially when we're calling internally between partners, but it’s equally about the convenience of not being tied to a desk,” says Woolley

Businesses can also use a single handset to make and receive both VoIP and mobile calls. Whether users are in the office or out and about, BT Business Fusion allows them to make capped price calls and have the convenience of only having to carry one device.

“I can give clients one number, so they can contact me wherever I am. When I'm in the office, my Fusion phone connects my calls via broadband, so I get the benefit of fixed line rates, and everywhere else it switches into a standard mobile phone. What's revolutionary is that when I'm in a BT Openzone hotspot I can also make calls over the internet and the handset works out what the cheapest option is for me.

“This is my livelihood we’re talking about. The epiphany for me was realising how important it is to invest in services that are specifically designed for business. It's critical that the products are reliable, secure, fully supported and designed to integrate with all elements of my firm's communications. The options I've chosen I've thankfully found to be simple to use and have required very little technical knowledge. I get the benefits of the technology without the hassle of having to manage it, which means I can focus on servicing my clients without distraction,” adds Woolley.