What’s best for your business: hosted VoIP or traditional onsite PBX telephony?
By Will Rowley • 10 Mar 2015
If your business is still using traditional onsite PBX telephony, then you’re probably wondering what managed, hosted VoIP services are and what you need to do – and watch out for – when migrating your business telephone system to hosted VoIP. This should help.
“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”
~ Lesley Hartley, The Go-between
First of all, let’s get some definitions straight.
What is traditional onsite PBX telephony?
A PBX is a ‘private branch exchange’. It’s a box that sits in your office, connecting your internal phones to external lines and carrying out functions like call holding and forwarding.
What is VoIP?
VoIP is ‘Voice over Internet Protocol’. It carries out many of the traditional PBX functions but – as it’s carried over the internet – it runs at a much lower cost. By the same token, VoIP has often proven unpopular in the past, exactly because it relies on a good internet connection – something that has historically been a struggle. With superfast broadband, this is no longer the case.
What is hosted VoIP?
Hosted VoIP is where an outside party manages your VoIP equipment, servers and services. As opposed to consumer VoIP (such as Skype), with a managed, hosted VoIP service, you get:
- Migration: of lines and numbers
- Integration: with PCs, mobiles and tablets, CRM systems, networks, hardware and unified communications
- Reliability: of network uptime in an environment where downtime puts your business continuity and compliance commitments in jeopardy
- Quality: of service, for an organisation that takes its image and reputation seriously
Why switch your business to hosted VoIP?
More than two-thirds of UK businesses have already switched to VoIP.
A key driver behind this is the reduced capital expenditure. With hosted VoIP, you only pay for what you need. However, with onsite PBX, you have to buy a PBX box and sign up to network and maintenance contracts (usually for three to five years) based on a guess as to how big your business will grow. More often than not, to make sure they’re covered, businesses over-estimate this and end up paying more than they need to for hardware they don’t use.
Aside from that, there are 10 more reasons for choosing hosted VoIP over traditional onsite PBX.
- Faster broadband means a hosted VoIP service today is a stack better than it was, say, eight years ago
- Digital kicks old-world analogue into touch for call quality
- VoIP is cheaper
- It helps improve business efficiency and productivity
- It supports mobile working
- It’s suitable for businesses of all sizes
- It’s hassle-free
- It requires no capital expenditure
- It supports growth
- It’s in the cloud, so your business can continue to function no matter what - through flood or fire or fancy
In May 2014, we covered the big 10 reasons why businesses should switch to hosted VoIP in some depth. If you haven’t already, you can read about them in this blog: Why switch to VoIP for business?
You’ve decided to migrate to hosted VoIP; what next?
This is where you need to talk to a reliable company who’s done it all before. At Cloud Direct, we’ve been doing this for years so we can share a few insights on the subject. There are six fundamental questions to ask yourself when moving your business to hosted VoIP. Here they are:
- Is my broadband good enough?
VoIP 100% relies on good internet bandwidth to transfer call data. So a slow internet connection will immediately affect the quality of your call.
- What length of contract best suits my business?
Doubtless, you’ll be looking to minimise the monthly cost of your business VoIP. You’ll always find the cheapest rates if you commit to longer time-scales, so look for a provider that offers 12-, 24- and 36-month contracts. With the flexibility of cloud, you can add extra licences on a month-by-month basis, according to your business requirements, so you only pay for what you need. Opt for a rolling contract, and – while you’ll have more flexibility - you’ll pay premium prices.
- What level of customer support does my business need?
Alongside email, your phone communications most likely underpin your functionality as a business. It’ll be critical for customer enquiries and sales activities. As with traditional PBX – or landline – any problems will immediately have repercussions in the form of frustrated customers and depleted sales.
This is where a top-rate, UK based customer service will make a world of difference. In this day and age there really is no reason for prolonged – if any – service disruption. There’s also the added benefit of a 24-hour ability to change any of your settings, such as auto-attendant options, hunt groups and call forwarding.
- What hardware does my business need?
When migrating to business VoIP you’ll need to ditch your traditional analogue phones. It sounds wasteful, I know, but unfortunately they aren’t forward compatible. Business grade handsets offer high definition call quality on a secure network protected from hackers.
- How mobile do we need to be?
Some service providers limit their packages to certain devices. Work out what your business needs and go from there. With a robust and compliant cloud solution for your industry, you should be able to access your hosted VoIP services from your PCs, laptops, tablets and mobile phones - wherever you have a suitable internet connection.
- What hidden costs do I need to be aware of?
Make sure you’ve looked into costs. Go for per-second billing as opposed to per-minute billing – that’ll make your monthly expenditure a lot more attractive.
You’ve chosen a business VoIP provider; now what?
So you’ve covered the six key bases. Now all your VoIP provider needs to do is give you:
- A telephony audit and cost analysis
- Solution design and call route planning
- Number porting
- Smooth implementation and early use support
- Product training
Click here to find out more about expert migration from an on-premises PBX telephone system to a managed, hosted VoIP solution.
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