That’s a tall order, but the technology is available to do exactly what you have in mind. The problem is that it can be a little tricky to get working properly. You can greatly increase your chances of having a successful implementation by getting some help with the installation. Not just by hiring a consultant, mind you. Move the tricky and expensive aspects of VoIP telephony to an expert provider and avoid the engineering and maintenance nightmare completely.
That’s the idea behind Virtual PBX systems, also called Hosted PBX. The PBX system itself has long been a fixture at most medium and larger size companies. There may not even be anyone on staff who remembers the day when all you had was a few phones and the telephone company took care of all that fancy switching. In a way, we’re moving back to that model of having just phones within the company and doing the connections elsewhere. The difference is mostly in the technology.
The first thing to know about virtual phone systems is the disappearance of the traditional telco wiring. That was the standard connection for analog telephones. Digital phones don’t need their own separate telephone network. They can ride along on the Ethernet LAN, along with all the computing equipment.
Phones do need a connection to your telephone service provider. That’s called a SIP Trunk. A SIP Trunk works like the ISDN PRI or T1 Phone line that connects to an in-house PBX system. The advantage of the SIP trunk is that it transports packets of all types. These can be voice packets from a telephone or data packets from the Internet. Some of the packets are switching signals for the telephones. They use a standard called Session Initiation Protocol which is where the term SIP comes from.
The phones that you use on the network are called IP phones. They look like a standard business phone with an RJ-45 network connector on the back in place of the usual telephone line jack. They are either powered by AC adaptors or over the network itself. This is called POE for Power over Ethernet. Some Ethernet switches offer this capability and save you the trouble of using AC adaptors. The switch can also provide battery backup so you can use your phones during a power outage.
The PBX system itself is located at the service provider. A hosted PBX or cloud PBX system is much larger than anything you’d buy for your own use. It’s operated and maintained by a dedicated staff so you don’t have to worry about outages, repairs or upgrades. What you have is a portal to that PBX system so that you can register your phones and decide on how the features work. All the in-house conversations are on the network so there aren’t per-minute charges. For calls that go outside, the hosted PBX has lines to the public telephone network. The economy of scale is so large that you can often get unlimited local and long distance calling as part of the per-seat monthly charge.
Are you considering a phone system installation, replacement or upgrade? Before you simply go the traditional route, check Virtual Hosted PBX VoIP service prices and see if it makes a lot more sense to rent rather than buy your business telephone system.