How is it possible that one solution can handle the needs of the smallest to the largest operations and still be cost effective? It’s not a single one-size-fits-all solution. It’s a technology that readily scales to handle whatever demand is thrown at it. That’s hosted VoIP, also called hosted PBX or telephone in the cloud.
The cloud metaphor gives it away. What you are really dealing with is large data center set up to specifically handle business telephony for many clients. The characteristics that make this a cloud service are enormous scalable capacity and virtualization that keeps various clients isolated from each other. Billing follows the cloud model of pay-as-you-go. The service provider makes all capital investments in infrastructure plus the operational expenses in operating and maintaining the service. Clients pay by the seat by the month for the service they use.
Typically what you get with hosted VoIP is a suite of telephone services very similar to the most advanced PBX systems you could buy and install yourself. You pay a single price for your call switching. That includes in-house, local outside calls and domestic long distance. Overseas calling is extra, like it is with any calling plan.
One thing you get easily with a hosted solution is the ability to tie together multiple business locations. You can do this in-house to avoid paying toll charges to the phone companies for calls that go between your branch offices or back to headquarters. However, the solution involves you converging your network and running your own SIP trunks between PBX systems. If you want to avoid the telephone companies, you have to become the telephone company. Your service area is the various locations owned by your company.
Hosted VoIP providers maintain a cloud that contains the virtual PBX. You connect to that cloud from each of your locations, or back to HQ on your own network and then off to the cloud for call switching. Either way, the cloud doesn’t care where the handsets are located. They are simply network devices that can be connected at will. Connect a bunch of them together and you have a conference call.
What hosted VoIP providers are offering now is a way to share outside lines among all your remote locations. Remember that in-house calls don’t touch the public phone system. They are all “on-net,” so to speak. It’s only when you have to call outside the company that you need the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network). In the past, each of your locations would have its own PBX with its own outside lines. Some locations could have people waiting to use a line. Others could have a dozen lines vacant. With a hosted solution, all PSTN trunks come into the cloud and can be used by whoever needs them. It doesn’t matter which “branch” you happen to be at. Not all providers do this, so if it is an important feature for you then be sure to specify that you need this as a cost saver.
So far we’ve seen that hosted VoIP has the advantages of offering nearly limitless capacity on a pay as you go basis, with no capital investment and no need to maintain equipment yourself. It also easily connects multiple business locations with a complete set of the latest PBX features. Many providers can now integrate mobile phones so that your smartphone has access to the system as easily as your desk phone. Some providers even go so far as to provide you with new desk phones with the cost rolled into your service plan.
Can hosted VoIP make sense as your next phone system. Get prices and features for competing business telephone systems with hosted VoIP and see what makes the most sense for the size of your company.