Monday, May 21, 2012

Business Phone Goes Hosted

Business telephone service has expanded over the years, from the single line analog POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) to multi-line PBX systems that handle hundreds and thousands of phone sets. What’s the next logical development? Could it be even larger and more sophisticated in-house PBX systems? No, just the opposite. The PBX is moving out as business phone service goes hosted.

With hosted business phone, all you need are the telephones...Hosted business phone is another term for telephone switching in the cloud. Hosted means that a service provider hosts your telephone service on their equipment. The responsibility for running the PBX system and providing the lines to the public telephone system are effectively transferred from your company to your service provider’s.

Why would you want to go the hosted route? It generally boils down to finances and flexibility. The first financial advantage is that you no longer have to buy expensive capital equipment and provide a space for it in your building. This is seldom a one time allocation. Every so many years you find that your equipment has become obsolete and too expensive to maintain or it can no longer keep up with the demands placed on it. You need a newer and likely larger system to replace it. That process is called a “fork lift upgrade” because it you can’t often salvage any of the existing equipment. A fork lift truck drives in and hauls out the old PBX system. It then drives back in to deliver the new replacement.

Granted, smaller PBX systems that support branch offices or retail locations may be something you can pick up and carry yourself. Even so, the “fork lift” metaphor applies. It’s out with the old and in with the new. Hopefully you can pay off the old system before it’s time to replace it.

With a hosted PBX system, there are phones but there is no PBX or telephone switching system in-house. That lets you avoid a major capital expense and also the guessing game of trying to predict how much capacity you’ll need during the lifetime of that system. If you guess low, you’ll be replacing it while it still works just fine. If you guess high, you’ll pay for capacity that you never use. Either way, it’s hard to know the future well enough to pick just the right size PBX.

The other financial advantage is that PBX phone systems cost more than just the purchase price. Every time to you to do a “move, add or change” with your telephones, somebody has to do some rewiring and change some programming in the system. That could be a dedicated staff member who is the telephone manager full or part time. Otherwise it is a contractor known as a VAR for Value Added Reseller. Either way, there’s ongoing expense to run the system and keep up with the changes.

How do hosted business phone systems save you all that grief and expense? The service provider has a much larger shared PBX system and the staff to run it 24/7. They keep up with day to day maintenance and upgrades. Because this system is so large, it can accommodate many customers and easily expand to meet your changing needs. That’s the principle behind the cloud. You don’t have to worry about all the hardware, software and personnel needed to keep the phone system running. The service provider specializes in this and handles it for you.

What’s available in the way of hosted phone services? There are a number of cloud communications providers who offer this capability. They generally provide the service on a “per seat” per month basis. Each phone has internal, local and long distance switching capability included. Most of the time its a single price for all calling other than international and for all the features. Some providers can include your mobile phones so that they are part of the PBX capabilities. Some providers even include the physical phones. These are IP Telephones than plug right into your company LAN. You connect to the provider with a network connection called a SIP Trunk.

Can hosted business phone make sense for your company? There are solutions for every business from the smallest retailer to the largest corporation. Get prices and features for competing hosted PBX service providers now and see if you can save both money and effort.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

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