Hosted telephony services are changing how small, medium and large businesses use voice communications. They can deliver an extraordinary range of business, financial and technical benefits – making business voice communications more resilient, saving money and making it easy to adapt to change.
Office phone systems are often called PBXs – Private Branch Exchanges – or PABXs – private automatic branch exchanges. In the simplest terms, they connect any two or more phone users in the same organisation together.
Of course they can do a vast amount more, providing facilities such as voice mail, conferencing, call forwarding and so on to make life easier. PBXs are sited at the business’ site, and connect to the outside world via analogue and digital circuits, with cabling around the business location to which handsets are connected. The intelligence to make the components work together is within the PABX itself.
Hosted phone systems, by contrast, take most of the switching and intelligence of the conventional on-site system and move it off-site to a remote location where it is managed by a service provider, such as Pinnacle. Equipment at the business’ site is limited to the phones themselves, a switch, and broadband routers.
As a result, hosted systems are usually quicker, cheaper and easier to install and set up than conventional phone systems. As they are hosted remotely, there is less need for on-site expertise or maintenance.
In contrast, premise-based PBXs require equipment to be located on site. The organisation will be responsible for installing, managing and, when required, upgrading the equipment, as needs change.
Hosted telephony services are good for:
- Small and medium-size businesses.
- Organisations with multiple offices or remote users, and those that anticipate rapid changes in size.
- Any organisation wishing to avoid the significant capital cost of acquiring an on site phone system.
- Organisations with limited on-site knowledge of managing a phone system.
On-site or premise-based systems are best for large, stable businesses with a predictable number of users that need custom features or to integrate their phone system into their business applications.
Hosted phone systems provide small- to medium-sized businesses with abilities and features that are available to larger organisations, while providing the potential to reduce long-term operating costs considerably.
As with any rapidly growing technology, there is a wide variety of providers and a range of features at widely varying prices. Key benefits include: basic operating cost reductions due to lower call charges, the need for only one communications network, and lower maintenance costs.
There is a minimal investment risk, because no significant upfront investment is needed, and straightforward installation costs are based on tested, reliable components connecting to a system which IT personnel already understand.
It is important to make sure that your system has the basic features that you require now for the operation of your business and for its future growth than to drive the cost to the absolute bare minimum. Be clear about your initial and ongoing costs, contract terms and additional costs you may be committing to.