Author: Leo D’Alessandro – Product Marketing Manager, Sangoma
When searching for a phone solution for your company, you have likely come across the terms ‘hosted service’ or ‘cloud-based PBX’ but have passed it by because you thought that it was only for big businesses. Sound familiar?
Would it surprise you to know that hosted telephony solutions ARE the right choice for small and medium businesses?
Below we will demystify the “hosted”, and “cloud-based” solutions for you so that you can make an informed decision.
Before the internet was everywhere, the traditional telephone company, called the PSTN, (public switched telephone network) controlled the communication industry. Anyone making a phone call had to pass through them, and they usually charged by the minute. This became very expensive for businesses, especially the small ones with tight spending caps. You also had to have dedicated physical lines from the PSTN to your office, and there was a cost charged to you for setting up those lines and maintaining them.
To help mitigate these costs businesses installed hardware inside their office locations to create a private network, called a PBX (“Private Branch Exchange”), which was independent from the PSTN. All the internal office extensions were connected to this private network and any employee extension could call another employee extension, free-of-charge. If they needed to make an outbound call, they had to press “9” before the number. Many of you may still be doing this today. A private branch made a lot of sense, then.
The introduction of VoIP (“Voice Over IP”) changed how telecommunication worked. Instead of using dedicated voice lines to the PSTN, VoIP instead, uses the internet infrastructure for telecommunications. This is the same internet connection that your office computers use, so, all the office phones, computer and softphones share the same cable connection to the office PBX hardware.
With a “Hosted” or “Cloud-based” solution, the office PBX is offsite, located in the VoIP provider’s network, instead of your local office. So, anytime an office employee makes a phone call, it first goes out over the internet to your PBX located at your VoIP provider, then is routed to the destination, either back into your office to another internal extension or an outside line. All the maintenance and IT infrastructure of your offsite PBX solution is controlled by your VoIP provider, so your IT department has nothing to do or worry about.
Because the internet infrastructure is so vast in size, the cost of a hosted, or cloud-based solution is much lower than the traditional PSTN solution, so the VoIP provider passes these savings to their customers with many included calling features (such as caller ID, voicemail, local and long distance…etc).
Hosted, or Cloud-based solutions make growth easier for your company’s future, allowing you to make incremental changes as you need them, using the VoIP provider’s online portal.
There is no down-side to a hosted or cloud-based telephony solution. Unless you are in a unique situation and require a customized telephone system for your business (not common for small to medium sized businesses), a hosted or cloud-based solution is for you.
There are many VoIP providers offering hosted or cloud-based PBX solutions. Do your own research to find out which is the best option for you.