A traditional phone system, usually installed on premises, means a business needs to purchase, install and set up the equipment. To be relieved from the burden, an increasing number of businesses are adopting hosted IP telephony. These systems allow them to continue using existing systems, opt for a hybrid solution of both premise-based and hosted technology, or have complete hosted services or hosted VoIP solutions.
Using a hosted voice over IP (VoIP) means the hardware and private branch exchange (PBX (News - Alert)) is hosted at a VoIP service provider’s data center or off-site location, rather than on premises. VoIP systems help reduce the costs and complexities of deploying VoIP in house; therefore outsourcing VoIP to a third party might make sense for many SMBs.
The benefits are many for Internet-based telephony. Calls are routed over IP; companies can see great cost savings by using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services for phone calls. There are, in fact, no upfront costs of equipment and installation as the provider is responsible for maintaining the system. All that is needed from users is a high speed Internet connection to function. Companies can get a number of services for a fixed monthly price: voice, fax to email, call forwarding, voice-messaging (voicemail), call conferencing, and so on.
Those that elect to use hosted phone solutions are offered “services that are run from within the cloud but managed via a virtual PBX switchboard,” explains a post featured on ITProPortal.com. This U.K.-based website that covers technology information reported some of the reasons why a business ought to upgrade to a hosted phone solution. Here are a few:
Flexibility: It can enable employees to work from anywhere: from home (telework), other offices, mobile phones, and even abroad.
Scalability: It is able to scale up quickly and enables companies to expand and grow with the business without the cost to add phones or additional lines when needed. A cloud hosted phone service, for example, is apt for rapid expansion.
Location independent: It makes it easy to distribute calls across multiple premises as they are automatically transferred to key members wherever they are, thanks to a hosted phone service residing in the cloud.
Business continuity: It is able to effectively handle, manage and remotely administer incoming and outgoing calls off-site when disaster strikes—such as a fire, flood or anything else underway at the user’s site. It can serve as a back-up plan for continuous communication even in a disaster. What’s more, with a hosted solution, a company is protected from the risk of communications system failures. The help of the service provider, especially in an event of disaster, proves as a worthwhile investment for an upgrade because at a moment's notice, the ITSP can automatically re-route calls via the cloud or re-direct them to another location, as needed.
Cost effective: It offers initial and ongoing cost savings. A hosted VoIP system costs much less to set up than an on premise PBX. Hosted VoIP providers will also take care of all the set-up, installation and maintenance services, in addition to updating, upgrading, or engaging in any necessary IT troubleshooting; these are, normally, the responsibilities of the provider.
All in all, the benefits of hosted VoIP are many, offering businesses cost savings, greater communications flexibility and productivity-enhancing features. The shift to VoIP really depends on the company’s use and how vital it is to have a flexible system. A telephone system hosted entirely in the cloud can lower the business capital costs and operational expenditure, while providing them an affordable, scalable, and reliable solution to enhance productivity and communication.
Nonetheless, there will be still some SMBs reluctant to upgrade to hosted solutions, opting instead for an on-premises solution. However, upgrading to a hosted model “offers a low-priced way to gain IP PBX features.” It may also be in the best interest of companies with an old traditional PSTN setup that is failing or breaking down frequently too; under such circumstances, it's logical for anyone to switch.
The benefits of the hosted model provide some compelling reasons to consider it as a viable option for voice and video calling between users, and not only. The possible savings might influence more SMBs to do the upgrade in the future. What is certain, “businesses' interests in hosted IP telephony and VoIP access service are likely to increase [in the near future] for an alternative to a premise-based phone system," as per Frost & Sullivan (News - Alert) senior analyst Lynda Starr. She confirms (in a Computer Weekly post) that it offers a great array of benefits as compared with premise-based solutions in enabling users to utilize advanced features (that are not available over circuit-switched offerings) and use productivity tools like voice, Web meetings and Internet fax.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson