- Software VOIP - like Skype, good for start-ups, businesses need more powerful with more features
- On Premise/Self-Hosted VOIP - appropriate for large businesses that have the manpower and resources to implement an in-house solution. Also, could be used to save an old legacy PBX system, or to have total control of every aspect of your phone system.
- Hosted VOIP - Best for small businesses. This moves your phone system to the cloud. Each phone in your office then plugs into the internet (just like a computer) and routes all calls (including extension to extension) over the internet.
In this article I will concentrate on hosted VOIP.
Advantages of Hosted VOIP
- Always on.
Even if your internet/phone lines at your office go down. Your hosted VOIP phone system in the cloud is always on. Meaning if a customer calls you they will still get the interactive voice menu (press 1 for sales 2 for billing etc) and they will be routed normally to your voicemail. Your phones at the office will not be able to make or receive calls while the internet is down, but your customer won’t know that and will still be able to leave voicemail.
The phones in your office only need internet. So if you took extension 102 home, and plugged it into the internet. It would still be extension 102 on your cloud phone system. Meaning that phone would take and receive calls as normal even though it was in a completely different location. If the internet goes down at your office, you can log into a web portal for the hosted VOIP and reroute all incoming calls to a cell phone, or direct to voicemail, or to another phone.
- No need for multiple roll-over lines.
With VOIP in general you only need your main office number. You can have as many or as few numbers as you want (think marketing) but in order to field multiple calls at once you do not need more than 1 phone number. VOIP uses call paths (not seperate analog lines) so you don’t have to pay for multiple lines to get simultaneous calls.
- Good control
Hosted VOIP has a web portal that lets you configure you phone system anyway you would like. Do you want all incoming calls between 8am and 5pm ring only the 3 front phones? Would you like it to ring them all simultaneously or in order? How about after going through several onsite phones it rings your cell phone?
Disadvantages of Hosted VOIP
- Requires new phones.
Because your phone system is now in the cloud, we require a VOIP phone to access it. If you already have VOIP phones in some cases, we can repurpose them. But a traditional analog phone system or PBX cannot be converted to hosted VOIP.
- Internet is your lifeline.
Its already true that your business will suffer when the internet is down. Now that your phones go over the internet that is another service you lose when internet goes down. However, there are a few ways around this, first, the hosted VOIP can be rerouted to a cell phone temporarily. Also, you can look into dual WAN services that combine two internet providers so that if one goes down you are still connected.
- Devices still need analog lines.
Some Credit Card Machines, Fire/Alarm systems, and the good old fax still need analog plain old telephone lines. This can increase you costs if you need to keep a plain old telephone line for those services. But there are solutions
Fax machines still rely on analog, plain old telephone service lines. Some VOIP providers will sell converters that make the fax to "work" over the VOIP system. However, most will tell you it isn’t worth the headache.
Comparison Btw ATT, Comcast, Complete Voice
ATT Hosted VOIP
All in one package, that uses proprietary phones and expensive MPLS internet. Limited availability and long installation times.
Comcast Business Voice Edge
Again a bundle deal, if you are happy with phones but unhappy with internet you cannot separate them. Proprietary equipment. Can get expensive with Comcast charging per line AND per phone.
Not tied into your internet service provider. You have the freedom to switch internet providers without giving up your phone system. Likewise, your phone system will work in any office location so long as there is internet doesn’t matter who provides it. VOIP Industry standard Polycom phones, that you could use with another VOIP provider if you wanted.
Call Dentalpc to find out more about how hosted VOIP solutions are an ideal replacement for traditional PBX systems, are packed with calling features, and are not tied to an internet provider with proprietary equipment.