If you’re looking for a new business phone system, there are several questions you need to answer…
- Do you need a full system that includes office telephones, or could you get by on mobile devices?
- If you do need office telephones, what kind of service do you need? A traditional landline service provided by someone like BT. Or a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system, which operates through the internet and is available through many different types of providers, which can save you up to 50% against a traditional landline service.
- If VoIP is your way forward, do you want to own all the equipment and have it based at your business (on-premises) or just rent it and have the main bit hosted by your chosen provider with just handsets on-site (cloud-based)?
We will help you answer these questions and fill you in on the advantages and dis-advantages provided by these types of phone systems:
- Virtual phone systems
- Cloud and on-premises systems
Virtual phone systems work by connecting a main business phone number to remote workers through their mobile or home phone. It’s an extensive call-forwarding solution, where calls are transferred to each designated phone when a customer or client calls a main business number.
Advantages: This service allows businesses with employees working remotely to present a consistent professional image.
Dis-advantages: Virtual systems aren’t full-fledged phone systems. Your calls are still processed on your mobile or home phone. And you are charged for the call on the virtual system, as well as using up your mobile or home phone minutes.
Traditional landline systems, in this instance are traditional phone systems, typically supported by a national or regional phone company, such as BT.
Landlines (known as public switched telephone networks (PSTNs), are analog systems that run via BT Openreach traditional copper wiring.
To run a landline service, you need on-site PBX (private branch exchange) hardware. This is what’s used to create multiple extensions and allow for phone system features, like call transferring and call directories.
Advantages: Landline systems are a reliable, time-tested solution that many companies are comfortable using.
Dis-advantages: Landline systems are usually much more expensive to run, and not as feature rich.
VoIP phone systems don’t need the copper wires that traditional landlines need. VoIP phone systems use the same internet connection that you are already using to get online.
Advantages: VoIP systems provide a sophisticated phone system complete with all the features you would want and need. These systems are easy to set up and configure, and significantly cheaper than landline systems.
Dis-advantages: VoIP systems rely on your internet connection. So, if you’re in a community with a poor internet speed and reliability, this type of phone system wouldn’t work for you.
But, if you do decide that a VoIP system will fit your needs, you now have another decision to make…
While all landline systems require you to house the necessary equipment inside your business, VoIP systems give you the option to buy your equipment outright and host it yourself, or to rent the equipment from your provider and have the provider host it in the cloud (in very secure & safe data centre).
On-premises VoIP systems are housed, including all the equipment, (PBX hardware and handsets) within your business. And require a large capital expenditure, as you are purchasing the equipment upfront.
While you pay a 1 off fee for all the hardware with a self-hosted system, you still pay additional monthly fees for your SIP trunking, or PRI circuit, which is what allows calls to be made and received.
Advantages: You are in control of the service and relying on yourself to ensure it is up and running and configured how you like.
Dis-advantages: There is significant upfront cost, as you buy all the equipment, and you also need someone in your team who can service and maintain it.
Cloud-based VoIP systems have no maintenance or hardware (other than phones) to worry about. Your provider houses, maintains and upgrades the PBX technology for you, making it simple. The cloud-based service allows growing businesses to easily add new lines and provides quick access to new features, typically paid for in a low monthly fee on a per-user basis, which usually includes a good package of minutes.
Advantages: There are no upfront costs, as you don’t need to purchase PBX hardware. And there are no back-end costs, as there is no dial-tone service for you to maintain. Your provider takes care of that for you. You can set up and configure the system for your business, all from your computer or your provider will do it for you. The system is also feature rich, providing voice mail, hunt groups, direct dial numbers, virtual office numbers. With further options like virtual reception and call recording.
Dis-advantages: You aren’t in control of the hardware. If the system goes down, you rely on your provider to fix it as quickly as possible.
Now that you know the types of phone systems available and what each one offers, you need to determine which solution is the best fit for your organisation and choose a provider you can trust.