What is a hosted phone system?
A hosted phone system utilises the internet to transfer voice data (i.e. telephone calls), as opposed to sending analogue signals across a traditional PSTN landline connection.
Rather than hosting a physical private telephone exchange (PBX) within your premises, a hosted phone system carries out the work of processing and connecting calls internally and externally through a remote cloud-based solution, accessed via the internet. Calls are made and received via an IP handset and routed through your office broadband connection. With certain plans and solutions, telephone calls can also be made or received via mobile devices.
Essentially, a hosted phone system removes the need for any on-site switching equipment; many users view it as a software solution, rather than a hardware-oriented one.
Are VoIP and hosted phone systems the same thing?
Sometimes, the terms VoIP and hosted phone system are used interchangeably. In reality, the solutions deliver differing levels of functionality to the end user.
Although both technologies leverage the internet for voice data distribution, a hosted phone system provides a remote solution for routing, managing and making calls – essentially acting as a digital private branch exchange and calling platform, whereas VoIP is a protocol for packaging, sending and deciphering digital voice signals, as opposed to handling the switching and routing involved in placing a call between two points. A VoIP solution can be installed locally at your premises or hosted remotely.
Disadvantages of hosted phone systems
Poor call quality
There is a belief that the broad functionality offered by a hosted phone system comes at the expense of good call quality, making it an unsuitable choice for businesses.
However, this is not true: if you have a poor internet connection, you may experience calls of sub-par quality. But if you opt for a reliable ISP (internet service provider), instances of poor call quality are likely to be mitigated – in reality, VoIP call quality via a good broadband connection will exceed the standards achieved on standard phone lines.
Reliance on an internet connection
Some potential users are also concerned by the idea of their entire telecommunications solution riding on the resilience and quality of their internet connection. This is understandable: if the internet connection were to fail, the phone system would also be out of action, leaving no reliable means of contacting customers or clients.
Again, this should not be an issue if your chosen ISP is reliable and provides comprehensive technical support.
The idea of a phone system being hosted remotely and managed externally, outside of your immediate control, can be off-putting to the security conscious. However, it is worth remembering that much of a business’s vital communications, such as emails or shared documents, are already stored remotely on a server outside the business’s premises.
A reputable and proficient provider will have physical and virtual security measures in place, both around their data centre and your data, which will protect your privacy and keep your information secure.
What are the benefits of a hosted phone system?
Lower charges for your business telecommunications
The primary appeal of a hosted phone system is the opportunity to benefit from a reduction in costs. Hosted systems are usually paid for on a monthly basis; there are no ongoing maintenance charges and usually just a minimal installation fee.
Hosted systems are both scalable and flexible. New users can be added (or removed) easily, depending on your requirements. No physical intervention or installation will be required – adding more users is usually as simple as changing a configuration setting in the system’s software interface. Not only is a hosted phone system capable of growing in tandem with your business, it can be extended or reduced at will; at a minimal cost to you in terms of time, space and finances.
More opportunity for staff mobility
Business customers will find that a hosted phone system offers their organisation greater flexibility in terms of the geographical location where work can take place, due to the absence of any restriction created by hardware being tied to a single physical location. Calls going to a number on your network can be answered remotely, including at home or whilst travelling, without being tied to a local exchange. The same number can be used wherever the user is in the world, regardless of the area code prefix.
Want to learn more about hosted phone systems, or other telephony solutions? At Structured Communications we offer hosted VoIP systems, as well as SIP channels and trunking. To find out how we can help get your business connected, get in touch today.