How to buy a hosted phone system
For businesses looking to make a mark in their industry, hosted phone systems are often a good choice. With the ability to make a business appear larger than it really is, improving customer response, increasing efficiency and boosting the bottom line, it's often a no-brainer.
How hosted phone systems work
Often compared to private branch exchange (PBX) systems, hosted phone systems are Internet protocol (IP) based, meaning voice communications go over a computer network. Instead of purchasing expensive PBX equipment, a hosted phone system buyer leases some basic equipment and pays a monthly fee to the hosting company. Generally, the business leasing the phone system will receive a router that connects their local network to the hosting company. In some cases, a private link is provided for added security. When a phone makes a call from inside the business, it is connected via the router to the central hosting office, where most of the heavy lifting is done. If appropriate, the call is transmitted via voice over Internet protocol (VOIP). If calling a traditional phone, the call is routed to the regular phone network.
Pros and cons of a hosted phone system
The biggest advantages for the business leasing a hosted phone system are cost, scalability and features. Because the equipment is leased, the up-front cost is lower than purchasing new phone hardware. Since the hosting company is responsible for upgrading its technology, this is another expense that is not borne solely by your business. Scalability is another benefit, as in the case of a business suddenly needing more lines. Such a need can typically be handled with little effort by the hosting company. Finally, added features such as an auto attendant, virtual numbers, and follow-me calling are standard, making a hosted phone system a powerful choice for a small investment.
However, there are some downsides to not having your phone system on-site. First, you must give up some control. As all the software and hardware (except for the phone handsets and possibly a router) is housed outside of your office, you won't be able to be as hands-on with it as you would otherwise be. The positive side of this lack of control is that you don't need to have phone system experts on-hand at your company to deal with any problems that come up.
While most hosting firms deal with network standards such as SIP, if you do choose a host that rolls its own protocol, you may find yourself in need of complete upgrades should you choose another provider. Finally, as with the Internet in general, networks can periodically go down. So if your business needs the phone to be available, without fail, every minute of every day, hosted phone systems may not be for you.
Choosing the right dealer
There are many standard features that hosted phone system dealers offer, but there are differences. A big one is whether the host will support your phone system being routed over the Internet instead of over a dedicated phone line. For smaller companies, this can be a huge deal, as an existing Internet connection might be perfectly suitable for smaller phone calling needs, but a dedicated connection could add hundreds of dollars to the monthly cost.
And while some hosts charge a per-seat cost of around $30 to $40, others base their costs on the length of the contract. The ability to obtain lower costs could be enticing, but if you are unhappy with your choice, the lower cost might not be worth the frustration. Your decision ultimately comes down to trust. Do you trust your business to an outside company? And if so, do you trust that company to deliver on what it promises? If so, a hosted phone system can do wonders.
Start your search today: we can match you to multiple hosted phone system dealers in your area so you can start saving money and reducing your telecommunications headaches.