To switch or not to switch, that is the question. As more aspects of modern work move into the cloud, entrepreneurs like you are faced with the dilemma of switching to hosted apps and cloud services, and first on the list—your business phone system. To help you determine whether switching is the best choice for your business, we’ve put together a list of hosted phone systems pros and cons.
PRO: Enjoy added savings through low set-up and call costs
Investing in a hosted phone system costs significantly less than having multiple landlines or an on-premise PBX. Phones are often plug-and-play, which means you don’t need to be an IT professional to get your service up and running. All hardware are tested beforehand by your provider, to guarantee compatibility with their network.
The minimum cost of a hosted phone service includes set-up, a low monthly service charge per account, call charges, and a subscription fee for each user. Most providers also offer unlimited call packs which means local, national, and mobile calls are included at no added charge.
CON: Hardware must be compatible with network
Not all phones are built for VoIP telephony. If your phones aren’t IP-enabled, you may need to purchase new ones in order to switch to a hosted phone service. You will also require Ethernet ports, a bigger router, and Ethernet cords.
Thankfully, the cost of renting or purchasing VoIP-ready phones has become significantly lower. This gives solopreneurs and small businesses access to advanced phone functionalities without shelling out a lot of cash at the start-up phase.
Those who have already have a premise-based phone system can still maximise their investment and take advantage of the reliability of IP telephony through a SIP Trunking service. Through a SIP solution, you can keep your existing phone system while enjoying the cost-savings of IP telephony. Instead of directly connecting your IP-PBX to the public network, a SIP service connects it to the cloud so you can enjoy lower VoIP rates and increased flexibility.
PRO: Supports flexible work arrangements
For small businesses, hosted phone services mean big savings on rent simply because you don’t need to look for an office that will support bulky and complex equipment. The best part is, you can set-up a full-featured business phone system, even if you run your business from home.
Your hosted phone system can cover more than one site. Separate locations can use the same business number and enjoy the same features as your main office. You can also save on call costs within your organisation with free VoIP calls within your account, regardless of location.
Phone systems with UC (Unified Communications) capabilities lets you use your desktop or mobile to make and receive calls. So you never miss a business call while on the road or in between sites. This also keeps all communications professional by guaranteeing all conversations between your staff and your customers are not conducted on personal lines.
CON: Call quality will depend on your internet service
The biggest hurdle that’s keeping entrepreneurs from switching to a cloud based phone system are questions about poor call quality. Issues with free VoIP services like Skype and other apps are to blame for this misconception. In reality, VoIP calls can be as good, if not better than analog lines— granted that you have a business-grade service and a reliable internet service provider.
Sharing a single internet connection for your hosted PBX system and other devices used for your operations can mean you have insufficient bandwidth for your calls. To ensure the quality of your calls, you should consider having a dedicated internet connection for your phone service.
It’s also a good idea to get a business internet service instead of a residential broadband connection to support your hosted phone system. Business networks are less congested and have no peak/off-peak hours, which means the quality of your service remains consistent at all hours of the day.
PRO: Access a higher level of support with business specialists
Residential phone services are notorious for long holds, multiple transfers, and terribly low quality of service. When your business relies on the availability of your phones, you need to have specialists on-hand ASAP.
Having a business-grade service means you’re not waiting in queue with thousands of residential users. Business providers know that the availability of your service is critical to your operations. Therefore, their support teams are better trained and equipped with knowledge for finding a quick solution.
With your services hosted in the cloud, customising your phone system is also as easy as making a phone call. You can add extensions as your team grows and remove them when no longer needed. Features and compatible services can also be added without the need for changes in hardware or manual configuration.
CON: Power outages may affect your phone service
Grid issues and power surges may disrupt your hosted phone services. Unlike analog phone systems which have alternative power sources built along the landline, VoIP hardware do not. However, with a little bit of planning, it’s possible to keep your system up despite power issues.
A reliable backup power source is a must for hosted PBX systems. An Uninterruptible Power Supply or UPS is practically a large battery that becomes a power source during outages or streamlines your power flow. You may need more than one UPS for your system, but thankfully, these don’t cost much.
A PoE (Power over Ethernet) switch allows your phones to have a single connection, instead of having separate lines for network and power connections. Through a PoE switch, your phones can be powered remotely—much like analog systems. For larger businesses, you may opt for a generator with higher capacity, but also come with higher operational costs.
PRO: Higher reliability and lower maintenance requirements
It’s the word ‘hosted’ that makes all the difference. All the components of your phone system, apart from your phones, are housed outside of your premises. This means the burden of monitoring and maintenance falls on your provider’s shoulders. This translates to significant savings in IT costs for your business.
Hosted phone services are most known for being more reliable than their analog counterpart, and supporting business continuity. Because your service provider hosts the servers in redundant locations, phone downtimes are minimal, even if one server goes down or malfunctions.
Lastly, having your service hosted in the cloud means you can keep operations going even if your office is inaccessible. You simple redirect calls to your other devices or use softphones to make and receive calls on your computer or mobile phone.
Now that we’ve discussed all hosted phone systems pros and cons, it’s time to ask yourself—is switching to the cloud worth your time and money? The answer is yes.
For a business that’s looking to stay relevant and competitive, moving to the cloud is the future. Soon enough, hosted phone services will be the obvious choice for businesses. With easy workarounds to the disadvantages of hosted phone systems mentioned above, the benefits far outweigh the cons.
Yes, adapting an enterprise-grade business phone system can be daunting—but the process doesn’t have to be costly and stressful. The key is finding the right service provider that will tailor their service to your needs, not the other way around.
Go ahead and do your research, ask other entrepreneurs for referrals, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Better communications for you and your customers awaits.