Laptops, webcams, email access on every device in the house...we're all prepared for another year of remote work, right?! Not quite! Business phone systems are easily the most overlooked piece of the telework puzzle.
We all need a way to communicate professionally without relying on chat messages or giving out our personal cell phone numbers. Hosted VoIP solutions are not only way more cost-effective, they also enable you to take your office phone number with you anywhere.
Let's take a look at what it can do for your organization!
Table of Contents
- What is Hosted VoIP?
- What are the Benefits of a Hosted VoIP Phone System?
- How Does Hosted VoIP Help a Remote Workforce?
- Is Hosted VoIP Scalable?
- How Difficult is the On-Boarding Process for Hosted VoIP?
- Can a Hosted VoIP Provider Handle Our Fax Line?
- Hosted VoIP: Final Things to Consider
What is Hosted VoIP?
Hosted voice, or VoIP, is a cloud-based phone system that relies on an internet connection rather than telephone lines. This means that the system controller is located in a remote data center, allowing you to access to your phone number anywhere in the country!
Hosted VoIP solutions include built-in features such as mobile apps, PC softphones, conferencing, and collaboration tools. While many of these features may be available in an on-premises system, they generally require additional hardware and software.
What are the Benefits of a Hosted VoIP Phone System?
No Need for a Physical Phone System
The main benefit of a hosted VoIP system, and unified communications in general, is there is no longer the need for a physical phone system in the office that incurs a cost for maintenance and software upgrades. The only hardware requirement would be the physical office phones, but even these are optional, as many businesses opt to use mobile apps on their cell phones or integrate with software on their PCs.
One Less Monthly Bill
There is no longer a need for a separate voice carrier and the monthly bill associated with it. Businesses partnering with a managed service provider can enjoy the ease of one monthly bill covering all of your technology solutions.
Keep Your Existing Phone Numbers
No matter if you decide to purchase new office phones or simply use a softphone app to send your calls to your personal cell phone, you get to keep your existing phone numbers and extensions!
The monthly fee for a hosted system is based on the number of extensions and specific features. That fee includes ongoing support, program changes, maintenance, and software upgrades. The monthly fee generally includes unlimited long distance calling in the US and Canada, so make note that there may be extra charges involved for international calls.
The Most Reliable Connection Available
Hosted VoIP phone systems can help cover you in the event of a disaster. This is because the system is hosted in multiple data centers located around the country, providing redundancy and the best possible reliability. Should the primary data center become unreachable, the phones and applications will automatically failover to another site.
An on-premises system relies on building power, carrier services, and the phone system itself. Should any of those fail, your business is out of service and customers won’t be able to reach you.
How Does Hosted VoIP Help a Remote Workforce?
A hosted VoIP service is perfect for employees not tethered to a desk or traditional office environment. Users have the option of using a platform-certified desk phone at the remote location or the platform’s mobile and PC softphone application on any device.
All users, whether in the office or remote, are reachable by an extension and direct dial phone number. Also, phone calls from the mobile application appear to come from the office rather than the cell phone number.
A hosted solution is also perfect for a multi-site business. One hosted instance can support as many offices and geographically dispersed employees as you have for ease of reachability.
Is Hosted VoIP Scalable?
With hosted voice, you can add or delete users easily. Since the service is billed monthly you can scale up or down as needed. Thanks to the mobile applications, a user can be added and be fully functional within minutes of a request.
How Difficult is the On-Boarding Process for Hosted VoIP?
Set up is handled by the provider and requires very little work from you. The hosting provider will assign a project manager (PM) to your account to handle the setup from beginning to end
The PM will work with an engineer who programs the system based on your requirements. The PM manages the porting of the phone numbers as well as coordinating the training of staff on how to use the system and features. Physical phones are pre-programmed and ship for plug-and-play.
Can a Hosted VoIP Provider Handle Our Fax Line?
If your fax line isn’t connected to a traditional analog POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) line but instead goes through the phone system, you have two options. You can convert it to eFax and have the fax delivered to an email address as a PDF, or port the phone number to the provider and use an analog terminal adaptor to convert it back.
We've seen this completed both ways, and they are equally successful. We'll work with your personal situation to help figure out what's best for you!
Hosted VoIP: Final Things to Consider
The primary consideration before making the move to a hosted solution is to make sure you’re not under any extended term contract for services on the existing phone system. Contracts could involve support and maintenance for the phone system itself or the carrier providing service to the system.
Understand Your Contract
When talking to your providers make sure to remove any auto-renew clause that might be in place. You’ll want to be close to the end of your term or month to month before moving to the cloud so you don’t incur an early termination fee.
Understand the Cost
Another consideration is the overall cost. If your current system meets your needs and you’re not paying a lot of money for the voice services, the cost to move to a hosted solution could be more if you have a lot of users. Also, most on-premises phones aren’t compatible with a hosted solution so there will be a capital investment in new phones.
Understand Your Network
Lastly, you’ll want to make sure your office network is ready for VoIP. While VoIP calls take very little bandwidth, they do still rely on your internet connection, so you’ll want to make sure your bandwidth can handle the load. That being said, if your office relies heavily on phone traffic, VoIP providers can run a simulation test to make sure the bandwidth is adequate.
Also, VoIP phones require power, check to see if your network data switch is PoE (Power over Ethernet). You can always use a small power adaptor for each phone but depending on the size of the deployment it will make more sense to get a PoE switch if you don’t have one now.
If everything about a hosted phone system sounds good for your business, reach out, and let’s find out what solution fits best.
p.s. If you already have a Microsoft 365 subscription, you may also want to watch our recent webinar on Microsoft Teams "Business Voice" to learn if this solution is right for you.