The Truth About VOIP Phone Systems
Here at Social Comms UK, we are working hard to ensure that everyone has access to information to make informed decisions. Especially when they are looking for VOIP Phone Systems. This is the first of a series of guides to help give you everything you need to know about the latest business phone systems.
The terms Cloud, Hosted and VOIP Phone Systems are commonly used interchangeably. This leads to a common misconception that all cloud systems are created equal. There are actually lots of different types of Cloud and VOIP Phone systems! These systems may largely be split into three groups, and we will break those down for you now.
That’s right, there are three main categories of VOIP Phone Systems in the market today. Each of these has their own benefits and weaknesses, and we will do our best to give you a fair comparison.
The three types of cloud are:
On-premise is the closest thing to a traditional phone system. There are handsets connected to a box on the wall (called a PBX) and this is the brains of the system. From there, the PBX connects to an internet connection and uses this connection to make phone calls.
Monthly Cost – Once the hardware is paid off, there is a relatively low monthly cost for the lines and calls. This is because the vast majority of the system is owned by you. If you take good care of the system, it can last you a long time and you really get value for money from it. Most businesses do not need a phone line per person, and so there are cost savings here too. As an example, the average company only uses around 3 phone lines per 10 users.
Cost effective expansion – these types of systems often come over-licensed. The Ericsson-LG UCP 100, for example, gives you 30 handset licenses out of the box. This means that even if you only have 5-10 handsets, you can grow your system affordably, merely needing to buy an extra handset and no license cost.
Single point of failure – As the PBX resides at your office, any disruption to the internet connection or power cases challenges. For example, should your internet connection drop, external calls will fail. This also means that remote users lose connectivity too!
Expensive upfront costs – Unless you put the system on a rental or Hire-Purchase, you need to pay thousands of pounds up front for an On-Premise system.
Administration – the Programming of an On-Premise System can be complex, not to mention keeping on top of how many of each license you have.
Examples: AVAYA IP Office, E-LG UCP 100, Mitel 3300.
If you have heard of VOIP Phone systems before, or if you have one already, chances are it is public cloud. This is where many customers are all on the same system, often held in a Data Center. Telecity London is a popular location for such services. Each phone connects to an internet connection, and all calls, including internal calls, require an internet connection.
Simple to use – Often these systems have a rather basic, but easy to use feature set. So, if all you need are the basics, this is a nice option for you.
Automatic Updates – The platform is often updated automatically, and out of hours. This means that you always have access to the latest features. So, you can be sure your always have the most current version of your system.
No upfront cost – A simple per user per month model of pricing allows for easy budgeting when growing your system.
Basic Functionality – Should you require call reporting, recording, or contact centre functionality, you will likely not be able to get them. At best, they require more money each month to unlock.
Automatic Updates – While this can be a positive, updates can also be known to remove features from time to time. Perhaps worse, they may change the user interface of applications you regularly use. This means that you have no choice but to accept the new changes and loss of functionality. This results in users feeling they have no control over their own system.
High Monthly Costs – Though there are typically no upfront costs, there is a per user per month cost that can be expensive. What’s more, but you never stop paying this price. If you choose to cancel the service, you don’t own anything at the end, so must start from scratch.
Examples: Ring Central, BT Cloud Voice, HiHi, Gamma Horizon.
Private Cloud is a mix of both an on-premise system, and traditional VOIP Phone Systems. This is where your system is housed in a data centre, but you have your own version of the system.
Cost effective expansion
– These types of systems are licensed per system, not per user. This means that you can have unlimited extensions at no extra cost. So, you can grow your system affordably, merely needing to buy an extra handset and no license cost.
Control – You decide if or when you would like an update to take place, so you can be sure to retain all the features you like. You may even use older handsets, or older versions of apps.
Disaster Recovery – Apps are included FREE of charge with private cloud systems. This means that for no extra charge each user may have an app on their mobile, giving them access to the system over 3G, 4G or even 5G. So, should you have a power outage or internet outage on site, users can still make and receive calls via the mobile app!
Cost Effective – These systems benefit from savings on monthly charges. Because you are able to choose how many voice lines you want, you can benefit from the savings an on-premise system can provide.
Scarcity – There are not many providers of Public Cloud Systems, as you need to be more technically advanced to manage them as a provider. Also, there are few manufacturers who choose to make them.
Perceived Complexity – Because of the specialist nature of these systems, users often feel daunted at first when looking to purchase a new system. That being said, if you choose a good supplier, who knows what they are doing and explains things clearly, you should not have this challenge.
We hope this has helped to explain a little about the types of VOIP Phone Systems available to you.
Should you have any further questions, or require any more information, please get in touch and we will be happy to help!