Three Things You Should Know Before Switching to Hosted PBX

by StevenHelmer

Hosted PBX is a great product for many businesses but, like all services, isn't necessarily the right choice for you. Read to find out three things you should know about it.

For the better part of a dozen years, I have spent my weekdays working in the sales department of a small telecom company. And, one of the items I have been selling for the past few years is Hosted PBX.
Just in case you are unfamiliar with the technology, Hosted PBX uses Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) and Cloud technology to provide businesses with a phone system that doesn’t require a bunch of expensive on-site equipment. In fact, the only equipment that is housed on-site is the phones. The advantages of this type of service include various built-in backups, low maintenance costs and the ability to connect multiple locations without the need of expensive circuits.
However, while every salesperson is quick to point out the advantages, there are a number of things that many fail to mention that do prevent this product from being the perfect solution for everyone. That’s why there are three things about this technology you should keep in mind before committing to any contract.

Not All Internet is the Same

Internet EquipmentHosted PBX, like all VOIP technology, requires reliable internet access. And, this often isn’t as readily available as many people might think.

The more affordable services, like coax cable (Time Warner, Charter, etc.) typically offer enough bandwidth. However, those types of services are on shared networks and, as a result, the bandwidth isn’t always stable and outages are much more common. Dedicated circuits like T-1s or Fast Ethernet are much more reliable. But, those types of circuits, in many areas, are very expensive and not cost justifiable.

Depending on your internet situation, it is often better to bring in a separate connection (preferably on a redundant carrier) just for the phones.  This, of course, does add to the overall cost and, because of that, is something that needs to be taken into consideration when figuring out your budget for the service.

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Installation Isn’t Always as Easy as Just Plugging the Phones in

Ethernet cablesAs was mentioned before, the only phone Hosted PBX phone equipment kept on-site (other than the internet connection) is the phones themselves. And, because of that, many salespeople often try to sell this service as being “plug-and-play” with no difficult installation required.

This, however, is not always the case and many customers do find the process involves more than just simply plugging the phones in. For one, depending on the number of work stations you have, chances are you are going to need some sort of switch to go with your internet router. This is not something that is necessarily provided by your phone company.

Plus, if you use a separate internet connection (like many people ultimately do) for the phones, there’s likely going to be a need to run new cable to each work station. This, again, isn’t always included when you sign up for service and, depending on what needs to be done, could cost thousands of dollars. Again, this is something you need to take the time to ask about before committing to the service.

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You’re Not Necessarily Locked into Just One Phone Model

VOIP Phone OptionAs a way of saving time (I’m guilty of this too), salespeople will often put together a quote using one particular make/model of phone. However, depending on the provider, you may have other options.

Hosted PBX typically can work on a variety of phones and, in many cases, you are able to mix and match them. This includes having phones from more than one manufacturer.

The advantage of doing this, of course, is cost. Many customers can save money by placing a cheaper phone in places that might not need a more expensive option, such as a break room. I also recently had a restaurant customer save money by selecting a cordless variety they could move to rarely-used work stations when it was needed.

Since salespeople normally work on commission, they won’t necessarily tell you if there’s a cheaper option available. Take the time to ask.

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Updated: 03/02/2016, StevenHelmer
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