Home News Guide to Hosted Phone Systems: Everything You Need to Know

Guide to Hosted Phone Systems: Everything You Need to Know

June 20, 2022 Richard Expert advice

Hosted phone systems are the future. That’s a sweeping statement often used to add weight to all sorts of new products and technologies, but in this case, it’s true. By 2025, analogue and ISDN (integrated services digital network) phone lines in the UK will be no more, with hosted phone systems, which enable you to make calls through an internet connection, already starting to replace them. 

A hosted phone system allows businesses to enjoy all the benefits of traditional office phone systems without the expensive hardware costs. But there are also other benefits a hosted phone system can provide over and above the outgoing telephone technology, such as improved collaboration, flexibility and scalability. 

We’re going to cover some of the basics before explaining how a hosted phone system can enhance your business. We’ll also offer some advice to help you find the right hosted telephony solution for you.

Hosted Phone

What is a hosted phone system?

A hosted phone system enables you to make calls using an internet connection, with the necessary hardware hosted in the cloud rather than in your office. It bypasses the costs associated with having your own infrastructure on-site and leasing analogue or ISDN telephone lines from phone providers. 

An easy way to think of it is that a hosted phone system turns your office phones into a piece of software rather than hardware. You and your team can receive calls via a desk phone, softphone or mobile application anywhere with a reliable internet connection. That makes it an excellent tool for remote workers who can communicate internally and externally at home or on the move. 

A hosted phone system is offered and managed by a third-party provider. You pay them a monthly fee, which is typically based on the features you need and the number of users. There are two types of hosted telephony systems to choose from, depending on your needs:

01
Cloud-hosted phone system
A cloud-hosted phone system connects to a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) data centre, which is managed by a third-party service provider. It hosts, upgrades and monitors the cloud-based phone system on your behalf, so you don’t need any of the traditional private branch exchange (PBX) equipment or an in-house team to manage and maintain your phone systems.
02
SIP trunking
Session internet protocol (SIP) trunking enables you to use your existing, on-premise PBX hardware to operate as a cloud-based phone system and access the advanced features associated with VoIP. You are responsible for buying your business’s on-site PBX hardware and upgrading and maintaining it. If you already have on-premise PBX equipment, making the switch to SIP trunking could be the way to go.
Mobile phone

How does a hosted phone system work?

With a cloud-based hosted phone system, you can use any device with an internet connection to make and receive phone calls and access lots of other features. That allows you and your team to communicate internally and externally using desktop computers, laptops, mobile phones and your office phones. 

Here’s how it works:

01
You pay a monthly fee to access a hosted phone system from a third-party provider.
02
You’re connected to their off-site data centres which give you access to the cloud.
03
When you receive an incoming call, it is sent to your hosted phone provider, which turns the call data into digital information that can be transmitted to you over your internet connection.
04
Your device rings and you pick it up. The digital information is transferred back into a voice message so you can hear the caller and respond. In turn, your audio message is transferred into digital information and sent back to your caller, with your host acting as the middle man.

All of this happens instantaneously, so you can enjoy a seamless conversation without being aware of any of the clever stuff going on in the background. To work as expected, you need a private internet connection with appropriate bandwidth. We can measure and upgrade your bandwidth accordingly and help you find the right hosted phone system for your business

What is hosted VoIP?

One common misconception we encounter is that VoIP and hosted phone systems are the same thing – they’re not. 

The easiest way to explain it is that VoIP is the method of making voice calls using the internet. It is the technology that works behind the scenes. Often branded as ‘hosted VoIP’, it sits on top of your existing broadband connection and turns your voice messages into digital data. Your hosted phone system, on the other hand, is the platform that allows you to make and receive calls and access all of the features. 

With VoIP and your hosted phone system working hand-in-hand as the method and platform, you have a simple way to increase business efficiency, reduce costs and create a more flexible telephony system.

Benefits of hosted phone systems

There are lots of benefits hosted telephony can provide that a traditional phone system doesn’t offer.

Easy installation and set-up

Switching to new technology often leads to downtime and lost productivity as you set up and install the new equipment. That’s not the case with hosted phone systems. 

The installation and set-up of your cloud-based phone system take place entirely online, with no additional hardware or cables required to get the system going. That means you can get up and running in minutes while keeping your costs down.

Lower costs

Hosted phone systems give you access to enterprise-level telephony for a fraction of the price. First, you can use your existing equipment, such as desk phones, mobile devices and laptops, so there’s no need to shop for new hardware. The initial costs of switching are also very low as you use the infrastructure provided by your host. Finally, there are no software maintenance or upgrade costs to worry about, with everything included in a transparent monthly rate per phone line. 

All that can lead to savings of 50 to 70% when switching to hosted telephony, with the biggest savings typically made by businesses that have contact centres or make lots of long-distance calls.  

More flexibility for remote teams

With remote and hybrid working becoming the norm, hosted telephony gives your team the ability to make and receive calls and access the many other features anywhere with an internet connection. 

Once your remote teams have downloaded your business phone software onto their devices, they’ll be able to communicate with colleagues and customers at all times. 

Enhanced scalability

You can add more phone lines and functionality whenever you like with a hosted phone system. Just log into your cloud platform to instantly scale your service up or down. That allows you to increase your capacity at peak times and reduce it during slow periods so you never pay for more phone lines than you need to. 

Even if you want to relocate your business, you can simply adjust your agreement for your new site without having to worry about moving hardware or finding a new deal. 

More features

Hosted phone systems give you access to many enhanced productivity features, with some available as standard and others offered as add-on services. You can record calls and assess productivity, generate and automate performance reports and see the status of staff (on the phone or available). Other features include:

  • Call logging
  • Call queueing 
  • Call forwarding 
  • Conference calls
  • Voicemail to email
  • Priority alerts
  • Auto attendants that answer and direct calls automatically
  • Integration with Microsoft, Salesforce, Google and other service vendors
  • Team collaboration tools

Better reliability

Concerns about reliability are one of the main reasons why businesses delay making the move to hosted telephony. However, these fears are unfounded. 

Traditional public switched telephone networks (PSTN) rely on copper cabling infrastructure, which is nearing end-of-life. It’s also susceptible to failure such as vandalism, hardware failures, electrical outages and phone tech errors, all of which can cause extended outages. 

VoIP technology depends on an internet connection, with any risks managed by having high quality and reliable internet connectivity in place with sufficient bandwidth. Hosted phone systems also allow you to set up automatic failover to mobile phones to make sure you never miss a call. 

To find a reliable hosted phone system provider, you should look for:

  • A record of strong service uptime
  • Guaranteed quality of service (QoS)
  • Service level agreements (SLAs)
  • 24/7/365 customer support

Unbeatable call quality

As long as you have a reliable internet connection that’s at least 100 kbps upload and download bandwidth per line, you can expect your hosted VoIP calls to be much clearer than traditional landlines. Some business owners assume that wired connections are better, but the truth is that you can make and receive high-quality VoIP calls even over long distances.    

Disadvantages of hosted phone systems

The truth is that there aren’t many downsides to hosted telephony, but there are a few things to think about. 

Internet reliability  

You must have a strong internet connection to take and make VoIP calls. That’s usually easy to achieve if you’re in an office, but with remote teams, every employee must have access to a reliable internet connection to use a hosted phone system effectively. 

Relying on an external provider

For some businesses, relying on a third-party provider to host and manage their phone system can feel daunting. However, it’s worth considering that many of your essential applications, such as email and shared documents, are already stored away from your business’s premises. Choosing a reliable and secure provider will help to protect your data and keep you in control.  

Upgrading your networking equipment

You may find you need to upgrade your networking equipment like routers and switches to accommodate large-scale VoIP implementations. However, these solutions are typically easy and affordable to implement. 

Why hosted telephone systems are the future

It’s not just the impressive list of benefits that make hosted telephone systems the future. The Big Switch Off in 2025 will bring an end to BT’s ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) and PSTN (Public Switch Telephone Network). Businesses will not be able to buy this old technology from September 2023 and it will be completely switched off from 2025. 

So, rather than if you switch to a hosted telephone system, the decision you have to make is when. And, with the cost savings, the ease of use and setup, the flexibility to scale up and down, and the enhanced features that are available, you’ll miss out if you delay. 

How can Comms Unite help with your hosted phone systems?

Now you know what hosted telephony is, let Comms Unite help you unlock the potential of your business in any location with a flexible and scalable hosted phone system. Whether it’s moving to VoIP phone systems or SIP trunks, we can help you implement the most efficient and cost-effective business telephone system for your business. 

We can also put the best connectivity solution in place to ensure faultless communications, backed by 24/7/365 support. 

Get in touch 

Give us a call on 01473 599020 or email hello@comms-unite.co.uk for support with any aspect of your telephone or IT systems. 

 

June 13, 2022 By Nick
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