Choosing the right telephone service provider can be very beneficial for your business. After all, the telephone is still the number one way that people use to get in touch with businesses. Having the right kind of phone service for your business is extremely important, as you want a service that is reliable, affordable and provides you with all of the features you could need. Therefore, before you make a decision on a business phone service, you should carefully evaluate the various service types and providers. The two main types of business phone service are either a traditional analog telephone service, or a VoIP service. It is very important that you understand the difference between the two before you make your choice.
Business VoIP Phone Service
VoIP or voice over Internet protocol, is a more recent type of phone service that offers business customers an alternative to using analog phone lines. While VoIP has existed for over a decade now, in the past few years it has become a lot more mainstream, which means that an ever-increasing amount of businesses are now making the switch to it and letting go of their traditional PSTN service. Also, new companies, especially smaller start-ups, are a lot more likely to use VoIP for their business communications needs. Call quality with a VoIP service is exactly the same as when using a traditional phone line, even if the calls are carried through the Internet.
The major difference between PSTN and VoIP is how the calls are carried. With a PSTN service, the calls are mainly carried by an analog signal. When you use VoIP, all calls are digitized and sent through the Internet instead. Sending data through the Internet is a lot cheaper than using the traditional phone network, so you can make and receive calls for a lot less. If you frequently have to make international or long distance calls, you will find that VoIP service providers charge a lot less for these calls than traditional telephony companies. Many providers also have a flat rate package that allows you to make an unlimited amount of calls to certain destinations without having to worry about per minute charges.
A business VoIP service can come with any calling feature that you can possibly want for your business. You will have access to hundreds of different features, such as multiple extensions, ring groups, caller ID, voicemail with remote access, fax to email, voicemail to email, call forwarding and more.
Most business VoIP providers offer plans that are designed to suit the needs of businesses of various sizes. No matter whether you are a small company with just 5 lines, or a large corporation with thousands of extensions, there will always be a VoIP service that can meet your needs.
When you use a VoIP business phone service, you will get a hosted PBX. This PBX will be able to perform anything that a regular analog PBX can, but at a much lower cost to you.
As the hosted PBX is located on the premises of the service provider, you won't need to purchase, install, configure or maintain any of the typical PBX hardware that would be necessary with a traditional telephone service. Purchasing and installing a traditional PBX might cost over $2,000, but with a hosted PBX you will save all of that money.
A hosted VoIP PBX is a lot easier to use, as it can be managed through a simple web-based interface. For example, if you want to configure certain features or add more extensions, you can do so through the provider's website.
If ever you outgrow your current hosted PBX, you can simply get in touch with the provider to see what options are available to you. In many cases, you can simply switch to a higher plan right away. There is no need to pay any installation or configuration costs, as there is no hardware that needs to be upgraded. The service provider is responsible for maintaining the PBX hardware, not you.
Choosing a Business VoIP Service Provider
As VoIP has gotten very popular among business users, there are many service providers that will compete for your business. While at first it might make it difficult to decide on a particular company, you can actually use this to your advantage.
First, consider what your needs are in terms of business telephone service. Ask yourself questions such as how many lines you will need, what features you will be using on a regular basis, whether you plan on expanding your business in the near future and how much you can afford to pay for your phone service.
You can then look up some offers from the many business VoIP providers. Take a look at the services they offer, their prices, as well as the overall reputation of the company. Remember that having a working phone system is crucial to the success of your business, so you should go with a service provider that has built a positive track record of reliability and good customer service.
Traditional Business Phone Service
With a traditional phone service, your calls will be carried over the PSTN, or public switched telephone network. The PSTN system is available nationwide and is comprised of cables, satellites, mobile networks and telephone lines. The PSTN network has been around for close to a hundred years and is the first type of phone network to be used.
Using a PSTN telephone service is more expensive than VoIP, mainly because the PSTN infrastructure is very large, old and requires regular maintenance. As the PSTN is analog, it has a difficult time sending data over long distances.
When you make a long distance call over the PSTN, the data will stop at numerous locations along the way while it is being transmitted. As the data will flow through equipment that is owned by a variety of companies, calls made over the PSTN can be expensive. A lot of the infrastructure being use to carry, switch and route calls is now fully digital, but the “last mile,” which is the connection between the local central office and the customer, is still analog.
Using a PBX With an Analog Phone System
The majority of businesses will use a PBX, or private branch exchange, which will route the calls they receive within their office. With a business phone service, it is the PBX that allows the use of various calling features, such as multiple extensions, conference calls, call forwarding, voicemail and more.
With a traditional PSTN phone system, the PBX can be located either on the user's premises, or hosted at a remote location. No matter what option is chosen, an analog PBX will have one big drawback: it is very expensive. Setting up a complete business phone system that uses a PBX will require various types of hardware to be purchased, which will represent an investment that starts at at least $1,000. Installation, configuration and maintenance is obviously not included in the purchase price. Therefore, you will need to either have one of your in-house technical staff members do it for you, or you can hire a professional, which may cost $100 an hour or more.
If you will use a traditional PBX, you should know that upgrading or expanding it may be difficult and expensive. Many PBX systems only support a limited amount of lines. If your business grows and you need to add more extensions, you will need to pay for more hardware to accommodate this growth.
Just like any other type of electronic hardware, a PBX is subject to experiencing problems and breakdowns. You may need to pay costly repair and hardware replacement costs should something go wrong with your PBX. Also, it may become obsolete and would need to be replaced every few years.
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