So last month we revisited the 3 main elements of voice over IP (VoIP) in an attempt to help you understand what VoIP actually is and to eliminate any confusion. We also made reference to the 4 types of phone systems available on the market today. That’s not to say that there are only 4 manufacturers. What this means is that out of the hundreds of manufacturers and thousands of dealers, there are really only 4 distinct types of “phone system technologies” that you can deploy at this time.
Some system types are more beneficial than others, depending on your needs. This is usually based on your own specific circumstances including the number of users, organizational landscape, budget, the need for more advanced applications, or your desire for staying current with technology. And although some situations can be served by more than one type of system, that gap is widening as time progresses and technology advances. The pros and cons of each system need to be discussed in detail to make sure that you understand what you’re getting and that it’s the right fit for your business.
So what are the 4 different types of phone systems? Here’s a brief summary:
1) Do It Yourself – Do It Yourself can be as simple as buying 2-line phones from Staples or Best Buy for a small home-based business, or as complex as writing your own code for an open-source application that you build on a server. This represents a tiny segment of the market.
2) Converged – Converged phone systems are a mix between legacy digital systems and premise-based IP-PBX systems, and are also known as hybrids. Converged systems let you to deploy legacy digital phones in the office; or you can add VoIP hardware & software to support VoIP phones either in or outside of the office. Converged systems are hardware dependent, requiring cabinets & cards to support lines & phones, which makes their future very uncertain.
3) Hosted VoIP – Hosted VoIP is primarily a service that involves an Internet Telephony Service Provider (ITSP) who hosts your phone system “in the cloud”. VoIP phones that are installed in your office are connected to your LAN, and then access “the cloud” through your Internet service. Each phone is typically assigned a unique phone number for inbound and outbound calling. Hosted VoIP service is billed monthly, and optional capabilities can be added for a monthly fee including auto attendant, customized on-hold, and call center. The monthly cost is based on the number of users, the optional capabilities that you’re using, and the calling or feature plan assigned to each user. Keep in mind that hosted voice is not the same as hosted data.
4) IP-PBX – In a premise-based VoIP phone system, the VoIP server is located in your office and resides on your LAN. Users are added to the system by way of software “user” licenses. VoIP phones are installed in your office and connected to your LAN, or can be installed outside of your office through the user’s Internet service. Expansion in size and applications is accomplished with software licenses, which makes it much easier and more cost effective than a “converged” system. Remote administration is accomplished by logging onto the VoIP server with the proper credentials.
As you can see, this can become quite complex and confusing so having an experienced partner you can trust is paramount to finding the right solution. If you find this article to be helpful, please share it or leave a comment below.
Contact us to schedule an evaluation, or to simply learn more about the 3 elements of VoIP and 4 types of phone systems. Make the call and put our experience to work for you!