Traditional System

The diagram below illustrates the way in which a Traditional Business Telephone System works across two office locations, and incorporates a ‘Home Worker’.

We explore each of the main elements of this solution, and list the key points for comparison purposes.

Hosted VoIP

The diagram below illustrates the way in which a traditional Hosted IP Phone System works across two office locations, and incorporates a ‘Home Worker’.

We explore each of the main elements of this solution, and list the key points for comparison purposes.

Traditional Phone Systems Network

Hosted Telephone Systems

The Phone System

Each location in the diagram has a PBX (phone system) installed locally, which in turn is connected to the local BT exchange via local phone lines. Sometimes the PBX’s are the same manufacturer but more often they are not. Every user communicates with customers, and each other, via the public phone network and each call is likely to be chargeable.

Most PBX manufacturers claim to be able to network their systems together, across multiple sites, by using an IP PBX; however this tends to be very costly to implement, does not give total freedom and in our experience it rarely works as it should do. The far simpler way to connect all your locations together is via a Hosted PBX solution.

Expected Shelf Life

As soon as a PBX goes on the wall it starts to depreciate in value, its functionality will be superseded by new technology and it will undoubtedly require several software updates during its life time.  You need to be certain that your provider will be offering you these upgrades as they become available.

Furthermore, the operating capacity of the system may well be reached sooner rather than later, requiring the hassle and cost of buying additional hardware and then, before you know it, 5 or 6 years have passed and you have to start all over again!

Maintenance Contract

If you have a traditional telephone system you will no doubt have a maintenance contract, typically around £600 per annum.

Phone Numbers

The phone numbers and DDI ranges are dictated by the local BT exchange, and will differ from site to site. Each location operates on a separate numbering pattern, which means extension numbers (DDI’s) are not unified across the company. There is a £100 planning fee every time you buy a new block of ten DDI numbers, in addition to the rental charge. Each phone number is allocated to a phone line, so if you move office to a different BT exchange area, it is very unlikely that you will be able to keep your phone numbers. Also, there may be occasions where you need to advertise a local number in one city but answer the call in a different city. The only way to do that in this scenario is to pay the ‘call forwarding charge’ for every call you answer.

Relocation

If you wish to relocate premises you will have to purchase a new PBX or take your old one with you and fit it to the wall of your new office. Sounds easy but, in reality, is often fraught with obstacles and it means ‘down time’ for your business. Plus you will need new phone lines and probably have to get some new numbers from the exchange.

New Office or Branch

When you open a new office or branch, first and foremost you will need a telephone system.  Your only option is as above, to buy something that will become obsolete over time and, when it does, to start the process again.

Home workers

More than ever before, companies are now able to capitalise on technology and employ people to work out of their own home. However, most telephone systems will fail to bring the home worker under the same number pattern and more importantly be part of the main office communications. This can appear unprofessional when a home worker presents their home phone number instead of your company number; calls are either answered or go to the BT call minder.

The Hosted PBX

The first thing you will notice is that there is only one phone system, and it is located in a secure, purpose built, data centre. There are no local phone lines; instead each site connects to the Hosted PBX via the internet.

Users communicate with each other via a managed network (controlled by the centralised phone system) and the phone system is also integrated into the public phone network by default, to enable normal phone calls.

Any site, anywhere in the world, can connect to the Hosted PBX, enabling all staff to communicate with each other as if they were in the same building. Even home workers can connect and share the same features and benefits.

Expected Shelf Life

With our Hosted VoIP service, you simply rent the amount of user extensions you require, from one centralised system. This is essentially one enormous phone system that provides service for several hundred thousand users. There are regular software upgrades, performed outside normal working hours to minimise down time, so you will always be using the most up to date communication system.  You don’t need to keep investing in boxes on the wall that go out of date, or pay for costly maintenance agreements that require onsite engineers.

Maintenance Contract

There is no maintenance contract. All system maintenance and software updates are performed centrally, at no further cost. Handsets and broadband routers come with 12 months warranty.

Phone Numbers

All phone numbers and DDI ranges are registered within the Hosted VoIP network. The numbers are not tied to physical phone lines and are essentially ‘virtual’. You can pick and choose multiple UK numbers from a vast range and then assign them to your Hosted VoIP account, and program them to point to any location within your network. For example, you could have four offices around Herts, Beds and Bucks that each has their own local number. At the click of a mouse you could divert some or all calls from one site to another, or move one site to any other location in the UK (or world) and still use those numbers.

Relocation

If you wish to move premises, all you do is take your handsets and gateway etc to your new location, plug them back in and they are up and running in seconds. There is nothing screwed onto the wall and no need for an engineer. All you are doing is connecting to the Hosted PBX from another location, all your personal settings and profile are held off site and accessed from whatever destination you choose.

New Office or Branch

You decide how many new users are required at the new office and we send out that amount of handsets, they arrive at the new site pre-configured, you plug them in, they connect with the Hosted PBX and spring to life. They are now part of your telephone network under the same numbering plan, features and functionality.

Home workers

You have probably figured this out by now, any Home Worker is connected to the Hosted PBX in the exact same way as office users. Single location users only require a handset (incl power supply) and an internet connection; there is no need for a VoIP gateway. Calls can be made to a home worker the same way as making an internal office call, customers calling in are unable to distinguish home or office user, and they have all the same functionality as any other company user including Company Directory, Voicemail, Conferencing etc