Business Phone Solutions Buyers Guide

Discover the differences and the similarities between business IP phone systems

By Sheila Shanker
Updated: May 13, 2011

Many small businesses can now take advantage of latest technology related to phone services, such as “VoIP,” also known as “voice over Internet protocol” system. This type of technology uses the Internet to carry voice as well as video along Internet connections. If you have the proper Internet connection, you can take advantage of this phone service, which has become very popular, not only because of the affordable price, but also because it offers quality and flexibility not found with regular phone service.

In House VoIP vs Hosted VoIP

Internet protocol business phone systems (IP phone systems) can be classified as in-house exchange systems or hosted exchanged systems. The main difference between these two is that the in-house option usually includes ownership and maintenance of the exchange system, while the hosted version is about having a third party take care of the exchange system. Some hosted plans may include desk phone systems, such as the one offered by TelcoDepot.com, which is owned and managed remotely by the hosting firm.

The main similarity among all IP phone systems is that they use the Internet to carry voice packets, and you will need a very good Internet connection to be able to utilize the phone setup. Depending on your situation, you could add video and conduct video-conferencing on both in-house and hosted systems. Functionalities on both types of systems are quite similar.

However, let's not forget the differences!  If you get a hosted system, you may need to be pay extra for new users. Also, if you need a highly customized solution, you may not be able to get it with a hosted service. You may save money upfront and in maintenance with a hosted solution, but you may lose some control over the process. Many small businesses start with a hosted system and then move to an in-house setup, that is more expensive, but gives firms more options.

Reliability of Hosting Company

Another important issue of the hosted setup is that if the hosting firm goes out of business, you have no phone service – you don’t have this problem with an in-house system. When selecting hosted services, be sure that the hosting firm has a good reputation and is stable. You don’t want to rely on a fly-by-night firm to be responsilbe for your phone service. Check out the Better Business Bureau for any complaints or indications that the company may not be around for the long haul.

An often-forgotten issue of a hosted environment is security. When you use a hosted system, you have outsiders dealing with your phone calls, and you’re not really sure who is listening to your conversations or conferences. The risk of unauthorized eavesdropping or hacking is much smaller when you have an in-house system where you control who has access to the system.

For more detailed information about this topic, fill out the form below for a free guide.
 

Featured Research
  • [Infographic] Top 11 VoIP Vendors

    A good VoIP provider will offer additional benefits as well, but many first-time buyers find assessing each option to be difficult. Nevertheless, this is an important step in the buying process because a substandard provider can easily waste both your time and money. more

  • The New 2017 Phone Systems Comparison Guide

    It was a painstaking process, but to help B2B companies start 2017 off on the right foot, we recently compiled a comparative list of the top 34 business phone vendors in the world. In one, easy-to-reference location, we’ve neatly outlined the information you need. more

  • 8 Common Pain Points UC Eliminates

    Many businesses rely on a collection of communication tools that they adopt to address specific needs as they arise. This strategy may seem to work in the beginning, but eventually will lead to a system that is cumbersome to use, difficult to explain to new hires, expensive, and effective in some areas, but full of gaps. more

  • Top 11 VoIP Vendors

    Signing up with a VoIP provider is a major business decision that will affect your internal communications, customer service, and communications with business partners. The decision can be a difficult one; choosing the wrong VoIP provider can cost a business hundreds of thousands of dollars. more

  • How UC Can Improve Employee Productivity

    Unified Communications (UC) is a new concept that is revolutionizing business communications. Every year, more and more companies are ditching their traditional PBX systems for a UC solution. But before you make the move, it’s critical to understand how UC will affect your workplace and employees. more