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] 8 Common Pain Points UC Eliminates

    Every company has moments of frustration, it is when these moments become extended periods of inefficiency, or pain points, where we start to see loss in productivity and employee morale. What truly sets a successful business apart from those of its competitors, is how they take these pain points and use them as opportunities to improve upon procedures and systems to eliminate pain points and move beyond what was the status quo. more

  • Go VoIP and Go Green

    You may be looking to switch to VoIP because of the cost benefits that it will bring your company, but did you know that it is also FAR BETTER than traditional phone systems for the environment as well? With environmental impact being at the forefront of both consumer and business minds, it is essential that business decisions are made now based on economic AND ecological impact. more

  • eGuide: Comparing UC Vendors

    Changing your company’s business communications solution is an investment in time and money that will touch everyone in your organization. A successful unified communications (UC) deployment should streamline everyone’s work flow, simplify IT operations and deliver a lowered total cost of operations. Your company deserves nothing less. more

  • Getting More from Your VoIP System

    Too many businesses fall into the trap of setting up their VoIP as a "plug and play" and getting to work. However, we have found that this thinking only leads to businesses failing to get the most out of their VoIP experience. We have put together an in-depth guide that will walk you through 15 easy steps to get more out of your system. more

  • Making Your Phone System Work

    Deciding what to do about a legacy phone system can be difficult. The advantages of modern systems like VoIP are well-documented, but the switch can still be resource intensive. Updating your old system is usually the better decision, but circumstances often make this impossible. Fortunately, there are other ways to improve and tweak an existing system to enjoy better performance. more