Hybrid telephone systems offer a bridge between PSTN and VoIP. They can be configured in many ways to meet the needs of SMBs. A typical cost savings configuration includes VoIP for long-distance and PSTN for local calls. Between offices or geographically separated locations, a VPN connection across the Internet may be the best choice. Or a T-1 link across the PSTN could prove more cost effective, depending upon the situation. As suppliers of hybrid phone systems love to say, they give you the best of both worlds. Here are some key players for hybrid phone systems:
LG-Ericsson USA, a joint venture between LG-Ericsson and Accton Technology, offers hybrid phone systems aimed at SMBs wishing to take a first step toward implementing a state-of-the-art VoIP solution. Hybrid systems offer many of the features available with pure VoIP systems while maintaining the analogue investment and minimizing capital costs. One attraction of these phone systems is the collection of features, such as call transfer, specific extensions for “departments”, music on hold and conferencing, which give the calling parties the impression of they are talking with a large and sophisticated organization.
NEC Univerge series of communication servers support a range of protocol and devices, starting with
PSTN TDM and IP, video, wired or wireless devices. NEC supports open standards for flexibility and positions their family of hybrid serves as an evolutionary path from a legacy system to a feature rich VoIP network.
CenterPoint Technologies has staked out a position as a low cost, feature rich alternative phone system for small businesses with their TalkSwtch products. Thanks to a long list of useful features, such as auto attendant, voice mail, call screening, distinctive rings and fax detection, even a one-man-show entrepreneur can enjoy the benefits of a powerful phone system and look like a major player to the outside world. It should be noted, it is not uncommon for a low priced product to come with minimal technical support. Probably best to buy from a reseller able to setup, configure and support your investment.
Panasonic has been providing phone handsets and systems for residential and small business customers for many years. Their hybrid telephone system offerings include proprietary telephones and compatibility with the POTS handsets. Voicemail is supported at either a telco voicemail box or with an optional message card in each handset. Reliability, ease of use, and reasonable cost have made Panasonic phone systems popular with small business. The flexibility of a hybrid system such as the Panasonic KX – TA 824 is attractive to organizations with multiple sites such as insurance or real estate offices.
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