Hosted VOIP or not?
Before we start, let me declare our interest, we supply and install both Hosted VoIP and in house IP phone systems, so we have no axe to grind either way, many well established telecoms firms do so be wary of “experts” that only offer fully hosted solutions, they’re considered an “easy sell” so there are lot of new kids on that particular block.
So what’s better, hosted or on premise? As usual it’s never quite black and white, it’s a question of balance and we’ll help you decide what’s best for you. With a hosted system, you’re effectively renting a little slice of a big phone system in the cloud, other than the phone on the desk there is no hardware in your office. The biggest benefit is lower start-up costs (although it will cost more in the long run) and its very scalable and it gives low cost access to some pretty snazzy features! On the down side, it will be 100% reliant on the quality of your internet, if its anything less than rock solid you should exercise caution, you can put up with slow websites or email, but systems can’t deliver slow speech so it will just drop the call. Hosted systems work very well for small offices with 1-8 people in OR for big offices where dedicated fibre optic leased lines guarantee the quality but the mid ground can be shaky so be careful.
On-premise solutions still offer the favoured route for lots of people, you get the stability of ISDN lines if you’re your internet isn’t great or dedicated lines are over budget, plus you get the flexibility of being able to make changes in-house without needing to request them from a third party. And don’t forget if your internet is good, but you still want the control of an in-house system they all run on Hosted VoIP too if that’s your preference.
So what about cost? Hosted VoIP systems sell themselves as low cost or even “free” phone systems (it still surprises me how many people think anything is free!) but they do offer a good option if you need to keep initial costs low. Typically you’ll pay a low/zero cost for the hardware then a monthly licence for each handset connected, say £10 per phone per month so in an office with 15 people £150 a month. You’ll also pay extra for every “add on service” a couple of quid a month for voicemail, a bit more for call forwarding, more for call recording…It all adds up, so be aware. In-House systems usually have a return on investment of around 30 months. And don’t forget, if you’d rather not wedge out a lump of cash for the hardware upfront you could lease it over 3 years at much the same monthly cost as hosted rental would be, but after 3 years you own it and the payments would stop.
So there you have it, both types of systems have pro’s, both have cons, its horses for courses. What’s important is that you get some sound advice from people offer both, who understand your business needs and can advise you accordingly.