Cloud-based voice solutions are becoming more popular in businesses across the country. But what exactly are they, and why should your business convert to a cloud-based VoIP phone system?
At TCI, we have helped thousands of businesses vet and deploy VoIP solutions across a wide array of industries. Below are our takeaways from over 40 years in the business.
WHAT ARE CLOUD-BASED VOICE SOLUTIONS?
The traditional premise-based PBX phone system consists of a key service unit or controller that usually sits in a central location and connects to the building phone wiring and to the telco service provider’s incoming line service. It is a simple switching device that connects 1 or more phones to 1 or more incoming phone lines or other internal phone users. These systems had dedicated wiring, high maintenance costs, less device flexibility, and limited features that stopped development the day that they were installed.
Cloud-based VoIP business telephone systems are known by a variety of names. Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), VoIP, Cloud, and Hosted are the most common ways to refer to this technology. UCaaS is a radical departure from the old PBX. Hosted phone systems utilize VoIP technology to send your voice conversations across data wiring and common data connections (the internet). VoIP phone systems use the same infrastructure as your data network eliminating the need for dedicated wiring. Phone devices are not proprietary, and users have more selection for endpoints. Maintenance is minimal and can be done through a PC, and new features, integrations, and capabilities are being developed every year that enhance the system over time.
Because cloud-based systems do not rely on centralized hardware, this provides several advantages. However, this can also come with a few drawbacks.
ADVANTAGES OF CLOUD-BASED PHONE SYSTEM
Due to the decentralized nature of cloud-based systems, there are various advantages that many businesses should consider. Of the many advantages of cloud-based phone systems, the low cost, unified communications, scalability, and flexibility, are the most advantageous.
Cloud-based voice solutions are inherently more cost-effective than traditional phone systems. PBX phone systems require separate voice cabling, proprietary phone hardware, single dealer service models, and a heavy upfront cost along with monthly phone service bills and annual maintenance costs. Hosted VoIP phone solutions use the same cabling as your computer, have a reduced upfront cost, allow for self-administration & maintenance, and use open standard devices, all for one monthly price.
The low monthly fee associated with cloud-based phone systems provides you access to a whole host of services. Many cloud-based solutions offer voice, SMS messaging, internal chat, and video meeting services that can be used both internally and externally. Collaboration platforms like Teams and Zoom can be used as well as a Unified Communications platform. All of your business communications are centralized in one place. No more going back and forth between software.
In addition to unifying communications, cloud-based phone systems are scalable. Your monthly fee is directly proportional to the number of users accessing the software and the amount of usage. No more buying more hardware for the back room every time you add more users. This allows you to increase the amount of usage available to you quickly and easily. Now, your voice solutions grow when you do.
Finally, one of the main advantages of cloud-based phone systems is their flexibility. Cloud-based voice solutions can be accessed from anywhere and at any time. Your employees can work from the office, the comfort of their home, or across the world—they will still have access to your system and be able to perform their job duties. In addition to the flexibility of place, workers have the freedom to use the device of their preference. Phone, computer, and mobile device apps can all be tied into the Unified Communications platform. This flexibility can lead to increased productivity for workers.
DISADVANTAGES OF CLOUD-BASED PHONE SYSTEMS
While there are a lot of advantages to cloud-based phone systems, there are also some disadvantages. Some of the main concerns businesses experience are the need for stable internet, the potential for spotty service, and the inability to integrate with older systems.
NEED STABLE INTERNET
As the name cloud-based implies, these voice solutions require a stable internet connection to work. Internet that fluctuates in connectivity or reliability will not work for a UCaaS deployment. If your kids are gaming and streaming movies at home while you are trying to make a video call, you will need a fast and stable connection for all of it to work seamlessly. Fiber connectivity is preferred over cable connections in large offices, but a good cable connection at home will usually suffice.
PROPER NETWORK CONDITIONS
Your business computer network needs to have a solid backbone to support VoIP. You will need to deploy segmented VLANs for voice traffic as well as ensure the right prioritization of traffic across the network for optimal call quality. Businesses with older or non-commercial equipment in place may need to upgrade some components of their network to support VoIP.
INABILITY TO INTEGRATE WITH OLDER SYSTEMS
In addition, it may not be possible if your business plans to use cloud-based voice solutions and existing PBX technologies side by side. Some older technologies and voice systems will be unable to integrate with the new cloud-based services. A good strategic rollout plan, including in-depth functionality conversations with your vendors, will be crucial to a successful deployment.
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CLOUD-BASED COMMUNICATIONS?
In general, we find that for most businesses, the advantages of cloud-based phone systems outweigh the disadvantages. Are you looking to convert your business to a cloud-based voice solution or just want to learn more? With over 40 years of experience, TCI is your go-to. Call us at (757) 490-7733 or contact us online to learn more.