Hosted VoIP can be a cost-effective way to make and receive phone calls and improve your company’s communications. At Techopedia, we know that navigating your options can be intimidating, especially when it comes to something as vital as your company’s phones.
You may be weighing the pros and cons, concerned about installation complexity, the reliability of VoIP services, and cost implications. In this article, we provide a full guide to hosted VoIP — what it is, how it works, and everything in between.
What is Hosted VoIP?
This means your business doesn’t need to invest in or maintain any of the complex infrastructure typically associated with an on-site telephone network.
If you’re looking for a communication system that can adapt to rapid changes and facilitate modern working methods, hosted services provide a compelling solution.
How Does Hosted VoIP Work?
When you speak into a VoIP-enabled device, your voice is compressed into data packets, sent over the web, and decompressed back into audio at the other end, so the person you’re calling can hear you. This is nearly instantaneous to ensure clear conversations.
The backbone of a hosted system is a cloud-based private branch exchange (PBX). This is a private company telephone network. “Hosted” means it’s managed remotely by a VoIP service in the cloud rather than physically located in your office.
Here’s what typically makes up a hosted VoIP system:
You use these devices to make and receive calls. They can be physical handsets or software-based phones installed on computers or smartphones.
Your internet router plays a crucial role by ensuring that voice data gets priority over other types of internet traffic, maintaining call quality.
Virtual phone number services manage the hosted PBX, ensuring call routing, management, and features like voicemail, are all functioning.
Advantages of Hosted VoIP
Hosted services offer many advantages over traditional telephony, especially for businesses looking for modern communication solutions. Here are some key benefits:
- Flexibility — You can add or remove users and features as your business evolves without alterations to infrastructure.
- Mobility — You can make and receive calls from anywhere using your business number on any device.
- Cost-effectiveness — There’s less hardware to maintain and cheaper call rates, particularly for international calls.
- Streamlined communication — Integrate with other tools, such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems, for seamless operations.
Limitations of Hosted VoIP
While cloud VoIP solutions have numerous benefits, it has a few potential issues, including:
- Dependent on the Internet — Call quality could suffer if your Internet service is poor. However, this is less prevalent with the advancement of broadband technology and Quality of Service (QoS) settings on modern routers.
- Vulnerability to outages — If your internet goes down, so could your phone system. Many providers offer redundancy and failover protocols, ensuring calls can be rerouted to cell phones or other landlines in the event of an outage.
- Service disruptions — Periodic maintenance or system upgrades introduce the risk of service interruptions. However, because the system is hosted, maintenance can usually be performed with little to no disruption to you.
So, while there are a few limitations to consider, hosted systems are designed with features that address these concerns, ensuring a reliable and high-quality service.
Are Hosted VoIP Services Cost-Effective?
There’s no need for expensive on-site PBX hardware, as the service hosts all the necessary infrastructure. This also means maintenance and upgrades are their responsibility, leading to additional savings.
Furthermore, with hosted services, you typically pay a predictable monthly fee, which often includes unlimited calling, thereby avoiding the per-minute charges of traditional phone lines.
Consider both direct and indirect costs when evaluating the cost-effectiveness and potential savings:
- Direct costs include the monthly service fee and initial setup or hardware expenses.
- Indirect savings come from enhanced productivity and efficiency due to integrated communication features.
|Traditional phone system
|Often included in the monthly fee
|Features and upgrades
To determine if hosted solutions are right for your organization, assess your current communication costs, consider the potential savings, and factor in the value of the additional features that these services provide.
Alternatives to Hosted VoIP
Other communication alternatives include traditional landlines, on-premise VoIP, and mobile-based VoIP solutions. To help you decide, here’s how they compare:
Hosted VoIP vs On-Premise Solutions
On-premise solutions require the phone system equipment and software to be located on your property. These offer more control over the communication setup but require significant up-front investment and ongoing maintenance.
Here’s how hosted VoIP compares:
- Cost — Hosted solutions typically have lower upfront costs and are maintained by the service provider, whereas on-premise solutions require significant capital expenditure for equipment.
- Scalability — Adding lines or features with hosted VoIP is as simple as adjusting your service plan, while on-premise systems may need new hardware or software licenses.
- Control — On-premise solutions offer more direct control over the system, which you may prefer, but this comes with added complexity in management.
- Features — Both can offer a range of features, but hosted VoIP is generally more flexible in adopting new technologies.
Hosted VoIP vs Other Hosted Solutions
When looking for a dedicated voice communication service, there are a few different types of hosted solutions that are very similar to hosted VoIP:
Here’s a quick summary of these options:
|Cloud contact center
|Voice communication over the Internet
|Enhanced voice communication with broader phone system features
|Integrated for all communication and collaboration needs
|Tailored for customer service
|Low to moderate
|Moderate to high
|Depends on your needs
|Depends on your needs
If you’re leaning towards an uncomplicated yet effective solution for voice communications, hosted VoIP is a highly reliable and cost-effective choice. Should your business demand a broader array of features or integration, the other options could be worth considering.
Best Practices for Adopting Hosted VoIP Services
Adopting hosted VoIP services can streamline your communication processes, but it’s vital to approach the transition methodically. Follow these steps to ensure a smooth implementation:
Assess Your NetworkBefore anything else, you should evaluate your current network. Voice quality with hosted systems relies heavily on your internet stability and bandwidth. You may need to upgrade your infrastructure to ensure it can efficiently handle the additional VoIP traffic.
Prioritize SecurityEnsure your hosted VoIP provider offers robust security measures to safeguard your communications and data. It’s your responsibility to protect sensitive information, so ask potential vendors about encryption, network security protocols, and compliance.
Choose the Right Vendor
Train Your TeamBefore fully integrating hosted VoIP into your business, make sure your team is prepared. Provide training to help them understand how to use the new system effectively. Familiarity with the system will help mitigate resistance and avoid potential downtime.
Create a Migration PlanYou need a clear and detailed plan to transition to the new hosted VoIP system. This plan should minimize disruption to your daily operations and include a timeline, key milestones, and the responsibilities of everyone involved.
Start With a Pilot ProgramImplementing a pilot program allows you to work through any issues on a smaller scale before the company-wide rollout. Use this as an opportunity to gather feedback and make necessary adjustments.
By diligently following these steps, you can set your business up for success with hosted VoIP services.
Hosted VoIP is a cloud-based communication system that enables voice calls over the Internet. It offers advanced features and flexibility without the need for on-premise infrastructure—helping to streamline operations, enhance productivity, and reduce costs.
If you’re considering making the switch to hosted VoIP, the next practical step is to research and compare service providers. For a comprehensive look at some of the best options available, check out the top Internet Phone services for 2024.