Phone services are essential for almost every small business, but the possibilities, options, and costs can be an overwhelming decision to evaluate. Some small businesses can get by with just “Plain Old Telephones”, but a great majority need to evaluate a PBX for the telecommunication needs.
The decision used to be limited to WHICH PBX to purchase (or lease). With the advent of Voice Over IP (VOIP), the decision matrix now includes not only VOIP-enabled PBXs, but also the possibility of a “Hosted PBX Service”.
What is a “Hosted PBX Service”?
Hosted PBX systems work in essentially the same way as on-premise PBX systems, except they’re completely maintained and operated by a dedicated hosting company. A small business “rents” use of the virtual PBX system, and greatly reduces many of its costs without sacrificing the professionalism that a high-grade PBX system offers.
There is no equipment at the small business location other than phones, and the Hosted PBX uses VOIP over the Internet to communicate with the phones. In most cases, the Hosted PBX provider will have large-scale connectivity to the telephone networks for low-cost phone services.
Hosted PBX Service is completely dependent on Internet access, so the reliability and quality of the Internet access is crucial to the quality of voice services, and can not be discounted or ignored. HCST always recommends a router / firewall with good Quality of Service capabilities that will prioritize voice traffic over other less time-sensitive Internet traffic.
How much does the Hosted PBX Service Cost?
The costs for hosted PBX Service vary widely among service providers. Some providers charge on a per-extension basis with no additional usage charges, while others charge much smaller monthly service fees, but also charge useage fees.
In our experience, we have found a particular Hosted PBX Service provider meets the needs of almost all our clients, while maintaining fairly low total monthly fees.
As an example, a client with 10 phones (each with voice mail), 1 local phone number, one toll free number, and less than 1000 minutes total usage per month would pay approximately $83/month TOTAL (not including Internet access).
There are no additional local phone company fees. Capabilities include automated attendant menus, ring groups, voice mail (for all 10 extensions), and music on hold. The VOIP phones are a one-time cost (although they can be financed if necessary), and range from less than $100 each to $400 for high end phones (high resolution color display!)
One of the major costs of business phone systems is maintenance. Most premise-based PBXs involve maintenance costs; either in terms of on-staff personnel monitoring and modifying, or paying your PBX vendor to keep the equipment up to date.
Hosted PBX avoids these costs–since the hosted PBX server remains with the hosting company at all times, all maintenance is completed on the hosting company’s end. As hosting companies have large amounts of experience in working with complex phone systems, there’s also little or no downtime resulting from scheduled and unanticipated maintenance.
What is the growth path if I outgrow a Hosted PBX Service?
If a company discovers a hosted PBX service no longer meets it needs, or needs to be able to accommodate more simultaneous calls than its Internet access will allow, the transition to an on-premise VOIP-based PBX is very simple. The existing VOIP phones will work with an on-premise PBX as well, and phone numbers can be ported back to a traditional land-line phone provider. The cost of the PBX is a one-time fee, and monthly telephone company fees would then apply. The personality of the PBX (how the phones operate to an outside caller) would not necessarily need to change.
For more information
For more information about how a hosted or on-premise VOIP PBX can help your business, please fill out the form below, and we’ll get back with you as quickly as possible.