Your business may be ready for a more cost effective and flexible phone system, but all the jargon, acronyms and decisions can make finding the right solution a challenge. Not only have modern phone systems changed significantly in the recent years, but hybrid and remote work environments have increased the importance of flexible telephone solutions. Even the term “telephone” is a bit misleading as phone hardware may no longer even be a requirement of newly implemented systems.
First, let’s review some of the acronyms and their meanings. PBX is a general term, short for “private branch exchange” that refers to an internal telephony-based phone system which allows users within an office to communicate (talk) with each other. PBX’s are almost always connected to a public phone network to allow inbound and outbound calling with external users. Until recently, businesses with a PBX often had a “phone cabinet” or closet with a patch panel with a tangle of copper wires punched down to blocks, then running back to their phone system’s hardware. Most of those lines ran all the way to phones at each desk and to the interchange with the external phone network. PBX’s still exist today, but generally are now either completely digital (and run by a server) or are virtual (and hosted in cloud-based data centers).
VoIP, or “voice over IP” is really no more than traditional phone service that is transmitted thru a data network instead of on its own dedicated circuit. VoIP has eliminated the need for separate phone copper cables. The benefits of VoIP are many, but one of its main attractions is often a reduction in costs and simplicity that comes from using the same network and cabling to carry both data and voice traffic.
For a small 1 or 2-line business or for residential use, VoIP is an adequate phone solution and provides the basic features we commonly associate with a phone – primarily dial tone and voicemail.
UCaaS, short for Unified Communication Systems (or “Communication as a Service”) are designed to provide a full suite of communication methods (voice, text, fax and video meetings) by leveraging VoIP’s data technology and adding PBX system-like functionality without the need for any additional hardware. Because of their rich features, low cost of investment, and significant flexibility, for most businesses a UCaaS solution is the perfect fit. Even businesses that may initially object to “more features than we need” usually quickly find the benefits far outweigh any added complexity. Imagine your mobile phone without the extra communication features such as texting, video messaging, emails, etc. Those extra “features” are what a UCaaS system brings to business. Not only that, but because most UCaaS solutions are hosted on cloud servers, employees working from home or branch offices can enjoy the full benefits of the phone systems features wherever they are working – using an app on their mobile phone, software on their PC or Mac, or a traditional desk phone. Costs are also surprisingly reasonably, often as low as $12-15 per user per month.
The only downside of a UCaaS system can be knowing how to get started. Fortunately, there are a range of UCaaS options and you no longer need to call the unhelpful “phone company” to setup services or port your existing phone numbers. Your technology advisor is a great place to start and should be able to guide a decision process that matches a solution to your business’ requirements.
If your business is looking for ways to streamline the phone system while reducing costs, we can help. Our team of experts can work with you to select the best system for your needs. Contact SimplePowerIT at (509) 433-7606 for a free initial consultation.
About the author:
Martin Straub has more than 20 years of experience developing, building, and maintaining frustration-free technology solutions. He founded SimplePowerIT in 2013 to focus exclusively on delivering frustration-free technology solutions to NCW businesses and nonprofits.