Differences Between Cloud-Based and Premise-Based VoIP
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems are revolutionizing business telephony, and even legacy PBX phone providers like AT&T are encouraging the replacement of older POTS (Plain Old Telephone Systems) installations with VoIP. VoIP systems may be hosted on the premises, or cloud-hosted.
Premise-based VoIP systems are hosted at the customer’s site and use equipment (including phones and servers) purchased by the customer. All the equipment is on-site, and the system connects to the telephone network through a T-1 line or an analog line.
With a cloud-hosted VoIP system, the phones are the only equipment delivered to the customer. The servers that run the system are located at the provider’s facilities. In other words, the provider is responsible for providing service to all the devices, whereas with a premise-based VoIP system, the customer functions as service provider for all devices, whether the devices are all located on-site, or elsewhere (as with mobile workers).
Businesses must decide if they want to have the IT infrastructure for telecommunications on-site, or if they would be better off outsourcing that capability, as with cloud-based VoIP.
Economies of Scale with Cloud-Based VoIP
With cloud-based VoIP systems, service providers use the same technology backbone for all customers, large and small. This allows smaller businesses to take advantage of economies of scale while also having access to enterprise-level features. And these features can be used on any device with an internet connection. The result is the capability to run your business — place calls, access voice mail, receive calls, send faxes — from pretty much anywhere. With cloud-based VoIP, the user is no longer chained to the traditional telephone network.
Advantages of Cloud-Based Hosting
With cloud-based hosting, the phone system turns into a unified communications system. With cloud-hosted VoIP, users access a web-based dashboard, which lets them manage features and check the status of other people on the system. For example, they can check to see if a person is on another call before transferring someone to that extension. Another great advantage of cloud-based VoIP is that even if your internet service is out in your office, your cloud-hosted VoIP phones will still work, because calls can be routed to cell phones or other landlines.
Steps for Choosing a Cloud-Based VoIP Provider
Before choosing a cloud-hosted VoIP provider, you should have your office network assessed and make sure that your network can handle the volume of VoIP packets it will be subjected to. Consult with multiple providers about features and costs. You should have a list of your business phone requirements ready when you contact providers, so that you can confirm that the system can be programmed to do exactly what you want it to do. In general, if you have fewer than 15 phone lines in your office, you will almost certainly benefit from switching to a cloud-hosted VoIP system.
VoIP and Emergency 911 Service
With more businesses depending on un-tethered devices to make up their phone systems, you want to make sure that, in the event of an emergency call, the provider is able to give caller location to the 911 operator at the appropriate Public Safety Answering Point. This ensures that emergency personnel can respond quickly and go to the right place. Seamless emergency support should be available regardless of your device.
In February of 2012, the Federal Communications Commission started requiring all interconnected VoIP providers to report network outages. This is something that landline and cell phone providers already have to do. The goal of the ruling is to make sure that the entire U.S. communications infrastructure is available during emergencies. The FCC discovered how a lack of outage information affected emergency communications after Hurricane Irene in 2011.
Photo Credit: Paolo Ordoveza