How do hosted telephone systems work?
Before we can begin to understand how a hosted phone system works we need to understand exactly what a hosted phone system is and why they are transforming the way many people do business today. We need to start with explaining about the “cloud” – that mysterious term that very few people actually understand.
What is the “cloud”?
All that the cloud refers to in the simplest form is a solution or a service which is delivered over the internet. It has revolutionised the way in which IT infrastructure in business actually works, by making it easier to access, smaller companies now have access to technologies which previously only larger organisations could.
Hosted phone systems are one of the technologies which have been made available to smaller sized businesses through the cloud.
What is a hosted telephone system?
Being brief and to the point, hosted telephony removes the need for a physical piece of hardware on site because instead of having hardware, the system is hosted on a piece of computer software hosted in a data centre away from the business premises – in the cloud!
The conventional way for a business would be to previously have a telephone system would be to get physical incoming lines from a provider, connect a telephone system to those lines and then add on individual extensions which would need to be connected to the system via telephone cabling or through structured cabling known in the industry as CAT5/CAT6.
Sometimes known as IP telephony, hosted telephone systems run on all IP networks and use the same cabling as your in-house LAN – Local Area Network. Through your LAN the telephone systems are able to transmit information in the same method as an office network or the internet would.
The more complex answer to what hosted telephony is
The handset on the desk uses a protocol called SIP (session initiation protocol), This protocol enables the device to set up a connection between itself and another SIP enabled device using the relevant configuration details. In the example of hosted telephony the end SIP device will be the phone system which is normally hosted within a secure data centre.
A big data connection then allows the phone system to convert the data into a more standard phone call and this is then transmitted normally into the Openreach network.
This doesn’t happen if the destination handset is on the same network or phone system network and will be routed through to the handset via SIP with the phone system acting much like the Openreach network itself or local phone exchange.
G.711 or G729 is used to transmit the data
The SIP handsets will use a data protocol for the connection process. The 2 most common ones are G.711 and G.729. With a G.711 connection it normally uses around 64kbps both download and upload to keep the call quality at the optimum level for the protocol.
G.729 uses around 8kbps both download and upload to keep the call quality at the optimum level for the protocol.
Obviously, if the internet connection can sustain it you should always use G.711 to make sure you’re getting the best level of call quality. To help with comparison of the level of quality a G.729 call is similar to that of a mobile phone with strong signal.
Do you need special handsets?
Well this really depends on what you class as special, handsets need to support the technology you intend to use them on. For example an Apple Iphone 7 supports 4G data connections. So you would need to have SIP enabled devices to be able to use a hosted telephony solution.
The good news is that SIP is pretty good in terms of availability. There are numerous handsets on the market which support the protocol and you can even get apps on your phone, much like Skype, that can connect to a hosted system and use the functionality provided to boot.
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What are the main advantages to hosted telephony?
A hosted phone system is one which is in essence virtual, meaning the brains of the system are housed away from your office or premises in a data centre. This gives you the benefit of not having to worry about having your phone lines installed at your location. All you need is a broadband connection of sufficient quality to sustain the Voip phone calls and you can use your handset wherever you are.
Take business phone calls anywhere.
With a hosted PBX you can either have a handset plugged into the internet connection wherever you happen to be or to give you even greater flexibility you could have the a client on your smartphone or on your laptop. Meaning you can literally work from anywhere with an internet connection.
No upgrade costs:
The phone system is housed in a data centre and controlled by the operator of the system rather than being in your premises and needing constant upgrades each time you want more phone lines or handsets. The hosted PBX provider will take care of all of this on your behalf.
One monthly bill:
You will only receive and have to pay one bill for a Hosted PBX. No longer will you need to pay for your calls to one company, your line rental to another company etc. you will have one company managing everything.
Are you planning on becoming the next Uber and scaling quickly to hundreds of employees? If so, hosted is the right choice. With an on premises phone system you will need to keep adding units, channel cards, port cards, voicemail ports etc. etc. Or maybe you just want to get to 10 staff in the next 2 years, it’s still perfect for you.
No installation costs:
Why would you need to pay installation costs when the handset can configure itself once plugged into the internet? All you have to do is take it out of the box, plug it into your office network (making sure it’s an internet connected port of course) and it then sets itself up. All the hard work has already been done.
One phone number anywhere:
One phone number can be used in the office, in the car, at the coffee shop, at home. We term them follow me numbers as they can literally follow you around wherever you are. How nice would it be if you knew that at 5PM each day all your calls were diverted to your voicemail automatically? VIP clients? Don’t worry it can be programmed to let those calls through.
Free phone Calls:
Certain hosted telephony providers, including ourselves, will give you free calls included in your monthly rental. From £15 per month you can get all your local, national and UK mobile calls included.
Business Continuity and disaster recovery built in:
The nature of hosted telephony means it’s already perfect for disaster recovery. Let’s say you get back to the office building on a Monday morning and there has been a fire, how do you get those all important phone calls from your customers now? With a hosted PBX it’s quick and straightforward to divert your calls to your mobile phones, or even better you all have the hosted providers SIP client installed on your laptops.
Easy to control the whole system:
Usually, a hosted PBX will come with an online portal. Within this portal you will be able to make all sorts of changes to your phone system. Quick changes to your voicemail messages perhaps or you need to change the music on hold marketing message, it’s a quick upload of the audio file and away it goes.
Hopefully, the above information gives you a good picture of what hosted telephony is, how it works and more importantly why it’s beneficial to a lot of companies out there. Depending on the system it does have its limitations but the world of hosted telephony moves and develops so fast that very soon it’ll be the go-to option for all businesses.
If you are looking for a hosted telephone system then look no further than Comms Consult. Already we have installed hundreds of these systems across the whole of the UK. Contact us today to discuss your individual requirements, we promise we will beat any other price on a quotation.