What is Hosted PBX?
Hosted PBX is a cloud based telephony service where the calling platform and PBX features are hosted and managed by the service provider. PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange, while the Hosted prefix refers to the manner in which telephone system hardware is stored and maintained virtually.
The vast majority of VoIP providers offer hosted versions of their service, known as a Hosted PBX, Virtual PBX, and Cloud PBX. These cloud based solutions offer all of the calling features you would expect from an on premise VoIP solution or even standard telephony service, but through the cloud. Each provider has their own data center in order to offer services to a massive number of businesses. With the advantage of scale, these providers are able to maintain a high level of security, reliability, redundancy and energy efficiency around the clock.
With a Hosted PBX, the VoIP provider does all the heavy lifting so that you don’t have to, all while maintaining the high level of service and quality one would expect from Fortune 500 Enterprise phone systems. Hosted PBX VoIP providers have their own servers that connect you to all landlines, cell phones and other VoIP services, just like a standard phone line, with loads more features you won’t get with your standard phone line.
How Hosted PBX Solutions Work?
A hosted PBX works much in the same way an on premise PBX solution would, but with the gritty work handled behind the scenes, all within the provider’s data centers. The entire phone system is operated and maintained by the provider, who generally provides multiple data centers to ensure redundancy – if one center goes down, your calls will simply be routed out of another data center so you never miss a beat.
These providers have a team of IT professionals and engineers working around the clock to ensure your system is up and running and its highest potential in terms of efficiency, call quality and security. As a subscriber of the service, users don’t have to mess with any configuration and hardware installations on their end, simply log into an online Account Management portal with your provided information, and you’re all ready to hook up desk phones or even make calls directly from the web.
Why Use a Hosted PBX Over Other Solutions?
Without the need for on location phone infrastructure and hardware, a hosted PBX frees up your business to deal with much more important matters. The main advantage of a hosted PBX is the simple fact that everything – from setup to hardware to security to reliability – is handled on the end of the provider. There is no need to spend extra money on the infrastructure, IT, or switches to power your system. Adding additional phone lines can be done quickly through the online portal, and is not limited by the number of free phone jacks in your building’s server or telephony room. Utilizing a Hosted PBX even provides flexibility and mobility unrivaled by other systems.
Most Hosted PBX providers allow users to make calls not only on their desk phones, but also desktop soft phone applications and even mobile phone applications. With the ability to make calls from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection your workers can truly stay connected away from the office. If anything goes wrong, it won’t be up to your team of Tech Support to handle the situation, but rather your service provider will be on the case, and most times before you’re even aware of a problem at all. Between cost savings, flexibility and ease of use, choosing a hosted PBX provider is an easy step to ensure your business will maintain a high level of quality.
What to Look for in a Hosted PBX Provider:
When you rely on external services to host, manage and maintain your phone system it is important to ensure you choose a provider you can rely on. With the vast number of providers out there, it can be daunting to choose one – where do you even begin? With promises of service guarantees and satisfaction rates it can be difficult to confide in one sole provider. However, when you break the information down and focus on the objective points it can be easy to come to a conclusion about who would provide the best service for your business.
First and foremost, the features included in your service are key.
- When comparing providers, one of the easiest factors to locate and compare are the comprehensive feature lists normally found on the provider’s website.
- With a breakdown of every feature offered on the different plans, this first step offers an easy introduction to the services, and allows you to quickly knock out providers that don’t suit your price point and telephony needs.
Reliability and Network:
However, the features included with your service won’t make much difference without a solid, reliable network. If the provider’s servers go down, your phones go down.
- Ensuring the provider, you choose has a redundant, and robust network with a high service level guarantee – most providers promise over 97% uptime.
- It’s important to look for a provider that operates data centers in multiple locations, not just around the world but also redundancy such as an East coast and West coast data center in the U.S. This way if one goes down, your calls can be rerouted to the backup without interruption.
- Entering a Service Level Agreement is a good way to ensure the status and reliability of your service.
If your provider’s servers do in fact go down, or you have any other issues with your service, it’s imperative that your provider offers consistent and accessible customer service.
- Certain providers will offer U.S. based customer service.
- Methods of contact can vary with phone calls, email, online tickets or even web chat.
- Some providers even offer 24/7 customer service, but may limit this to their higher paying customers.
As the one of the major benefits of adopting a hosted PBX, you would want a provider that is as flexible as the service can be.
- With a hosted solution scaling up and down is, and should be, very simple.
- A provider that allows this flexibility at little to no cost will be much easier to work with when it comes to expanding not only users, but also features and overall service.
- Some providers may charge fees extra for adding or removing lines, or turning features on and off.
And of course, no one wants to be ambushed with hidden costs or cancellation fees.
- Many providers will supply transparent price quotes, but it’s important to keep an eye out for any extra fees or charges you may not have expected.
- Cancellation fees can also be common if you decide to interrupt your service before an agreed upon date.
Benefits of a Hosted PBX Solution:
- Cost Savings – Between the initial setup, and ongoing maintenance and upgrade costs, a hosted PBX removes most of the extra fees associated with establishing and running your own phone system on premise.
- Ease of Use and Setup – As the initial setup is handled by the service provider, there won’t be many headaches on your end to get your system running. Adding lines or changing features is as simple as logging into the online account management portal and ticking different boxes.
- Local Presence – Hosted PBX providers have access to an unlimited amount of local numbers so customers don’t have to dial out to a big, faceless cooperate 800 number.
- Location Flexibility – With desktop soft phone applications and even mobile phone applications, your workers can access your phone system from anywhere. No longer are you tied down to just your desk phone, as you can also set one number to ring every device.
- Scalability – Since your system isn’t limited by what hardware you have on presence, you can scale your system either up or down at the flick of a switch to best fit your needs.
- Credibility – Ensure your business projects the professional image you deserve with a robust phone system that will never fail. Combined with features normally reserved for large Enterprise systems, like an auto-attendant and call routing, a hosted PBX will transfer your business’ image.