What types of phone systems are there?
This is a great first question in selecting a new phone system for your business. Generally there are 4 basic cases, although some times their are cross-overs. The 4 basic cases are: 1) In the Cloud (aka Hosted or Virtual) 2) Premise VoIP 3) Premise Digital/VoIP 4) Pemise Digital Only
The right choice is different for every customer. Factors include needs, vision of the future, budget, cabling status, Internet size and quality, Network Equipement, IT team capability, Internet available to the location, and more. Let Parker Communications help you.
Case 1: Cloud:
The CLOUD is the current future of business phone systems. It is incredible profitable for the manufactures. Acutally manufacturer is the wrong word. Most Cloud PBX companies are software only companies now. Most use generic phones they or you purchase. It is incredible inexpensive to become such a company. Investors have over saturated the market. In the typical CLOUD anthing model you sell at a loss until you drive everyone out and then raise the pricing.
CLOUD systems are the only one being advertised as this is where the manufacture money is. This is good for them and not necessary good for you the customer. This depends on your needs, goals, and design life.
CLOUDs are pitched as the least expensive phone systems you can obtain which can be true for a business that will only last a few years. However, the monthly payments year after year really start to add up. Even when you add in the phone service to a premise system the break even point can be 3-5 years. Many customers choose the most inexpensive CLOUD phones that have a 3-5 year life. Having a basic system which you keep for 10,15,20 years (Yeah some old school systems like Toshiba easily can last that long). Again talk to us to guide you.
Clouds PBX's are aimed at the masses. Usually with a simplistic, but well polished offering. Some CLOUDs are so basic they are just for individuals. Most companies have department and/or a general mailbox. For example "For Sales, press 1, For Support press 2, ..." Most wish to ring a group of users of the department. But what if they are all busy? The system should take a department message with a light on each department members phone, separate from their personal mailbox light. Many clouds you get 1 mailbox per phone, the user. If you wish a deparment mailbox you have to tag it to common area phones (the conference room is the sales message box, and the lobby phone is support).
A few clouds are full implementations of a full premise system. Toshiba and Samsung are examples of these. This can allow you to migrate back and forth depending upon needs, desires, experince, etc. Also being a full premise system they tend to be much more flexible.
How Parker-South-Bay can help with your CLOUD descision: $ We have weeded out many poor choices but still offer a selection. $ We can be your champion before and after the sale. $ We have custom contract abilities not offered to the public. $ We can provide the old school service missing from almost all cloud offerings. $ We offer systems that can move from CLOUD to PREMISE if a bad experience. $ We offer systems that that offer the full premise feature set in the CLOUD. $ We can design/implement your cloud as well as maintain it during its life. $ We can reduce your risk. $ We can reduce your pain.
The light side of the CLOUD PBX: + Lower initial costs. + The generic offering with simple needs can be reasonably polished. + Off site phones, multiple locations, are standard. + Can offer a very small company with mobility desires a nice option. + You don't have to worry about the system hardware. + Software upgrades are included. + Most offer number by number call forwarding when system is down.
The dark side of the CLOUD PBX: - You really don't get to see what it is until after your in the unbreakable contract. - If you have any issues of choppy speech or hang-ups it is all on you to fix your network/internet. - Lots of nickel and dime of options you never heard about can dramatically increase the price after the contract. - No Mercy, if your CC card misses a payment it shuts the entire systems down soon. - Sneaky hidden automatic contract renewells are sadly the keystone of CLOUD PBX. - Once you buy you deal with with a CLOUD support that can be the worst model for technology issues. - Everyone you talk to has never heard of your company or how it should work or its history. - Often off-shore support with hard to understand folks. - The person who answers the phone (Tier-1) has little training. Triage only. - Support results often several waits or call backs. - It takes a really good internet connection. - It takes really good cabling and installation. Eg a cable tie on a cable bundle can wreck VoIP. - It may require high quality data network equipment. - It may require smart VoIP aware IT staff. - No government protection. Eg. Out of business with no warning. - Your in contract they are not! - It is not uncommon to change CLOUD companies several times. - It is not uncommon to swear off CLOUD. - The internet is such that the CLOUD and you can be up but the middle is down for hours. - Internet providers can offer inconsistant internet for Cloud VoIP service. Eg Comcast.
Case 2: Premise VoIP
Premise VoIP is usually a much more flexible system than the CLOUD. It limits the risk introduced by the internet (choppy speech, outages, hacking, etc.). Phone service can be delivered by protected circuits or the general internet. Premise providers are often more traditional suppliers of business pbx and thus understand more what the customer may want to do. Premise VoIP is usually a purchase system. Premise VoIP usually has a optional/mandatory annual fee for access to updates. If you wish to use your cell phones, computers, which are constantly changing software you really need the updates. A premise system price usually breaks even with the CLOUD model in 3 to 5 years. However, your equipment usually lasts longer which can half your price in 6-10 years of use.
Case 3: Premise VoIP/Digital
Premise VoIP/Digtal is usually more of a traditional platform. Digtal offers the most bulletproof phone delivery within the building. Digital will run on almost any traditional telecom wiring. It is 100% separate from the data network wiring. VoIP is often used for just the outside users and connections to newer high tech features as cell phones. Most are modular systems where you buy electronics or licensing one time to have the capability for life. Some brands/models offer free upgrades or many configurations and optional maintenance for the more high tech constantly changing software like cell phone apps.
Companies with older cabling use digital. However, when the expand in the same location the new areas are wired modern and the customer has the choice to expand with VoIP or Digital Sets.
Case 4: Premise Digital Only
There are 2 cases here. A discounted Digital/VoIP system with VoIP that will require electronics or licensing to enable when you need it. A digital system with no hope of VoIP in the future. The first case is a very reasonable choice and moves it to Case 3, a premise VoIP/Digital. Digital is a bulletproof delivery of phones. It can operate perfectly on almost any cabling quality or age.
Is your building wiring, IT equipment, IT staff, and internet pipe ready for VoIP?
We acquire many new customers who tried a CLOUD or premise VoIP system and without proper research found their new system unusable and our in a fight with the supplier for reimbursement (not so easy). CLOUD and premise VoIP both require a high quality data network with modern components and knowledgable IT staff. Many small companies have skimped on the data network and IT staff historically and go with an inexpensive looking solution only to find out it can be a nightmare. Most CLOUDS offer litte support and if anything goes wrong says it "your problem, you find it and fix it". Even a local vendor can only give so much goodwill if a customer is unwilling to upgrade their network to help aleviate the issues. Sometimes CLOUD is a inernet pipe issue. Comcast quickly comes to mind as a internet supplier with a hit/miss/change in quality internet to support VoIP/CLOUD.
CABLING: Historically phone wiring was separate of the data network and could be a much lower cost cable. Most digital phones are only pushing 144K of data. Each digital cable only has to supply 1 the power and data for 1 physical phone. Contrast that to a VoIP phone that is running at 100MB or 1GB. The VoIP phone in a is simple networks is shared and a poor cable/network equipment can terrorize a large number of phones. Although VoIP phones can abandon the old voice wiring altogether and share the data network this only works in ideal networks. It has always been best practice to use two separate data networks in all but enterprise environments. People think because they use computers on their network and observer no issues that their data network is ideal. This is often far from the truth. A data network can retry sending data many times every second and gives no one a clue that is happening. VoIP data can not be resent. By the time it is resent it the conversation has passed the point of needing that data. Instead silence is substitued for the missing data (choppy speech). Data speed taxes the physical cable to its limits. Any pressure to the physical cable can cause data errors, thus choppy speech for VoIP phones. What kind of presure? A cable tie (very popular in the old days or by cheap/fast cabling). By the way we now use 1-2" velco to bind the bundles to spread the presure out.
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