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Do I buy a phone system (PBX) outright or set-up a cloud based solution?

Good Question! Even though I cannot fully answer it in this post, at least I would like to outline the main pro's and con's, definitions and considerations...

First, let's look at some definitions, what's a phone? Just kidding, but what is a Phone System?
An automated, smart operator that directs calls to the right person, location at the right time and give callers additional options to answer their questions quickly. That's pretty clear, right? Then what is a cloud Phone system?

 

Cloud Phone System

Cloud PbxAlso called Virtual PBX, Hosted PBX, essentially takes the costly hardware and software from your office location and puts them in a 24/7 data center. The connection between your phone handset or other devices and the system is now established in a secure way, ensuring uptime, speed and subsequently voice quality.
Is it safe? Yes, the same way hosting your company website is safe on a web server, rather than your computer
Is it reliable? Yes, as long as the Data Center and the data connection are reliable.

So why invest in the Cloud? Because of Scaleability and Cost.

The solution will be at least 10 times cheaper on average and will essentially grow with your growing business needs.

 

is Cloud Based Phone System (VPBX) the same as VOIP?

No, even though it seems similar in its functioning to a VOIP system. VOIP stands for Voice Over IP. The physical phone system described previously can be a VOIP system (as opposed to a PSTN system).
VOIP uses the internet connection you to transmit voice. Unfortunately this is one of the reasons why companies feared "digital voice" because it was only as good as your connection and can sometimes result in poor connectivity or quality. This is obviously no longer the issue, modern DSL is much faster and reliable and new voice codecs prioritise voice over an existing data connection (meaning you will not lose you phone connection due to your colleague streaming a "adorable kittens" youtube video)

Can I use the Cloud Phone System on my phone?

You can connect to it and use it on your phone, tablet, desktop or any SIP Phone (phone which can also connect to VOIP)

 

Are there any disadvantages of a Cloud Based System?

I had to think long and hard about this one, but yes there are some potential risks. Some emergency services do not work on digital systems (as opposed to traditional PSTN). Also, in case there is a power outage at your premises, your SIP Phones will not be able to connect to the System (neither locally installed VOIP nor, cloud based) whereas a traditional PSTN will still carry the signal - as long as you have a traditional phone handset (not powered up). 
However, the cloud based Solution allows you to retrieve all calls on you mobile device, subsequently saving the day, while your electricity is being powered back up.

 

So is it right for me?

Ultimately you need to answer the question. However, I think in most cases it is right for you. Why? Saves you money, including no up-front cost, while not limiting you, as your business grows. You can use your existing infrastructure (including digital phones - SIP Phones) but also expand it to any device. It makes your business sound professional and allows you to really take control of its functionality. Keep in mind, that many older system, both PSTN and VOIP were not very easy to configure and manage, which means you or your business had to spend hard earned cash on geeks like me to make a changes to it. 

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