A VoIP phone system provides telephony services to your IP phones and other telephony devices. When connected to a PSTN or VoIP provider, the phone system lets your phones interact with the outside world.
A typical premise-based phone system is connected to your business’ LAN network. The phones are also connected to this LAN network. VoIP telephony uses your existing Ethernet cabling and network switches; as opposed to analog telephony, which requires copper wiring to be run through the building.
When a switch is described as being optimized for voice and video communications, it is designed to improve the performance of VoIP and IP-based telephony. The structure of a total VoIP system might look like:
The VoIP phone system is responsible for providing features like voicemail, Caller ID, virtual assistants/IVRs, etc. The network controls traffic between endpoints and servers. The endpoints include phones, PC softphones, fax machines, printers and anything else that can be plugged into the network or wirelessly connected.
The Benefits of Premise-Based VoIP
A premise-based phone system means that all of the hardware is at your site. The alternative is a hosted phone system, where the hardware is at another site and you pay to rent the services. Having the phone system at your site gives you complete control over the hardware.
Any customizations and optimizations are completely at your discretion. The advantage of a premise-based phone system is that you have complete scalability and flexibility—up to the hardware’s capacity, of course.
Hosted phone systems are a popular choice for dispersed work groups or small businesses. Spread out coworkers might benefit from not having to worry about additional hardware. Small businesses sometimes don’t have the manpower or expertise to service their own equipment.
Premise-based phone systems are better for businesses that have to be in control of their services, frequently use telephony and require different connectivity options. In today’s hyper-connected world, these functions are critical businesses in any industry.
Top Five Adjectives to Describe Premise-Based Phone Systems:
Hardware-Based & Software-Based PBX’s
A hardware-based phone system includes all of the equipment and software. A software-based phone system does not include the physical hardware. The software can be loaded onto a compatible appliance or server.
Why choose one over the other? Software-based phone systems advertise that they’re less expensive and more modular than hardware-based phone systems. These are not the same as softphones. Softphones are programs that you can run on a PC to make calls through a headset, for example. A phone system is compatible with VoIP phones, lets you operate queues, manage extensions, etc.
The physical components and the software in hardware-based phone systems are built to work together. Manufacturers can build special add-ons and other hardware that software-based phone systems cannot offer.
Short answer: both phone systems offer an incredible array of features. In the end, it comes down to what features your business is looking for and whether the phone system will offer it. Choosing a less expensive phone system without the features you require could cost you more in the long run.
Small Business Phone Systems
Grandstream and Digium design phone systems for small businesses, branch offices, large businesses, enterprises… any type of business! The small business phone systems include high-end features like virtual receptionists, video support, mobile extensions and analog ports, but only offer enough extensions to support an SMB.
Feature-packed small business phone systems are ideal alternatives to hosted VoIP solutions. They require little maintenance, are easy to use and include enterprise-class features.
Ooma and Vodia have ushered in a new form of IP PBX. They are miniature phone systems that can be set up on a user’s desktop instead of requiring a rack or lots of valuable space.
Vodia’s mini PBX fits in the palm of your hand. These phone systems (there are four models total) are available with virtual extensions for mobile devices, click-to-call, programmable auto attendants and more great features. Other phone systems might be twenty times the size, but offer fewer features.
Ooma is a popular choice with businesses, as well as consumers. The reason is because the system offers free nationwide calling. Two versions are available: Ooma Telo and Ooma Office. Connect the Ooma Telo base station to your Internet service and receive free nationwide VoIP calling, with subscriptions available to upgrade the service.
The Ooma Office phone system requires a minimal monthly fee and offers up to ten lines, physical and virtual extensions, programmable auto attendant, music on hold, conference bridging and high-definition VoIP telephony.
Scalable Phone Systems
Phone systems built on modular platforms are easy to customize—most of the time. The appliances host expansion modules that can be added or removed, giving the phone system different connection types and performance enhancements.
Avaya, Barracuda, Cisco and Rhino are examples of manufacturers that offer these types of phone systems. Give your VoIP phone system ports for analog lines and T1 lines, interfaces for WiFi and mobile networks, and anything else that the phone system supports.
Avaya IP Office is a flexible IP PBX solution. Bring voice, video and mobile applications together onto one stage. Unite your business’ communications on one comprehensive, scalable platform.
Cisco Business Edition phone systems and Unified Communications Manager solutions are perfect for small businesses, large businesses and enterprises. Choose and configure the right setup to support your business’ voice, video and data.
Businesses shopping for a VoIP phone system should consider these critical features:
- Caller ID
- Cell phone integration
- Click to dial
- Emergency/911 assistance
- Multiple devices per extension
- Music on hold
- Outlook integration
- Simultaneous ring
- Virtual receptionist/IVR
- Voicemail to email
Hosted VoIP phone systems and premise-based phone systems offer a similar line of features. The difference is how much you are paying for these features, whether you need them, how quickly you can customize or change the features, and so on and so on. With a premise-based solution, you are in complete control.
IP Phone Warehouse staffs certified technicians and experienced engineers. We can design and install any phone system. For businesses that are new to VoIP or cannot afford an IT department of their own, our technical support services are critical.
Contact our customer support to learn more about our services, or take a look at our technical support page. We provide consultations, provisioning services and installations. Our tech support services can put your business in the fast lane.
Choose remote phone support for complex integration services or contact our free pre-sales technical support for general information.
A lot of phone systems say they’re compatible with SIP or another protocol. A protocol is a language that the phone system understands. SIP phones are compatible with VoIP services from a SIP phone system. A SIP phone would not work with a phone system that only supports SCCP or another protocol. Some phone systems and phones support multiple protocols.
Products from different manufacturers can be used together. This is called “third party integration.” A manufacturer might provide a list of devices that are compatible with their phone systems. They have been tested for interoperability and service support. The underlying lesson is that the protocols and other critical components need to be compatible.
Voice and video codecs are also essential. A phone that says it can deliver wideband audio is restricted from doing so if the connected phone system does not support wideband audio. Codecs determine how the network compresses and decompresses the voice or video signals.
Setting up a phone system with gateways, endpoints, cabling and every other part of the network can be incredibly confusing. If you’re unfamiliar with the phone systems, the worst thing to do is jump right in. It’s not like setting up a gaming console or disc player with a television set.
Phone systems have advanced far since they were physical switchboards that required operators to connect the lines. Now they’re ready to go in any office. They still require an outside service so the phone system can reach the millions or billions of other phone systems in the world. Phone systems don’t come with their own space satellites and utility polls.
The benefit of a premise-based phone system is the amount of control that the business can exert over their telephony services. Virtual assistant can be programmed to professionally greet callers and route them to the right department or personnel. Extensions can be quickly added or removed. Paging systems can be integrated for making announcements from your desktop phone. The power is only limited by the phone system.
A premise-based phone system also allows extensions to call each other without having to access the PSTN or service provider. If the outside line goes down and there is no analog failover available, employees within the network can continue calling each other.
VoIP phone systems will continue to evolve into greater and better machines. Analog is being phased out and new technology is not being applied to it. VoIP is the path to the future of telephony, communications productivity and a more immediate return on investment.