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Hosted Voice: Overview

What is hosted voice?

At the start of your journey, you’ll be inundated with new products and services that are designed to sit on top of your IT infrastructure and provide a feature rich telephony experience.

Before you get carried away with features and functionality, it’s important to get a thorough understanding of what hosted voice is.

Hosted voice is often referred to using other terms. When used together or by different providers, it’s hard to gauge whether you are talking about the same technologies. In general, these terms listed below all mean the same thing:

  • Cloud PBX
  • Cloud Phone System
  • Hosted Telephony
  • Hosted PBX
  • Cloud Telephony
  • VoIP
  • Hosted VoIP

Hosted voice, or any of the terms above, are essentially taking a phone system and hosting it in the cloud. As phone systems are moved into the cloud, the door opens for businesses to consume more innovative features and functionality that are not available on a traditional PBX.

Understanding the what, why, how and where to start are fundamental points when looking at hosted telephony. This guide to hosted voice is the perfect way to quick start your hosted voice journey.

Types of Phone System

Over time, we’ve seen telephone systems installed on-premises, hosted in a data centre by a client or more commonly hosted by a vendor in their secure cloud infrastructure. It’s important to understand the history and benefits of each type of deployment before progression into hosted telephony.

On-Premises: installed in a customer’s location, usually a comms cabinet, and attached to analogue or ISDN lines installed by a BT Openreach engineer. Typical players in this market were Avaya, Mitel and Cisco. Largely expensive due to the phone line rental and lack of scalability when installed on-site, on-premises installations are being phased out.

Customer Hosted: rather than connecting to physical phone lines, phone systems could be installed into a data centre, if a customer owned or rented one, and were attached to SIP trunks which carried the call traffic over the internet. This provided cost savings on the phone line rental but was reliant on customer’s budgeting for data centre space and investing in specialist technical resource. Like on-premises solutions though, customer hosted solutions are less common with a more cost-effective, scalable solution available.

Hosted Telephony: removing the need for on-site equipment, or the need for a data centre, the phone system is hosted in the cloud by a vendor with their own core infrastructure supporting any number of service providers or direct clients. As cloud technology has become tried and tested, innovation has led to software integrations with phone systems to transform buying a new phone system into transforming a business. You can add on functionality to apps like Salesforce and Skype for Business to introduce click to dial, screen popping and automatic record updating.

This type of phone system implementation is viewed as the primary deployment model for any new phone system.  

How does Hosted Telephony work?

Removing the need for telephone lines, hosted telephony runs over SIP trunks. Think of SIP trunks as virtual phone lines. Instead of routing over copper cables underground, call traffic is transmitted over the internet as data. That data either travels from IP source to IP destination or breaks out to the PSTN for non-IP calls.

This could be another handset on your hosted telephony estate (IP). It could be a landline in another country (non-IP).  The concept of a phone call doesn’t change. It simply gets routed over the internet, in a secure, efficient manner.

The SIP trunks themselves are configured within the infrastructure by the vendor. This removes the need for a customer to install or configure any equipment. You could think of it as a data centre housing everything on one huge telephone system, with a separate partition for each customer.

Why use Hosted Telephony?

Unlike traditional on-premises deployments, hosted telephony can scale up and down as you require it to. This removes the need for installation or a site visit. This makes rapid configuration and flexible “as-a-Service" models. The SIP technology powering hosted telephony, gets configured for the desired number of concurrent calls. This ensures you are never overpaying for unused telephone lines.

Scalability and cost are just the tip of iceberg when it comes to exploring the benefits of hosted telephony. Without going into all the reasons why you should use hosted telephony, headlines items include:

  • Flexibility
  • Scalability
  • Cost Reduction
  • Hundreds of Telephony Features
  • Free Calls Between Sites
  • Security
  • Productivity

Customers are no longer talking to us about phones, features and buttons. They’re now focussing on strategic decisions and working out how to get the benefits.  That means there are several new topics that we’re now talking about.

We dig much deeper into things like HD audio quality, web conferencing and Unified Comms in other posts about Why Hosted Voice and Cloud Phone System features to look out for.

As with most cloud technologies, you are making a long-term investment. This means it’s crucial that the purchase is scalable, and scalable cost-effectively. You’ll need to consider a few cost implications, including considerations around how many licences and channels you will need and whether there are things you can discard.