Voice over IP (VoIP) is one of those terms that tend to make businesses nervous. After all, it arrived some years ago with a largely overhyped bang, only for those who adopted it to find they got burned by a solution that was unable to deliver on its promise.

The reasons behind VoIP’s initial failure are many and varied, though none are due to the technology itself. Rather, it was a simple case of the networks not being ready for such an offering, coupled with the then low quality of connectivity and overly high pricing.

Although the intervening years have seen fundamental changes in everything from the networks and the numbers of available service providers to the pricing model itself; although latency and packet loss have been eliminated as challenges; and although interconnect rates continue to fall year on year, many businesses still view VoIP through the lens of its past failures.

This is not a failure on the part of the technology, but rather on the part of those enterprises that maintain this out-dated view. And it is a view that successful organisations need to change, as today, VoIP is the key to the door of reduced costs and increased efficiencies. Modern VoIP is nothing less than the enabler of a hosted solution that will drastically reduce telecommunications capex and opex for a company.

How can it achieve this, you ask?

Simply put, by eliminating the need for an onsite PBX to control business communications. VoIP enables your PBX to be hosted in the cloud, which immediately has a significant capex cost benefit, since you now no longer need to invest in onsite equipment. Hardware is always expensive, and scaling up as your business grows – even if it is something as simple as needing additional telephone extensions – inevitably requires further investment in your PBX. Adding additional features tends to be another costly exercise.

On the other hand, moving to a hosted environment means you only need your IP handsets, along with a switch and a router to carry voice traffic to the network. More crucially, since everything is hosted in the cloud, you are able to scale up or down as your business requirements change, while only paying for the handsets you use. Speed of deployment is much more rapid, thanks to the elimination of the need for a hardware installation, and flexibility is assured, making it much simpler for your business to embrace new ideas and technologies.

A good example of this type of flexibility is the current drive towards bring your own device (BYOD). The right hosted VoIP solution will allow your employees to link their mobile devices to the solution, enabling them to make and receive free on-net calls. This will greatly increases your ability to control telecommunications costs, while significantly reducing mobile provider phone bills.

Unlike an on-premise PBX, where new features can only be added at further expense, a hosted solution passes new upgrades and features on to the client at no additional cost. The same goes for value-added services like voice recording, music on hold and a telephone management system.

In today’s tough economic climate, all businesses should be seeking the lowest call rates and the highest network quality, encompassed in a solution that offers flexibility, scalability and – most crucially of all – simplicity. For those who are willing to embrace it, a hosted VoIP solution delivers all of the above, while at the same time opening up a gateway to a world of additional cost reductions, service improvements and business benefits.

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