What is Hosted VoIP – Forbes Advisor


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Hosted Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a secure, inexpensive Internet communication service that can support your entire business with minimal hassle. A hosted VoIP phone system probably includes all of the communication features a business needs, if not some, and is a great choice for small businesses looking to grow or maintain their size. We explain how hosted VoIP works and how it can help your business stay connected.

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What is hosted VoIP?

Hosted VoIP is a type of Internet-based telephone communication service offered and operated by a third-party provider to a business or client entity. These services are an ideal solution for small businesses looking to find an inexpensive, unified solution for communication needs. Hosted VoIP replaces traditional landlines and associated analog equipment with a cloud-based phone system. Any call made is converted into digital data packets and sent to the receiver via the Internet. This process requires a physical server capable of handling the information that, for unhosted VoIP, must be installed by your business somewhere on site. However, with hosted VoIP, you simply subscribe to a VoIP provider that has already set up all the secure offsite servers that you will need.

In essence, by subscribing to hosted VoIP, you are essentially outsourcing equipment and infrastructure without losing any of the associated benefits. Using the Internet, all you need to do is connect your business to your hosted VoIP provider and you will be able to access all the online communication services you need. It is also a guaranteed way to save money. Hosted VoIP is inexpensive compared to installing an analog phone system or any infrastructure needed for an on-premises VoIP system.

How does hosted VoIP work?

Hosted VoIP relies on the same infrastructure and methods used to distribute information over the Internet. Let’s say you place a call from your office using hosted VoIP. In the simplest scenario, your call connects to the Internet through your office router which then forwards the data packet to the remotely hosted VoIP servers. The server processes and manages the call, routes it and connects it to its appropriate digital destination. Receiving a call works the same way, just backwards. Calls can also be easily routed to and from landlines, but this process involves the extra step of using a PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) to connect.

Since hosted VoIP requires a stable internet connection to function, it is important that your business has a secure and private IP network. You’ll also need a lot of bandwidth, and potentially a wired (not wireless) connection, to get your calls to the best quality and performance possible.

Features of hosted VoIP

Hosted VoIP has many services and features

Hosted VoIP does not play with its suite of available services. Although it comes with many standard telephone features such as conference calls, VoIP Internet technology enables much more. While the exact selection may depend on the provider and how much you’re willing to pay, the most advanced hosted VoIP offers all the essential call center features and more.

This makes it a powerful tool for any business to use. Many providers also offer a variety of plans and services, so you don’t need to pay for a bunch of extra features you’ll never use – you can customize your plan to suit your exact (or enough business needs) needs. relatives).

Hosted VoIP features can include, but are definitely not limited to:

  • Sophisticated call handling (including routing and filtering)
  • Unlimited calls
  • Automatic attendant
  • Extension numbers and number changes
  • Instant messaging
  • Voicemail (including Voicemail to Text or Email)
  • Video conference
  • Online fax services

Secure and simple

Calls through the servers go through advanced encryption, providing a high level of security for all your conversations and messages. Once Hosted VoIP has been installed in your business (a process that typically takes anywhere from two to 13 days depending on the complexity of the installation), you can start using it immediately with no additional waiting time or hassle.

Save money

Since you don’t invest in infrastructure and equipment, hosted VoIP is much cheaper than unhosted VoIP or other communication systems that require the installation of specific equipment (such as analogue landlines). ). You also won’t need to pay a phone company to make calls, meaning long-distance and international calls are either significantly cheaper or completely free.

Likewise, with no maintenance or additional support costs, the only price you will pay is the monthly or yearly plan which, for the range of features that VoIP hosting offers, saves money both on the market. start and long term. Indeed, some basic services like Google Voice offer a free number and unlimited national calls.

Customer service is provided

Routine maintenance and included technical support are all services that hosted VoIP service providers typically should and will provide to your business as part of their VoIP plan. Instead of having to hire an IT specialist to work on your server or a telephone repair service to fix your analog system, you can let your supplier take care of the problems and maintenance needs.

Supports unified communications (UC)

Although the terms are often used interchangeably, unified communications (a term for a group of applications that facilitate real-time or non-real-time communication across the enterprise) is technically a service that relies on an existing VoIP infrastructure. . It is not possible to have unified communications without VoIP, so if you want to integrate unified communications into your business, you will need hosted VoIP first.

Good for long-term business growth

Hosted VoIP is a great investment for small businesses with growth plans. The suite of features, lower cost, and the ability to support a remote or flexible employee base means your business can keep pace with larger companies. And if your business grows large enough to require it, adding unified communications is painless with your pre-existing VoIP base. Many businesses, private and public, are turning to hosted VoIP to meet their communication needs, so the system as a whole is unlikely to become obsolete anytime soon. Once the change is made, you won’t have to worry about overhauling your communications services anytime soon.

Popular Hosted VoIP Providers

The best VoIP providers offer flexible and customizable communication solutions and services to suit your business. Both RingCentral and Nextiva are well known hosted VoIP providers that we have rated highly. Both offer services that we believe work well for small businesses. On the other hand, if your business depends on the Microsoft ecosystem, Mitel is a vendor that will integrate well with existing Outlook and Teams programs. Likewise, if you are using the Google suite, Google’s free VoIP service, Google Voice, is probably your best bet for seamless integration.

If none of these options (or pricing models) sound appealing to you, there is a whole range of hosted VoIP providers available beyond these. Some even offer free service trials before you commit to a final purchase. Make sure to look for a supplier who will match the needs of the business well, won’t inflate or hide additional expenses in the contract, has a good reputation, and offers reliable customer service.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. If you have the technological and programming know-how, it is quite possible to install and maintain your own VoIP (voice-over-internet-protocol) server. Note that you will need to invest in your own software and hardware, both upfront and in maintenance costs over time, so don’t expect them to be necessarily as cheap as hosted VoIP.

PBX (private branch exchange) and VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) are often used interchangeably. Technically, however, PBX refers to a unified private telephone network that can be used for internal and external communication. VoIP relies on the Internet to send and receive calls instead.

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Margie D. Carlisle