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A hosted phone system (also known as a PBX or virtual PBX) is an easy way for businesses to reduce phone costs while still meeting all of their needs. Instead of your business installing a phone system, the telephone company hosts it. This saves you both install and maintenance costs, as well as the headaches inherent in hosting your own system.
Pros of a Hosted Phone System
There are numerous advantages with a hosted phone system. For one thing, PBX systems include the full features found in traditional installed systems, such as automated greetings, faxing, voicemail, and conference calling. It is also less expensive to have the telephone service handle call routing and switching, as well as maintenance. Hosted phone systems allow employees to work from home, using the Internet service to configure their phones to receive work calls. Hosting options include PSTN (for public switched telephone network), Internet-based phone systems, or a combination of the two. Employees are no longer tied to a physical location, meaning you can eliminate office costs altogether or simply make it easier for sales personnel to change or modify orders from the field in real time.
Points to Consider when Choosing a Hosted Phone System
- Scalability: Allows your business to add or remove extensions and phone lines, letting you enjoy the same services and features as your business grows without forcing you to pay for more than you need while still growing or work with an inadequate system as your needs change.
- Ease of use: You want an intuitive, easy-to-use system that helps increase productivity and ensures employees take advantage of the features you're paying for without requiring employees to undergo a great deal of training.
- Features: Common features include voicemail, automated greetings, fax capabilities, conference calling, touchtone menus, call logs, and call auditing. Look for a PBX system that includes these common features, and check the features included in each proposal, to ensure you compare apples to apples when looking at multiple vendors.
- Security: This includes both call and data security, including audit reports.
Sample Costs of Hosted Phone Systems
Costs vary widely based on a variety of factors, including:
- 1. Your provider
- 2. Your location
- 3. Your business and industry
- 4. The number of calls that you receive on average
- 5. International or domestic call services
Some providers charge per call. However, most providers offer an unlimited plan for domestic calls, making comparison between providers easy. It is also important to understand that some providers do not include taxes in their pricing, meaning the cost could be higher. For example, a bill from a hosted phone system can carry at least $15 in regulatory and tax fees. Request quotes from multiple providers to ensure you get the best price and service available. Exact pricing isn't possible without knowing your exact needs, but these estimates help determine your budget and give you an idea of industry standards when reviewing proposals.
- Monthly hosted phone systems average between $20 and $50 per month
- One to four lines per user averages around $40 per month, per user
- Five to 20 lines per user averages around $30 per month, per user
- 21 or more lines per user averages around $20 per month, per user
- Metered plans average around $10 to $20 per 100 minutes or about $0.05 to $0.08 per minute
- Toll-free numbers average around $40 per month
- Paperless faxing service averages around $5 to $10 per 500 pages per month