Should you choose a cloud VOIP phone system over a more traditional land line solution

Over the years as technology and connectivity improves and with it the potential for cost savings many businesses are moving away from traditional land lines and phone systems.  One popular alternative is a cloud based VOIP solution.  If you are considering changing, upgrading or moving away from your traditional lines and phone system then read on.

How is a cloud VOIP system different from a land line phone system?

An in house solution will consist of X amount of land lines connecting to a box on a wall or in your comms or server rack, this is your phone system or PBX as it is commonly referred as.

With a traditional landline solution the PBX system is what brings functionality like call transfer, intercom, routing groups, phone directory etc. otherwise you would just have a bunch of multiple disparate lines going to desks. 

A cloud VOIP system has no land lines and no box on the wall, it routes all its calls through an internet connection and all the functionality is managed the majority of the time through a web browser in the cloud.

How do they compare in terms of features?

The traditional PBX can offer features such as:

  • Voicemail
  • Call forwarding and internal transfer
  • Conference calling
  • Call waiting
  • Caller id
  • DDI

Cloud VOIP systems offer all of the above with the addition of features such as:

  • Mobility: if you are on the road a lot then your smartphone can become an extension of your phone system. You can redirect all calls to your office phone to your mobile phone.  You can configure it to ring 5 times in the office then divert to your mobile phone.  You can call from your mobile and make it look like you are calling from your office phone.
  • Flexibility: A nice simple web portal allows you to on the fly configure your routing groups, call forwarding, answer phone settings, hold music messages etc without having to engage a third party phone system support company.
  • Video conferencing: With VOIP you can utilise video conferencing through your computer or handset depending on the handset.
  • Disaster Recovery:if the worst happens and you can no longer function from your office environment you can quickly redirect your main numbers and DDI to mobile phones and other landlines enabling you to keep working in the event your business suffers a disaster.

The winner here would appear to be the cloud VOIP system on a like for like feature comparison.

How do they compare in sound quality?

Landlines usually provide excellent quality and there aren’t a lot of external factors you need to take into consideration to get a decent quality voice call over a land line.

Cloud VOIP does have some factors you need to take into consideration. You need to factor the number of users that are likely going to be making calls at the one time and then compare that to your internet connection speed. If there is any doubt that there might not be enough bandwidth at times then you would need to configure your firewall to give priority to voice calls which may have an effect on other internet traffic. Another solution is dedicating one line solely for voice traffic.

The bottom line is your VOIP system is dependent on your internet connection and if it is configured correctly then the quality can be just as stable and clear as a landline.

The winner here would be the landline, not on call quality alone as both can have the same quality it is just that the VOIP system has more factors you need to take into consideration to achieve that same quality.

How do they compare in terms of reliability?

A land line based PBX will require electricity.  VOIP systems require the internet to work and the internet requires a router powered of electricity so both have a point of failure when it comes to power however a VOIP system can have additional problems if the power is on but there are problems with the internet due to supplier issues.

If you are going to use a cloud VOIP solution you should really keep one landline in the event you do have an issue you can divert your calls via the web portal to this phone number until the internet or electricity comes back up.

The winner here would be the landline system unless of course you have a building with generator backup power and a highly available internet connection.

How do they compare in terms of cost?

This isn’t a simple one size fits all comparison as each company will have different needs and working practises however as a rule of thumb you can apply the following:

An onsite PBX will be a capital cost (unless leased) this could potentially be the cost of the PBX plus the cost of the associated handsets unless they are already compatible with the PBX and its features. Ongoing monthly costs are then the land lines feeding the PBX and call costs.

A cloud VOIP system you will have an initial capital spend on the handsets unless like above with the PBX your handsets are already compatible with the VOIP system and its features. You can also lease the handsets from most suppliers. Ongoing monthly costs are a set fee per user per month which should include all national calls and mobile numbers.

Our personal preference as a company is to have a set monthly fee which includes all call costs as you know what you will be paying every month. From migrating a lot of our clients onto cloud VOIP systems we have yet to find a company that wasn’t better off in the long term financially by implementing cloud VOIP so we would have to say that cloud VOIP would be the winner in this comparison as its proven time and again to save businesses money.

the bottom line

Cloud VOIP technology has now advanced to the point that it is now a very strong contender to replace your traditional landline system.  From the four main comparisons above it is pretty much even and it will depend on which of the above comparisons influences you most strongly in your decision.  Certum are always happy to help, as an IT support company that specialise in cloud integration we can audit your network and discuss your working practises to determine what the right fit is for your business.  We can then recommend a high quality VOIP service provider and manage the process for you if you need us to in the event that you choose a cloud VOIP system.