Looking for business communication systems in the Washington, DC, Northern Virginia area can be technically challenging. In the past, businesses had a choice of a dozen or so PBX manufacturers which was confusing enough. Now that business phones systems have the option to utilize Voice over IP (VoIP) technology, the evaluation process must include the adequacy of your data network to support voice also. You now have the option of buying your new business phone system or “paying” for it monthly as a cloud-based IP phone service. The challenge of reviewing and selecting a new business phone system/service is substantial. Today, we aim to help you with some of the fundamentals you need to know. We’ll start by providing definitions to help explain the basic technologies used in today’s business communications solutions.
What is VoIP?
Simply put, Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) is the technology that allows voice to be transmitted on a data network. It’s important that voice is being absorbed into the data network as the entire world’s devices are converting to Internet Protocol and connecting. Your phone system should, too.
What VoIP Isn’t: VoIP is not a Hosted PBX, cloud PBX or Virtual PBX. Those three services use VoIP technology, however, most premise-based phone systems also use VoIP technology. Why all of this confusion about IP phone service? Because the first providers to use VoIP were the Hosted and Virtual PBX providers and the name stuck.
What is SIP?
Session Initiated Protocol (SIP) is the recognized VoIP standard of today. All IP phone services utilize this protocol. With this standardization, services and products integrate very easily; unlike the old days where you had to buy everything from one manufacturer.
Now that we know a bit about the basic technologies, we can move on to the specifics of the types of phone services available. The following definitions are commonly found on the web:
What’s Hosted PBX?
A Private Branch Exchange (PBX) phone system that’s delivered as a service, a Hosted PBX eliminates the investment of costly business phone system equipment on premise, and more. Hosted PBX companies handle call routing at their data center and manage the PBX equipment and software involved in the Hosted PBX service. Hosted PBX services work over the Internet via a technology called Voice over IP (VoIP).
What’s Virtual PBX?
A Virtual PBX is software based and it eliminates the need for traditional, hardware-based PBX. Since it is software based, it offers easy installation and many additional features that a traditional PBX cannot. Yet, a Virtual PBX is the most affordable phone solution for a business.
What is Cloud PBX or Cloud Communications?
A cloud PBX system is a based on cloud computing technology, where data is stored and transferred over the Internet, rather than on a computer or piece of hardware that an end-user owns. Cloud technology means that you can access the data and services of your cloud from any device connected to the Internet. So, with a cloud PBX provider, you can use all of the standard PBX features, without the need of an actual PBX in your home or office.
Wait, Isn’t That the Same?
Hmmm, these definitions look strikingly similar, don’t they? As you may have gathered, there is no fundamental difference between a Virtual PBX, Hosted PBX or a Cloud PBX. They are all virtual phone systems located in the cloud and purchased on a monthly basis. They all utilize VoP technology and the SIP protocol standard.
Do your own VoIP comparison and it will soon become apparent that the major difference is in the marketing. Sure, when you compare providers you’ll find some variations in their features, but the underlying technology is the same, regardless of what the salesperson claims. For more information, please call a member of our ACS sales team at 703-910-2455.