According to the telecoms regulator Ofcom, 95 per cent of small businesses in the UK still use traditional landline telephones.
However, the further up the enterprise chain you travel, a very different picture emerges. Amongst larger businesses, landline use has fallen into the minority, overtaken comprehensively by Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) – otherwise known as internet telephony.
So why the disparity? At first glance, it is hard to fathom. Many of the advantages of VoIP telephony seem to be things which would appeal strongly to smaller businesses. Benefits such as zero charges when you make a call over the internet, the flexibility to make calls from any device and connect to remote/home offices easily via broadband, the option to cheaply and conveniently combine telephone with multimedia communication platforms like video or instant messaging.
And yet the figures don’t lie – for SMEs, take up of VoIP has lagged behind that of their larger cousins.
The most obvious explanation is capital costs. Although in the long run it is argued that VoIP saves money, the switch from PSTN landlines initially requires significant investment – new IP-ready handsets, new servers, new software. When margins are tight and the landline infrastructure is already there, this does not always seem a top priority.
However, that only applies if you have to run your own VoIP system on premises, buying all of the necessary equipment and setting it up in house. Since the emergence of cloud technology, there has been another way – hosted VoIP services.
Like any cloud-based ICT service, hosted VoIP runs on a ‘remote access’ basis. Instead of having to buy all the equipment and software yourself, a third party provider makes it available on what is effectively a rental basis. And instead of having it all installed in your offices, you simply log in and access the phone system over the internet.
This creates enormous cost savings, over both traditional landline telephony and on-premises VoIP. For a monthly subscription fee, you get the handsets you need, user accounts, a web-based interface where you can manage the account and the system, call bundles, and a whole range of additional services as and when required. At Cloud 4, we don’t even charge a subscription per user – for a fixed fee, you can get up to 60 accounts, plenty for a small contact centre or office.
Overall, we estimate that our service can save up to 40 per cent on equivalent landline services, with little or no capital costs up front.
There are other benefits, too. Another thing which puts small businesses off purchasing new IT and communications systems outright is the maintenance burden which comes with it. If you have no in-house IT department, that means you have to factor in costs from an external provider every time something goes wrong or you need support. With a hosted VoIP service, all network support, including maintenance and updates, is handled by the provider as part of the subscription.
Finally, cloud-based solutions are wonderfully scalable. You might have an office of 20 people now, but what about in two, five, ten years’ time? What if you want to expand into the office next door, or over the road, or in the next town? Setting up and combining extended networks on landlines or on-premises VoIP can be complex and costly. With a hosted VoIP service, you just extend your subscription – and as everything runs remotely via the cloud anyway, it doesn’t matter where your new colleagues are based.
If you would like to learn more about Cloud4’s hosted VoIP solutions, click here or call us on 0800 8021989.