f MATT GRECH hDecember 13, 2012

What is Hosted PBX Service?

PBX is an acronym that stands for Private Branch Exchange. It refers to the telephone system’s hardware where an incoming call is transferred, forwarded, or otherwise rerouted to another extension. Also, this service links the internal phones and connects them to the wider world. Previously, this hardware has been seen as bulky, resulting in awkward office storage; however, with current advances in technology, this hardware no longer needs a place on site. This shedding of dependence has led to the birth of the hosted PBX service.

The hosted PBX service is the same standard call routing service without the technicalities and on site hardware. Therefore, instead of hosting the service with hardware yourself, it is being done by another party. This slight change can make all the difference in terms of cost, service benefits, and system accessibility. In a hosted service, the system is managed externally, typically by a phone provider, while the standard PBX services are managed and delivered through the internet. Therefore, the process is simplified as the customer is longer involved with the technical hardware of these services and systems. Subsequently, the service becomes this: a customer places a call through the hosted PBX service. The call is then moved to their business location. Once the call reaches the business site, it is processed through their hardware, and then sent to the assigned phone extension(s).

As a result, the hosted PBX service offers a number of benefits, on top of the benefits already inherent in standard PBX services. Features such as routing calls, holds, transfers, multi-contacts from a single business number, call waiting, and call holding music are but a few examples. Additionally, features such as incoming call management, faxes, voicemail, conferences, call records, and automations come

standard with the service. While these features are present among standard services, hosted PBX services further expands upon them.

With a hosted PBX service, customers are still able to reap the benefits of the standard services without having to deal with the bulky technical hardware. In addition to the standard features listed above, there are a number of benefits to having another party host. For example, being that the service is hosted, there are no expensive costs for hardware. Also, since there is no purchase of hardware, there is no cost for hardware upgrades. As a result, the hosted PBX system is more affordable, and subsequently more readily available to small businesses and new clients.

The hosted PBX service allows for its customers to alleviate the stress of technicalities and hardware. In place of on-site handling, phone providers readily offer this service to customers, making for much smoother services.

Most Popular Hosted PBX Features:

1. Find Me, Follow Me: Find Me, Follow me enables users to receive or place a call on multiple devices, while still using the same extension or phone number. For example, you can make a call from your mobile phone using the same phone number as your IP Desk Phone. 2. Integrations:

Integrations allow you to link multiple tools together, saving time and simplifying your work. For example, RingCentral's hosted PBX solution will integrate seamlessly with Dropbox, Google apps, Office 365, Salesforce and Zendesk.

3. Developer and API Platforms:

Several providers are now selling access to their network for developers and teams looking to build their own communication solutions. These solutions let developers create and build their own communication apps, or simply send customers and users text messages to verify information, like your Uber driver’s arrival, or the boarding pass for your next flight.

4. Unified Communications: Unified Communication Platforms allow users to combine Hosted PBX and telephony functionality with tools like CRM, Live Chat, analytics, call management, contact center functionalities and more, into one single and easy to use application. 5. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence is being used in business communications in a multitude of exciting ways.  For example, AI can be used to provide accurate and relevant information to both customers and employees right when they need it.

6. Screen Sharing Screen sharing enables one user to view and act within the screen of another user in real time. This is a very useful feature for collaboration as well as video and web conferencing. 7. Click to Call Click to call is the ability to embed a simple call button on your business website.  This enables visitors to your website to connect with you immediately simply by clicking on the button. 8. Advanced Call Screening

Some vendors have gone beyond basic caller ID screening and have developed cloud call screening tools that include, for example, the ability to completely block numbers, block caller ID, or even control the call before you answer it.

9. Voicemail to Email

Who wants to listen to voicemail messages anymore? Voicemail to email analyzes and transcribes your voice messages and sends you the transcription in an email or another written platform that you choose.

10. Team Collaboration Team Collaboration at its most basic level allows messaging and/or presence functionality for "team members" (i.e., employees). More advanced levels of team collaboration go far beyond this and include screen sharing, file sharing, document editing, web conferences or webinars, and more.

 

Most Popular Hosted PBX Providers:

Ringcentral RingCentral, as one of the most experienced VoIP providers out there, offers solid hosted PBX solutions at competitive prices.  With data centers around the globe, RingCentral has the ability to provide international numbers.  RingCentral also offers a powerful collaboration and messaging platform.

 

Nextiva Nextiva frequently ranks at the top among user reviews for their high quality solutions, low prices, and stellar customer service.  Nextiva’s most popular hosted PBX plan is their Office Pro Plus cloud calling solution.  This plan comes with unlimited calling and high level Enterprise features at an affordable price.  It is a simple and inexpensive solution but supplies all the essential features as well as a few you may not expect at such a low price point.

 

Visit Vonage Business Vonage Business is generally a bit pricier than most other providers, but it is the best of the best when it comes to premium features, many of which are offered in their most basic package. Vonage’s Business Cloud is one of the strongest offerings for SMB organizations looking to gain an entire Unified Communications platform that enables users to connect via voice, chat, text messaging or even video.  As an added bonus, Vonage Business Cloud  also includes a free subscription to Amazon’s Chime solution, providing users with another platform for collaboration.

With their hosted PBX solution, 8x8 gives users access to many great VoIP features in the 8x8 Virtual Office – an easy to use platform that combines your phone with SMS and texting capabilities all in one desktop app.  Although they don't offer the biggest selection of features, they do have lower prices and offer all the standard essentials (for example, unlimited calling and faxing). With their unique Georouting capabilities, 8x8 is also a great solution for businesses with a strong international presence.

 

Jive specializes in providing services for enterprise businesses and large government organizations.  At the largest tiers, Jive really becomes a bargain. All tiers get the same features, so scaling up is easy. Jive also gives discounted and free phones, so you can keep the startup costs (CAPEX) down.  One of Jive's biggest selling points is their visual dial plan, which makes it easy for companies to set up the auto attendant (sometimes called a virtual receptionist or phone tree) which routes callers to the correct extension.

Additional Reading:

Hosted, Managed, and on-Premise PBX

What is a Hybrid PBX Phone System?

What is Cloud Hosted PBX?

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