Home Forums Tech talk Have you moved to hosted PABX? Is It any good?

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  • #973167
    IgniteDM
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    Ive been seeing a lot of kerfuffle about “hosted pabx” services lately and Im wondering if anyone in here has moved to the cloud for their pabx systems ?

    If so, what company are you using? Would you recommend them?

    Most importantly, are you saving money as compared to traditional phone systems and using a normal telco ?

    We have 2 retail stores (only small) but I want to be able to have calls routed between them and transferred etc. Im not keen on continuing to handle over oodles of hard earned money to Telstra only to get bad service in return.

    Im keen to hear about other peoples experiences (good and bad).

    cheers
    Tara

    #1060111
    DavidThomas
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    Hi Tara,

    One of the services I offer is a hosted PABX solution, so please understand my bias.

    I think they are Great! haha.

    Seriously, they can actually be a mega problem for your business. Unless you live in an area with ADSL2+, and are prepared to fork out for a *QUALITY* adsl supplier, don’t even consider it. Customers and their weak ADSL connections have actually led me to not focus on this service at all.

    That being said, if a quality internet connection is available, it can give you cheap calls between your offices. I have a handful of customers who use the system, myself included and it works for everyone quite well.

    #1060112
    IgniteDM
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    Despite having one of our shops in Maleny – we have a very decent ADSL2 + Business broadband connection with Telstra currently. Havent had any downtime yet (touch wood).

    Our other store is currently with Eftel (dont ask!) … downtime periodically but this will change when we move to business broadband.

    Both are with ADSL 2+ and I would not even remotely consider this as an option if we didn’t have decent connections.

    I would only want to invest in a decent service as we have customers with voip phone services at the moment and I call them (in my own suburb) and it sounds like Im calling them in the middle of Africa because they have such crappy systems.

    Do it once and do it properly I always say!

    #1060113
    VehicleMods
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    I don’t run a hosted PBX but I do have a VOIP account with Faktortel to provide a separate number for my business. I have paid a bit more $3 per month or so) to have a number at the exchange so it is portable and can be listed in the white pages. As I have a good high bandwidth cable connection, it is fine. Most of the time, I just have Faktortel divert it to my mobile. It has worked fine for me. I have purchased a quality Siemens VOIP cordless handset from Faktortel. They also do hosted PBX plans.

    I have given some thought to running a copy of Asterisx (the industry standard open source PBX software see http://www.asterisk.org/ ) on my web server so I can greet people and give them a voice menu.

    My neighbour has a $1.0m turnover from his garage and is running with Engin.

    If you have got the bandwidth, try going with a quality supplier and perhaps browse http://www.whirlpool.net.au for feedback on suppliers.

    You should be able to trial a VOIP service for free (other than a few call costs). Try it out, use the free 3CX software phone on your computer if necessary and if you get good performance at all sites, you should be good to migrate to a hosted PBX.

    #1060114
    IgniteDM
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    I did a search on Whirlpool but could not find anything recent… and as developments in this industry happen so fast – along with upgrades etc… I really wanted to find peoples experience who are currently using this type of system.

    I keep finding infomercial type articles in magazines but Im sure they are just product placement/ cash-for-comment type deals – I want real world references of this type of service first :o)

    #1060115
    VehicleMods
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    IgniteDM, post: 74210 wrote:
    I did a search on Whirlpool but could not find anything recent… and as developments in this industry happen so fast – along with upgrades etc… I really wanted to find peoples experience who are currently using this type of system.

    I keep finding infomercial type articles in magazines but Im sure they are just product placement/ cash-for-comment type deals – I want real world references of this type of service first :o)

    I googled for VOIP providers and then searched for reviews on them which often took me to Whirlpool. Fakortel have good links to the main telcos (Optus and Telstra) and the internet. Good thing about them is they answered their phone when I wanted to talk to someone or had a problem.

    there is nothing wrong with VOIP, the desk phone in front of me is on a major VOIP PBX from NEC (maybe 700 users) and has been flawless, and it is very convenient to be able to direct dial staff on the other side of Brisbane.

    Asterix is a bit like Apache Web server and sets the industry standard for hosted phone systems just like Apache drives most web sites.

    The issue will be reliable bandwidth where your phones are..

    In my experience with a lot of IT technology, the best way to see if it works for you is to trial it. Why not buy a $15 per month plan or 2 x $0 per month plans and trial it for a month? Small price to pay to try if it works for you and after a few calls at different times of day, you will quickly isolate any problems and at which end they are at.

    I might mention the VOIP phone I have at home also connects to the landline so you could retain the PSTN link for safety so you could revert to landlines if it fails.

    #1060116
    Online Fax
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    Hi Tara,

    I work for the company that provides hosted IP PBX, or Virtual Switchboard. It is “on the cloud”. it is basically an inbound call diversion to mobile, landline or its own voicemail delivered for free to your email. you don’t have to have an internet for this service. it has number of features, but you are best to check it out the website. Give it a try during 30 days for free, i think it is what you need. Cheers!

    #1060117
    IgniteDM
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    Maybe a bit of background is necessary – in addition to my web business, we run 2 x IT support/computer stores so we are very familiar with the entire concept of VOIP and how it works etc. I dont have any issue with VOIP itself, I just think its a complete waste of time when you don’t do it properly and you skimp on the gear only to end up with your callers thinking you are overseas.

    We will have to retain at least 1 normal land line anyway for adsl, EFTPOS and fax – plus we have a monitored alarm so no doubt that will mean we still need 2 normal lines anyway.

    Im just trying to get away from the need to have 4 lines @ each store.

    #1060118
    VehicleMods
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    I would think you should be able to run your faxes on VOIP extensions and revert to one landline at each site for your monitored alarm as a failsafe (but can’t see why the alarm can’t dial out on VOIP anyway – except maybe in a blackout). If you are tech savvy, maybe host your own PBX as there are stand alone Asterisk appliances out there all preconfigured.

    Perhaps talk to a telephony company about a total solution so you ensure you get the right gear.

    #1060119
    James Millar
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    We use mynetfone virtual pabx VoIP for all of our businesses. Works perfectly.

    Helping build better businesses and better lives with expert financial and taxation advice. info@360partners.com.au www.360partners.com.au 03 9005 4900
    #1060120
    Gizmo
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    Hello Tara,

    I think this thread could use a little more information should people be looking at Cloud PBX solutions. Please note I work in this industry I have tried to remain neutral and offered what I believe is important in this post.

    Let me start by saying Cloud PBX services can and do work well. They should be able to deliver cost savings and more features at the same time.

    The things to consider when choosing Cloud PBX service providers are (aside from budget based considerations):

    1) Your internet connection. Ensure the provider you deal with is able to verify that you internet connection is of adequate quality.

    2) If the service provider is also an ISP ensure you are not locked into having to use their internet connections only in order for the service to work.

    3) Number portability. Ensure you can keep your existing numbers and/or any new phone numbers they give you. This way if you ever leave them you can retain your numbers.

    4) Try to understand their offering/plan(s) as best as possible. There are many ways that service providers package up plans and some out there are structured in ways to keep the price down but I do not feel the customers are not being truely explained the potential issues to note.

    5) Avoid the plans that include calls per handset. The reality is business phones systems have some handsets that are used a lot and other that are seldom used. Why pay for calls included on phones that are rarely used?

    6) Number Line Pooling. Many providers share lines (they refer to them as channels) across all their clients to keep costs down and profits up. Ask the provider if they are doing this OR if they are giving you dedicated channels.

    7) DIY. Many providers provide you with a web interface and manual and expect you to program, setup and maintain the phone system for yourself. This only really works if you have skilled staff with free time or if you are able to find the free time to learn and configure the system for yourself.

    8) How long has the service provider been around for? This point is not as important that’s why I left it last but I had to include because in the last 3 years many new companies have started offering this service and some are not very good. There is a lot to learn in this field and some may not be there yet or may not have obtained the correct skills in house yet initially. Don’t get me wrong though, a new provider can be good as long as they started out with the correct skills and experience from the start.

    At the end of the day this is a service and like any other service you will get companies that do it well and others that don’t.

    I hope this post has helped.

    #1060121
    Blake M
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    We’ve used a Hosted PBX solution since the start, so I can’t comment on prices compared to a traditional offering but I’m willing to bet we’re saving a considerable amount just on call costs and infrastructure alone.

    The provider I chose is Digital Hybrid and their ezyPBX offering (http://www.digitalhybrid.com.au/ezytel/ezypbx.html) – they were very well recommended on Whirlpool, and the support, quality of service and uptime is fantastic. They respond almost immediately to support queries, even late on a Saturday night (I’m that person).

    Have only experienced one outage so far, but it was out of business hours and rectified quickly so no complaints there.

    Our staff are mixed between home and office, and some are here some days, and not others, and we find it works seamlessly in transferring calls and following people. We use it to handle all our faxes, have a queue system set up with time conditions (so there’ a “our office hours are…” message on the main queue outside of business hours) and can ring different phones at different times, forward to mobiles if no answer, all the stuff you’d except from a PBX.

    It’s really easy to configure, I have absolutely zero experience in setting these things up and got the whole thing nailed down in a couple of hours. But as Gizmo said, I think there’s generally an assumption that you do your own set-up. Having said that, I’m sure they’d help if you asked.

    Fax-to-Email is included in all their PBX plans too, so that could save you an extra line if it’s separate to your ADSL/EFTPOS lines.

    I don’t really have any complaints about them, value for money is good, service is good, customer support is excellent, they’re a pretty solid offering all round so I’d recommend.

    #1060122
    uwannawat
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    I use & have a couple of clients on Comvergence. The clients both have Telstra BB ADSL2+ internet services & use this for their connection to Comvergence. They are very happy with the call quality & service.

    Keep in mind when looking for a VOIP provider: some have a consumer focus & some have a business focus. Business focus will always cost a bit more than consumer & t generally business systems are of a higher quality – a bit like consumer vs business DSL services.

    Call quality can be “adjusted” via the codec that is used for the calls. Better call quality usually means more bandwidth per call. Many people choose G.729 as the preferred codec because it has a low bandwidth requirement but it can sound tinny or mobile like. Businesses will often choose other codecs for better call quality but these consume much more bandwidth.

    Cheers
    Graham

    #1060123
    Evo the marketing guy
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    Plus one for Comvergence.

    No problems running between 2- 4 phones on my very average internet connection (fair way from the exchange).

    I also purchase my hardware through them which means it comes pre-configured and means less technical issues.

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