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If your business finally decided to switch over to a cloud-based phone system, then congratulations are in order! You’ve decided to make the leap over to a more flexible, mobile, and cost effective VoIP phone system.

However, if you’re still feeling noncommittal, then learning about cloud PBXs, how they operate, and how you can seamlessly implement one into your business, may make the decision easier for you.

What is a Cloud PBX System?

Cloud-based phone systems are synonymous with virtual PBX solutions. A PBX, or public branch exchange, is a term that refers to a switchboard that handles the inbound and outbound calls in an office. Originally, legacy PBXs, the old analog hardware PBX systems, were large and expensive and came with high operation and maintenance fees. Some businesses still use legacy PBX systems that run off of the traditional wireline phone network, but more and more frequently, businesses today are converting to cloud PBX systems.

Nowadays, if you choose a virtual PBX system, the virtual PBX takes the place of the physical hardware setup. With a virtual PBX, your VoIP provider routes your calls through cloud-based data storage via the Internet. All of the hardware associated with a legacy system is located in the service provider’s headquarters, and all of the functionality of the PBX is delivered to you over IP.

A virtual PBX  is much more affordable than a traditional system because you face none of the installation and maintenance charges associated with other PBX solutions. Additionally, with a cloud PBX system, you do not need to purchase any software or hardware.

Legacy PBX systems can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year depending on the size of the business, the price of repairs, and maintenance fees. Cloud PBX systems, on the other hand, are much cheaper, as Voip.com, for example, offers a standard business plan with cloud PBXs for just $17.95/extension/month, with no additional installation or equipment fees.

What are the Benefits of a Cloud PBX System?

Cloud PBXs are excellent options for small businesses, or businesses with lots of employees that need high minute allotments. With a cloud PBX, you buy your plan based on the number of extensions you need. With some providers, all extensions are unlimited, and with other providers, you can choose unlimited, metered, and virtual extensions as you need them.

Because cloud-based hosted PBX systems are based on the Internet, you can access your VoIP account from any device that is capable of running the cloud PBX software. This means that you could reach your cloud phone system from virtually any Internet-capable device, such as your smartphone, laptop, or tablet, so you can access your VoIP account and send and receive calls while on-the-go.

Universal access to your VoIP account means that you can manage and maintain your call logs and contacts, while also using VoIP calling features such as call waiting and call conferencing on these devices. These options allow you to remain productive even when you’re outside of the office.

Because you can log into your phone system, you can make any necessary changes to your account. However, the beauty of this hosted service, is that your VoIP provider is the one responsible for maintaining and operating your phone service. Your VoIP provider will handle installations and fix any bugs without involving you or your IT department.

Another useful feature of the cloud PBX system is that it provides scalable service to businesses of any size. If your business decides it needs an additional line or it no longer needs two of its extensions, you can simply call up your VoIP provider and instantly adjust your service. This is especially useful if you expect your business to be expanding or downsizing at any point.

Bigger businesses or businesses that don’t need large outbound minute allotments may be better suited to VoIP SIP trunking solutions, which give companies a full VoIP service without requiring that you buy an extension for every employee.

 

How Do I Set up a Cloud PBX System?

So, if this cloud based phone system is starting to make more sense and seem like an attractive option, the following steps can help you set up a virtual PBX system for your office:

  1. Internet connection. You need high speed Internet connection in order to set up a cloud-based phone system. You can check your Internet speed to see if your Internet is compatible with this kind of service.
  2. Choose a VoIP provider. Next you’ll want to choose a VoIP provider that offers cloud PBX systems.
  3. Sign up. Once you’ve decided on a provider, either sign up for services online or call the VoIP provider. Your provider can immediately turn on your service and prompt you to set up your end of the service.
  4. Download software. This step involves downloading the necessary programs on your computer. This will provide you with control panel for your virtual PBX system.
  5. Purchase and plug in phones. The final step requires you purchase your IP phones, or to plug in your already existing phones. Once you’ve completed this step, you can make your first test call!

This article contributed by Rachel Greenberg at VoIPReview.org.