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Cloud-based phone numbers for businesses and consumers
Cloud technology that has been around for many years, but has only more recently become popular for consumer use with the introduction of programs like MobileMe and the iCloud, both consumer-based cloud computing technologies.
History of the CloudCloud technology has many applications for businesses and consumers. In the mid-1990’s, companies that had previously used “point-to-point” data circuits to move and store data began to use a cloud technology instead as they found that this was a cheaper way to do the same tasks, and made more efficient use of bandwidth.
The term “cloud” likely refers to the drawings of clouds used by its program developers to represent the abstraction of the Internet. The symbol was used to mark the division between responsibilities of the service provider company and the responsibilities of the customer.
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.
What is PBX? What is Cloud PBX?PBX, or public branch exchange, is the name used to refer to the technology that any given telephone provider uses to route calls. Originally, a PBX was a large unit of hardware that had to be stored on site and operated by hand. These machines could be very costly for a company, as they were large, needed special storage facilities, needed regular repairs, and had to be operated manually.
Companies with multiple phones and many employees can’t function properly without some kind of PBX technology in the office. In more recent years, a PBX could be made to operate automatically, without an operator, but even these devices were expensive and complicated (the cheapest are around $400). And if a business needed to move to a new location, or add or remove a phone line, the process could be very costly and time consuming.
Initial cost and upkeep of traditional PBX vs cloud PBX
- Traditional PBX: About $5,000 including cost of installation and new equipment fees. $10.00/hour for an operator. If managed without an operator, can still run to around $300 or $400 for upkeep and Internet connection.
- RingCentral Virtual PBX: $19.99/month plus $0.049/additional minute
- Cebod Telecom: $19.99/month All Inclusive and Unlimited Call
- Vocalocity Virtual Extension:$14.99/month plus $0.03/additional minute
- RingOffice Cloud Phone System: Plans from $10/month
- Switchvox Cloud by Digium: $29/month, unlimited minutes and all UC features included
- MultiTEL Cloud Hosted PBX — free for up to 5 users, $0.0095 for calls to US/Canada
- VoIPstudio : A Simple and Powerful Cloud Based Business PBX System. Plans start from $ 4.99/Month
Cloud PBX gives you access to PBX capabilities without the need for complicated and expensive equipment. Cloud PBX is a kind of hosted PBX or virtual PBX, meaning that all of the routing services are performed by your VoIP provider, rather than by an employee managing a PBX system in your office.
How does it work?All cloud technologies are dependent on the Internet. A cloud PBX works by connecting to your IP, or Internet phone, for its internet connection. So, you must have a VoIP or other IP system in place in your office in order to use a cloud PBX. Many VoIP service providers, like the following, will include their PBX options at little or no extra charge:
- arrowtel (included)
- Cebod Telecom (Included in all the plans)
- RingOffice Cloud Phone System (Included in all plans)
- GetItNowCloud (Included in all plans)
- RingCentral (included in some plans)
- Telzio (Included in all plans)
- MondoTalk (included in all plans)
- Blue Penguins Business PBX Switchboard (offers a virtual PBX starter telephone package for UK businesses)
- Vocalocity (available as a free feature on all plans)
- Jive Communications (available as a free feature)
- M5 Networks (included)
- MultiTEL Cloud Hosted PBX - free for up to 5 users, $0.0095 for calls to US/Canada
- miniSIPServer Cloud
- Ubity VoIP Montreal
- ZONE Limited (Cloud PBX as option)
- TitanVoIP CloudPBX (Servicio de CloudPBX en Español)
- FracTEL (Wholesale and Retail Cloud PBX)
- dOpenPBX ($1 Hosted PBX)
- iPBeX (Managed Cloud PBX)
You can access your cloud PBX with a personalized account from any device that can run the Cloud PBX’s interface software. This means that you can access your cloud PBX from any Internet-enabled location or device that you have certified for use with your system. Usually, this is just a matter of logging in with a password or security question from that device. The multiple devices communicate with each other through middleware, a software that allows your cloud to have several means of access.
This gives you greater mobility and freedom when using your office phone and PBX. So, if you frequently need to be out of the office, but you don’t want to miss your calls, you can stay connected through your cloud PBX.
Your cloud PBX service provider is in charge of storing and managing all of the data that you want your cloud PBX to hold. This means that your calls are connected to their recipients over the Internet by the service provider. Your service provider also backs up all of the relevant information that you want it to store in case of a loss of data if a computer were to crash. This replication of data is called “redundancy”.
SummarySo, the basic breakdown is your cloud PBX system starts at your computer or phone and ends at the phone number you are calling. You make the call through an IP or computer, your call is communicated to your service provider by your cloud, and the call is then passed on to its destination.
Controversy and concern over cloud technologyThere are some concerns over the prevalence of cloud-based technologies, most over privacy and security.
The information on your cloud is basically entrusted to the service provider, and this makes some customers wary. In the case of the cloud PBX, this effectively means that your service provider has been entrusted with the various phone numbers and contact information for your business and your customers. Most cloud service providers have specific privacy policies set out to govern their contact with and use of your information.
It is a cloud service provider’s job to offer good security. Should they have any breach in security, their reputation would be hurt, and could lead to a loss of business, so in some ways it is a service provider’s primary concern to ensure that they provide their customers with the absolute best security possible.
The question of privacy is a little bit trickier. Though there are security measure in place like passwords and security questions, it is still possible for your account to be hacked, and your information to be stolen.
However, this is no different from any other sensitive data that you have ever sent over the internet. For example, if you have ever made a purchase using your credit card over the Internet, the risks are about the same. Make sure you protect your information and use secure, high-entropy passwords.
Using a cloud PBX as a form of hosted VoIP solves a lot of problems in traditional PBX service, and it is a good option for any business owner to consider.
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