Can Hosted Telephony replace Traditional PBX Phone Systems?
Since the beginning of lockdown, we’ve been helping organisations navigate homeworking; helping them with the right solutions for their business and setting them up so they can work easily outside the office. As part of this we’ve been running a webinar series offering training and demonstrations of Microsoft Teams and Teams Telephony, specifically TeamsLink from Wavenet. TeamsLink connects inbound and outbound calling directly through Microsoft Teams and is what we consider the best solution on the market.
Through all of this, there is one question that we’re always asked – and it always surprises us – “Can TeamsLink replace my traditional PBX phone system?”. To answer the question, let’s go back to the start and take a look at what constitutes a traditional phone system.
Traditional phones are provided on what’s known as the Public Switched Telephone Network or PSTN which has been used worldwide since the telephone was invented in the 1800s. The technology has obviously progressed since its invention, but the premise remains the same: Traditional Phones use physical lines that send analogue data through to a switchboard like the PBX (Private Branch Exchange) in your office. The number of lines going to your PBX dictates how many calls can be taken at once, and extension numbers link these to the individual phones. So, an organisation which receives a lot of calls will have a significantly larger number of lines going in than a company that only receives a few calls. However, the limitations here are that if calls exceed the number of lines you have, the caller will just get an engaged tone.
In the 1980s, the ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) was created. This worked in the same way as the PSTN but allowed the transmission of digital voice data. For a long time the PSTN and ISDN were the business standard and worked alongside each other.
As the internet became essential for our everyday lives and business operations, Telecoms providers began to use SIP trunking (Session Initiation Protocol) to deliver services to customers. This allows you to use the internet for your calls, but still have them delivered to the PBX in your office (an IP PBX though rather than an analogue PBX).
Essentially, the “trunk” is the connection between the PSTN and your IP PBX which is via the internet. Even though SIP trunks offer more flexibility, you still have a limited number of calls that can be taken at once, and the numbers are still tied to the individual phones rather than the people themselves.
SIP trunking was a major leap forward from the traditional physical lines, and is still used very effectively now. However, many businesses desired more flexibility – they wanted to easily take calls when they’re out of the office, easily transfer calls, and not have to worry about the complicated maintenance and security of the office PBX. And so, Hosted Telephony was born.
The Hosted Telephony product that we offer, support and consider the best in market is TeamsLink from Wavenet which, as the name suggests, runs natively in Microsoft Teams. The way in which the technology works is the same as SIP Trunking, but the trunk goes to the Cloud (a datacentre) rather than your office PBX so you can access it anywhere you have internet.
The solution is managed for you by the datacentre, so you don’t need to worry at all about the physical maintenance of the PBX, which also means it’s suitable for all businesses regardless of whether they have in house telephony expertise or not.
From the perspective of your clients, they don’t have to do anything differently – they call your office number or DDI as normal. This will go through to your devices regardless of your location, and unlike a traditional PBX, they will never get an engaged tone from the network because there isn’t a limitation on the number of simultaneous calls. This is because the call is directed to an individual user or group of people rather than a singular device – so the users could answer on their laptop at home, their PC in the office, or their mobile or watch whilst on the side of a mountain. If they’re not available, the call will be circulated back into a ring group or eventually land in electronic voicemail which will be sent to the individuals.
TeamsLink is also a presence-based solution, which means that you can easily see users’ availability through a simple traffic light system, so there’s no blind transferring a call for it to ring out and reach voicemail.
So, “Can TeamsLink replace my traditional PBX phone system?”. The answer is a resounding “Yes”! Hosted Telephony is the future – not only can TeamsLink replace it, it should replace it.