Introduction to cloud telephony

Cloud telephony is a unified communications service (UCaaS) that offers voice communication services through a third-party host and operates through the internet. These services enable users to make calls directly from their computers, tablets, mobiles or any other device using an internet connection.

Instead of storing your business phone system in your office, cloud-based telephony takes everything off-site as it is hosted in the cloud. Holding your phone technology in the cloud means your data is stored securely on a server, accessed through the internet. This opens many benefits, including freeing office space and improving your company's security.

Instead of being routed through an on-site PBX, your calls will be sent directly to your phone. The best cloud phone systems make it simple and easy for you to run a software-based PBX phone system in the cloud and it achieves this at a fraction of the cost of a hardware alternative.

What to consider when choosing a cloud phone system

A high-quality cloud phone system can bring many great advantages to your business. As long as you have a device with an internet connection, you will stay connected. But before you make the switch from your old phone system to a cloud-based telephony system, there are many things that you may want to consider when researching your options.

Here we explain some of the main considerations to keep in mind when choosing the right cloud phone systems for your business.

How many users do you have, and is that number likely to change?

When evaluating your options, a key point to contemplate is the number of users you intend to use on the cloud-based phone system. Different systems have been designed for various user numbers. With some plans packed with multiple features and others with more easy-to-use additions. Whether you're a small, medium or large business, the following are some options to weigh when choosing the right technology for your company.

Cloud-based phone systems for small businesses with few users

If you only have a few users that will need access to the telephony system and don't expect that to change, opting for a simpler system might work best for your business. A system such as Phoneline+, might be a good choice as this cloud-based phone system has been designed as a replacement for small companies. Phoneline+ comes with fewer features and is created to be intuitive and easy to use, but also with less management overhead and complexity. 

Cloud-based phone systems for small to medium size businesses

However, if you’re looking for a phone system holding more than a few users, then looking at other cloud phone systems with more features would be wise. Gamma Horizon is an award-winning cloud system built for businesses of any size. It’s a complete communications system that provides an extensive range of telephony capabilities for all companies and is packed with features to empower small to medium organisations.

Cloud phone system for medium to larger size businesses

Another option to consider is 3CX because it is particularly cost-effective for companies with 20+ employees. 3CX is a software-based VoIP phone technology that is hugely powerful, flexible, scalable and feature-rich. It is perfect for businesses that require a customised solution.

Which cloud phone system is right for your business? T2k are here to help you choose the right cloud telephone system.

Where do you want the system hosted?

Many cloud solutions do not provide you with options of where to store your business data. You will sign up for a fully managed service, and the system will be hosted where your provider chooses. But does it really matter where your business data is stored? 

Ideally, if you go this route, you will want to choose a provider whose systems are hosted in your country to ensure that you comply with local regulations and laws. 

For example, for a UK business which processes personal data about EU individuals, the safest option is to ensure that the business data is stored on servers in the EU or, even better, in Great Britain. 

Companies that operate solely within the United Kingdom may benefit from having a cloud service based in the UK. If you opted for a solely US-based system, you'd be opening your data up to the regulations and laws around the US government being able to access your data.

‍At T2k, we provide a cloud-based phone system, 3CX, which you can install anywhere, be that in your own private cloud or another provider. You could even have it on your own site. 

This gives your firm the ultimate reassurance that you know exactly where your phone data is stored. You will feel assured that your business phone system data is safely protected and your company stays within data security laws.

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What features do you need?

Now it is time to consider what features you will need to ensure that it helps to streamline your business operations. You will want to include elements on your phone system that make your business processes easier. There are many advanced features to think about on your cloud-based phone system, and having a good idea of what would help you from an efficiency perspective will help you narrow down your options. 

The following are some of the most common features businesses select when creating their package. But choosing the right elements for you depends on your business, its size and the tools needed to make your processes more efficient. Make sure to do your research before deciding on the best choices for you: 

  • Unified communications: This unifies your business phone services, voicemail, instant message or chat, video calls and social media, CRM and more. 
  • Video conferencing: An option that many businesses hire remote workers due to it's popularity among employees. This option is integrated to allow your teams to communicate and conduct meetings over video chat. 
  • International calling: As calls are all internet-based, you do not incur long-distance charges when you place or receive international calls. Intergrating this option is also beneficial if you have remote workers placed across the globe.
  • Instant messaging: Instant messaging is text-based communication and allows for real-time communication through mobile phones and computers. This type of communication is ideal for storing, remembering and clearly interpreting messages. 
  • Call forwarding: This takes calls to one number and redirects them to another line. It allows users to direct conversations through specific phone numbers.
  • Auto attendant: An auto attendant is the automated voice menu. It can answer phone calls from the business's main line, communicate with callers and guides them to the appropriate staff member or department. It is a multi-level menu system that asks the customer questions, allowing the caller to connect automatically to the correct destination or department.

Most providers charge based on which features you can access, so some might look cheap, but you will only have access to a small number of elements. To conduct a true comparison, ensure the packages you're comparing all have the features your business needs. If you need assistance finding the right package options for your business, get in contact with T2k so we can support you in completing an evaluation and help you find the best solution for your business.

Whether you want to bring existing numbers with you

Not all providers will have porting arrangements with others, so before you get too far into the process, one of the first questions is whether you can bring your business numbers to the new system. Make sure to ask for details about the procedure and what the number transfer involves.

Usually, to keep your business number, you will need to request a PAC (Porting Authorisation Code) from your old provider and then deliver your new supplier with the code. They should then schedule the switch, which can take a few weeks.

Which cloud phone system is right for your business? T2k are here to help you choose the right cloud telephone system.

The best cloud phone systems for businesses in the UK

We have done the research for you to highlight the best phone service currently in the UK. There are plenty of great options to choose from, and our extensive research and experience in cloud telephony have got us down to the top four systems on the market. All of these come down to Phoneline+Gamma Horizon3CX and bOnline+

Phoneline+ (for 1-3 users as a landline replacement)

Known as the “simple phone line replacement service”, Phoneline+  is a great cloud phone service designed for small businesses (ideally with 1-3 users). It is everything you can do on your traditional line and allows you to keep your existing company numbers and make or receive voice calls from internet-ready devices. 

Key benefits

  • Easy to use: Phoneline+ is designed to be intuitive and easy to use.
  • 5* rated support: The team of telecom experts is on hand to help you should you ever need it.
  • Low cost: Starting from as little as £9.99 per month, the monthly fee is usually less than a typical landline, and you get free minutes.
  • Ideal for a small business: It is easy to use as it has been created with a simple-to-use user web-based interface. Once you have signed up, you’ll receive an email to download the app to your devices. From there, you can start using it. It's as simple as that. 

Disadvantages

  • Phoneline+ is not designed for larger businesses: As it comes with limited features, it has fewer capabilities. Larger organisations may want to opt for something with more complex elements. Companies with 1-3 employees will benefit most from this system. 
  • You cannot record calls with Phoneline+: There is currently no option to record calls with Phoneline+. If this is a necessary feature for your business, we recommend looking for another phone system. 

Gamma Horizon

Gamma Horizon is an excellent cloud-based phone system that is great for businesses of all sizes and those looking for a fully managed service. Gamma Horizon is sold through partners like us at T2k, so you benefit from a great business phone system but with a personal support approach.

Key benefits

  • Highly reliable: Gamma Horizon is located in multiple data centres around the UK, ensuring that your business stays compliant with UK data protection laws.
  • Extensive feature set: with Gamma Horizon, you will get features usually only available on high-end business phone systems, meaning you are getting many elements for a lower cost. 
  • Call recording: Unlike Phoneline+, you can conduct call recording with Gamma Horizon. 
  • Compatible with handsets, headsets and conference phones from the world's leading manufacturers: With Gamma Horizon, you're spoilt for options when choosing how to make and receive calls. Plus, with their Windows, macOS, Android and iOS soft clients, you can take Horizon wherever you are.
  • Low-cost calling: Each Gamma Horizon user gets 4,000 free calls every month (2,000 to UK landlines and 2,000 to UK mobile devices), and those minutes are pooled and shared across your user base.

Disadvantages

  • Less flexibility than other systems such as 3CX.
  • No choice over where the system is hosted.

3CX

Build your own telephony environment with the world-class 3CX buinsess phone system. 3CX is different from other options as it's not a fully managed service; you pay for a software licence and host it wherever you prefer. That could be in Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, your business premises or your private cloud. 3CX offers much more control and flexibility and it is very cost-effective. This system is designed for employees with more than 20 employees.

Key benefits

  • Cost-effective solution: 3CX is an affordable option for businesses looking for more freedom than other hosted platforms provide. It decreases office phone bills while at the same time eliminating interoffice call charges. It is extremely competitive price, especially for bigger businesses.
  • A phone system that is truly yours: 3CX will create a unique and secure instance of 3CX for every customer, giving you your own technology that suits you.
  • It is packed full of features: With elements for many use cases, you'd be hard-pushed to find something 3CX can't do.
  • Power, flexibility and scalability: 3CX is a software-based VoIP phone system that is hugely powerful, flexible, scalable and feature-rich. Perfect for businesses that require a customised solution. 

Disadvantages

  • You need to find a host and a partner for support and you will need to find a SIP trunk provider. 
  • With 3CX, there is more responsibility for the system and it is not as easy to set up as other systems. 

bOnline+

bOnline+ has been developed with small businesses and freelancers in mind as it’s simple, smart and affordable with instant setup.

Key benefits

  • Made for business owners, not IT wizards: you can easily manage your phone system from one dashboard 24/7.
  • Easy set-up: No installations or IT technicians are required with bOnline+. It is a fast, online assembly that you can complete in a matter of minutes.
  • It delivers a range of online and telecommunications packages for small businesses. If you’re a small company, you'll find a package that will fit your needs.
  • Offers a 7-day free trial: If you are unsure whether to invest in this phone system, then bOnline+ provides a 7-day free trial so you can try it before you buy. 

Disadvantages

  • bOnline+ is not designed for larger businesses: As it comes with limited features, it has fewer capabilities. Larger businesses may want to opt for something with more complex elements.
  • It does not offer enhanced broadband.

Need help selecting the right phone system? Request a comparison quote from T2k

Are you looking to make the switch to a cloud-based phone system? Then speak to T2k today. T2k has been helping many companies find the right communication technology for their business for over 25 years. Our expert advisors are here to help you find the most beneficial phone system for your company to ensure your organisation's operations run smoothly and efficiently. 

Get in touch with T2k today to request a comparison quote and our specialists will review your requirements to help you find the best cloud phone system at the most suitable price.

Lee Clarke
Sales Director

Having worked for T2k for nearly 25 years, it's fair to say that Lee is an expert when it comes to all things telephony and business communications. Overseeing the commercial side of the business, he has helped the company evolve and grow through the decades. In recent years, and with the advent of VoIP and hosted telephony, Lee has made sure that T2k is at the forefront of technological developments. With a firm interest in helping businesses navigate the world of telecoms, Lee is responsible for the majority of the content on this website.

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