CORPORATIONS THAT HAVEN’T YET GOTTEN
involved with IP telephony have a new method
to test-drive this technology without a lot of
up-front investment: They can use a hosted
PBX managed services provider. While that’s a
mouthful, the idea is relatively simple: Take a
systems integrator that can provision an Internet
connection between its office and yours, buy a
couple of IP telephones, and the integrator takes
care of the rest.
The PBX—what used to be called a telephone
switchboard back in the days when Ernestine,
Lily Tomlin’s TV character, operated them—
is located at the provider’s premises. You get
several advantages from this setup.
First, you don’t have to turn off your existing PBX just yet. You
can experiment and outfit an entire branch office, a small department or a couple of brave users with the IP equipment. So the
startup cost is minimal, and in some cases, you don’t even have to
purchase new Internet connectivity.
Second, your users get to see some of the immediate benefits of
having an IP phone. For example, the phone can be located anywhere
in the world with an Internet connection, so the phone numbers can
remain under the control of the telecom department. Even better, a
widely distributed staff can call each other with just a three- or four-digit extension.
You also get other features, such as integration with voice mail
and e-mail inboxes, find-me and follow-me services (in which a
series of numbers that ring concurrently or in succession can be
programmed into your phone). What’s more, all these features are
available for almost no additional cost.
Third, if you purchase the right brand of phones, you won’t be
locked into a particular IP PBX vendor or service provider, as most
phones support international standards and can work with different
“We use Polycom phones, and they work well with a variety of
IP PBXs, such as Cisco’s and Mitel’s,” says Paul Emond, president
of TechSupport.ca, an Ottawa-based Voice over IP telephony integrator. “You have to be careful when buying your phones to make
sure they can work with other vendors’ equipment.”
BASELINE JUNE 2008