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Technology / Hardware

5 cloud phone systems to make your business comms more flexible

Hosting your phone system in the cloud rather than connecting a landline can cut down on both installation time and expense, which is why a number of big telecoms players are now offering the service.

Calls are carried as internet traffic (voice over IP), meaning that anywhere with an internet connection can potentially host a cloud phone solution – including a mobile device on 4G or wi-fi.

Cloud phones have a range of advantages, including the ability to provide a consistent feature set and user experience to users in different locations and the ability to combine fixed telephony with mobile devices.

Users can also scale up their services as the business grows, making it a strong solution for a small business.

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With Google announcing it will enter the cloud phone game this week, CBR rounds up some of the solutions on the market.

 

1. BT Cloud Phone

BT‘s offering is designed for small businesses, aiming to provide the features of a full landline system without the expense or management involved in running one.

Included as standard with the fully hosted services are free audio conferencing for up to 999 participants and free internal calls. The service also allows you to choose regional phone numbers, cutting down on the costs required by incoming callers.

The system can be managed through an online portal or the mobile app, which allows a smartphone to be used as an extension of the desk phone.

 

2. Google Fiber Phone

Google has launched a cloud-based phone number which can be used on almost any phone, tablet or laptop.

For $10 per month , subscribers can make unlimited local and nationwide calling, as well as access to call waiting, caller ID and emergency services.

It also has the built-in ability to transcribe voicemail and send the text as an SMS or email message.

Google wants to address the continuing demand for landline-like services by providing a more advanced alternative.

Since 2012, Google has been installing fibre broadband in several US cities, now including Kansas City, Atlanta, Austin and Provo.

At the moment the service will only be rolled out to existing Fiber cities, so those outside of the US will have to wait to gain access to the service.

 

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3. RingCentral Office

RingCentral provides three levels of service, a standard version costing $24.99, a premium version at $34.99 and an enterprise version at $44.99, all per month per user.

The higher-end plans add single sign-on, automatic call recording, HD voice, advanced integration with Salesforce, Zendesk and Oracle, while enterprise adds voicemail preview. Otherwise, the higher prices buy more toll-free minutes and scaled up HD video conferencing options.

Users can deploy RingCentral Office with existing analogue telephones with the Cisco SPA-122, by connecting the ATA to the router and the analogue phone to the ATA. This allows the ATA to convert the digital phone line to analogue.

The solution can also be used with most SIP-compatible IP phones, if they are unlocked by the original provider and manually configured.

 

4. Grasshopper

The solution from the Citrix subsidiary, coming with a 30-day money back guarantee for the cautious buyer, includes a range of features including 800 numbers and local numbers.

It allows call forwarding to office or mobile phones, as well as extensions, voicemail and custom greetings.

Included are the ability to deploy 800 numbers and local numbers, in addition to professional SMS from the business number.

There are four basic plans, costing from $12 up to $199 per month. The more expensive plans add more free minutes per month, more toll free and local numbers and unlimited voice studio.

 

5. Call Cloud

Call Cloud allows you to build your service from the ground up with the features that you need. However, for the full set of features the customer will pay £14.95.

The service offers a fixed monthly price, including hardware, software and local and national calls. The hardware offered includes handsets and conference phones from Polycom as well as Gigaset cordless handsets, headsets and mobile integration.

The software products allow integration with a PC, Android mobile device or CRM tool such as Salesforce.

There is also voice recording and call queuing available.

All of this can be managed through a central online portal.
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