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Hosted VOIP? Know what you’re getting into!

Cloud based phone systems are the latest fad in K-12 districts. But before you jump the gun, we suggest that you gather all of the facts. Switching over from a premise to a hosted VoIP system has many setbacks that you should understand before you take the plunge.

Surprisingly, hosted and premise VoIP share a lot of similar qualities. Both offer school administrators flexibility in communication. Instead of remaining tethered to a traditional corded phone, your staff can now make or transfer calls directly from a computer, cell phone, or even a traditional phone connected to an adapter. Both systems work anywhere with an internet connection.

Each staff member will receive their own phone extension and can make calls from anywhere.  For example, teachers are not always in their designated classrooms, which can make them hard to track down. Using a VoIP system eliminates this issue. Even if a teacher holds class in the library, they can still be reached from the same number.

The main concern with hosted VoIP service is that the bandwidth is shared with everyone else on the internet. If the internet gets busy, phones will have poor sound quality and sometimes will not work at all. So if your school experiences an internet outage, the staff will have no choice but to use cellphones to communicate. Relying on your internet provider for all methods of communication is not a fun place to be. This can leave your district vulnerable to potential security risks.

With a premise voice system, however, there is a server at your district that controls all of your VoIP phones, so if the internet does go down the phones will still work. This significantly reduces the possibility of a risk because you can still call within your district, call 911, and page or lock down classrooms.  

While many people believe that using a hosted VoIP system will save money, the savings are not close to what they are portrayed as. In fact, hosted VoIP will often cost you more than a premise system. When you add up the monthly cost per phone over a five year period, you will find that you could have purchased a premise VoIP system twice in comparison. Most premise voice companies are happy to bill monthly for a fully supported system.

Despite these downfalls, there are districts that experience success in using a hosted voice system. If you’re still interested, we suggest you do your homework. Find a reputable company that can install and support hosted voice. Then you should compare costs of both hosted and premise over a five to ten year period. See which makes the most sense and which one costs the least. Premise VoIP removes a lot of the risk that comes with hosted VoIP. If the savings are not there, why take the risk?

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