However, for many businesses there's a need to route calls to the PSTN and other analog phones that might remain in use, too. This may mean a PSTN gateway, or even a hybrid PBX, where there's at least a small telephone switch located on-site. Note that these days, a PBX looks exactly like the other servers in your data center, except with an attached means of handling local and analog phones. Many small businesses, however, are avoiding on-premises PBXes partially due to cost savings and partially because the capabilities offered by all-cloud systems are more than advanced enough for their needs. Some virtual cloud PBXes can handle PSTN connectivity without on-site hardware requirements.
With integration being at the heart of VoIP and UCaaS, you can't make a purchasing decision here without thinking about the future. On one side, think about what you'll need in 1-5 years. On the other side, consider each vendor carefully to see what they've done over the last half decade in terms of product development and keeping up with VoIP and UCaaS trends.
VoIP calling as your home phone service is the best way to consolidate calling and networking in one convenient place, while saving a lot of money. Landlines are limited, and serve no more function than dialing out and receiving calls. Setting up your VoIP phone to forward calls to your mobile number is just one of the many ways you can stay connected, even when you’re not home. A common concern in making the transition to VoIP is that giving up your landline service will ultimately mean giving up your number in exchange for a new one. With number portability, residential VoIP providers allow you to keep your old landline number and assimilate it into your new phone service. Check with your VoIP provider to see if your particular number is eligible for porting, as they are portable in most cases.
Fortunately, most of the providers reviewed here have engineering staff that will contact you as part of your setup process to help your IT staffers test and optimize your network prior to deploying their solutions. That's definitely something we recommend, but there are steps you can take now to prep your LAN for VoIP and make the deployment process that much easier.
That situation is for fairly pristine network and business conditions, however. Companies with legacy equipment or unique business needs may need a hybrid PBX, in which a portion of the voice network remains in the analog world, while the rest is converted to cloud-based VoIP. This could happen if you occupy an older building without the necessary Ethernet infrastructure to support VoIP or if you had custom software built a long time ago that simply isn't compatible with newer phone technologies.
Whether it's a dedicated bridge device or a special VoIP phone, you'll need something on the hardware side compatible with VoIP in order to access the technology's chief benefit: its software layer. It's at this layer where VoIP's advanced communication and collaboration features are enabled and how well the provider has leveraged those advantages will be directly reflected in how its proprietary hardware and back-end services are programmed. Whether it's a phone or a bridge, if you're worried about getting lost in technobabble when trying to setup your new phone service, remember that the best providers should be able to ship you pre-configured devices that shouldn't require much, if any, intervention on your part. With these, you simply plug them into your router or connect them to your Wi-Fi network and they'll go out and find the provider's network on their own. Just power them up, connect to your network, and wait for the light to turn green.
E.164 is a global FGFnumbering standard for both the PSTN and PLMN. Most VoIP implementations support E.164 to allow calls to be routed to and from VoIP subscribers and the PSTN/PLMN. VoIP implementations can also allow other identification techniques to be used. For example, Skype allows subscribers to choose "Skype names" (usernames) whereas SIP implementations can use URIs similar to email addresses. Often VoIP implementations employ methods of translating non-E.164 identifiers to E.164 numbers and vice versa, such as the Skype-In service provided by Skype and the ENUM service in IMS and SIP.
The following table provides a high level summary of how residential VoIP service compares to other alternative solutions for home phone service. The table compares this service to a regular landline, a bundled phone service from a cable company such as double or triple play, and a cell phone service. The cell phone is included as some people decide to just get rid of their wired phone and use their cell phone for all calls. Free services such as Skype are not included as they are not effective, like for like, landline replacements in our opinion.