Important Information to Know about Virtual PBX
Virtual PBX is NOT the same as VOIP!
Here are some questions I get asked a lot:
- Is virtual pbx the same as voip?
- What is voip and how is it used with virtual pbx?
- Is the sound quality worse with virtual pbx systems?
- Do I need a computer to use virtual pbx?
Sound quality for all the virtual pbx companies I’ve reviewed has been great, regardless of company. Anyone that tells you that their network is better because they only use fiber is not being completely honest with you. I get asked about virtual pbx systems and voip a lot and here is the difference between the two.
VOIP – true voip ends up using YOUR internet connection within your home or business to transmit a signal. VOIP stand for Voice Over Internet Protocol. What it means is that you can talk over the internet and save a lot of money on long distance. Additionally, people usually associate the use of a real telephone with VOIP as opposed to talking through your computer via the microphone or headset. There are several companies that do this i.e. Vonage, Skype, etc. Quality of the signal with these companies is dependent on several things – speed of YOUR connection and traffic on YOUR connection are two biggies. I know many people who have Vonage or another voip solution and I hate talking to them on the phone – they have a lousy connection and I often feel like I’m talking to them on a bad cell phone.
Virtual PBX systems are different in that they never use YOUR internet connection to transmit your call. A caller who uses a landline gets routed to a phone that you designate whether it be your own landline or cell phone. Now, it’s true that the virtual pbx companies may use voice over internet protocol for part of the transmission; HOWEVER, my guess is that it is at points where HUGE bandwidth is available and without it the cost for the service would be much, much higher. Again, they never use your internet connection and it’s not necessary to have an internet connection to place or receive calls using virtual pbx.
Now, there are virtual pbx companies that do offer VOIP plans, but they are not necessary to use virtual pbx features.
The best way to test the quality of a virtual pbx company for yourself is to try one! Here is a list of some companies that offer a free trial.
Double Leg Billing
When selecting any toll free plan it's imperative that even if you don't use the information on this site that you understand about LEG CHARGES or LEG BILLING.
To help you understand what this is all about, I need to back up a little bit and explain briefly how the whole system works. If you're already familiar with how it all works, feel free to skip to the bottom.
How Leg Billing Works
Unlike traditional pbx systems, people using any of the toll free plans keep their existing phone number. As a matter of fact, you can't use these systems unless you have a currently existing phone number - whether it be a cell phone or landline.
The 800 number (or 888, 877, 866, etc) number you purchase is a real number, but it isn't directly connected to any phone, fax, cell phone or phone outlet. What it is connected to is a computerized routing system that will route any incoming call to any existing phone, fax, cell phone or line that you choose. In essence all phone calls to your toll free number are simply forwarded to 1 or any combination of numbers you choose.
So... Let's say that you sign-up for service and are given the toll free number: 877-XXX-XXXX
A Virtual PBX 2 Leg Scenario
A customer finds your toll free number and decides to give you a call about your product/service. Unbeknownst to them, you work out of your home in Houlton, Maine, a small town in northern Maine (that's where CollegeHelpers.com is headquartered). They dial your number (877-XXX-XXXX) and your call is immediately routed to your home phone where, when you answer, you have several options:
- You can answer the phone and talk to the customer
- Send the caller to voice mail and call them back later
- Send the caller to a co-worker or partner at a different telephone number
- Place them on hold while you get ready to take their order
In this scenario there are two parts (or legs) to the phone call.
- The first leg is from the caller to your toll free phone number which is hooked up to the computerized router being hosted at your toll free company.
- The second leg of the call is the one from the computerized router to your home phone number. It's important to not that there are actually 2 calls being made -1 from your customer to the toll free company AND -1 from the toll free company to YOU!
THIS IS THE IMPORTANT PART SO PAY ATTENTION!!!
Some of the toll free phone companies charge you for the toll free number from the customer to the computer (the 1st leg of the call) and charge you again when the computer calls your home phone number (the second leg of the call). All billing is done by the minute so if your company charges for both legs of the call, you're being charged twice (yes that's 2 times) for the same call. You will be charged for the minutes your customer is talking "through" the computer and the minutes the computer is connected to your phone.
IF YOU THINK THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS, YOU'RE RIGHT!!
If the thought of paying for both legs of the call really bothers you, then choose a company that only charges for one leg of the call. But BE CAREFUL sometimes companies that only charge for one leg have higher monthly service fees. Don't worry, I break them all down for you so you know what you're getting!