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Hosted VoIP: The essential guide

Hosted VoIP

For businesses, having a great phone system is like having a superpower. At the very least, it’s a huge business advantage that can help you connect with clients and collaborate with team members with greater ease. 

Companies that use cell phones can handle the basics of modern phone communication, like calls and texts. But companies with hosted Voice over Internet Protocol systems can work more efficiently, all while saving cash. Keep reading to learn what hosted VoIP is and why it may be the perfect business phone option for you.

What is a hosted VoIP?

Hosted VoIP is a type of phone service hosted by a third-party company, providing businesses the ability to call, text, and manage their communication using an internet connection. When your business utilizes a hosted VoIP service, your employees can use their VoIP numbers by logging into their account from any compatible device, rather than being limited to one location or phone. 

Also known as hosted PBX or cloud PBX, hosted phone systems receive their name from the fact that they’re fully hosted on the cloud. Unlike analog phone systems, which often rely on wires and on-site hardware that your company is responsible for, hosted VoIP solutions aren’t managed by your business. When you switch to VoIP, your service provider will handle all of the maintenance, so the only hardware you need is the device of your choice. 📱

How does hosted VoIP work?

Diagram showing how hosted VoIP works

When you make a hosted VoIP call, your phone system turns your voice data into digital packets. These packets travel through the internet, using the most efficient route to reach the person that you’re dialing. Then, the data packets are translated back into the live voice message that you originally sent.

While this process may seem complex, it all happens at lightning speed. ⚡ Voice messages are typically sent and received in less than a second, allowing you to have real-time conversations with your clients and team members. As long as you have a stable internet connection, you can reach anyone with reliable call quality.

VoIP texting is just as simple as making VoIP phone calls. You’ll send and receive messages using your internet connection with an app that functions much like the smartphone texting apps you’re used to.

Your texts will look just like standard text messages, with no indication that you’re using a VoIP system.

What are features you should expect from hosted VoIP providers? 

When you choose hosted VoIP, you won’t miss out on any of the business features provided by your current desk phone or mobile phone. In fact, many hosted VoIP providers offer far more features than you’d expect from business phones of the past. Here are six features that come standard with hosted VoIP phone systems like OpenPhone.

1. Free calls and texts to the US and Canada

Hosted VoIP systems can typically support higher volumes of phone calls than traditional on-premise PBX systems since you’re not relying on a limited number of physical phone lines to make calls. This allows many business VoIP providers to offer free calls and texts, so you don’t have to worry about paying for your phone usage on top of your monthly subscription fee.

With OpenPhone, you can make free calls and texts to both the United States and Canada, so you can easily grow your business across borders. 🌎

2. Custom phone numbers

Since hosted VoIP phones aren’t tied to a specific location, you can take your pick when it comes to area codes. Most major VoIP providers offer US phone numbers. With OpenPhone, you can choose any available US, Canadian, or toll-free number each time you add a user to your account — it’s free! You can also create vanity numbers (think 1-800-FLOWERS) to make your digits as memorable as possible.

3. Auto-attendant

Want to make sure your callers are always chatting with the right person? You don’t need to hire a receptionist for the job. You can set up a phone menu with your hosted VoIP phone’s auto-attendant feature, which allows callers to choose where they want to route their own calls.

Bonus perk: Automated spam calls won’t make it past your auto-attendant, so your team members won’t waste their time greeting robocallers.

4. Business app integrations

Unlike landlines and cell phones, hosted VoIP phones can be used for more than basic telephony features. You can connect your phone system directly to other apps to streamline your business processes and help your team work with more efficiency.

OpenPhone offers integrations with popular business apps like Slack, email, and Zapier with every plan — and with one upgrade, you can access our HubSpot CRM integration, too.

5. Voicemail transcriptions

Hosted VoIP helps you make voicemails easier to review through voicemail transcriptions, which allows you to see why clients are calling (and determine if it’s urgent) before you call back.

With OpenPhone, you can receive your transcripts as an email, text message, and Slack message, so you can read wherever it’s most convenient.

6. Customer support

No IT team? No problem. On top of taking care of your phone system maintenance, many hosted VoIP providers offer customer support. If something goes wrong, you can simply reach out to us via the Help Center and we’ll work with you to figure it out. 📧

What are the benefits of a hosted VoIP?

Hosted Voice over IP doesn’t just offer more standard features than a traditional phone. It can also be the most cost-effective phone system for your team. Plus, it can help your business function like a modern enterprise, which is bound to help you grow. Here’s why hosted VoIP is the business communication solution you need.

1. Enormous cost savings

Whether you’re running a small business or a large enterprise, you can save hundreds (sometimes thousands) with hosted VoIP. Once you choose a VoIP provider, all you really need to pay for is the cost of your plan. 

OpenPhone plans start at $13 per user per month, and accessing new features is as simple as upgrading your plan. If you ever need more phone numbers — beyond the free one provided for each user — you can get one for a small add-on cost of $5 per month.

If you can’t fit new devices into your budget, your team members can use their current work laptops or personal smartphones to make calls.

On the flip side, traditional phone systems require you to invest in costly hardware each time you hire a new employee or want to upgrade your devices. You’ll also need to cover the costs of setting up and maintaining your own phone system, which requires the help of IT professionals — and that’s on top of paying for your phone plan. Beyond signing up for a provider, setting up a VoIP system is free. 

2. Improved collaboration

On top of the VoIP call routing and call forwarding features you know and love, hosted VoIP makes the most of its technology by offering collaboration capabilities that are only possible with the internet. With a hosted VoIP system like OpenPhone, you can share phone numbers with team members, so you can get back to clients faster. Plus, you’ll always see when someone else is on a call or typing a text message, so you never use double the energy to chat with one client.

OpenPhone also allows you to easily make warm transfers, so your clients get the best possible customer experience.

3. Remote work compatibility

With nearly half of all full-time employees in the US working remotely at least part-time, finding remote-friendly tech is more important than ever. Even if your business has a physical location, we’re willing to bet that your employees aren’t constantly latched to their seats — and some may go on the occasional work trip, too. 

The flexibility of hosted VoIP, which allows you to take calls from anywhere, on any compatible device, makes it easy to work on the go and hire employees who are thousands of miles away. ✈️

4. Affordable international calling

If you make regular long-distance calls on a landline or cell phone, you know it’s not cheap to grow internationally with a traditional phone system. With some plans, you can expect to pay $1-$3 per minute when you’re calling any country outside of the US If you need to stay on the phone with one international client for one hour, this could cost you $60-$180.

Hosted VoIP cuts down the costs of international calling to as little as a few cents per minute. With OpenPhone, for instance, you can call Canada for free from the US (and vice versa) and reach Mexico for 2-9 cents per minute.

Get more from your business phone system with OpenPhone

Hosted VoIP: OpenPhone desktop and mobile apps

Ready to toss landlines out the door? With hosted VoIP phones, there’s no need to limit yourself to one desk phone or cell phone. Hosted VoIP allows you to make calls and send from any internet-enabled device — all while accessing more business features and saving cash. Start your free trial of OpenPhone to try it out.

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