How cloud-based VoIP works and why you need it now

Les Roberts, Senior Content Manager at Bionic
By Les Roberts, Senior Content Manager

Cloud-based VoIP for business means you can use all the features of your workplace phone wherever you are and need never miss another call. To get started, you just need a reliable internet connection and a way to make and receive VoIP calls, such as a VoIP handset, a PC softphone, or an app on your mobile. 

Here’s all you need to know about how cloud-based VoIP works and why your business needs it. 

30-second summary

  • Swapping your existing business phone system for a business VoIP package can help cut the cost of your bills and future-proof your connectivity. 
  • VoIP works over an internet connection, which means your business can benefit from cheaper calls and line rental costs, as well as getting itself set for the analogue switch-off in 2025.  
  • But there are different types of VoIP systems for different types of business.  
  • If you run a larger operation, you might want to consider a VoIP system that runs on Private Branch Exchange (PBX) hardware. This means you’ll essentially have your own phone exchange on your premises. 
  • If you run a smaller business, then you should find a hosted solution, or cloud-based VoIP is much easier to manage and more cost-effective. 

What is a cloud-based VoIP system? 

Cloud-based VoIP is a VoIP phone system that’s hosted at an off-site data centre, rather than on a server at your premises. This offers everything you get from a PBX system, as well as the flexibility to take calls from your desk phone, computer or mobile. 

Also known as hosted phone systems, the technology works in much the same way as cloud-based data storage systems, such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive. Instead of being stored directly on your computers or on-site servers, your data is stored in an off-site server owned by your service provider. 

Using cloud VoIP means you can use all the features of your office phone wherever you are and need never miss another business call. 

How reliable are cloud-based VoIP phone systems? 

VoIP phone systems are as reliable as the internet connection they’re working on. The good news is that, although the speeds you need will vary according to how many users are connected, smaller VoIP will work fine on speeds of just 1-2 Mbps. If you have multiple users or you’re video calling, you will need faster speeds. 

VoIP providers will usually look to keep downtime to a minimum by hosting their cloud-based VoIP systems across multiple servers at different data centres. This means that if something goes wrong at one site, everything can be run from servers at another site. 

If your internet connection is down, you should be able to plug your IP system into another broadband service, but this feature could depend upon your provider. Or, if you have mobile VoIP for business, you could switch to mobile data. 

Is a cloud-based VoIP system secure? 

At Bionic, we only work with trusted business VoIP providers that we know will offer competitive rates alongside reliable connectivity and robust security.  

All our cloud-based VoIP system providers operate secure data centres that protect against cyber-attacks and unauthorised access using the latest firewall and intrusion detection technologies. 

What’s the minimum internet speed I need for cloud VoIP calls? 

The minimum speed needed to make cloud VoIP phone calls depends upon how many people will be using the system at the same time and how much data your business uses.  

Although we recommend having fast fibre optic broadband, VoIP calls only use a tiny amount of your business broadband capacity and should need speeds of no more than 1-2 Mbps for a smaller system.  For context, this is about the same bandwidth that’s needed for scrolling and posting to social media. 

If you’ll be using VoIP to video conference, you’ll need speeds of 2-4 Mbps. If you have multiple users on your VoIP system, you’ll also need faster speeds again as more users require greater bandwidth. 

"As VoIP is entirely internet-based, you'll want to consider your internet and bandwidth needs to determine the right package. A VoIP package for a single line will work fine on speeds of 1-2 Mbps, for intensive calling or video conferencing you'll want a faster connection. Don't forget that you'll also need new equipment and the appropriate digital security measures in place too as part of your package." - Tom Grange, Head of Connectivity at Bionic.

What equipment do I need? 

To start using cloud VoIP for business, you’ll just need a reliable internet connection and a way to make and receive VoIP calls. This could be a VoIP handset, a PC softphone, or simply an app on your mobile. 

To find out which solution is best for your business, speak to one of our business connectivity experts and get a quote on 0800 086 1920. 

How much does cloud-based VoIP for business cost? 

The cost of your cloud-based VoIP package will depend upon the number of users you need and the rates offered by your provider. In short, the greater the number of users, the more it will cost. 

The good news is that cloud-based VoIP call rates are cheaper than those offered on standard business lines, and packages can also come with inclusive minutes. If you have multiple users, you can also cut down line rental costs by simply adding users to one VoIP connection.  

Hosted VoIP systems are also a lot cheaper and easier to set up than installed VoIP. Instead of having engineers fit and maintain the system at your premises, your host provider will control the management of the system, and your company will be charged at a fixed rate according to usage. 

Give our connectivity team a call on 0800 086 1920 to get a business VoIP package tailored to meet the needs and budget of your business. 

Can I use cloud-based VoIP with my mobile?  

Using cloud-based VoIP for business means you should have the flexibility of making and taking calls on your business mobile. There are a couple of ways you can do this: 

  • Redirect calls to your mobile – You can adjust the settings on your system so calls to your office phone are redirected to your mobile 
  • Use a VoIP mobile app – Using a mobile VoIP app is the best way to make the most of your system as it allows you to fully control your phone system remotely. This means you make and take VoIP calls on your mobile, transfer calls between colleagues, set up call routing, and use any of the other features you have as part of your package.

What are the benefits of a cloud-based VoIP system? 

The major benefits of using a cloud-based VoIP system are that it’s quick and easy to set up and use. It can also help to cut your business costs – not only are VoIP call rates cheaper than standard business line call rates, but you could also save a packet on line rental, particularly if you work across several sites. 

Then there’s the call quality to consider – so long as there are no issues with your internet connection, your calls will always be delivered more quickly and in crystal clear HD quality sound.  

Connection speeds are also quicker. That’s because VoIP uses packet switching – whereby messages are sent from the speaker to the listener only when someone is speaking - instead of circuit switching, which maintains a constant connection. This helps speed up connections while also cutting down on bandwidth requirements. 

Cloud-based VoIP is also easy to scale up or scale back, depending upon the needs of your business, and doesn’t require any expensive hardware, especially if you opt for mobile VoIP. 

Can I move my current VoIP system onto the cloud? 

If you want to switch from an installed VoIP service at your premises to cloud VoIP, you’ll need to get in touch with your current provider to find out if they offer a hosted package.  

Alternatively, get in touch with the Bionic team of tech-enabled experts and we’ll help you switch to a hosted VoIP package. Give us a call now on 0800 086 1920 or leave your postcode on our business VoIP page and we’ll give you a callback.