Your Guide to an NBN Ready Business Telephone System
There's nothing more important to a modern business than an effective and efficient phone system.
A number of NBN ready phone systems can be designed to meet the needs of Australian businesses, including cloud systems, on-premise phone systems, and ATA adaptors for existing phone networks. While the NBN has changed how Australian businesses operate and communicate, new opportunities can also cause confusion. Let's take a look at all of the options available to your business as you make the difficult transition into the digital age.
How does the NBN function?
The National Broadband Network (NBN) can be difficult to wrap your head around, with this network using a range of different technologies to connect homes and businesses across the country. More of an umbrella term than a single technological system, the NBN features new fibre-optic cable, existing copper lines, satellite services, and wireless networks. While the number of solutions available provides Australian businesses with more choice than ever before, it can also lead to confusion.
In the past, businesses had separate phone and internet services in the office, with individual providers, separate billing structures, and different technologies used.
The NBN works differently, with a single digital data service used to carry both your phone service and internet.
When choosing a business phone system with the NBN, you have the choice between purchasing new equipment or adapting your old phone system so that it can work with digital data.
If you're ready to purchase a new phone system, you have the choice between a cloud-based solution and a traditional on-premise phone system. Old analogue devices are not compatible with the NBN without the use of an analogue telephone adapter (ATA), with this technology sometimes used as a viable low-cost solution that enables the use of old equipment. Australian businesses have three choices to create an NBN ready phone system:
- hosted cloud-based phone system
- traditional on-premise system
- existing system with an ATA adapter
Cloud-based phone systems
Cloud-based phone systems are also referred to as hosted systems or virtual phone systems, including the voice over internet protocol (VoIP) and session initiation protocol (SIP). When people are talking about NBN ready phone systems in Australia, they are normally referring to this technology.
There are many advantages to a hosted solution, including the fact that all of your business data and personalisation features are stored off-site in a hosted cloud environment.
While this may seem confusing, it is both safer and more flexible in the vast majority of cases.
Cloud-based phone systems have been around for a while now but used to be reserved for either individual users or large companies. The high-speed internet connections needed to run this technology have only been available in Australia over the last few years, with the NBN roll-out making this technology affordable to small Australian businesses for the first time. It's important to note, however, that the potential capability and flexibility of this solution is also accompanied by a number of technological challenges and risks.
Not all businesses will want to rely on internet infrastructure for all of their communications, especially those based in remote locations. NBN internet speeds are slower than many people thought they would be, with regular dropouts and network maintenance adding to the complaints. While severe disruptions to NBN services are isolated cases in most situations, technical issues are an ongoing and very real problem.
Technological limitations are an issue in many remote Australian locations, where fibre optic cable is either completely unavailable or installed to the node. While hosted systems are easier to install, manage, upgrade and maintain than on-site systems, not all businesses want to rely on internet connectivity for their regular voice communications.
On-premise phone systems
On-premise or on-site phone systems use traditional telephony infrastructure to access high-speed voice and data services. Also known as private branch exchange (PBX) or private automatic branch exchange (PABX) phone systems, this business solution is also a viable option if you’re looking for an NBN ready phone system. On-site phone systems operate within a company or organisation, with a variety of communication protocols also used to communicate with the outside world.
For example, Australian businesses can use a PABX system to transfer analogue voice into digital data over IP or ISDN. While on-premise phone systems are not hosted in the cloud and don't offer the same kind of flexibility as hosted solutions, you can still transfer high-speed digital data and VoIP services if your PABX is IP compatible.
Depending on the age and location of the system, there may even be an NBN solution available if your business phone system isn't IP enabled.
While on-premise phone systems are not as reliant on internet speeds and reliable data connections, the use of separate protocols for voice and data exchange can be difficult to manage and troubleshoot. The choices that you make for your business are largely dependent on individual preferences, geographical location, business size and complexity, and the desire to create a future-proof phone solution.
Hosted vs on-premise phone systems
Whether you choose to go with a hosted phone system or a traditional on-site system, there are pros and cons associated with each approach. While-cloud based phone systems are not ideal for everyone, they do offer some significant advantages when it comes to affordability and ease of use.
With more providers offering products for hosted systems, there is more competition and choice out there than ever before. Lower maintenance costs are also a huge advantage, with no bulky PABX box needed and the ability to manage and update features from your own interface.
Despite their future obsolescence in most cases, on-premise phone systems still have a place in the Australian market. Unreliable NBN infrastructure in some locations has caused concern for many businesses, many of who have chosen to stick with on-site phone systems that they trust.
While you should not place too much emphasis on media reports that highlight the struggles of the NBN, it is important to be aware of the challenges that small business face due to unreliable phone connections. Most Australian businesses who are purchasing a new NBN ready phone system are deciding on a hosted solution, with on-site systems increasingly seen as more cumbersome and less advanced than cloud based-solutions.
ATA adapters as a low-cost solution
Getting connected to the NBN doesn't have to be expensive, with many businesses choosing to adapt their existing equipment rather than purchase an entirely new system. Analogue telephone adapter (ATA) technology is a viable low-cost solution that can be easily installed and used to convert voice communications into digital data. ATA devices are often built into a small enclosure that also includes an Ethernet port and one or more foreign exchange station (FXS) telephone ports.
While ATA technology is still widely accepted in Australia, the rise of internet speeds and hosted phone systems is making it less popular each year. While ATA devices were once a useful way to create an indistinguishable link between private telephone networks and public switched telephone network (PSTN) providers, the ubiquitous nature of digital data is slowly but surely taking over. The only real advantage of ATA devices is in terms of cost, with small Australian businesses often choosing to use this technology as they make the transition towards a hosted or on-site phone system.
Here at Telrex, we have access to all of the phone equipment that your business needs to thrive in the modern NBN age. From routers and cables through to cabinets and telephone sets, our fantastic range of products and expert advice is second to none. If your business needs help as you navigate this confusing transition, please give us a call or come and visit us in person at our Loganholme shop.
Call us today on 1300 665 970 for a quote or advice on ensuring your phone system is NBN ready.