No, nothing is ever really free, even if it might seem that way at first glance. Many businesses today are making the move to cloud-based telephone services, and you might be tempted to do the same. Most cloud-based services run on either SIP trunking or VoIP protocol, basically using virtual connections, instead of wires and cables and using existing internet connection cables to convert audio into data to be transported. This can have many advantages. Landlines are quickly becoming a thing of the past. You might not have one at home at all. But, at work, having a phone is still beneficial. It gives your customers an easy way to speak to you. It can help you to build your business while growing trusting and loyal relationships. Cloud-based services can also be much cheaper than more traditional PBX setups, and usually include some level of support beyond the initial connection. Another clear advantage to modern business is the quality of the line. We’ve all experienced static or buzzing on a landline. Sometimes this static is so bad that we can’t hear, leading to misunderstandings, missed appointments, mistakes, and loss of business. When it comes to finding a cloud-based provider, 3cx, with its claims to be free, might be tempting. But is it really free? Or, is it one of the many services in the world that claim to be free, but end up being more costly than similar paid services? 3cx will be more than happy to help you once you prepay for a Support Ticket at $75.00 per issue. Be prepared to talk to some in Nicosia, Cyprus.
What is 3CX?
3CX is a private company with 200 employees started in 2005. A proprietary software-based PBX written in C++ using the session initiation protocol. It was intended as a VoIP solution for Microsoft Windows. 3CX was first released in 2007 and has become known as an easy-to-use service, offering clients a way to make and receive calls easily and effectively. Many of the benefits of using 3CX are the same as other cloud-based providers. It allows you to use your existing network and equipment while getting rid of phone cables and wires. It’s easy to use and can increase office productivity by allowing team members to hot desk and work remotely. The quality of calls is thought to be better than using a traditional landline, as well as more reliable. Another advantage of 3CX is that it can be significantly less expensive than a hardware-based PBX, but, is it as free as it claims to be?
What Are the Costs?
The pricing structure of 3CX is significantly more complicated than “free.” For a free plan, you give up any kind of support structure. You might be able to use the service for free, but you won’t have access to support, features, updates, and if you do need help, the costs can be high. The free version of the 3CX key is also only valid for one year. When your year’s contract ends, you’ll be forced to pay for maintenance in order to keep your systems working. Even problems with audio quality can be costly to fix. Then, there is Microsoft support, which can run to $250 per call. With many services, we rely on customer support to keep things going. Sometimes, this support is included in the cost of the product or license. They might be more expensive up front, but the benefits can quickly start to outweigh the costs, especially if it means that our businesses don’t face downtime as we wait for tech support. This isn’t the case with 3CX. There’s no factored-in support. Instead, any client support on offer comes from the reseller. The support that you receive (or don’t) all depends on this third-party seller, not the creator of the service. Sounds risky.
A Lower Cost, Better Alternative
Fortunately, 3CX isn’t your only option when it comes to cloud-based telecommunications. Carolina Digital Phone can offer an excellent, not to mention cost-effective, alternative. It’s built on the cloud and is incredibly easy to use. Number porting agents are there to ensure you can keep your existing phone number, saving time on letting everyone know your new contact details. They offer excellent call quality, a straightforward pricing structure that offers all the support that you need, and perhaps most importantly, a friendly and helpful service. Carolina Digital Phone uses a hosted VoIP to offer some thoroughly modern features, perfect for today’s small businesses. These include auto-attendant and custom prompts, voicemail to email, pickup and hold options, time-based routing, and other enterprise features. It’s a plug-in and play system, so they’ll be no downtime as you make the switch, and it’s significantly cheaper than a PBX system.