The high cost and long repayment times of private branch exchange (PBX) equipment hamper the emergence of start-up companies and the growth of small companies. The use of Internet Protocol (IP) telephony eliminates these expensive PBX systems in companies, says cloud-based PBX provider Fat Budgie CEO Sacha Matulovich.
Matulovich can attest to the significant costs of buying a PBX, as he had to pay more than R250 000 over five years to enable the employees of his start-up company to exchange calls in the office.
“PBXs are expensive and nonscalable. Further, to record phone calls made to my company, I had to buy an extra R50 000 worth of equipment and pay yet more money to deploy an automated voice-menu system. The cost of PBX equipment makes it very difficult for an entrepreneur, who also has to predict what the business’s telephony needs will be, owing to the lack of scalability,” he notes.
However, using an IP telephone and an asymmetric digital subscriber line, a good wireless connection or a good 3G connection will enable companies to deploy the same exchange services and functions as a PBX system within days, without having to buy PBX equipment, he enthuses.
“I can unplug my handset and reconnect it at a different point, in the office or at home – wherever I have connectivity – and the system will automatically detect the handset and route all calls to that number. This enables companies that have several small offices to connect with all their offices on the same exchange.
“Further, calls made to office handsets from other office handsets in the company are free,” says Matulovich.
The capabilities of IP-based PBX services enable companies, especially small companies, to move their offices, retain their numbers and use PBX services on a month-to-month contract basis, compared with the long-term repayment of PBX equipment. This enables them to change according to the demands of the business environment, says Fat Budgie COO John Woollam.
In South Africa, there are 283 000 companies employing three to four people, 248 000 com- panies employing five to ten people and 56 000 companies employing more than 11 people, he notes.
“Of these companies, 36% are older than five years and 29% are less than one-and-a-half years old. The main concern is growing these small and new companies, and expensive equipment is a risk to a company’s liquidity and sustainability,” says Woollam.
The high cost of equipment is also significantly important to start-up ventures, as it increases risks and chances for failure.
“Fat Budgie is scalable. Companies can port numbers easily, add new extensions and move their offices, forward calls between different handsets and employees’ cellphones, as well as deploy new services when required, such as voice recording, automated phone menus and call forwarding,” he says.
Further, Fat Budgie’s cloud PBX services can be integrated with a company’s email system to enable employees merely to click on an email or a contact and call the person without having to dial the number, he enthuses.
“We are focused on the SME market because companies want to control their telecommunications costs and their budgets. The month-to-month nature of our services means that companies can increase the number of extensions when they need them and reduce the number of extensions when they are no longer needed,” explains Woollam.