Cloud Telephony has become a buzz word while choosing any call centre options or technology. But have you ever thought or discussed its features with the Sales guy selling you the Telephony solution. Let’s discuss the features of Cloud Telephony and find out its features.
What is Cloud Telephony?
The dictionary definition of Cloud Telephony means Internet-based Voice communications, where PBX (that we install in our offices) are not required, but are hosted at a third party outside the office which can be accessed over internet, in short a Cloud. To work with Cloud Telephony essentially VoIP is used which is Voice over IP. In crux, with Cloud telephony the servers are on Cloud which in turn are responsible for connecting both the parties on call via Internet Protocol, IP.
How this is different from conventional telephony?
In conventional telephony, Telecom/Mobile Companies are responsible for call connectivity and we will charged per month basis on two parts: a basic plan rate and variable cost on basis of services (number of calls, SMS and STD). However, when we use Cloud Telephony the Cloud server connects the call and both the parties can talk instantly. Here the charges are for one time Cloud server set up cost and if any maintenance charges. The internet bandwidth is almost free and thus the charges are drop down very low in comparison with traditional telephony. Thus ideally, the cost should be extremely low. In countries like USA and UK it definitely is low, but in India it is still on a higher notch. let’s understand its reasons.
India has very different law for Cloud Telephony visa-viz Western Countries. Hence Cloud telephony works in a very different way here.
Legal permissions to use Cloud Telephony in India:
In various countries like UAE, Oman, China, India, VoIP is not legal as per guidelines of TRAI. But there are some options which have been allowed. Voice calls done from VoIP to VoIP is legal, e.g. Skype to Skype or WhatsApp to WhatsApp are perfectly allowed. But if we want to call from WhatsApp to a landline or mobile number it won’t be allowed.
In short, as per TRAI, we cannot mix IP network with conventional Telecom Network.
How does Cloud Telephony Operate in India
Next Valid question comes is if VoIP is not legal in India, how do operators like Knowlarity, Exotel, Ozonotel and others provide services in Indian Market for Cloud Telephony.
They use PRI Lines, which are similar to conventional telephony lines, but work in digital manner. This implies they use Regular Telecom Lines to connect the caller to called person. For every PRI card you get 100 numbers and 30 calls can go at one time. So each of your staff will get a personal number from the pool of 100 numbers. In PRI both the incoming and outgoing calls are charged. Let us understand that in detail.
- Incoming Calls:
- A Virtual number is published for every staff of your company.
- As soon as your customer calls the number, the IP telephony will make call to you again from another virtual number informing about the incoming call.
- When the employee will pick up the phone, the customer and employee are connected over the call and IP work is done.
- This complete process has two virtual numbers which are used but none of them see the actual number. Thus for every incoming one more call is generated by Telephony Solution and call charges are implied.
- Outgoing Calls:
- If you wish to make a call to your customer, you will simply click the mobile sign in front of the customer’s name.
- Cloud picks up the number and generates the call. As soon as the customer picks up the phone it will now generate the call to you and both of you get connected.
- This complete process takes millisecond but two calls are generated for every outgoing call.
I hope this explains how the charges are defined in Cloud telephony. Though you may say the charges are very less in comparison with any other regular mobile company, but you will be charged twice for single call.
In India Cloud Telephony and VOIP are not one and the same. Indian Cloud telehpony company cannot use VOIP they have to use PRI Lines.
Now in this case both the parties don’t see each other’s number. This may be advantage for few people and disadvantage for few others. You always don’t need number Privacy.
Disadvantages of Cloud Telephony in India
Cloud telephony may have certain advantages in countries where VoIP is legal. However, in India, there are certain very distinct disadvantages that make customers shy away from Cloud Telephony. Whereas there are some clients that went for cloud telephony without considering the disadvantages and are stuck with it. Here are few disadvantages of Cloud Telephony
- Double Costing: As seen above even incoming calls are charged, and outgoing calls are charged @ double rate.
- GSM comparison: Cost seems much higher also because of lowest call rates of GSM in India. Now with JIO and other Mobile operators offering unlimited calls for a minuscule amount. The calling rates of Cloud Telephony company seems to be exorbitant.
- Higher Monthly Subscription: All Cloud telephony companies have tariffs which are based on monthly commitment and subscription. This increases the cost of ownership for the customer.
Higher calling costs (even incoming calls are charged) is one of the biggest disadvantage of Cloud Telephony in India.
- Number Ownership.
- Number Masking: Cloud companies claim that Number Masking is a great advantage. This is not always true. While it may be true for some companies like, Ola and Uber but not for all. It is also very annoying for customers since they don’t trust calls from such numbers.
- Customer Locking: Imagine what happens when thousands and thousands of your customers have saved your number (which is a cloud telecom operators number). Can you think of switching the operator? You better not.
- Saving Numbers: Imagine saving a number in your mobile when a call comes from a new customer, it’s easy right? Not when you are using Cloud Telephony.
- Dysfunctional Call ID: Also when your customer calls, their number is not displayed on the phone, but your cloud telephony number is displayed. You don’t know instantly who is calling. Its a mystery call always.
In Cloud Telephony, When someone calls you, you dont see his number. Very cumbersome to manage information.
- Data Theft.
- There have been cases where people have reported data theft by Cloud telephony providers. Here is a link to one of such: http://bit.ly/2oM1rT4
- Disruption may be fatal.
- Just imagine if servers of your Cloud Telephony provider are down for few hours or days. It had happened a few months ago when the largest Cloud Telephony provider of India went down for more than a couple of days in a row due to Legal issues.
- Since all your customers are dialling Cloud Operators number as your number, They are never able to reach you. Which is enough for completely halt your business and do irreparable damage to your reputation.
- Complicated and costly Integrations.
- Be it SMS or CRM, even though Cloud Telephony operators provide integration capabilities. but they are always complicated and very costly.
Ownership of Number becomes a serious challenge in using Cloud Telephony.
What is the alternative for Cloud Telephony?
One of the options is to go for conventional telephony where you install an EPABX (or Telephony Server) in your premises. There is a significant capital cost to be incurred for this. While this is suitable for larger organisations, this may be very costly for smaller businesses.
Cloud telephony does not involve Capital cost but has some serious disadvantages.
Imagine, What if we could get have best of both the worlds?