The phone market contains many small and big players. When making your choice, it is important to consider your specific needs and those of schools in general. That way, you will be prepared for the future.
Previously, everyone used a PSTN line (classic telephone line) for telephony, operated in Belgium by Belgacom (now Proximus) or Telenet. Both major players have long held on to this outdated and archaic structure and have only recently fully switched to VoIP. Their current duopoly is therefore due to this historical context and their name recognition.
However, switching from PSTN to VoIP has many advantages. You can be reached anywhere, as only an internet connection (WiFi, Ethernet, 4G) is required. VoIP delivers excellent call quality, as you are not bound by the provided bandwidth of a PSTN line. Cabling is much simpler, as you can usually connect a VoIP device to an existing internet cabling. VoIP PBXs are often easier to configure and often offer more functionality for the same price.
Basic functionality is usually available from any respectable supplier. However, it is important here to check to what extent they charge extra for the functionality you wish to use.
Besides the capacities of the switchboard itself, you will save yourself a lot of trouble by also taking into account easy management. Linking with your school platform (e.g. Smartschool) or your school's administration package (e.g. Informat) is a must. Caller display can then be linked to the known school information, so that the secretariat immediately knows who is calling. You can also easily let teachers use your school telephone exchange, so that the teacher does not have to use a private number for this, which parents can contact them on at any time. It is best to choose a partner with experience in schools and school software.
Besides the functionality already available, it is also useful to check to what extent (small) customisations are possible. That way, you can be sure that your choice is optimally tailored to your needs both now and in the future. Smaller, local players are often more flexible in this respect. Belgian players also often provide better integration with software typically used by schools in Belgium.
Many suppliers only offer support for their own supplied phones. This has the disadvantage that you are tied to the range they offer, which means you often pay a very high price compared to the effective value of the product. Also, you cannot then reuse your handsets if you switch to another supplier. Renting your device is often a highly disadvantageous option, as the cost to rent for 1 year is often as much as the purchase price of a device, whereas a device can easily last for several years.
A good intuitive user interface allows you to manage your PBX yourself. This ensures that the switchboard is always set up the way you want it, allows you to make small adjustments quickly and avoids any additional costs for configurations by the supplier.
Besides an administrator interface, it can also be interesting to charge the user's. Devices with extensive features (many hotkeys, large phonebook, etc.) often have a considerable additional cost. Having this functionality taken over by a clear user interface saves this cost and often provides a more convenient working tool than the many buttons and (relatively) small screens on telephones.
Many players charge a fixed cost per user, with or without associated free call minutes. Initially, this may seem advantageous, but costs can quickly add up (unnecessarily). After all, free does not exist. Many users do not use up their free minutes, so you are in fact paying for something you are not using. On the other hand, you often pay relatively expensive call charges for what is not included in the free package.
All in all, you often pay better for what you effectively use: availability of simultaneous lines and call charges. That way, you can look to the future with peace of mind for expansion plans that may one day present themselves.
Much of the cost and quality depends on the connection between the VoIP network and the PSTN or mobile network. By choosing a supplier with free provider choice, you can rest assured that you will always be able to enjoy good quality at an advantageous price in the future. After all, you can then easily change providers, without adapting or reconfiguring your infrastructure. Many do not give you this choice, which means they can often charge a hefty premium for this.
VoIP can deliver excellent sound quality, but because it sends its sound clips over the public internet, more can go wrong than with the PSTN network that is only used (or has a fixed channel) for telephony. Therefore, it is important that your vendor provides proper support to fix misconfigurations. To do this efficiently, it is important that he has good monitoring of all packets sent over the network. That way, a failure, such as sound dropping out or low quality, can be quickly located.
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