The exponential growth in video conferencing through the pandemic made Zoom a household name. With an intuitive interface and cost-effective pricing, the world turned to Zoom for everything from family lockdown gatherings to official government briefings. And two years on, as the work from home phenomenon continues, organizations are looking to unify their business communications fully with their attention on calling.
Enter, Zoom Phone. Offering full PBX capabilities from the same interface customers know and love from Zoom meetings, Zoom Phone is a compelling replacement for legacy phone systems. Perfect for the hybrid workplace, with no complex or outdated hardware needed, which brings with it considerable cost benefits, Zoom phone is making it easy to take your business calling to the cloud.
But, before you can take and make phone calls in Zoom, you'll need to connect to the external Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). And depending on your business requirements, the way you connect will have different implications for the costs you incur.
Zoom Phone offers three main ways to enable external calling:
- Phone plans: These are Zoom’s native calling plans that offer local/international bundles charged on a per user, per month basis
- Bring Your Own Carrier (BYOC) on-premises: Allows business to select their preferred SIP carriers and install on-premises Session Border Controllers (SBCs) to connect to their SIP network
- Phone Provider Exchange: A new BYOC option allowing businesses to find and connect with their preferred carrier from within the Zoom interface, and self-manage their numbers from their selected partner
In this blog, we’ll outline the pros and cons of each option, to help you make the right choice for your business.
1. Phone plans
Zoom’s native calling plans are charged on a per-user-per month basis. The same features are included across plans and the only difference is how you’re charged. In this case, Zoom Phone acts as the PSTN carrier and connects directly to the public phone network.
With this option, Zoom assigns each user a number for inbound calls along with a bundle of minutes for external calls. There are three primary versions of this plan:
- Metered - £96/$120/year/user + outbound calls at the metered rate – this is a ‘pay as you go’ model where you are charged for bundles of minutes
- Unlimited – £144/$180/year/user - no restrictions on your number of calls within a select number of regions
- Pro Global select - £192/$240/year/user – same as the unlimited plan, but access to a wider variety of countries for international calling
Zoom currently offers coverage to users in 40 + countries.
- Easy to use. Gets you up and running on Zoom Phone quickly
- Zoom acts as your carrier, so there’s no need to source third party providers or external PSTN carriers
- Ideal if your business’s calling needs are straightforward, and all users are in regions where Zoom offers services
- Calling plans aren’t available to users outside the 42 + countries on offer, so any business with users outside those regions or multi-nationals with a global presence wouldn’t be covered in those countries
- Whilst calling plans can be convenient, they may also work out to be more expensive than other options. The ‘per user per month’ model is not particularly cost effective, especially for multi-nationals with a variety of sites
- With limited technical support options, businesses using calling plans would largely rely on internal IT resource for telephony troubleshooting and maintenance
2. Bring Your Own Carrier
With the BYOC feature, businesses can keep their current voice service provider by redirecting existing voice circuits to the Zoom Phone Cloud. This process utilizes on-premises Session Border Controllers (SBCs) to connect to Zoom Phone’s cloud PBX over the public internet. Businesses can work with their SIP trunk provider of choice or use an existing SBC to plug into Zoom’s network.
Pricing with BYOC differs depending on the provider you work with, but likely will be more cost-effective than calling plans. It also offers the opportunity to shop around and compare pricing from a variety of providers. With this option, businesses can preserve any calling rates and previously negotiated contracts with existing carriers.
- Users enjoy all the benefits and features of Zoom Phone whilst keeping their existing service provider contracts, phone numbers and calling rates through their carrier of choice
- BYOC can support any PSTN/SIP carrier, making this a good option for multi-nationals with multiple sites, especially in regions where Zoom’s calling plans aren’t available
- Involves the use of on-premises hardware and equipment to enable a connection to the SIP carrier, which adds cost and management overheads. With the rapid adoption of fully cloud-based solutions, and hosted-SBCs, this option is suitable mostly in niche scenarios
3. Phone Provider Exchange
Phone Provider Exchange is a new option to add PSTN Calling to Zoom and is essentially the cloud-hosted version of BYOC. It allows companies to provision voice services directly from third party carries, directly through the Zoom tenant, without the need to install any on site hardware. Those carriers have been carefully vetted by Zoom and have direct links between their own networks and Zoom’s data centers through trusted cloud-peering.
Users can discover and select providers through the Marketplace App, which will allow you to connect the provider to your Zoom tenant.
In terms of costs, although the provisioning of your voice and phone services will be available through Zoom, you will be signing an agreement directly with your chosen provider. You will need to establish and agree terms with them, including your call rates, any monthly rental costs, technical support fees, and whether you will be billed based on your usage or on a bundled per-user-per-month basis.
In most cases, Phone Provider Exchange should be substantially more cost efficient than Calling Plans, because you can shop around between providers offering a variety of pricing models.
At Pure IP, for example, we offer the same transparent pricing on Zoom's Phone Provider Exchange that we offer all our customers, using a pay-for-what-you-use model that can be up to 60% more cost effective than call plan bundles.
- Find and select providers directly through the Zoom interface
- No need for on-site hardware or equipment, making it a unified, cloud-based telephony solution
- Ideal of multi-nationals with telephony requirements in a variety of countries
- Likely the most cost-effective option, depending on the provider chosen
- Choosing a telephony provider comes with its challenges. Not all providers have regulatory approval and licensing globally. They also may differ on pricing, technical expertise, and services offered. Read more for our tips on how to choose a telephony provider.
Pure IP offers full PSTN replacement services in 43 countries and service coverage in a total of 137 countries. We were one of the first partners to be approved for the PPE program and have been involved since the early stages of its development.
Get in touch with us for an informal chat on how we can help you find the best option for Zoom Phone that suits your requirements and budget.