Several years ago I incubated a new telephone company right here in Central Florida. I had a 5-year plan to build it, perfect it, and then sell it. – All of which I did in those 5 years. The name of the company that many of you long-time customers may recall was Refresh Telecom.
Want to know what the absolute most difficult part of creating a new phone company is? It’s the same thing many new businesses struggle with – GOVERNMENT.
You see, with a telephone company you have to not only deal with local and state governments for business licenses and registrations, but you also have to deal with the likes of the Federal Communications Commission, collect and remit to the city, county, state, and federal government all of those different types of telecom taxes that you see if you look closely at your telephone bill. This was a factor in my decision to build and sell a phone company because the force of the government limited my competition. When government gets in the way it becomes more difficult and many people just don’t want to deal with that.
By the way, I sold my telephone company several years ago to a company called Smart City – Disney’s telephone company. I had multiple offers and chose Smart City because, though it was not the highest offer, it was an offer I could live with that also protected and benefited all of my telecom employees who would now be employees of Smart City.
So what about being your own phone company? How does that work? Well, keep reading because I’m going to give a quick tutorial on what to do and how it can save tons of money every month. But one of the important things to know is the fact that you don’t have to register anything with any government entity when you do this for yourself or your own business because the tools and companies I am going to tell you about will be doing all of that for you.
The type of phone system I am referring to is known as a VOIP system, or Voice Over IP.
There are 5 basic elements to your Voice Over IP telephone system. I am going to list them and then dive a bit deeper. It’s important to know that even if you never heard what I am about to show you, you can still be your own phone company.
So here are the 5 basic elements of being your own phone company:
1) The internet. A good internet service is essential. You can use just about any Internet service provider EXCEPT those supplying DSL service – an Internet service invented by telephone companies using their old copper telephone cables. It just doesn’t work well with Voice Over IP.
2) A server. It can be a cloud-based server (recommended) or a computer you have at your physical location.
3) Voice Over IP Software. The ONLY one to consider is a system called FreePBX. More about that later.
4) Voice Over IP Telephones and/or softphones that work on your computer and/or cell phone.
5) Telephone numbers. I’ll tell you how to get those in a minute and to also “port” over any existing numbers from your current provider into your own telephone system.
So where do you get started?
Go to a website called Upwork.com. There you will find hundreds, if not thousands, of freelance experts who, for a reasonable fee, will set up your FreePBX system using the information I’ll be providing next – and they’ll even give you some training. You can even use them for tech support, should it be needed. This could cost you anywhere from $50 to $300, depending upon who you select and what you have them doing for you.
Rent a cloud-based server from Vultr.com. I recommend this server site because you can install the free FreePBX software right there on that site. This is, by far, the most expensive part of your phone system at about only $30 to $40 per month. But it’s safe and secure – something important to have when doing your own phone service.
Go to a website called Flowroute.com and buy a test phone number. Each phone number you buy here will cost you a whopping 50 cents per month. The usage of that phone number may cost you another $1 or $2 per month, depending on how many incoming and outgoing calls you make and receive. Once you’ve successfully configured your phone system with the test phone number then you can port your existing phone numbers away from your current provider – right here on the Flowroute.com website.
Buy VOIP phones and/or use your smartphones, computers, or laptops to make and receive phone calls.
Using the Upwork.com expert, they can have your whole phone system up and running in no time. Your monthly total cost will depend upon how many telephone numbers you have and what add-on features you may want to buy. All-in-all for a small business with 4 telephones and 4 telephone numbers, you will be paying less than $50 per month. As you expand and add more phones, telephone numbers, and locations – your cost barely moves up. In other words, you can have 50 phones and 2o phone numbers and you will probably be paying $60-$70 per month. Compare THAT to your phone service provider!
The total cost to set up your phone system is going to be about $200-$300. But look at the money you will save in the long run, and also the fact you have complete control over how your phone rings, when and where they ring, what to do with voicemail messages, what music-on-hold you would like or advertising-on-hold is something that will cost you nothing more.
For more information and a detailed step-by-step approach to being your own phone company, watch the FreePBX 101 Series on YouTube provided by a company named Cross-Talk Solutions. Here is a link on YouTube for the first segment – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l30WKTYf9ZY&t=4s
Watch all of Cross-Talk Solutions’ short videos in this FreePBX 101 series to gain a lot of knowledge on how to set up and run your own phone system using the tools described in this article! Happy savings!