A seat can be loosely defined as a user on your phone system, or generally anywhere you want a device to be able to make and receive phone calls. For instance, a small mechanic’s shop might require 4 seats: Front desk, Billing, Management Office, Shop. A dentist’s office might require twice that: Front desk, billing, x-ray, 3 call center extensions (for appointments and follow up), 1 each for two doctors, etc. We can assist you with determining the number of seats you will need during the initial consultation. With Phoenix VoIP, each seat has its own assigned extension.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of VoIP to explain is the concept of a line and how that definition has changed from what we traditionally think of as a “phone line”. In the old days, on a plain old telephone system (POTS), a line was assigned a specific phone number from the phone company, referred to a specific wire run into the building and connected to a phone at a specific location on the property; essentially, mirroring (with slight improvements) the technology of two tin cans tied together with string. The number of simultaneous calls – inbound and outbound – was directly constrained by the number of lines you had into your office on a one-to-one basis: one line = one call.
Digital technologies improved on the POTS system by essentially moving most of the switching and routing responsibilities – the switchboard – away from the carrier (phone company) and onto the internal phone system in your office. Calls were routed via extensions on the digital switchboard to specific devices within the property. Additional digital technologies such as “rollover lines” allowed businesses to reduce the number of wires they used from the old POTS system but did nothing to remove the hard cap on the number of simultaneous incoming and or outgoing calls that could be made.
Which brings us to the concept of a line in VoIP technologies. Unlike POTS and digital systems, a phone number on a VoIP system has no direct relation to a wire from the phone company, a specific phone or location. There is no limit due to hardware of the number of simultaneous calls in or out, and multiple devices can utilize the same “line” at the same time.
Let’s return to our mechanic’s shop above. They have four seats, but only 1 line – not exactly the most efficient set up, but workable. With Phoenix VoIP’s cloud-based voice over IP system, the front desk can be on a call to schedule a service appointment at the same time the shop is on a call with the parts store and the billing department is calling a customer to tell them their card has been charged and they can pick up their car – all on the same line. No crosstalk, no waiting for somebody else to hang up so the next person in line can get on with their job. No next person in line for the phone.
Extensions on our VoIP system come in essentially two formats: as a seat – user – described above and as functions of the phone system. Functions such as call answering rules, certain voice mail structures, call queues and many other PBX functions get programmed into the system as extensions. Generally speaking, user extensions you are billed for and function extensions are included. There are exceptions. Check with your Phoenix VoIP representative if you have questions.