Switch Telecom: Is an Onsite FreePBX really Free?

Is an Onsite FreePBX really Free?

When changing to a VoIP communication solution, companies often consider an onsite PBX. The FreePBX is one of the most popular onsite PBX solutions available.

For some companies, the FreePBX seems to tick all the boxes. But are there downfalls? Despite all the bells and whistles, what challenges exist for such implementations?

Most companies will adopt the use of the FreePBX because of its open-source license, which is free to obtain and use. There is much appeal as the FreePBX appears to offer full control over their telephony system. It also minimises cost as they do not have to rely on third-party proprietary PBX providers for support when implementing simple changes. The FreePBX is scalable, it allows the seamless addition of more users with no need to buy expensive software or hardware.

FreePBX: the Pros and Cons

Switch Telecom offers a VoIP SIP Trunk which is often used with the FreePBX solution. We work with a lot of companies that have chosen to go the onsite route; some are happy but others regret their decision for the following reasons:

The default installation of the FreePBX is insecure out-of-the-box, and it requires careful work to secure each of the dependencies (OS, DB, etc.) let alone the product itself. It permits the creation of endpoint and trunk configurations without authentication. Not only does it permit that, but it doesn’t even throw an alert or warning if, by accident, one creates such a configuration. This might not seem like a big deal; but if not set up correctly and carefully, the system can leave you vulnerable to fraud. And fraud can be a very costly exercise, often running into thousands of rands if not caught in time.

Usually ignored when considering the FreePBX, is the ongoing maintenance support. This support usually involves making sure that the FreePBX is up to date, all the security vulnerabilities are patched, and so forth. In most cases, as companies do not have dedicated FreePBX support, several of these important concerns become relegated and forgotten. For instance, in the last quarter of 2019, there was a sudden spike in FreePBX hacking worldwide, a lot of companies fell victim to international toll bypass fraud. What actually happened? There was a particular vulnerability that allowed the perpetrator to access a FreePBX remotely. Read more on our blog highlighting the importance of a layered approach to security. The monetary loss from this FreePBX vulnerability was extremely high for all the affected companies worldwide.

Good On-site PBX Skills are Rare and Costly

Another downfall to the FreePBX is you’ll need in-house skills to manage the system. We have helped numerous clients that have been left in the dark when their system administrator leaves. It is also very difficult nowadays to find employees with VoIP experience; let alone good FreePBX knowledge.

When considering the change to VoIP, companies should seriously consider the downfalls an onsite PBX brings with it. Companies should perhaps consider a cloud-based solution instead. Switch Telecom offers a Hosted Switchboard Solution that alleviates these downfalls and in particular those of the FreePBX.

Onsite vs. a Cloud-based VoIP Solution

Our Hosted Switchboard offers lower set-up costs compared to the FreePBX. And maintenance costs are eliminated. Your IT staff will have more time available to do other tasks and don’t have to spend time researching systems they might not have knowledge of. The PBX is cloud-based which also minimises your CAPEX outlay. For the FreePBX, particularly for some ongoing support issues, you will require technical expertise which will contribute to the overall cost. If you are using the Hosted Switchboard all support is free. Most importantly, the system offers a secure GUI interface. You can still do changes without having to have a degree in Computer Science. There are no security risks when you do these changes. And you can easily roll back a change.

FreePBX and the Lockdown

While business was in full swing at the beginning of 2020, suddenly the lockdown threw a spanner in the works. Overnight, businesses had to learn to work remotely. The FreePBX which catered for companies on a private network now needed to cater for users working remotely. Although possible; a lack of technical expertise or in some cases security requirements hampered business continuity. Some were left without telephony services and could not communicate. Others relied on non-sanctioned forms of communication like mobile phones or free conferencing applications.

The Switch Telecom Hosted Solution in this case allowed users to seamlessly operate from their homes. Most users simply took their phones home or made use of softphones. The Hosted Switchboard ensured that business continuity occurred seamlessly. Lockdowns have created a Home-Work hybrid environment where users are working from home on certain days and work from the office on others. Our solution allows up to three devices per extension. This means a user can have a phone at home and at the office and the two will work seamlessly together on one extension.  Best of all, our solution offers a free web-based softphone.

Are you struggling to implement changes on your FreePBX or are you are having sleepless nights worrying about the security of the system? Then perhaps it’s time to consider a cloud-based solution; like the Switch Telecom Hosted Switchboard.

Contact us now for more information.