We've come a long way since switchboards and Ma Bell. Telecommunication and the technology that runs it are moving at a breakneck pace as they keep up with (or even stimulate) the dizzying demands of businesses and consumers alike.
With landlines in the residential market all but extinct, phone systems with a cord that goes into the wall are still king in the business world. The big difference now as opposed to decades ago is where that cord goes. “What we are seeing is a replacement of what’s at the other end of that cord,” says Alex Desberg, sales and marketing director of Ohio.net, an internet-based telecommunications company in Doylestown, Ohio.
Unlike the old office phone systems where all the cords lead to a PBX (Private Branch Exchange) in a small utility closet, Desberg and the team at Ohio.net bring that service into the cloud using VoIP (Voiceover Internet Protocol) — a state-of-the-art telecom model that offers unprecedented flexibility, versatility and cost-effectiveness for businesses of all sizes.
Those advantages have enabled Ohio.net to repurpose phones donated by businesses and provide nonprofit organizations with much-needed systems.
When we spoke with Desberg for our August 2016 issue, Ohio.net had just upgraded the phone system for Esperanza Inc., whose 20 employees were using an outdated phone system that was not working properly. Since then, with the help of companies donating their VoIP phones instead of throwing them out, Ohio.net’s nonprofit program has grown.
Qualifying nonprofit recipients for Ohio.net’s program must be 501(c)(3) organizations, based in Cleveland or Akron and truly in need. “I’m looking for organizations that are very giving, helping the community and really need help themselves,” says Desberg.
College Now Greater Cleveland, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing higher education attainment, was once one of those organizations truly in need, receiving a vital switch for its VoIP phone system several years ago. Since then, College Now has grown successfully and become one of Ohio.net’s best customers. Just recently, College Now gave back in a big way, donating 60 phones to the nonprofit program.
Computers Assisting People (CAP), a nonprofit where volunteers have been working to bridge the digital divide since the 1990s, is a recent recipient of the program. Dan Hanson, CAP director and volunteer, makes the importance of Ohio.net’s help very clear.
“We pinch every penny to work toward fulfilling our mission,” Hanson says. “A generous donation like the phones from Alex Desberg and Ohio.net lets us use our very limited resources to directly impact the community instead of spending on telephones. We greatly appreciate it.”
Ohio.net’s phone repurpose program has made an immeasurable difference for organizations dedicated to doing good, and Desberg wants to take it to the next level. He has 60 refurbished VoIP phones ready to be placed with nonprofits in need. “I’m looking for larger organizations in need and getting them rolling on the program, too.”