3CX is an industry leading phone system used by hundreds of companies across Canada. Many companies find themselves looking for alternatives because of technical and learning costs of the almost quarterly required updates, the significant feature changes that come with them and the higher than average license and maintenance costs required. Are there alternatives?
We recommend the Yeastar S-Series phone system as a very good alternative to the 3CX phone system. It provides all the major functionality of 3CX and often better support for specialty markets like Hotels - all at a fraction of the price of 3CX phone system.
Enterprise Failover and Redundancy
3CX and Yeastar both provide enterprise grade redundancy and failover so that if the primary system fails, calls and performance. The Yeastar solutions is maintained on dedicated hardware which is simpler and more reliable to transition and is an important feature of any disaster planning. The Yeastar solution also is less than half the cost of an equivilent 3CX solution.
Initial Setup Costs
Telecom solutions always share a monthly costs to participate in the public worldwide telephone network. These costs are equivilent for both 3CX and Yeastar solutions. Initial costs as well as maintenance costs are multiples higher with 3CX Phone System. A 32 concurrent call Pro license with 3CX is 5292 CAD and then additional commercial grade hardware that is conservatively budgeted at $1500 CAD. That creates a total hardware / software cost for 3CX of $7792 CAD. A comparable Yeastar S100 system that supports 30 concurrent calls is $1348 CAD including both software and hardware. The S100 solution can be upgraded to 60 call capacity for an additional $405 CAD.
Long Term Costs
3CX bears a licensing model that requires annual maintenance for their perpetual license that according to the website is 27.5% of the original license costs and is required every year. There is also a subscription model available where a slightly higher annual cost is required but no upfront cost. The posted annual maintenance cost for a 32 concurrent call license is $1,455 CAD and is required every year. There is no annual cost associated with the Yeastar S100 with 30 concurrent call capacity and in fact the upfront cost of $1348 is less than the annual 3CX cost.
Both 3CX and Yeastar provide support through their reseller network and both have good training and certification programs to ensure that resellers are competent and able to properly support the phone systems. Both companies also have offices located in the USA and provide support from there. 3CX is located in Florida and Yeastar is in Texas. The support for 3CX is for resellers only with a limited paid option for end users. The Yeastar support is available to resellers as well as end users as both email and phone support. In both cases its recommended to choose your local reseller carefully and use them as your primary support provider.
Smart phone client and Windows Softphone
Both 3CX and Yeastar have client applications that can be installed on iPhone and Android to make calls. Both also have a Windows desktop client to be used in offices, call centers and by the laptop wielding road-warrior. 3CX has a multi-year lead over Yeastar for their softphone and it shows however on the common everyday functionality, stability and call quality, both companies provide an equivilent offering for their phones.
3CX provides a web conferencing solution as part of their offering. It is hosted by 3CX in their cloud and not on the companies premise equipment. For those concerned with cross-border privacy, the 3CX services are not located in Canada and so violate data protection policies of many Canadian companies. Yeastar does not current have a similar offering and recommends a dedicated solution either from Google or Microsoft for basic 1 to 1 functionality or full commercial solutions from companies like Yealink.
Many users find the 3CX web conferencing to be clumbsy and unreliable. Over the course of months and years of using it, users find that only 20% of conferences worked 100% and often 10 -20 minutes of clicking around was required to test computers and web browsers before it started to work. In these cases its normal for users to move their meetings to Zoom conferencing or Skype where they find consistently reliable meetings on the same computers and equipment.
Video phones work equally well for both Yeastar and 3CX and are supported by both of the systems however limitations by the Public telephone network restrict video call functionality to inter-company calling.
Both 3CX and Yeastar provide excellent provisioning solutions for endpoints and allow phones to be deployed quickly and reliably with little cost. Yeastar does provide support for over twice as many different phones and manufacturers than the 3CX solution. Also Yeastar does allow for some templating and modification of provided templates where as no modification of templates is allowed within the 3CX solution.
Both 3CX and Yeastar provide support tools within their offering to help resolve technical issues related to VoIP. We've found that the Yeastar tools are more developed and have broader coverage than the 3CX phone system. This is probably due to the legacy of 3CX deployed on Windows and the common 3rd party support tools available for Windows. With their shift to debian linux, these 3rd party tools are not readily available and so abscent. With the Yeastar product, their built in and provide a good toolset for diagnosing issues on the system.
Gateways for T1, Landlines, Cellular
SIP phone lines are not appropriate for all customers and to connect traditional phone lines to an IPPBX, gateways are required. 3CX has strong relationships with Patton and other gateway vendors though Patton is most available in the Canadian market. Yeastar, as a hardware manufacturer provides gateways for their PBX and include the full range of gateways for land line, T1 /E1 / J1 as well as cellular and BRI. Third party gateways can also be integrated. The Yeastar gateways tend to be less expensive, easier to configure and more stable as they're an integrated solution. In terms of pricing, the Patton 2 port FXO gateway which allows phone lines from Shaw, Telus, or Bell to be integrated into a VoIP PBX is $419 CAD on Amazon.ca. An equivilent Yeastar gateway card is $148 CAD MSRP.
Integration and Programability
3CX has always had a bonus of Windows software development which includes the easy to use Windows programming tools and large pool of Windows software development. The 3CX SDK and APIs are rich and give access to a significant amount of the functionality of the PBX. This allows for easy integration and lower long term maintenance costs of custom integration. Yeastar is a proprietary solution but does allow access to the OS to make custom changes and supports the Asterisk integration APIs. Asterisk has been the basis of a great deal of PBXs in the last 15 years and there are many 3rd party tools that conform to the API standard and can be used. Additional custom integration can be added but require telecom software developers who are more familiar with the Asterisk API.
Backup, Restore and Disaster Recovery
Both 3CX and Yeastar provide methods of automating backups on a scheduled basis for disaster recovery.
3CX and Yeastar are both good phone systems and provide a common set of functionality for standard offices and business use. The Windows verson of 3CX tends to have a higher comfort level with IT teams as they can use the same IT tools to manage the PBX as they do with other servers and workstations. Yeastar has an easy to use, and complete solution thats largely set-it-and-forget-it and integrates well into network and server infrastructure. From the cost perspective, Yeastar is a clear winner. It doesn't have the annual costs associated with 3CX and its upfront cost is about a quarter of the 3CX cost.