If you’ve been searching for the best business phone system for your company, chances are you’ve been inundated with a lot of information. Today, you have more telecom choices than ever before. One of your options is a PBX phone system. So, what is PBX phone system, and is it the right choice for you?
What is PBX?
PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange. Think of it as an internal telephone network of a business or other entity. PBX phone system users can communicate with one another over the phone via internal lines, and make and receive external calls as well. A PBX phone system usually delivers business telephony features such as call forwarding, call transfer, call queue, auto-attendant, voicemail, etc.
PBX systems operate by using either VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) or via analog or digital phone lines. With a PBX phone system, the physical phone line coming into your business can be split into multiple lines, allowing you to support more telephones. Better yet, calls between users are free.
Types of PBX Phone System
If you believe a private branch exchange phone system is your best choice, you still have some decisions to make. Check out each type of PBX telephone service that is available for your company.
Analog PBX Phone System
This is the traditional, intra-office telephone system, and has been around for decades. It is connected via Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) lines to the PSTN (public switched telephone network). Phone calls, even fax transmissions are handled by the PBX using physical phone lines. The analog PBX phone system allows calls to be made and transferred within the location. They also handle the incoming and outgoing calls using outside lines.
Keep in mind that analog systems came before the Internet, and use traditional copper phone lines. This means they cannot use many of the modern-day features you might see in more advanced telephone systems such as multimedia services, converting voicemail to email, or remote working capabilities. Also, if your business grows, you may need to add new jacks and telephone wires to support additional employees. On the plus side, because traditional PBX systems are self-contained, connectivity is not impacted if the Internet were to go down.
VoIP PBX System
VoIP or IP PBX represents a newer version of private branch exchange. It has the same functions as a traditional PBX, but also provides many additional features. In addition to that, it may be a more cost-effective option. Rather than using traditional phone lines, IP PBX uses the Internet protocol. Voice is converted into data that is transmitted over the Internet, then it is converted back to voice for the receiver.
With an IP PBX, maintenance and growth are quite simple. You’ll also have access to unified communications features such as BOYD (Bring Your Own Device) mobility, video conferencing, and messaging, that analog PBX systems are incapable of. Besides, IP PBX also works outside of a single location.
On-Premises & Cloud PBX Systems
Cloud PBX is also known as hosted PBX or virtual PBX. It is a subtype of an IP phone system. It is running using an internet connection to a VoIP service provider. No on-site equipment is needed other than the physical phones and an internet connection. That’s because all of that is taken care of by the service provider. All incoming and outgoing calls are routed through the service provider who either transmits the voice to data packets, or hands the call off to a PSTN (public switched telephone network).
To use hosted PBX phone systems, you simply need a broadband connection to the Internet. This option supports multiple telephony devices, including office conference phones and smartphones. It also offers a variety of advanced features.
This is slightly different than hosted PBX telephone systems. It still uses voice-over IP technology to manage the business telephone system. However, the servers to manage outgoing and incoming calls are maintained on-site. Here, the available features are basically the same. It uses internet connectivity, can support mobile devices, and offers perks such as voicemail to email.
The challenge to on-premises PBX is that there is an initial upfront cost of installation and maintenance. Companies that choose this type of PBX phone system will need to have an IT staff that is capable of maintaining it.
However, that cost will go down over time. It protects you from fee raises which results in reduced monthly costs after expenses are covered. On-premises IP PBX also allows users to retain their relationship with an existing phone service provider, and to configure their system internally.
Benefits of a PBX System
Many of the benefits of PBX phone systems depend on the type that you choose. For example, an analog PBX may be affordable and work fine for you if your business growth is relatively static. You can also count on your legacy phone system to stay up and running when other internet-based phone systems are down.
Benefits of Hosted PBX Phone Systems
If you are looking for phone systems for a growing business, check out hosted PBX:
- Plug-and-play set up.
- Supporting on-site and mobile workers.
- Collaboration features such as conferencing, screen sharing, and instant messaging.
- No hardware equipment and professional IT staff required.
- Easiest unified communications system to install and maintain.
- Features that empower customer support teams.
- Integration with CRM, Microsoft Teams, and other 3rd party systems.
- A great option for small businesses without funds to invest in telephony infrastructure.
Benefits of On-site PBX
There are some perks to owning an on-site system PBX. These include:
- Low operational costs.
- Additional control through owning the equipment.
- Maintaining your relationship with your telephone company.
- No monthly or annual licenses or subscription fees.
- More ability to determine the level of security.
Choosing A PBX System for Your Business
Clearly, PBX services are an excellent choice for many business owners. However, the choice to go with PBX for your company is only the first. Now, you must decide which type of PBX solutions are best, based on your needs. Here are something to consider.
The best PBX phone system for your business may depend largely on your current infrastructure. Consider these questions:
- Do you have an in-house IT staff?
- Are they well-versed in telephony concepts such as SIP trunking?
- What solution are you using for telecom right now?
- Which legacy systems do you have to integrate with your new telephony solution?
- Do you work from a single office or many?
Your Size and Projected Growth
Are you an SME or larger? Growing or shrinking? Will you be adopting any sort of technology solutions that will impact the number of lines you need, the type of service you need, or if you will need features like call routing, video conferencing, or mobile worker support?
There will be some costs with implementing any service. However, depending on your choices, something may be virtually free. For example, a hosted or on-premises VoIP PBX will allow you to add and remove lines easily at no cost. If you stick with an analog configuration, that means physically installation costs as well as paying for the new lines.
How does your business work? Most of your workforce might be in the office most of the time, or you may have plenty of field staff that needs connectivity in the outside world. Do you consider your workforce to be tech-forward, or more traditional?
Reach out to a VoIP PBX provider with the answers to all of these questions in mind. They will be able to help you choose an option that best suits your need.