PBX 101: A Complete Guide PBX Phone System Technology
While the PBX system may sound like a stock exchange symbol it is actually an acronym for a complex phone system called a Private Branch eXchange. A PBX system is an intricate privately owned and operated phone system that connects multiple lines and extensions with the outside world. Phone companies previously ran these systems but as individual companies have grown into large entities they began purchasing their own switchboards and exchanges. As technology advanced, so did switchboards and the human-driven systems became completely automated. Enter PBX. As this article aims to serve as a PBX system 101 for its readers, we will discuss what a PBX system is, its main functions, its features, benefits, and much more.
What is a PBX Phone System?
A PBX system is a complex network hardware and software solution that routes external calls to internal extensions. PBX systems run on switches and other hardware in combination with feature-rich call-routing software. While most business organizations today employ the use of software for telecommunication purposes, not long back almost all of them utilized the traditional PBX system for it.
The traditional PBX systems were basically mini telephone exchanges residing within the offices. It was an analog system that linked everyone at the office using a physical handset for making and receiving calls on the office’s internal telephone network. However, the modern PBX solutions are nothing like those of the past. With some incredible revamping, we now have telecommunication systems leveraging the internet. Such PBX system makes use of a technology called Voice over Internet Protocol or simply VoIP and are available as Virtual PBX system or Cloud PBX systems.
Some modern yet basic VoIP PBX systems still make use of hardware components that are generally owned by the business and maintained off-site; a concept known as the Hosted PBX systems. However, for VoIP systems, hardware is a (flexible and less pricey) choice and not a necessity, unlike the traditional PBX systems. VoIP-powered PBX systems offers advanced data analytics and mobile calling from a device of your choice.
Functions of a PBX system
The main functions of a PBX system are to:
● Create and maintain internal voice communications.
● Connect incoming calls from a single phone number with corresponding lines and extensions.
● Route outgoing calls.
● Provide stats and metering.
● Allow for a menu of call options.
● Record and provide access to voice mail messages.
● Provide an array of calling features.
Features of a PBX System
The features of a PBX system can include: auto attendants, call-blocking, call accounting, call parking, call transfers, call waiting, direct inward dialing, do not disturb functionality, customized greetings, call-blocking, automatic ring back, interactive voice prompts and responses, night services, hold music, voice mail message broadcasting, welcome messages, and more.
Types of PBX Systems
There are four broad types of PBX systems that you should know of while choosing one for your business. Each is known for its specific set of strengths and limitations. However, a general thing to note is that any phone system utilizing PBX technology is comparatively less flexible and less scalable in comparison to VoIP or UCaaS systems. The 4 types of PBX systems are:
● Traditional PBX system
● IP PBX system
● Virtual PBX system
● Hosted PBX system
Traditional PBX system
This type of PBX is the most basic, physical telephonic service. It enables incoming and outgoing calls and calls between the workforce members. Despite its basic functionality, the installation costs and upkeep of the traditional PBX are not that simple. Businesses need to pay high upfront costs for the hardware and equipment, and its installation and wiring which is done by telephone experts. To house all the equipment, a specialized room is required, meaning scalability is by no means easy and flexible with a traditional PBX, probably why they aren’t on the top of the PBX popularity list.
IP- PBX system (VoIP PBX)
While many companies are still using existing hardware-based PBX technology, the most modern form of a PBX is an IP-based PBX. An IP-PBX, or Internet-Protocol Private Branch Exchange, offers the same features as that of its hardware-based counterpart but it does so via the Internet (a concept called Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP). This new ability to route calls via the Internet instead of traditional phone lines is becoming increasingly popular as it requires less hardware implementation costs, needs little to no maintenance and can be a scalable and hosted solution.
Most companies have plans to migrate to an IP-PBX as they are solutions that can grow (or shrink) with your company. They have higher ROI in the long term and very little initial expense. The cost of using a VoIP solution is also significantly cheaper than renting individual lines from phone companies.
Virtual PBX system
Unlike other types of PBX (IP PBX or hosted PBX), a virtual PBX system is just a component of the hosted system that works as a call routing and automated answering service and not a complete phone system on its own. Virtual PBX was designed for handling a high influx of incoming calls, such as those at contact centers. However, a virtual PBX system is not a very useful or cost-friendly option as adding the most basic functionalities results in additional costs too. There are far better options available for startups and small businesses.
Hosted PBX system
The hosted PBX is a complete phone system that makes use of the internet. It shares some similarities with the IP PBX system but with improvements and added features, such as call forwarding and conference calls. The equipment for hosted PBX system is hosted off-site and it uses IP technology to make and receive calls.
Benefits of a PBX System
The benefits to a company of using a privately hosted phone system as an alternative to using a phone company go beyond simple cost savings. A PBX system can also provide essential business intelligence features that can include remote user access, remote running of the software, a plethora of feature-based options, and important control and monitoring tools to determine exactly how your phone system is being used (or misused).