What Is A PBX?
Also known as an IP PBX, Unified Communications System or business phone system, a PBX acts as the central switching system for phone calls within a business. PBX systems handle internal traffic between stations and act as the gatekeeper to the outside world. The initials PBX stand for Private Branch Exchange, a very old fashioned term for a system that has evolved significantly over the past century.
A traditional PBX is made up of two key elements: lines and stations. The lines, sometimes called trunks, are connections to the global public switched telephony network (PSTN) by way of a telephone company. Stations are simply telephones or other endpoint devices like fax machines, modems and credit card terminals.
The original mission of the PBX was to provide shared access to limited resources. Rather than having a separate phone line for each phone, a business could share a small pool of lines across a much larger pool of stations. When a call came it was answered by an operator who then connected it with the appropriate person or department. When someone inside needed to make a call, the operator connected them with an available line. Frequently these early systems were simply called “switchboards”.
Over time, operators were replaced by electromechanical and later electronic systems for managing access to lines. Additional features were added to automatically route incoming calls, to allow active calls to be transferred between stations and to permit or deny calls based on various rules. Adjunct systems were added for voice messaging, call queuing and other value added services.
Today, a business phone system is much more than just a simple switch. Adjunct technologies like automated attendant, voice messaging, call queuing and multi-party conferencing have become standard features. Basic analog and proprietary digital phones are giving way to standards-based IP phones. Outside connectivity is now available over the Internet in the form of SIP trunks or other VoIP services. Unified Communications is a catch-all term that describes the process of merging all of these technologies and integrating them with business processes. Unified Communications aims to increase efficiency while simplifying management.
Key PBX Features
If you’re looking for a PBX, here are some of the features you should be sure are included:
- VoIP Ready: The world is moving away from legacy PSTN lines and towards VoIP. Make sure your PBX can support IP stations (phones) and IP trunks (service). SIP is the current de facto standard, so don’t buy a phone system that doesn’t support it.
- Voice Messaging: Once upon a time, voicemail was an optional add-on. Today, it’s table stakes. Look for PBXs that can forward voicemail messages to your email as attachments. If possible.
- Mobility: Most businesses have at least some road warriors who spend much of their time out of the office. Make sure your PBX supports mobility features like Find Me / Follow Me, remote IP extensions and fixed / mobile convergence.
- Conferencing: One of the best ways to cut down on travel costs is teleconferencing. Make sure your phone system has native support for true multi-party conferences (not just basic three-way calling).
- Reporting: If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Make sure that the PBX you pick includes basic call history reporting features.
Integrating an IP PBX integrates into the network
An IP PBX or IP Telephone System consists of one or more SIP phones, an IP PBX server and optionally a VoIP Gateway to connect to existing PSTN lines. SIP clients, being either soft phones or desk phones, register with the IP PBX server, and when they wish to make a call they ask the IP PBX to establish the connection. The IP PBX has a directory of all phones/users and their corresponding SIP address and thus is able to connect an internal call or route an external call via either a VoIP gateway or a VoIP service provider.
Significant cost savings using Easyweb as your VOIP provider:
With our IP PBX you can easily use it for long distance and international calls. The savings are significant. If you have branch offices, you can easily connect phone systems between branches and make phone calls for free.
Eliminate phone wiring:
An IP Telephone system allows you to connect hardware IP phones directly to a standard computer network port. Software phones can be installed directly on the PC. You can now eliminate the phone wiring and make adding or moving of extensions much easier. In new offices you can completely eliminate the need for wiring extra ports to be used by the office phone system!
Eliminate vendor lock in.
IP PBXs are based on the open SIP standard. You can mix and match any SIP hardware or software phone with any SIP-based IP PBX, PSTN Gateway or VOIP provider. In contrast, a proprietary phone system often requires proprietary phones to use advanced features, and proprietary extension modules to add features.
Proprietary systems are easy to outgrow. Adding more phone lines or extensions often requires expensive hardware modules. In some cases you need an entirely new phone system. Not so with an IP PBX. A standard computer can easily handle a large number of phone lines and extensions – just add more phones to your network to expand!
Twice the phone system features for half the price!
Since an IP PBX is software-based, it is easier for developers to add and improve feature sets. Most VoIP phone systems come with a rich feature set, including auto attendant, voice mail, ring groups, advanced reporting and more. These options are often very expensive in proprietary systems.
Allow hot desking & roaming!
Hot desking, the process of being able to easily move offices/desks based on the task at hand, has become very popular. Unfortunately traditional PBXs require extensions to be re-patched to the new location. With an IP PBX the user simply takes his phone to his new desk – No patching required!
Users can roam too – if an employee has to work from home, he/she can simply fire up their SIP software phone and are able to answer calls to their extension, just as they would in the office. Calls can be diverted anywhere in the world because of the SIP protocol characteristics!
Investing in our IP PBX makes a lot of sense, not only for new companies buying a phone system, but also for companies who might want to upgrade or change. Our IP PBX delivers such significant savings in management, maintenance, and call costs, that upgrading to our IP PBX, should be the obvious choice for any company.
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