Finding a good, reliable phone system for your business is no longer a challenge with PBX systems.
There are many options available to serve an organization’s telecommunication system. The size and interests of your business, along with your employees’ business phone needs are the final factor for the right decision making. But today, we’ll be talking about a one-size-fits-all solution, PBX. And most importantly, about its newer format, Cloud PBX.
What is PBX?
PBX, the acronym for private branch exchange, is a private telephone network for businesses that allows communication within and outside the company. Business telephone systems are completely different from residential or mobile services as they must offer a larger list of services. These include, but are not limited to:
- Conference calling
- Extension dialing
- Business-hour settings for routing off-hours calls
- Customer waiting queues and hold music
- Call pick-up, waiting, transfer, blocking and forwarding
- Custom greetings
- Voice mails
A PBX switchboard is a device used for this system. In addition to processing and maintaining the connections among all phones, it also provides call data for analytic and control purposes.
In brief: History and evolution of the PBX
PBX systems date back to before the 1990s. After that, smaller, consumer-grade versions became accessible for smaller businesses. These could not be compared to commercial-grade PBXs, but they still provided many of the features of their “big” counterparts.
PBX systems can be classified into different types, depending on their functionality. The most commonly used types are PCBX, analog, digital and hosted. Each of them provides different features and benefits, with hosted PBX being the most popular type in recent years thanks to its nearly unlimited flexibility.
- Analog PBX is rarely seen today as they are no longer expandable or upgradeable. This type required a live operator to make the connections. Voice and fax connections were physically made through copper wiring.
- PABX or Private Automatic Branch Exchange is only different from its original version because it became automated, no longer needing the operator.
- Digital or IP PBX systems were launched in 1997 and took business telecom to the next level. Calls routing and switching as well as message management was sent over the internet, physically connecting phones via local area network (LAN). This was a more budget-friendly alternative that lowered equipment costs.
- Virtual PBX is the most recent version used. It offers significant cost reductions, advanced features and could also use a VoIP gateway to connect to traditional PSTN lines.
Cloud PBX systems
Also known as hosted or virtual PBX, cloud PBX is an IP-based business phone system provided by and accessed completely via the internet. This new version kept all features, applications and services from its predecessor while bringing significantly enhanced user interface and call quality.
Using a cloud-based software instead of servers allows additional cost benefits, thus increasing its popularity among small businesses. The telephone company or service provider usually leverage from the existing telephone exchange or provider’s data center equipment. This way, the client does not need to place an investment to buy or install new equipment.
Some configurations allow using the same switching equipment for multiple hosted PBX customers.
Features of a Cloud PBX system
Any imaginable business telephone system feature (including those previously named) is possible when using a PBX system in your organization. Just to name a few, cloud PBX offers:
- Voice menu (IVR)
- Conditional and unconditional call forwarding
- Auto-response text setup
- Call recording
- External phone line connection
- Call statistics
- API interface for integration with other services
- Automated fax receiving
- Scheduled answering machine
- Auto-attendant based on caller
Benefits of a hosted PBX system
Since the introduction of cloud PBX, updates and new offerings have made it possible to customize PBX services with minimal functionality or advanced features. Some of the greatest features available for hosted PBX users include:
- Use only one phone number for a company with different geographic locations.
- Multimodal access. This implies accessibility from any system (POTS, ISDN, mobile phones or VoIP) and the possibility to ring one extension in multiple locations.
- Scalable system, adaptable to a growing or decreasing number of workers. You can immediately add new users as needed.
- Easy setup and maintenance that requires no service time window or downtime. Automatic maintenance and software updates.
- On-site hardware maintenance is not necessary.
- Phone system, applications, features and phone service are all billed together.
- Advanced recovery in the event of natural disasters or network failure.
- Flexibility. Employees can make and receive calls from anywhere at any time, easing remote working.
- Budget-friendly telecom alternative for businesses. Few to no equipment required.
Cons of a hosted PBX system
- Businesses just starting may face increased necessary expenses to purchase IP phones, which commonly need an Ethernet port and a large router.
- You must have a strong, stable, fast internet connection to support a fluid, hassle-free communication experience.
- Make sure to hire a high-quality provider and have physical and network security. Hosted, internet-based PBX services may be more susceptible to security breaches than a server-based system.