PBX (Private Branch Exchange)

As your business expands from a startup to a prospering enterprise, it will become necessary to provide phone connectivity for your employees. This will likely require you to research Private Branch Exchange (PBX) systems.

What is Private Branch Exchange (PBX)

"Your call is important to us. We are currently experiencing higher volumes of calls than usual. Please hold on, and someone will be right with you.”

If you've ever contacted a company, pressed a number, and received a message like this, you've used a PBX system.

A PBX, also known as a Private Branch Exchange, is an internal telecommunication system that facilitates communication among users. It is responsible for phone functions like incoming and outgoing calls, call forwarding, voicemail, and more.

PBXs comprise several hardware elements that facilitate voice access to the public telephone network. They manage a company's internal telephone network and facilitate communication with external parties by handling incoming and outgoing calls, as well as providing complex call routing and features.

And as a company grows, it's important to keep communication lines open and work as smoothly as possible. Companies created the PBX system to manage external and internal calls easier, faster, and more cost-effectively.

How to set up a PBX?

Plain Old Telephone Service, or POTS, is the traditional method of making phone calls. According to the twisted pair of wires that go from the phone company to the house, POTS is simple, works well, and hasn't changed much in 140 years. 

Phone companies use the Publicly Switched Telephone Network (PTSN) on the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) protocol to make calls with each other. A Verizon customer can call an AT&T user through the PSTN. You can also make patch calls within the same neighborhood.

It can cost a lot to give a business phone service. For just 100 lines, a typical monthly business phone bill can easily be in the thousands. 

There must be a better way. 

With a PBX, a company can run its phone system and use fewer phone lines from the phone company. 

The best PBX systems can manage voicemail, auto-attendants, and recorded notes. This also includes phone numbers for everyone in the business.

Computer Networks: Analogy to PBX

You may have heard that the internet was running out of IP numbers a long time ago. To get around this problem, someone in an office would use a router to give each device a private address.

Then, when those gadgets talk to the outside world, they all use the same IP address. With home and business routers, you don't have to worry about running out of IP addresses, and they also make things safer.

For a Private Branch Exchange, the same steps should be taken. People who work for the company use the same outbound line when they call outside the company. When workers talk to each other, they can use any phone extension, but when they talk to outsiders, they only share a set of business phone numbers.

Modern Alternative

PBX has changed the way companies handle phone calls, making them much better than they were before. Because PBXs were private, it was difficult to keep up.

These days, PBX systems have changed a lot.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology lets people call each other without using the phone company in their area. Instead of using traditional lines, SIP trunking is a much cheaper way to connect people.

The PBX's purpose

One of the primary functions of a PBX is to serve as a business phone system.

This feature lets people in a smaller area, like an office or business, handle their calls. A private branch exchange (PBX) can handle voicemail, auto-attendants, and recorded notes, giving the business a complete phone system.

The PSTN, on the other hand, is a public phone network that allows calls to flow between service providers and routes calls on a large scale. The design does not specifically consider business phone systems like PBX.

By giving each line a different business phone number, PBX systems allow IT managers to keep their old devices running with an all-digital backbone. A cloud PBX, on the other hand, gives you the best of both worlds by letting you set up a fully controlled phone system.

We now know what a Private Branch Exchange is for, so let's look at what a modern PBX can do for business messaging.

Advantages of PBX Systems for Businesses

Companies requesting to set up their phone system are not common. For them to switch to cloud-based phone service, something must be in place.

Every business, no matter how big or small, can benefit from a private branch exchange. Companies utilize PBXs for the following reasons:

Call Handling - Manage and finish calls on a plan that has already been set. Like, a medical office could send calls made after hours to an answering service. To keep costs down, operators can decide whether to limit or allow foreign calling.

Transfer of a Phone Call - It's easy to move calls between users and offices without losing the call. This is very helpful for sales and customer service teams.

Personalized Greetings - Record personalized messages and hold music to make your business look professional and let customers know about sales or problems.

Contact Centers - Call centers can handle both incoming and outgoing calls and assign them to workers with the help of PBX systems. A cloud PBX can grow to handle a lot of calls.

Connectivity Across Several Locations - Link several places to the same phone system so that workers can talk to each other without any problems.

Analytics and Reports - A lot of current PBX systems give you detailed reports on things like agent performance, call activity, and more. This information helps companies improve how they talk to each other.

Streamlined Communication - A PBX can connect to other ways of talking, like chat, email, and videoconferencing, to make the user experience smooth.

Save Money - When compared to regular phone lines, VoIP-based PBX systems can save you a lot of money. Businesses don't need a separate voice infrastructure; they just need an internet link.

These days, businesses want to set up their PBX as a cloud phone system that has managed PBX features for many users and places. This method gives you the most options at a price you can afford.

Different Kinds of PBX Phone Systems

1. Hosted PBX

You can connect and direct both internal and external lines in one system with a hosted PBX, which is also known as a cloud PBX, virtual PBX, or IP PBX. It is often part of a unified communications platform.

If you have a shared PBX system, you can control employees' phones from any web browser.

Instead of residing on a physical server, the system hosts itself in the cloud. This means that computers, cell phones, and IP phones can all connect to the internet and use it from anywhere in the world.

Most new IP PBX systems have extra features that traditional systems don't have. From an online interface, you can change PBX settings for things like call forwarding, auto attendants, interactive voice response (IVR), holding music, call recording, voicemail transcription, call routing, and more.

A VoIP PBX can connect to your company's CRM software, forward incoming calls to cell phones, handle big conference calls, and work with other ways of communicating, like SMS or videoconferencing.

A cloud-based PBX is even better because it costs less than an on-premise system. It gets new features all the time, and you won't have to spend time setting up and managing the network.

Most hosted PBX companies charge a monthly fee per user that covers support, minutes, and features. Some also offer plans with limits that charge you based on how much you use. In both cases, costs are more stable than with a standard PBX.

2. On-premises PBX systems

A business uses an on-premises PBX as a phone system to manage both incoming and outgoing calls. Generations have relied on this traditional method, which essentially functions as an automatic exchange.

A server must be on-site for on-premise PBX systems to function, and each business phone requires manual wiring. This implies an initial cost of approximately $1,000 per line, in addition to periodic upkeep and consulting fees. Costs can build up quickly, especially for bigger businesses.

In the past, on-premise PBX systems were the only choice. They have a lot of limitations and are too expensive for most companies.

Landlines, which are the foundation of PBX systems, are becoming less useful every year. An old PBX system doesn't have many of the advanced features that a new business phone system does.

Hackers are also more likely to target them.

The FCC says that some phone scams target employees who are using old PBX systems to make expensive overseas calls. The safety of on-premises tools depends on their storage location.

As a business owner, you should ask yourself, "Does our PBX give us the most value every year?" and "Are we spending too much time and money on it?" When it comes to assets that lose value over time, on-premise PBX systems are expensive to manage, expand, and set up.

3. Hybrid PBX

A mixed PBX changes an on-premise PBX system so that it can work with Voice over IP.

It provides a call service for your company's PBX system using SIP trunking technology. You can use this call service with multiple channels without changing any other PBX features.

You can add more lines as your business grows, without having to do the wiring that an on-premise system needs.

For businesses that can't afford a full change, setting up a hybrid PBX with a top-rated SIP trunk provider is a good choice. With the same hardware, it gives your PBX new ways to grow and lowers the cost of contact.

Even with these benefits, the functionality of an on-premise PBX still limits mixed systems.

They cost money to set up, have server rooms, and keep up with IT maintenance. A hybrid system is a good way to switch from an old system to VoIP technology, but most businesses wouldn't benefit from adding a new one.

Choosing the Suitable PBX System for Your Business

Think about these things when you're choosing a PBX system:

Existing Configuration - A combination system might be a good way to make the switch if you already have an on-premise PBX. If you are just starting out, an online PBX is likely the best option.

Financial Plan - Hosted PBX systems have lower upfront costs and regular fees that are easy to plan for. On-premise solutions cost a lot to set up at first. Think about both the short-term and long-term costs.

Business Scale - Adding lines to a hosted PBX system is an easy way to make it bigger as your business grows. It's harder to add on to traditional PBX systems. Pick a system that can handle the growth you expect.

Resources for IT - The provider handles assistance and maintenance for a hosted PBX. On-premise systems require IT professionals to work for the company. Take into account time and hiring costs.

Important Features - With cloud PBX systems, you can get advanced features like mobile apps and CRM interaction. Legacy systems can't do as many things as newer systems can. Think about what benefits your team needs to have.

Consistent Quality - For uptime, a PBX system should have built-in backups. Most of the time, cloud systems are better at recovering from disasters than on-premise systems. Take a look at the service level agreement (SLA) of a company.

Peace of Mind - Hosted PBX providers follow strict safety rules, such as HIPAA and PCI DSS. When it comes to security, on-premise tools are only as safe as your internal rules. Don't forget about this important factor.

Customer Care - Pick a PBX company with customer service that's available 24/7 to fix any problems quickly. Before committing, try out the help channels.

The Future Plans - Think about where your business is going, as well as what you need right now. As technology changes, it will be easy to make changes to a cloud-based PBX system that is flexible.