How Does a PBX System Connect With The Outside World?

PBX systems are at the heart of any successful business. Communication is the most important aspect of building client relationships and conducting day-to-day business. Without an efficiently operating phone system, a business could lose revenue as well as client confidence.

Phone systems are designed to handle call volume that exceeds what one would normally see in a home. Since multiple calls are coming in at the same time, a phone system is essential to route these calls to the appropriate party where the customer doesn’t hear a busy signal. This is done through the use of circuits or multiple phone lines that are connected to the phone system. Based on call volume, these “phone lines” can either be an ISDN line, or could be a series of single lines. The choice of circuit is largely dependent on the expected call volume and budget of the business owner.

In cases of smaller businesses, using multiple single lines might make more sense. However, some may be surprised to find that the cost of one ISDN circuit might be less expensive than continually adding phone lines to keep up with demand. This is where projected growth should be considered when ordering circuits or phone lines. This is particularly true in cases where rapid growth is expected.

Referred to as a circuit, an ISDN is a type of “phone line” that has 24 channels with one channel being reserved for data such as caller ID. The remaining 23 channels can carry one call each simultaneously. This solution would work better than 23 individual phone lines to accommodate incoming and outgoing phone calls. These circuits can be set up in a PBX system to allow incoming or outgoing calls or a combination of both. Additionally, depending on the phone company used, they can be specified for either local or long distance. In most cases, they will be set up for least cost routing. You might be able to send both local and long distance calls over the same circuit, but it might not be cost-effective to do so.

ISDN T1’s, or circuits, are appropriate for larger businesses with a high expected call volume. These circuits are commonly seen in call center environments which have additional technology to route calls to agents. For companies having extremely high call volume, a DS3 is often used which is comprised of 28 T1’s or individual circuits. This allows for an even greater amount of call volume and might be a more cost-effective solution than ordering 28 individual T1’s. The cost of a DS3 will depend on the distance from the business location to the end of the carrier network. This is why it’s a good idea to shop around when considering purchasing a DS3 for communications. This way you can choose a carrier that has the shortest distance to minimize cost.

Another solution that is fast growing in popularity because of its versatility as well as cost savings is VoIP. Unlike the communications described above, VoIP technology transmits the conversation using IP technology in much the same way that a computer transmits data. Since both voice and data can reside on the same circuit, the need for the number of circuits can be minimized. Since VoIP converts the conversation to data packets, it’s important that the voice data not conflict with the normal transmission of data as seen when transferring files or sending email. This is because voice data must be received in the order in which it is sent. If the end of the conversation gets to the destination before the beginning, the conversation won’t be understandable. In the case of data transmission, if there’s a bottleneck, the network will simply begin sending the data again once the bottleneck clears.

Since conversations are real time, this won’t work for voice traffic. This is why it’s imperative to have the proper configuration in place to insure that the voice conversation always has priority. The number of calls that could run concurrently would largely depend on the size of the network, the data circuits and how much other data would be transmitted over the same circuit. Additionally, the network configuration plays a large role in the quality of the audio during a phone call. VoIP is appropriate for large and small businesses because of its scalability. Depending on the needs of the business, bandwidth can be moved up or down and allows the business to leverage the data network to route phone calls.

There are many solutions when it comes to connecting a PBX system to the outside world. Varying in cost and capacity, each solution has its benefits and drawbacks depending on customer need. Also a deciding factor is the PBX itself. Knowing what the PBX is compatible with as well as the expected call volume will go a long way in making the appropriate telecom choices to meet business needs.

Will Virtual PBX Systems Replace Traditional Phone Systems?

Can a web-based “virtual PBX” phone system truly replace the old traditional “landline” phone system? That is an important question many businesses, both big and small, are asking themselves. Moreover, the answer to that question can have many ramifications for the future, especially as our communications and the world in general goes completely wireless and mobile.

First, let’s compare and contrast the two different phone systems to see how each can fit your business. An online virtual PBX (Private Branch Exchange) simply means all your phone calls/communications are handled via the web and your smartphones. Although many virtual PBX systems do have their own VOIP phones which you can order – companies can save money by simply using their current smartphones. A web based PBX system is hosted on a third party provider, and your office system can be up and running within a few minutes.

In contrast, a traditional office phone system uses “landlines” or “wired” phones which can take weeks or longer to set up depending on the size of your company. These phone systems are often viewed as “location specific” or strictly confined to the office or company setting/workplace. Maintenance and operating expenses may run higher than those of a virtual system.

Also keep in mind, the primary difference between the two phone systems comes down to mobility. A virtual system, because of its very nature and makeup, is completely mobile and portable. Your office or business can be run from anywhere on the planet and all your workers can be constantly connected, regardless of where they may be located. Obviously, such a system offers much more flexibility than a traditional “landline” office based phone system.

Perhaps, one of the major over-riding concerns when comparing the two methods, has to do with security. Just how secure is an online phone system? Will my company’s information remain private? What about someone hacking these web-based systems? While security is definitely an issue, one has to remember most of our communications are already wireless and/or connected to the web. Most of today’s business is carried out on the web and special security measures, such as encryption, have made things much more secure and less vulnerable to attacks.

Another major different between the two systems concerns costs and operating expenses. Going the mobile virtual route can be much cheaper, especially for smaller companies where funds/resources may be more limited. Using a wireless mobile system can be much cheaper, especially if one’s current smartphones can be used to run your office’s communications. Plus, these online programs are “feature-rich” can include everything from call-forwarding, voicemail, Internet fax… to a virtual secretary to handle your front office. These virtual systems can be custom designed to meet your company’s needs, a system that can be easily scaled up or down depending on the business climate.

In addition, when comparing the two systems, you have to take into consideration the whole “computer” angle. Unless you are still operating in the stone age, you will have realized by now that computers have virtually taken over the whole world – including how business is done. These days, running a business without using computers would be laughable and foolhardy. In the same light, using a web-based, computer-based phone system instantly integrates all your communications/operations into this computer world – making all your company’s data, records, communications… easily accessible to all your workers.

Given all these benefits and advantages, one really has to wonder, can virtual PBX systems replace the traditional ones?

Yes and no! Just as we have seen the situation with email replacing “traditional” mail in much of our communications – the old mail system still remains, but is used much less. A similar scenario could easily play out regarding the use of phones in the business world – with mobile wireless devices replacing the more traditional landline systems. While it takes a big stretch of the imagination to believe wireless or even VOIP phones will replace traditional landlines any time soon, when was the last time you used or even seen a payphone?

PBX Vs VoIP: Making Sense of Today’s Business Phone Systems

For the past few years, VoIP has quickly become a part of people’s vocabulary. It has been touted as a convenient and cost-effective way to stay in touch with your business network and is used to optimize internal call flow. Before VoIP, however, analog PBX systems were the go-to business phone systems of choice.

PBX relates more to the traditional analog phone system that relied on the presence of large equipment and complex cabling. It also wasn’t as cost effective since expenses would accumulate due to maintenance and long distance fees, and expansion was time consuming. PBX is still being utilized for business communications today, but users are quickly realizing the downsides to this technology in comparison to VoIP.

Reliability

Some will say that a PBX system is more reliable than a VoIP system because of VoIP’s dependability on an internet connection. That may have been true a few years ago but just as technology has quickly evolved in the last few years, VoIP has also evolved to bypass these emergency situations with simple call forwarding features.

VoIP indeed uses your internet connection to operate but implementing a fail over strategy that involves back up endpoints allows you to continue receiving calls to a mobile device with or without internet or electricity so your customers can reach you whenever they need to regardless of your connectivity status.

Cost

If you’re running a business you’ll want to take any chance to save on expenses, so investing on business phone systems that can reduce your monthly phone bill should be a no brainer. With traditional analog PBX business phone systems, the initial cost can be significant when you factor in equipment and installation costs, as well as the maintenance and long distance fees which can become significant over time.

Implementing a VoIP business phone system is known to alleviate the strain of monthly bills because there is virtually no cost in setting the system up. If your office already has IP business phones, all you need to do is have the provider implement their system, which usually won’t take more than a few minutes once all the documentation and ports have been completed, and you’ll be ready to make calls in no time.

Even if you don’t have the proper phone hardware, you can find business phones for sale at great prices that meet most budgets. Other than hardware and service, there are no maintenance fees or pricey long distance fees.

Expansion

Like most business owners, you probably intend to expand your business. Even if you don’t have any immediate plans to expand your business locations, internal expansion is on every business owner’s mind. With a traditional PBX, expansion meant having to install more cables, purchase the hardware, and additional maintenance costs.

With VoIP business phone systems, adding extensions is easy and affordable. With some providers, all it takes is getting in touch with a preferred agent and notifying them of the changes you want to make to your system. Some hardware may be necessary if you’re adding a physical phone but it still won’t add up to the spend levels of a traditional PBX.

Improvements to the PBX Phone System Over Time

Before the technology we know today, businesses hired receptionists and secretaries to physically connect communication lines to their desired destinations using switchboards. By the 1990s, VoIP started to become more popular with its ability to exchange voice data on other devices such as PCs. Fast forward to today’s communication methods and we’re surrounded by endless ways to stay in touch with each other right at our fingertips. In an effort to modernize business communications, the traditional analog PBX phone system is becoming more cloud based, evolving into what is known as IP PBX and Hosted PBX. Now, there is no need for excess equipment since this communication technology is making its way to the cloud.

If you’re not quite sure yet that VoIP is the best option for you and you want to continue using your traditional PBX phone system, it is possible to use VoIP with your traditional PBX phone system. This hybrid option can reduce your costs just as well and make the transition to a more modern communication system smoother.

Ready to Upgrade to a VoIP Phone System?

If you’re looking for a modernized VoIP phone system, be aware that VoIP and IP PBX have become similar technologies and getting the most out of these communication methods depends on the quality of the provider. With the rapid development of multi-channel communication tools and devices, it’s easy to get lost in the novelty and endless list of features but always remember your specific VoIP phone system needs and the value that your new communication strategy can bring to your business for longevity and growth.