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What is PBX?

A PBX (private branch exchange) phone system is a private network of phones used within a company. Users on this type of system share several outside lines for external calls, as well as internal connections for calls within the company. External lines are connected to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). New technology now enables PBX phone systems to transmit over the internet, known as IP PBX.

There are now four different options for PBX phone systems:

  • PBX
  • Virtual or hosted PBX
  • IP PBX
  • Virtual or hosted IP PBX

Internet Protocol PBX is a PBX phone system that uses specialized software to help accomplish tasks that used to be performed by a switchboard operator, such as directing calls. Implementing traditional business phone systems is complicated and expensive, but with today’s technology, a PBX phone system is affordable for all types of businesses.

Before you decide if a PBX phone system is right for you, you may want to learn more about how the system works and what it can do for you.

Features of a PBX Phone System

SIP Forking

Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), is a server that will search for correspondents available to take a call, or within a certain department, by searching several locations. Servers that route calls to several destinations simultaneously are forking proxies.

This means that if someone calls your business, several phones in different locations will ring at the same time, according to specifications you set. You can set it up so that your mobile phone rings when a call comes into your desk phone, so no more mad dash to your desk to answer the phone.

The Auto Attendant

The auto attendant is the first voice callers hear. These can be customized to suit your needs. You can set up a name directory, allowing callers to select the person or department they would like to speak to by entering a name or extension number.

When no one is available to take the call, the auto attendant directs the call the the appropriate voice mailbox.

Using FAX in a VoIP Environment

Many PBX service providers don’t offer a fax option, so keep that in mind when searching for a PBX system for your business.

A facsimile (FAX) was designed for analog networks, therefore it does not travel very well over a VoIP network. This is because a FAX transmission uses the signal differently than a regular voice communication. When VoIP technology digitizes and compresses the analog voice communication, it’s optimized for voice transmissions, not for a FAX. Thereby, you have to take care of a few things when you move to a VoIP system.

In order to continue using an old fax machine with your VoIP phone system, you will need VoIP Gateway and an ATA capable of supporting T38. A T38 is a specially designed protocol which allows fax transmissions to ‘travel’ over the VoIP network.

Another way to send fax transmissions is to use a computer based fax with a VoIP system that has fax capabilities. This capability is built into PBX software systems by some service providers, but as we said earlier, not all companies offer this option.

Benefits of Using IP PBX

Benefits include:

  • The system is easier to install and configure than a regular business phone system. The software uses the advanced processing power of your computer and the interface takes advantage of the features of your operating system. Anyone familiar with networking and computers is able to install and maintain the system. Other systems must be installed by a trained (sometimes licensed) professional installer.
  • Managing the system is easier because of the web based interface – only trained technicians know how to properly configure a proprietary phone system.
  • There is no need for specialized wiring
  • Users are allowed to hot plug phones from anywhere in the office, which means they can plug their phone into any ethernet port without changing phone numbers
  • Easy roaming – the SIP protocol allows calls to be diverted to any place in the world
  • Significantly less expensive – eliminates the high cost of long distance calls.
  • Scalable to meet changing needs – because everything is handled by the computer, adding new extensions is just a few mouse clicks away. The proprietary system requires new phone lines to be installed and all sorts of additional hardware.
  • Better overview and reporting of calls and system status

Investing in a PBX software-based phone system makes a lot of sense because it is easier to use and will save you thousands of dollars per month. How much you can save will depend largely on how many long distance calls your company makes.

The management and maintenance savings are also substantial because you don’t need a specialized phone technician to come in repair the system if something goes wrong. All you have to do is contact your service provider and the customer support professionals can fix the problem quickly and easily – right over the phone or internet. A PBX phone system is the best choice for any company.

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