PBX is referred to as Private Branch Exchange system which is a private telephone network system used within an organization or enterprise. This term is commonly used to describe a business telephony system which offers various features such as multiple inbound lines, multiple outbound lines, voice mail, call routing and call management. Most of the medium and small sized organizations and businesses use PBX phone system as it is less expensive compared to connecting external telephone line to each and every desk of the organization. In addition to that, calling someone within a PBX system is easier as most numbers are coded to 3 or 4 digits.
PBX is a hardware system which handles switching and routing of calls between a telephone network and a business location. As the name itself implies, ‘Private’ refers to the fact that these lines are separate from PSTN (public switched telephone network) although the PBX can be connected to PSTN. ‘Branch’ describes the way by which a PBX connects to a PSTN and ‘Exchange’ refers to the connections which are exchanged via switching system and allowing more number of calls for routing. Basically PBX is a special system designed to connect telephone extension of an organization to outside public telephone as well as mobile network.
There are generally two types of PBX phone system. One is the traditional PBX system which uses analog or digital signals and the other is the IP-PBX which uses Internet Protocol for communicating. IP-PBX has gained immense popularity throughout and is used in most of the organizations as a business communication tool.
An IP-PBX is a PBX which switches calls between the VoIP users on local lines and allows all its users to share a certain number of external phone lines. This system provides audio, video as well as instant messaging through TCP/IP for its internal network and also interconnects the internal network with the PSTN for communicating. Typical IP-PBX system can switch between two traditional telephone users as was done in a conventional PBX system. While in case of conventional PBX, separate networks are required for voice and data communications, in IP-PBX phone system, a single line is capable for voice as well as data communication.
An IP-PBX phone system consists of one or more VoIP/IP-phones, IP-PBX server, and sometimes includes a VoIP Gateway. The IP-PBX server is same as proxy server and clients can be either hardware based phones or soft phones registered with that particular IP-PBX server. Whenever the user wishes to make call, the IP-PBX server is asked to establish the connection.
Business benefits of IP- PBX phone system
Easy to install and configure: IP-PBX runs as software and leverages the processing power of the PC. As a result, any individual who is proficient in computer and networking can install as well as maintain the IP-PBX system
Easily manageable: IP-PBX system can be managed easily through a GUI or web based configuration which is user friendly. This allows the user to make any changes or additions in the system at ease.
Low operational cost: Using IP-PBX system, one can use a ITSP service provider and make international or long distance phone calls at a very low cost. Even branch offices can be interconnected in this phone system and can make free phone calls.
Mobility option: As these phones are based on IP, they can be moved from one place to another. Again if an employee needs to work from home, he can start the SIP software phone and can answer calls to their extensions same as it would be in the office. Calls can also be diverted at any location because of SIP protocol characteristics.
Better customer service: IP-PBX phone system can be integrated with business applications such as bringing up the customer records of the caller automatically while receiving the call. This can dramatically improve the customer service.
Overall it can be said that investing on IP-PBX system makes financial as well as good business sense and delivers a significant savings in terms of management, call cost, maintenance as well as other benefits.
Michelle Patterson is an avid technology blogger and writes extensively about IP/VoIP and Unified Communication. She works with some leading companies to understand the trends of these modern communication technologies.