For decades, PBX was the best option for businesses who needed to have a lot of different phone lines in the same location. While it’s still a system that’s in use today, it’s not necessarily the best choice anymore. With options like business VoIP, times are changing and so are the best practices for business phone systems.
How PBX Systems Work
PBX is short for private branch exchange. This is a system used with traditional phone lines inside of a large business. The PBX box connects multiple company phones together to route them through 1 central outgoing line. With a PBX, a business can have many different phone lines and numbers without having to connect more outside lines to the building.
Because everything is routed through a central location, only a single phone line needs to be connected to each PBX from the outside. Internally, you can have as many lines as the PBX box allows. Some allow 8 lines, others up to 32 or more. Whether you add or remove lines, you won’t have to do anything with the external phone line connection and can limit yourself to dealing with internal infrastructure alone.
A PBX also acts as a connection point between internal phone lines. You can use each separate phone as an intercom to connect with another phone on the PBX system. If you’re using a traditional phone plan, this is a great way to save money on internal communications.
How VoIP Is Different
With VoIP, you have a completely different equipment setup. Instead of using traditional phone lines to communicate, you’re using phones connected to the internet. VoIP phones send and receive data through internet connections, whether over wi-fi or through an ethernet cable connection. You don’t need any analog phone service to use a VoIP phone.
Because it’s all routed through your internet connection, you can get away with using a lot less equipment overall. VoIP software could be installed on work computers, or you could download VoIP phone apps for your work cell phones. There are also VoIP compatible office phones that will allow you to use all the various services outside of a mobile device or laptop.
Traditional phone lines are restricted to voice calling only, while VoIP to VoIP calls can have video and unlimited conferencing as well. Although you can’t use video between VoIP and traditional calls, you can still call back and forth with voice calling, even though a VoIP phone isn’t connected to the regular phone network.
Advantages of VoIP Over PBX
While PBX systems are a great solution for managing multiple phone lines in the same building, they’re slightly outdated and cumbersome. Business VoIP systems have a few distinct benefits over PBX. Here are a few of the most important differences:
- More Service Provider Options
While analog phone service is limited by the providers local to your area, VoIP is not limited by location at all. You can work with any provider that offers the best plan. This increases the competition between companies and leaves you with a lot of options with great plans and prices instead of a few companies with high potential for duopolies or monopolies.
Choose the plan that makes the most sense for your business. If your provider makes sudden changes or doesn’t provide the level of service you want, you can just switch providers. Take your pick from a large pool of VoIP companies offering plans for businesses of all sizes. Get the features and benefits you want without having to pay extra for things you don’t need.
- Cheaper International Plans
VoIP always beats traditional phone service when it comes to international calling. Even if you’re calling an analog phone outside the country, VoIP is always the cheaper option. Because of the penetration of the internet around the world and the ease of connecting across the globe instantaneously, VoIP calls aren’t noticeable different than analog calls, but they’re still cheaper.
If you make a VoIP to VoIP call internationally, you won’t have to worry about calling rates at all. When you make calls to another VoIP line, you’re using a simple internet connection on both sides, eliminating the analog phone lines completely. Since those are the source of the largest costs for international calls, VoIP skirts around those costs and can keep a flat rate for calls locally or internationally between other VoIP numbers. Often, it’s completely free.
- Flexibility & Instantaneous Changes
Using a VoIP business provider, you can upgrade or downgrade your service package instantly. If something changes and you need more services than before, such as extra phone lines or additional calling features, all you have to do is contact your provider and increase your plan. You may even be able to do this online within just a few minutes.
This makes business VoIP ideal for small and large businesses, both of which can benefit from added flexibility. Changes to analog phone service can be slow and may require extra infrastructure, delaying the change even longer.
- Simpler Connections & Infrastructure
Speaking of infrastructure, VoIP takes less equipment and infrastructure than analog phone systems. All you need for most business VoIP systems is a powerful router and the right software on a compatible device. You don’t strictly need desk phones, cords, or routing boxes. Some of these infrastructure pieces can improve or change your phone experience, but they’re not a necessity for most systems.
VoIP for businesses is not perfect. There are still some downfalls to it, such as not being able to use the phone when the power or internet are down or having some connection issues if you have low data or internet signal. However, these downfalls don’t overshadow the benefits that VoIP offers over PBX.
If you’re already using a PBX system, it may be difficult to change over to VoIP. The cost could be worth it in the long run, but the change will be slower. However, if you are deciding on what kind of business phone system to get, a VoIP might be a better choice for you than PBX.