Learn about the different types of PBX phone systems and how each of them operate.
If you’ve just begun researching phone solutions for your business, you may have come across the acronym PBX, which stands for Private Branch Exchange. Wondering what it means? We’re here to help.
PBX is simply a term meaning business-grade phone system. Business phone systems offer key voice features that companies need to run daily operations. Such features include: extension dialing, business hour settings to route calls off hours, customer waiting queues, music on hold, and call conferencing. Residential telephone lines and cell phone services do not offer these features, which, in short, connect people at work.
PBXes come in a wide variety, although most today are digital and leverage the Internet to send voice and video communications. Below is a quick run-down of the types of PBXs available today. We will start by explaining the oldest PBXó analog PBX. We do not recommend this for any modern day business; however, you may find the explanation helpful if you currently have an analog PBX.
Traditional Analog PBX Phone System
These systems have been around for a long time and connect to the Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN) over Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) lines. The PBX manages calls between phones and fax machines by being physically connected to them over copper wiring. Incoming calls are routed through the PBX and out to the phones, and calls can be transferred between phones via the PBX. The PBX itself typically lives in an office’s telecom closet.
Hybrid IP-TDM PBX Phone Sysstem
The Hybrid (IP-TDM) platform supports up to 128 analog trunks Source
The key to an analog PBX is that it connects to POTS lines that pre-date the Internet. These systems are not capable of many modern-day phone system features, such as voicemail-to-email, and they cannot deliver high definition voice calls.
On Premise IP PBX or VoIP PBX
With the gradual replacement of copper lines with broadband Internet, Internet Protocol (IP) PBXs are the most common systems used in enterprises. Although it is still possible to purchase analog systems, it is certainly not desirable as they are not expandable or upgradeable. They require adapters in order to work with VoIP or other digital hardware.
An IP PBX delivers voice calls over the Internet, otherwise known as VoIP. A premise-based IP PBX is a VoIP-based phone system that is housed within the office, also typically in a telecom closet. (It looks like a server with a bunch of wires.) Instead of physically connecting to the PBX with copper wiring, phones connect to the PBX over an office’s Local Area Network (LAN), often leveraging the same Internet connectivity that your office computers do.
Because they leverage the Internet, IP PBXs are capable of high definition audio and many other sophisticated PBX features, such as call queuing, flexible business hour rules, and application integration, interchanging with other unified communications and CRM platforms.