A PBX (Private Branch Exchange) is the hardware and software that powers business phone systems. PBX systems route calls within one or more offices by connecting a company’s central numbers to various extensions.
Most PBX models offer additional features, such as:
- conference calling
- call waiting notifications
- call recording
- hold features such as music on hold (plays music while callers are on hold), and incoming queue (places incoming calls on a wait list to be answered)
PBX features can be system wide or per channel, depending on an organization’s needs.
How does a PBX telephone system work?
A PBX system helps manage the large number of calls organizations receive on any given day by directing telephony traffic, allowing for multiple physical phones to share the same outgoing phone lines (aka “trunks”). The system gives each phone, fax machine, or similar device an assigned extension within an internal network.
When a person in an office picks up a phone to dial out, the PBX connects their phone to the public phone network via one of the office’s lines. When an outside caller wants to reach a specific desk in the office, the PBX routes them based on the extension they choose.
Alternate PBX Types
Beyond basic PBXs, there are four other types on the market, each offering different functionality and benefits: IP PBXs, hosted (or Cloud) PBXs, soft PBXs, and mobile PBXs.
IP (Internet Protocol) PBX
An IP PBX allows audio to be digitized and passed as data over the internet (Voice over IP) rather than as a telephone signal. IP-enabled telephony is attractive (and becoming ever more common) for businesses because it offers substantial cost & feature advantages over conventional service without changing the user experience.
Hosted (Cloud) PBX
A hosted PBX, also referred to as Cloud PBX or hosted voice, is an offsite PBX owned and maintained by a third-party company, but connected to an office’s phone system to via the Cloud to provide the same functions as an owned, on-site PBX.
Hosted PBX systems appeal to companies who don’t want to deal with buying and maintaining their own systems in-house. This sort of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) changes the cost from a very large upfront hardware/software cost with maintenance to a single, consistent monthly service fee.
Solid hosted PBX providers offer implementation and ongoing support, and disaster recovery plans such as multiple carrier-class data centers in different regions, in case there’s ever an issue with an organization’s internet connection.
Soft (Virtual) PBX
A soft PBX is a software that runs on a computer server using VoIP technology to emulate the functions of standard PBX hardware. Thanks to virtualization technology, a soft PBX can share hardware with other server software, reducing costs.
The risk of bundling multiple virtual servers on the same server hardware is that if the hardware fails, it disables all the virtual servers until it can be repaired.
Mobile PBXs are a kind of hosted PBX with the ability to connect completely to mobile phones (beyond simply forwarding calls to them) offering the same expansive functionality available to system-connected desk phones (often through apps). This enables a more mobile, flexible workforce whose “offices” can be anywhere.
If you want to add mobile features to an on-premises or non-mobile PBX, there is an alternative method: 3rd party upgrades.
Enhance Your PBX with Unified Communications
With a little help from XMedius CX-E Unified Communications, your phone system can do much more for your business beyond simply transferring calls.
The CX-E solution is available either on-premises or in the Cloud and works with almost any telephony hardware. It can actually bridge multiple vendors’ hardware into a single system, making it an excellent way to modernize/reconcile disparate offices.
If you don’t want to add additional physical hardware to your system, CX-E can be virtualized on shared hardware running other programs.
Use CX-E to add features like:
- top of the line voice mail
- unified messaging
- interactive voice response (IVR) programs – allow customers to make payments, access records, and more without involving staff.
- automated attendants
- mobility & presence – freeing workers from their desks and increasing calls connected instead of sent to voicemail.
- personal assistant software
- informal call center functionality
- recorded outgoing notifications – great for schools, doctor’s offices, and government.
Are you looking for a way to maximize your current phone system without any further complications? Speak with an expert today about how CX-E can work for your specific needs.