Introduction to PBX
Instead of communicating over costly and individual phone lines, most organisations have an internal system that allows them to make and receive calls on a central system that supports a number of extensions. This system is known as a Private Branch Exchange (PBX).
But how does PBX work? It’s time to lift the fog with this introduction to PBX systems.
What is PBX?
A PBX system can bring plenty of benefits to your organisation.
In a nutshell, PBX allows external lines to be shared amongst a number of people. The principle is, of course, that not all the phone lines will be in use at the same time. Not only will it save the number of lines you will need, but it will also significantly lower your costs. An added benefit is that it also allows employees to communicate efficiently and internally between extensions, making it an effortless way of routing incoming calls.
The word “Private” in PBX refers to the fact that the equipment needed is owned internally by your business, rather than by the company supplying your telephone service. Switching to a PBX systems can undoubtedly bring many benefits and possibilities to your organisation. Not to mention, it can allow for unlimited growth when it comes to the number of extensions. A good PBX system will also open for more complex functions, such as
- Ring Groups
- Voicemail/Digital Receptionist
Key Elements of PBX
A digital PBX is made up of a number of elements, such as
- The PBX itself: This is basically a unit that switches calls within and outside the system. Simply put, it's a computer on which you can perform the tasks needed for making the system function. In many modern systems, you will also have the option of carrying out configuration and management tasks remotely via your PC. The management tasks include being able to assign levels of function to different extensions, such as making certain phones barred from making international calls or from being used outside of the office hours.
- Operator Consoles: Essentially a switchboard, this is where you receive external calls and allow them to be diverted around the system. Most consoles will have a remote service mode, a function that can divert certain calls to a general answerphone.
- DDI: Most systems will have a direct dial in (DDI) function. This allows extensions to have their own external phone number, so that people can call them directly rather than going through the general switchboard first.
- Lines: A key part of any PBX system is obviously the lines themselves. There will be a telephone trunk line of connections entering the premises, often in the form of an ISDN line. Internally, there will be a network of lines connecting the various desktop phones, known as extensions. PBX uses the same type of cabling as Ethernet computer network, and it can also share the same infrastructure and outlets which makes for easy configuration and flexibility.
- Extra Features: PBX systems usually permit grouping of phones, thereby allowing a user to key in a code to pick up a call that is ringing on a nearby extension. Another popular feature is hunting groups - a group where a call will automatically switch to another extension nearby after it has gone unanswered for a certain number of rings.
Alternatives to PBX
Are you not keen on investing in expensive PBX equipment?
That’s perfectly OK, and you’ll find that there are plenty of alternative options on the market. A popular option is to get a PBX in the form of a centrex system. This means that you simply outsource the PBX functions to a telecoms supplier. This way, there will be no equipment required internally, but you still get to benefit from all the basic PBX functions: dialling internally and externally, and transferring calls. Another added benefit is that it’s all managed by your supplier, meaning that there are no internal support requirements to worry about.
Another alternative is VoIP, a system in which you use the internet rather than conventional phone lines to make your calls. This can replace the need for a PBX completely, but it can also be integrated into an already implemented PBX system, allowing, for example, international calls to be made at a much lower rate.
VoIP systems can also make use of what is called a soft PBX. This is a system that runs on a computer and provides the functions of PBX without the need for dedicated hardware. An added benefit of softphone system is that they can be accessed remotely, allowing the business phone system to be used, for example, by staff working from home.
Are you ready to take your business calls to the next level? Get in touch with our IT experts here at Software Advisory Service today. Our service is non-chargeable, and there is no obligation for you to proceed with our advice.
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