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PBX Phone Systems

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Nextiva Office logo
 
Nextiva's SIP trunks and cloud-services can be added to a company's existing PBX or IP-PBX, providing additional connectivity and new functionality, without needing to replace the investment in on-site equipment.
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Nextiva's SIP trunks and cloud-services can be added to a company's existing PBX or IP-PBX, providing additional connectivity and new functionality, without needing to replace the investment in on-site equipment.
 
Virtual Office by 8x8 logo
 
Virtual Office is a collection of comprehensive web-based business VoIP solutions from offered by 8x8. Enterprise grade phone service, virtual meetings, mobile applications, virtual contact centers and more are available to help companies... Read More
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Virtual Office is a collection of comprehensive web-based business VoIP solutions from offered by 8x8. Enterprise grade phone service, virtual meetings, mobile applications, virtual contact centers and more are available to help companies... Read More
 
Vonage Business Solutions logo
 
Vonage Business Solutions is a cloud-based unified communication solution suitable for small and midsize companies. The solution offers a business phone system that enables businesses to connect their VoIP phone system to any internet... Read More
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Vonage Business Solutions is a cloud-based unified communication solution suitable for small and midsize companies. The solution offers a business phone system that enables businesses to connect their VoIP phone system to any internet... Read More
 
Jive PBX logo
 
Jive is a great fit for companies needing all the features of a full-fledged PBX system, but doesn't have the upfront costs of a large equipment purchase. Their scalable cloud-hosted PBX stays secure and updated automatically.
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Jive is a great fit for companies needing all the features of a full-fledged PBX system, but doesn't have the upfront costs of a large equipment purchase. Their scalable cloud-hosted PBX stays secure and updated automatically.
 
FluentStream VoIP logo
 
FluentStream is a business phone solution designed for companies of all sizes. It offers call monitoring, telemarketing, IVR and reporting within a suite. The software is available both in cloud-based and on-premise deployment options. The... Read More
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FluentStream is a business phone solution designed for companies of all sizes. It offers call monitoring, telemarketing, IVR and reporting within a suite. The software is available both in cloud-based and on-premise deployment options. The... Read More

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RingCentral Office logo
 
RingCentral Office takes all the functionality of an enterprise-class PBX phone system and virtualizes it in the cloud. Their all-inclusive system arrives pre-configured to the customer's exact needs, ready to plug in and go.
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RingCentral Office takes all the functionality of an enterprise-class PBX phone system and virtualizes it in the cloud. Their all-inclusive system arrives pre-configured to the customer's exact needs, ready to plug in and go.
 
MegaPath logo
 
MegaPath is Business Voip software that works with medium to large-size businesses in any industry. The system offers companies Internet connectivity, unified communications, security services, managed networking services, and more. With... Read More
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MegaPath is Business Voip software that works with medium to large-size businesses in any industry. The system offers companies Internet connectivity, unified communications, security services, managed networking services, and more. With... Read More
 
ShoreTel Sky logo
 
ShoreTel is a cloud-based VoIP phone system that offers collaboration and conferencing tools to enable efficient information flow within the organization. ShoreTel is a managed hosted VoIP solution that configures and manages everything... Read More
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ShoreTel is a cloud-based VoIP phone system that offers collaboration and conferencing tools to enable efficient information flow within the organization. ShoreTel is a managed hosted VoIP solution that configures and manages everything... Read More
 
Business Voice logo
 
Business Voice is a cloud-based VoiP solution created by PanTerra, which allows users to take or make calls from their office phone number, communicate with their team, and have file access, all from any device with an internet connection,... Read More
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Business Voice is a cloud-based VoiP solution created by PanTerra, which allows users to take or make calls from their office phone number, communicate with their team, and have file access, all from any device with an internet connection,... Read More
 
ReadyTalk Hosted Voice logo
 
ReadyTalk is a cloud-based communication service provider and offers hosted voice, video and web conferencing and streaming webinars. ReadyTalk’s hosted voice solution, powered by Evolve IP, delivers cloud-based business phone services... Read More
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ReadyTalk is a cloud-based communication service provider and offers hosted voice, video and web conferencing and streaming webinars. ReadyTalk’s hosted voice solution, powered by Evolve IP, delivers cloud-based business phone services... Read More

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ContactWorld by NewVoiceMedia logo
 
ContactWorld, created by NewVoiceMedia, is a unified communication platform for any size corporation. It offers standalone call center functionality, including automatic call distribution, predictive dialer, call recording, auto attendant,... Read More
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ContactWorld, created by NewVoiceMedia, is a unified communication platform for any size corporation. It offers standalone call center functionality, including automatic call distribution, predictive dialer, call recording, auto attendant,... Read More
 
Five9 Cloud Contact Center logo
 
Five9's Cloud Contact Center brings custom call center PBX infrastructure without most of the expensive equipment. IVR, Predictive Dialing and full CTI make Virtual Contact Center a great fit for call centers of any size.
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Five9's Cloud Contact Center brings custom call center PBX infrastructure without most of the expensive equipment. IVR, Predictive Dialing and full CTI make Virtual Contact Center a great fit for call centers of any size.
 
Cisco Unified Communications Manager logo
 
Cisco Unified Communications Manager is an advanced platform for integrating business communication technologies such as telephony, video conferencing, presence information, call recording, Web conferencing and messaging. It enables... Read More
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Cisco Unified Communications Manager is an advanced platform for integrating business communication technologies such as telephony, video conferencing, presence information, call recording, Web conferencing and messaging. It enables... Read More
 
UNIVERGE 3C logo
 
UNIVERGE 3C, NEC’s software-based IP-PBX, is a sophisticated platform for unified communications and collaboration. Its comprehensive functionality helped it earn the 2014 Internet Telephony Product of the Year award from technology... Read More
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UNIVERGE 3C, NEC’s software-based IP-PBX, is a sophisticated platform for unified communications and collaboration. Its comprehensive functionality helped it earn the 2014 Internet Telephony Product of the Year award from technology... Read More
 
OmniPCX Office RCE logo
 
OmniPCX Office Rich Communication Edition (RCE) is the cornerstone of Alcatel-Lucent’s OpenTouch Suite. It's suited for small to midsize businesses with up to 200 employees. An all-in-one networking solution, OmniPCX Office RCE... Read More
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OmniPCX Office Rich Communication Edition (RCE) is the cornerstone of Alcatel-Lucent’s OpenTouch Suite. It's suited for small to midsize businesses with up to 200 employees. An all-in-one networking solution, OmniPCX Office RCE... Read More

Call us for a free FastStart Consultation: +1 844 746 1795


 
Huawei eSpace logo
 
Huawei eSpace is a unified communications solution designed for enterprises. Some models of the hardware IP PBXs at the core of the Huawei system can support up to 10,000 users per unit. Huawei Integrated Access Devices (IADs) enable... Read More
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Huawei eSpace is a unified communications solution designed for enterprises. Some models of the hardware IP PBXs at the core of the Huawei system can support up to 10,000 users per unit. Huawei Integrated Access Devices (IADs) enable... Read More
 
XO Hosted PBX logo
 
XO Communications is a provider of network services that offers a cloud-based phone system, XO Hosted PBX, designed for businesses with 50 to 1,000 employees. In addition to hosting VoIP applications, XO also offers SIP trunking services... Read More
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XO Communications is a provider of network services that offers a cloud-based phone system, XO Hosted PBX, designed for businesses with 50 to 1,000 employees. In addition to hosting VoIP applications, XO also offers SIP trunking services... Read More
 
Voice Complete logo
 
Level 3 offers both SIP trunking and Integrated Services for Digital Network (ISDN) services in a package known as Voice Complete. Businesses can use Level 3 SIP trunking to connect calls between VoIP systems and the traditional phone... Read More
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Level 3 offers both SIP trunking and Integrated Services for Digital Network (ISDN) services in a package known as Voice Complete. Businesses can use Level 3 SIP trunking to connect calls between VoIP systems and the traditional phone... Read More
 
OBiPLUS logo
 
Obihai’s OBiPLUS is an on-premise IP telephony solution designed for very small businesses (i.e., those with 12 or fewer employees). Users can buy either a basic license, which supports up to four extensions, or a premium license,... Read More
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Obihai’s OBiPLUS is an on-premise IP telephony solution designed for very small businesses (i.e., those with 12 or fewer employees). Users can buy either a basic license, which supports up to four extensions, or a premium license,... Read More
 
MiVoice logo
 
Mitel MiVoice is a range of unified communications (UC) platforms designed for businesses with varying needs. Some MiVoice platforms are designed for small businesses with fewer than 250 employees, while others can scale up to 150,000... Read More
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Mitel MiVoice is a range of unified communications (UC) platforms designed for businesses with varying needs. Some MiVoice platforms are designed for small businesses with fewer than 250 employees, while others can scale up to 150,000... Read More
 

Buyer's Guide

by Justin Guinn,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: August 15, 2017


The term “PBX,” for private branch exchange, is in most cases simply a synonym for business phone system.

Internet Protocol PBXes, or IP PBXes, are phone systems that connect calls via the internet rather than the traditional phone network.

We’ll explain the core features and benefits of IP PBX systems. We’ll also take a look at some of the key factors that businesses need to consider when investing in a new phone system.

Here's what we'll cover:

  • What Is a PBX and an IP PBX?
  • IP PBX
  • Which Businesses Need Them?
  • Key Considerations

What Is a PBX and an IP PBX?

The term PBX itself is a relic from the early-20th Century, as we explain in our extended definition.

 

Switchboard Operators, public domain image

Broadly speaking, a PBX’s function is to unite all the separate phone extensions that a business uses so they can function together as one system. Specifically, PBXs:

  1. Route incoming calls to whichever extension a caller chooses.
  2. Distribute calls automatically to internal extensions based on pre-set rules.
  3. Connect internal extensions to outside lines when employees place a call.
  4. Connect calls internally between the business’s extensions.

PBXs have been performing these same tasks for decades. As the internet increasingly takes over the function of the traditional phone network, however, the capabilities and features of PBXs have also evolved.

IP PBX

VoIP, or the Voice over Internet Protocol, has brought many changes to all aspects of business telephony—PBXs included. With VoIP, it’s now possible to send calls over an internet connection, as opposed to paying for traditional business phone service.

In order to reap the benefits of VoIP, you need an IP PBX rather than a traditional PBX, as an IP PBX system can connect directly to the internet. Older PBX systems, on the other hand, connect to analog or digital phone lines.

There are devices known as gateways that allow you to use VoIP service with an older PBX system. If you’re replacing your system, however, it makes much more sense to simply invest in an IP PBX.

IP PBXs exist in several very different forms. Although they all perform similar functions, there is no strict definition of the term. An IP PBX can refer to:

Hardware-based on-premise systems Specific on-site hardware devices that look much like typical rack-mounted servers.
Software-based on-premise systems PBX software running on a computer outfitted with phone connections.
Virtualized on-premise systems “Virtual machines” installed on commodity hardware running a virtualization platform such as VMware.
Cloud-based systems Systems hosted by a VoIP provider in the provider’s data center rather than a server on your business’s premises, delivered as a service over your Internet connection.

Which Businesses Need Them?

Traditionally, PBXs were very expensive to purchase and maintain, and they were only used by relatively large businesses. Smaller businesses had alternatives such as Key Systems, which are scaled-down and less automated, but perform similar functions. (With Key Systems, users manually select lines: for example, by pressing "9" for an outside line.)

Now it’s common for businesses with even a few employees to use some sort of IP PBX for their office phone system.

IP PBXs allow incoming calls to be routed and automatically distributed, and allow internal extensions to dial each other and share external lines. They provide the same basic functions as traditional PBXs, and can be useful to businesses of almost any size.

Further, as more businesses seek out the conveniences and cost-savings of VoIP telephony, IP PBXs in one of the forms mentioned above have become an increasingly common choice. Rather than trying to modernize an older PBX so it can work with VoIP calls, it often makes more sense to upgrade the whole system. Upgrading also gives buyers a chance to bring in new features which may have previously been unavailable.

Key Considerations

Hosted or on-premise. This is probably the most critical decision to make. Companies should look at both options. On-premise systems will typically have higher initial costs, and may also require periodic system maintenance. Hosted PBXs will cost less up front, and will be managed by the provider, but have higher recurring costs. The total cost of ownership for all potential systems should be compared.

Call capacity. PBXs can only handle a limited number of concurrent calls and a limited number of total extensions or “registrations.” (Each VoIP phone connected to the IP PBX requires a single registration.) Assess how many total connections you’ll need, count one for each hardphone and softphone you plan to connect, as well as any devices such as FAX machines that may also be connected via your existing phone service provider, and estimate how many calls your employees will be making and receiving simultaneously when you’re at peak call volume.

Unified communications. This term refers to a range of features that involve communicating across platforms and between different mediums. A common example of this is visual voicemail: a feature that automatically transcribes voicemail messages and emails the transcript to the recipient. Many IP PBXs have UC functions included.

Security. VoIP calls have special network requirements and they often don’t work with well with standard office firewalls. To avoid problems, ensure that your existing firewall is compatible with SIP and VoIP traffic. An alternative is to get an IP PBX that includes a built-in firewall, as many do. Many also include VPN gateways to connect with a corporate Virtual Private Network.

Finally, you can use a device known as a Session Border Controller (SBC), which provides additional security specifically for VoIP systems by policing the “pinholes” that you need to open in your firewall for your VoIP calls.

Auto attendant. This is the automated answering system that greets inbound calls, presents pre-recorded information and gives callers a list of extension options from which to choose. Most IP PBXs include auto attendants, but the level of functionality supported by different systems differs. Advanced IVR systems, the voice menus that allow callers to complete actions such as checking account balances over the phone, are generally only found in call center suites.

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Business VoIP Systems Pricing Guide

 

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