Selecting and investing in a brand-new communication system for your business is no easy task. For many people, it is time-consuming and intimidating. Usually, it boils down to PBX vs VoIP. As a business owner, you have to understand your options and select the best choice for your organization.
Want do these terms mean? As with any other industry, communication comes with its own set of acronyms and jargon. So let’s set the record straight before diving in.
PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange. It’s a technology that has been in the corporate world for decades. In the absence of a PBX, an office might have to get a separate line for each worker. But that is a waste of resources since not everyone will be talking at the same time.
A PBX allows employees to call each other internally (without any cost). It also allows them to share external lines i.e. those that connect to the outside world. Traditionally, a PBX system is not connected to any data network. To find out more about the history of PBX systems, check out how PBX works.
Now let’s talk about VoIP. It stands for Voice over Internet Protocol and is completely different from PBX systems. it refers to services that use the SIP standard (Session Initiation Protocol) to route voice calls over the internet.
Another term you’ll stumble upon is cloud PBX. They allow vendors to deliver phone services to organizations directly. The client doesn’t have to maintain their own PBX system. Some vendors also refer to this as hosted VoIP or cloud VoIP.
It’s quite difficult to compare VoIP vs PBX system. There was a time when both systems had their own pros and cons. But in today’s digitally connected business world, VoIP wins out in almost any category you can think of.
Any VoIP phone service will give you the standard features such as voicemail, toll-free numbers, call hold, conferencing, international calls, etc. You will also find a whole host of new features that are not possible with traditional phone systems. Things like a virtual receptionist, multi-device ring, instant messaging, and presence information.
The most important thing to remember is that the above features are standard in VoIP. This is not the case if you go for PBX systems. Generally, they will cost quite a bit more. Even within the VoIP space, providers will have multiple plans with different features.
No discussion of PBX vs VoIP will be complete without mentioning BYOD. It refers to the ability of users to bring their own device and use it on the network. There was a time when offices gave specific work phones to their employees. Nowadays, the trend is to allow workers to use their own device that they’re already familiar with.
With VoIP, you don’t need any extra equipment or work to allow BYOD. Most vendors will let you use any device of your choice. That means your employees can use Android or iOS phones, tablets, laptops or SIP desk phones to make calls. PBX systems almost always require some extra work for BYOD, if they allow it at all.
On the VoIP side of things, the infrastructure discussion is over before it even starts. Seriously, you don’t have to buy any equipment other than SIP phones! As long as your data network is robust enough to handle the additional traffic, you are good to go.
You need more bits and pieces for a PBX system to work, which means spending time and money to set it up. It’s great if your organization has the resources. But most businesses would rather use cloud VoIP, which doesn’t have any investment or maintenance requirements.
When it comes to PBX vs VoIP in terms of infrastructure, the latter is the clear winner.
Scalability refers to the ability of the system to handle different loads. Businesses grow and shrink all the time. You need a system that can handle additional or fewer users if need be.
VoIP services are extremely scalable. You can add lines and numbers in a matter of minutes. There is no waiting period. You don’t even need a physical phone or wiring. Perhaps even more importantly, you only pay for the resources you use.
With PBX systems, scaling up and down is a lot more complicated. Adding new lines may require a new module. Your existing system may not have the capacity to handle extra modules. That means you need another server or other hardware. And once you’ve invested in equipment, it’s not easy to scale it down. You’ve already paid for the total capacity!
This may not be a con for large organizations. But smaller businesses will certainly appreciate the scalability of VoIP vs PBX. You can start small and grow as quickly or slowly as the situation demands.
You need your business system to be reliable. When it comes to your phones, you need them to work all the time. What happens when there is no power, no Internet or some other disaster?
Your VoIP provider should have fallback options for you. Can you automatically route calls to a by phone or landline? Does the provider have multiple data centers to provide redundancy? You should be able to rely on your provider when – not if – something happens.
PBX systems can also be extremely reliable but it is up to you to make the system work. That might mean having backup hardware, additional lines, and so on.
This is another area where VoIP shines brightly. Most reputed VoIP vendors make sure to integrate their systems with other enterprise tools such as CRM and ERP systems. That means you don’t have to purchase additional software to connect these systems.
These integrations mean employees don’t have to constantly switch between different contexts. They can make phone calls to customers from inside the CRM app. The VoIP service can automatically append notes and timestamps to call records and feed them back to other systems. The possibilities are endless!
PBX systems don’t offer the same options because they sit on their own separate network. They cannot connect to IP-based digital systems.
One crucial reason for the popularity of VoIP is that you don’t need an IT team to manage it. Depending on the size of your business, you may need one person to handle the phones. That’s it. The service provider will take care of the service and troubleshoot problems as they arise. Most vendors will also have learning resources that your employees can use to become familiar with the new system.
PBX systems, on the other hand, need advanced IT expertise. You need experts who know what they’re doing for the initial set up as well as periodic maintenance. Adding lines will require experts. Upgrading features will take time. Unless you have these experts on staff already, it is expensive to hire an entire department just for the phones.
The costs of managing a PBX phone system are numerous and extensive. You have to invest a lot when purchasing the initial hardware and software. If you need additional capacity, that will cost you as well. It is true that these investments will pay off over the long-term. But what if your company cannot afford to spend the money in the first place? Not to mention setting up these systems takes a lot of time.
Compare this situation to VoIP. There is nothing you have to buy, install or maintain. Many small offices don’t even by SIP phones. Thanks to BYOD, employees can use their personal devices or computers to make business calls from their work numbers. You can be up and running in a matter of hours!
How should you decide which system is right for the office? You can see for yourself that VoIP wins out over PBX in almost every area that matters. It doesn’t matter if your company is big or small. The factors that really matter are the features you need, the price you can pay for it, and a VoIP provider you select.
Selecting a good VoIP provider is crucial to getting it right. VoIPstudio offers every single feature to all its clients. You never have to pick and choose between a menu of features. The service is reliable, secure, and you can get started even without a credit card for free! Check out VoIPstudio today and see why it’s perfect for all your business communication needs.
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