If you think about it, telephone systems have come a long way. “Party lines,” for example, were the standard method of communication for both homes and businesses, and it was a single landline telephone shared among many subscribers! Naturally, this meant everything from waiting for the line to open to forcing people off the phone – and even eavesdropping.
But then the private branch exchange (PBX) made its debut. With its beginnings in switchboard operations – of answering a phone call and plugging the phone cord into the correct jack to connect the caller and receiver – the PBX system quickly evolved into private, individual phone lines that did not require the help of a human operator. A primary business number branched off into several more phone lines within a company. Callers could even be placed on hold and listen to music until their call was answered.
All of this was costly and required specific, often large, equipment. But then the PBX of the 1990s streamlined things even more. By transmitting data through a computer and digital networking protocols (IP), businesses no longer needed to rent or purchase expensive switchboards. Instead, calls were routed through a computer, and the company purchased IP-based services from a provider for features like fax, conference calls, voicemail, and call recording.
Then entered voice over IP (VoIP). Even though VoIP technically made its introduction as early as 1973, it did not become widely used by businesses until the 1990s. Even still, by 2008, 80% of companies were using IP PBX systems over VoIP.
Now, to modern day: Companies of all sizes are jumping on-board the VoIP bandwagon. But what advantages does VoIP offer, exactly? And what are the primary differences between VoIP and PBX?
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PBX & Its Features
Modern PBX systems give businesses their own internal telephone network and can manage the routing of voice calls to those extensions. It also provides advanced calling features like auto attendants, recorded messages, and voicemail.
Among the reasons businesses choose PBX are:
- Choice of a specific, pre-programmed schedule for incoming calls.
- Ease and reliability of transferring calls to different departments.
- Customized greetings (recorded messages, music, etc.)
- Ability to place inbound and outbound calls in a queue (think customer support).
- Connection of multiple office locations with the same phone system.
Some companies opt to integrate their PBX with a cloud-based phone system, allowing for multiple locations, users, and added flexibility (e.g. Hosted PBX, IP PBX SIP Trunking).
VoIP & Its Features
You can recognize a VoIP system by an auto attendant responding to your questions or routing your call, and some VoIP systems can even conduct video conferences. These “digital phones” convert calls into data that is sent over the internet – and at a much lower cost than telephone systems.
VoIP systems, which is short for Voice Over Internet Protocol, give businesses an advantage over PBX primarily by allowing phone and video calls to be made over the internet instead of using a landline.
Rather than using a local phone service or physical wiring, VoIP allows a business that simply has high-speed internet and a VoIP service to place and receive calls, with lots of highly-rated features!
Among other reasons businesses choose VoIP are:
- Reliable connection and HD call quality.
- Mobile and desktop apps bring phone calls, conference calls, and text messages together in one place.
- Business phone numbers for remote team members.
- Security measures (e.g. call encryption).
- Integrations with CRM, text messaging, surveys, etc.
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