What is PBX?

shutterstock_85643878Your business may already use a private branch exchange (PBX) system, or if not, you may soon recognise the advantages such a system could bring to your work environment.

Essentially, a PBX is a switch station for telephone systems. It is made up of several branches of telephone systems and it performs a most important function – switching connections to and from the different branches. The real benefit of this is that telephone lines are linked.

For a company, a PBX connects internal phones to a line which is external. This means that the company – your company – needs to lease just one line which can be used by many different people. However, users of the line can have their own telephone number and their own phone on their desk. Within a PBX, it is only necessary for employees to dial a number of just three or four digits to place a call to another phone in the network. This number is more commonly termed an extension.

So many businesses choose to use a PBX to reduce the costs that would be incurred if a separate line was needed for each staff member in the business.

PBX ownership

It is not the telephone company that owns and operates the PBX – it is owned by the business that uses it. Contemporary PBX systems are underpinned by digital technology, with digital signals converted to analog form.

Business use of PBX

If your business uses a PBX, it will include:

  • A number of telephone lines that terminate at the PBX
  • A computer with memory that controls the way calls are switched internally in the PBX, as well as to and from the PBX
  • A network of lines
  • An optional console or switchboard which can be used by a human operator.

What is an IP PBX?

An Internet Protocol (IP) PBX is a specialised PBX in which the TCP/IP protocol stack is used for internal network communication and interactivity to provide audio, video and instant messaging communication. For communication via telephone, the internal network is interconnected with the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).

To further reduce expenses, businesses are able to decrease the costs of long distance calls by combining the functionality of traditional PBX systems with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) gateways. When this is done, businesses are able to employ their existing managed intranet and capitalise on the benefits of a single network. The reported benefits of uniting the two include cost savings, more mobility and reduced redundancy. Interestingly, an IP PBX may exist as a hardware object or exist in virtual form, as a software system.

The functionality of a PBX system can be extensive and because it is available in software, it is really quite straightforward to broaden functionality to include features such as conferencing, interactive voice response and text to speech/automatic speech recognition. PBX systems can be full of features or minimalistic, according to what the business wishes to pay