In the office and commercial environment, in-house Private Branch Exchanges (PBX) were on-site internal telephony systems that switched calls to individual users’ desks. A PBX allowed additional features such as 3-way calling and conferencing, and eliminated the need to lease a separate line for every single telephone in the office; since every line is never simultaneously in use, this cut down on fixed telephony costs. With VoIP, the PBX is replaced with an Internet version and voice calls are shipped out over the Internet. If you haven’t already done so, it is likely you will eventually shift over to VoIP technology and abandon your PBX. At some point your present PBX will reach the end of its expected life cycle, and the lack of available parts will force you into VoIP technology. However, there are several advantages to VoIP that may encourage you to make the switch sooner. For instance,
- Moving phones and numbers to different desks, and configuring for new or exiting employees is dramatically easier and cheaper than with a PBX
- VoIP is much more flexible and customer friendly in the call center environment
- Voice conference calls are easier and of better quality than on a traditional PBX. They are also less expensive than using an outside provider
- The ease of forwarding to mobile devices is a part of good disaster recovery planning
- You will see a significant drop in per-minute telco costs (but not a complete elimination)
- A VoIP installation provides a good jumping off point if you choose to transition to a more complete UC environment
As an aside, it is important to recognize we are referring to business-grade VoIP packages, not consumer-style applications such as Vonage or Skype. Last tip: Be sure to investigate the features available from different vendors who also offer UC systems, and be careful to select a VoIP service provider who offers UC services. So when that time comes that you choose to expand into UC, the move will be a smooth as possible.