Landlines are an increasingly rare sight in homes, but many businesses still use them internally. Private branch exchange (PBX) systems remain the traditional standard for intercommunication and call forwarding despite people moving on elsewhere. But is it time to switch to a different model? What do PBX alternatives look like and what can they bring to your business?
Comparing PBX and VoIP
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is the major alternative to analog PBX for businesses, offering the same features by way of data packets transferred via the Internet, instead of electronic signals over an exchange network. The most immediate difference is the required infrastructure—VoIP uses your existing Internet plan and compatible phones along with the provider’s servers, while PBX requires a dedicated server, control board and network of physical lines, making the latter sometimes costly to scale. Some VoIP services also offer applications to make and receive calls through a computer or mobile phone, further reducing the need for extra hardware. This consolidation has a lot of appeal for businesses that don’t want to manage multiple services and the separate bills involved.
Should You Switch?
Why don’t all businesses use VoIP, then? The fact that VoIP shares bandwidth with your Internet plan can be a disadvantage when you start experiencing latency, jitter and packet loss. Additionally, VoIP’s dependence on wall power leaves you without calls during an outage that cuts off your connection. For what they lack in efficiency, traditional landlines are more consistent and reliable, and having your own landline system provides a degree of independence. Replacing an existing PBX system can cost a business quite a bit, as well, and that cost can be hard to justify if the PBX already works well. To address this, some businesses use an analog VoIP gateway to connect their legacy phone system with VoIP services, taking a middle of the road approach.
Ultimately, whether you should use analog or VoIP for your telephony system depends on your business’s scale and needs. Do research on the technologies available and consider your situation to make an informed decision.