Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and private branch exchanges (PBXs) offer many of the same results, but they do so in very different ways. The main goal is, of course, to enable business users to make and receive phone calls, although there are also many other features worth considering, such as automated attendants, video conferencing, and unified communications.
The traditional PBX system has been around for decades. It’s used by businesses that need a dedicated phone network with multiple phone numbers and extensions for the different departments. VoIP, by contrast, offers a similar range of features, at least when it comes to voice calls, but all communications take place over the internet.
Given that the success of any business depends on its ability to communicate effectively, leaders must understand the underlying differences between each solution so they can make an informed decision on choosing the right one.
System connection protocols
By far the most important distinction between VoIP and PBX is the way they connect people. A PBX system uses the traditional telephone network that’s owned and operated by a specific company and uses the landlines for handling calls. Modern PBX setups usually include a computer server to provide automated services like interactive voice menus and call queuing. Older systems rely on manual control boards.
All systems consist of multiple lines that are connected to the public telephone system. These lines are connected to individual deskphones throughout the company. There’s a whole lot of specialized infrastructure in PBX systems, whereas VoIP communications take place over the internet and are handled by apps rather than specific physical devices.
Availability of equipment
Until a couple of decades ago, business telephony centered around deskphones. Then along came cell phones, which eventually evolved into smartphones and a multitude of other mobile devices. Traditional PBX systems use standard analog phone equipment, which is quickly disappearing from the modern office environment. However, newer PBX systems work with both corded and cordless phones and hands-free systems. The problem is PBX solutions still depend on specific device types, whereas VoIP solutions work with any device that’s connected to the internet.
Newer VoIP systems may be hosted in the cloud, thus making it possible for people to make and receive calls through a browser or mobile app. This enables much greater worker mobility in a time when being stuck in front of an office desk is far out of fashion.
Configuration and maintenance
Recent years have seen an enormous shift towards software-defined business technology solutions. By reducing their reliance on hardware, companies can enjoy a wider range of configuration options and practically limitless scalability while still reducing costs dramatically. Because PBX systems are hardware-based and require expensive, specialized equipment, they’re a lot harder to configure, maintain, and upgrade.
By contrast, VoIP systems can be managed directly from a computer without requiring any expert knowledge. You can configure call hunting groups to ensure that callers get to speak to the right person without any unnecessary waiting. Customizable auto attendants let administrators improve customer experience. Unified communications can automatically transcribe voicemail into text and then send it to an email inbox. The options are practically limitless.
Performance and reliability
If there’s one reason for retaining a landline connection, it’s to have something reliable for use during emergencies. After all, traditional telephones draw power from the telephone line itself, so they still work even when the building’s power goes out. On the other hand, VoIP requires a decent internet connection with sufficient bandwidth to handle as many concurrent calls as needed. For the most part, internet speeds shouldn’t be a problem, although outdated cabling can also reduce performance and reliability, as can software consuming excessive bandwidth.
Still torn between PBX and VoIP systems? Frontline provides telco and VoIP installation and support to businesses in Los Angeles. When you partner with us, we’ll equip you with advanced and reliable communication solutions of large companies, but without the high costs or frustrating complexity. Give us a call today to schedule your first consultation.