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PBX Phone Systems

PBX Phone Systems

There are a number of options available for businesses looking for telephone systems, and finding the most suitable form and service requires serious consideration. PBX is one of the options that might suit your business, but finding out more about it is essential if you want to make a choice.

Although there are a number of forms of telephone service, some are likely to be more suited to your business than others. If you want to find out more about PBX to make sure it is the best option, simply continue reading this page. Otherwise, if you are ready to compare suppliers, just fill in the form above.

Approved Index’s PBX phone system comparison service is free, quick and easy, and can help you save money on both purchase and installation costs.

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On This Page:
What is PBX and Hosted PBX?
Hosted PBX Features and Benefits
Setting Up Hosted PBX Phone Equipment
PBX Phone Handset Comparison

What is PBX?

PBX stands for public branch exchange - a PBX phone system is one that switches calls between users - your staff - on local lines, whilst also allowing those users to share a number of phone lines which can be used for external calls.

PBX systems are private and only usable by members of your company - whether this is focused just on one office or on a whole building will depend entirely on the scale of the system and business. As well as the information above, PBX also includes a number of varieties that may be suitable for your business - keep reading to find the best form for your business.

Hosted PBX

One of the most recent developments in the world of business communications technology is the Hosted PBX. The primary advantage of this technology is that it provides access to inexpensive but extremely flexible telephone systems and associated features for small and medium-sized companies. Historically, business phone systems based around traditional PBX hardware installed on the users premises would have been out of reach of all but the largest companies.

Now, with a Hosted PBX, the complete phone system is hosted, operated and maintained by the VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service provider A Hosted PBX allows employees to work from home or on the move, from a hotel or on their smartphone – all the while remaining remotely connected to the office phone system.

And exactly like the traditional PBX systems employed by multinational corporations, Hosted PBX users can transfer calls between different extensions, put them on hold with background music, have an automated attendant (also sometimes called a “virtual receptionist”) greet and direct callers to the appropriate department, and create conference calls at a moment's notice.

Hosted PBX systems are an example of “cloud-based” technology. Here’s how it works in simplified form:

Hosted PBX Phone System Diagram

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Hosted PBX Phone System Features

  • The phone system itself is “hosted” by your service provider, with no bulky equipment installed on your premises.
  • All you need to have installed is an Internet connection, and the Hosted PBX system can be accessed using desk phones, PCs on which you can run virtual “softphone” software, mobile and smartphones, or any combination of these.
  • A Hosted PBX system can work with/alongside your existing telephone setup, or it can completely replace it.

Most Hosted PBX packages from top providers include phone numbers, local and long-distance/international calls, and a raft of powerful features from which you can select exactly the right combination for you, to build a customized phone system truly tailored to your needs.

Hosted PBX Benefits

There are several key advantages to Hosted PBX systems when compared with traditional, analogue phone services. Here are the key points:

Initial Cost Savings. There is no large upfront investment when purchasing a Hosted PBX system, as you won't need expensive on-site hardware. Using a Hosted PBX solution changes the paradigm from investing in a tangible phone system PBX “unit” to treating your phone system as a service, that is billed on a rolling, monthly basis.

Ongoing Cost Savings. The typical running costs of a Hosted PBX system are significantly less than with an equivalent traditional PBX. This ongoing reduction in costs means your savings continue to increase over several years.

Flexibility Of Location. With Hosted PBX you truly gain a “virtual phone system”, enabling your employees to work from anywhere, be it their homes, different offices, smartphones on the move, or anywhere overseas.

Local Presence. With a Hosted PBX system you can set up and use “virtual local” numbers, independent of where you are actually geographically based. This allows you to create a virtual presence in regions, towns and cities that are most appropriate to your customers or wider industry.

Credibility. Features such as auto-attendants were once the preserve of large companies, with expensive traditional on-site PBX systems. But these features come as standard with Hosted PBX solutions, meaning smaller businesses now have the same opportunity to make a more credible impression with clients, partners and customers.

Scalability. Traditional PBX systems operate using the inherent limitations of physical connections and hardware units, configured for certain/maximum numbers of users. A Hosted PBX operates on a system of virtual extensions and connections, meaning there are no such limitations and the system can be expanded as and when your growing business requires it.

Fast, Non-Disruptive Setup. With no hardware or large amounts of additional phone line cabling to be laid, a Hosted PBX system can be set up extremely quickly – in minutes and hours rather than days and weeks, minimizing the disruption to your business.

Ease Of Use. Whether using the advanced conferencing and call management features, or managing the adminstration and billing of the system itself, it’s all much more streamlined and user-friendly than with complicated analogue systems. Much of a Hosted PBX system functions very much like any other modern software platform – in fact, integrations with other popular business software such as SalesForce and Microsoft tools are becoming standard with the solutions from the best Hosted PBX providers.

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Hosted PBX Phone Equipment

Depending on what your existing phone system looks like and if you want to make use of existing equipment, a Hosted PBX can be set up for use in a number of different ways.

Hosted PBX Desk Phone IconUse Your Existing Landlines – Keep using your existing phone lines and have your Hosted PBX forward calls through them. This is not the most optimized setup as it would increase the total cost of your phone system, but can be a viable solution, perhaps during a transitional phase from extensive reliance on an old phone system.

Hosted PBX Mobile Phone IconUse Mobiles – Many industries require employees to work outside a conventional office, or between multiple locations over the course of a work day. Your Hosted PBX service can easily be set up to route the call through to another number or extension automatically, if it is not answered on the default handset, meaning you can still pick it up, wherever you are, on the device most convenient for you.

Hosted PBX SoftPhone Computers IconUse VoIP Softphones and Digital Desk Phones – All of the top Hosted PBX providers provide softphone applications alongside their VoIP management software, that can be installed on your office PCs and laptops. These are operated with computer speakers and desktop microphones or USB headsets.

Usually this is the optimal way to set up a Hosted PBX as it doesn’t require a conventional phone line (for which you would have to continue paying to make and receive calls). You can also connect digital desk phones directly to the Hosted PBX via your Internet connection, and it is possible to convert older analogue phones for use with VoIP using ATAs (Analogue Telephone Adapter).

Hosted PBX Smartphone Apps IconUse The Hosted PBX Smartphone App – Combine both of the options above – a mobile workforce and softphone access through digital devices – and you have the ultimate phone system tool: the smartphone. As mentioned, your Hosted PBX provider will typically bundle all the software you will need to access the Hosted PBX, including apps for desktop devices and mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones.

Even if your Hosted PBX service doesn’t include it’s own smartphone app, there are a range of highly-regarded free and premium options available to business users for iPhone and Android platforms, such as Counterpath’s Bria and Acrobits Groundwire. These also allow employees smartphones to become extensions of the office phone system – a smartphone connected to the Hosted PBX can show the company’s caller ID rather than the users personal caller ID when calling out, for example.

PBX Phone Handset Comparison

The table below gives a few examples of PBX-ready phones - the information provided can help you to understand what kind of functionality this form of phone system will offer, although there will be a range of other handsets for you to choose from too.

For more information on the variety of products available, you should complete the form at the top of this page.

ProductImageFeaturesTotal CostMonthly Cost
HiHi Business PhoneThe HiHi Phone from 4Com
  • Colour touch screen that supports video calls
  • Quick calling functionality, speed dial and direct transfer
  • Wireless headset integration
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Polycom VVX 601 IP PBX PhonePolycom VVX 601 IP Phone
  • Colour & touch screen
  • Power over ethernet
  • Network camera integration
Panasonic KX-TGP600 PBX-Ready HandsetPanasonic KX-TGP600 PBX-Ready Handset
  • Base unit with support for 8 cordless handsets
  • Background noise reduction technology
  • Up to 200 hours standby battery life

As mentioned, the phones in the table above are not the only products available, however they do represent very high levels of quality and functionality. The best way to find a telephone system that suits your business is to complete the form at the top of this page to receive quotes from top UK suppliers.

Hosted PBX Features Scenarios

To better appreciate the benefits of the more advanced features, this example illustrates how some of them work in practice.

A customer calls your freephone, local or virtual local number; the call is answered with an automated greeting from the systems auto-attendant. You can also have multiple real or virtual receptionists in different offices or business locations answering appropriate calls for that area. If your receptionist is unavailable and the call is instead answered by the auto-attendant, the customer can be asked to select an extension or department, to listen to information on your product, or use the dial-by-name directory to reach a particular individual.

One of the greatest benefits of a Hosted PBX system is that it frees up employees to work in different locations and remain completely integrated with the usual office communications. An employee working from home in Manchester, for example, can transfer callers to tech support or another department which might be located in London. Employees can also answer their office calls on their smartphones, on their laptops or PCs, from home or anywhere else.

Save by Comparing Hosted PBX Suppliers

Increase your productivity, make the most professional impression with customers, clients and partners, scale your service to exactly meet the needs of your business as it grows with no waste – and all the while, save money compared to a traditional phone system.

Our suppliers will not only provide you with bespoke Hosted PBX solutions to satisfy your business needs, but they all back up the services provided with responsive and knowledgeable support staff, to make sure you’re always getting the most out of your phone sytem.

Hosted PBX solutions are generally provided on a month-to-month, rolling basis meaning you’re never locked into long-term contracts and can switch at any time.

To compare PBX phone systems today, simply fill in the form at the top of this page. Approved Index’s quote comparison service is free, quick and easy and can help you save on both purchase and installation costs.

Compare PBX Phone System suppliers today.