You may be updating your telephone system, and hearing the terms VoIP and IP PBX interchangeably. Is that correct? No, and here’s why.
The first thing you need to know is that POTS stands for Plain Old Telephone Service - the traditional telephone system that works on a network called the PSTN, or Public Switched Telephone Network. Essentially, this is the telephone system as we know it.
From here came Voice over the Internet Protocol (VoIP). It refers to the technology and standards that often replaced the POTS system with one that sends voice (and video) over an IP network such as the Internet. It’s been called IP Telephony, Internet Telephony, and broadband telephony.
Voice (and sometimes video) is sent over IP via packet data transfer just like your email, and delivers many business benefits starting with reduced costs and new user features. After all, telephone calls over the Internet usually don’t incur a surcharge beyond what you already pay for Internet access. VoIP also has advanced features such as:
- custom phone numbers
- call transfer
- call hunt
- call hold
- single number reach
- voicemail to email
- internal conference calls
- high resolution video calls, and
- a whole lot more.
For larger organisations, you can even connect all your locations (including mobile workers) into a single communications network for incredible control and reporting.
So what’s not to love?
Not a lot, except that in some cases you can lose your voice connection in the case of data network or power failure, making a redundant network mandatory for any business using VoIP alone (providers like BigAir can deliver this backup network solution).
In addition, emergency numbers are not necessarily registered on VoIP services, and the quality of the call can be impacted by the quality of the software, as well as the speed and contention of the broadband network. That’s where IP PBX can come into the picture.
Think of IP PBX as the best of both worlds.
Let’s start by quickly explaining that a PBX (Private Branch Exchange) is a system that connects and switches telephone extensions inside your company.
It’s the private switching in your office. Therefore, an IP PBX is a PBX that switches calls between VOIP users on local lines while allowing all users to share a certain number of external phone lines. The typical IP PBX can also switch calls between a VoIP user and a traditional telephone user, or between two traditional telephone users in the same way that a conventional PBX does.
However with a conventional PBX, separate networks are necessary for voice and data communications. An IP PBX though uses a converged data and voice network. This means that Internet access, as well as VoIP communications and traditional telephone communications, are all possible using a single line to each user.
Essentially you are converging the VoIP gateway with the traditional PBX functionality to leverage the intranet and the public system – and get the best of all worlds.
Your IP PBX can be either hardware or software based and was typically owned and managed by the company itself. Except this was extremely expensive and prohibitive for most organisations – until now.
An IP PBX switched telephone system is accessible for every business thanks to the delivery and cost efficiency of the cloud. Cloud-based, or virtual, IP PBX services are available from ICT providers such as BigAir.
With fixed costs shared across multiple clients, companies are now able to subscribe to a full IP PBX solution on a per-handset monthly basis – making it perfectly scalable and reliable – without any of the CapEx or maintenance costs normally associated with in-house investments. There’s no phone wiring, a choice of handsets, and excellent software solutions to deploy whether you need the simplest, or most complex, solutions.
So where to now?
Businesses everywhere are transitioning from old telephone systems to the new IP PBX based systems to save money and transform workplace environments and productivity.
Your next step now would be to take a look around, or talk to BigAir, and make the move towards a simpler, cheaper, more powerful telephone system that gives you everything you need to scale and adapt.
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