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WHAT IS A HOSTED PBX? AND HOW DOES A HOSTED PBX WORK?

by | Jun 16, 2020

WHAT IS A PBX?

PBX stands for the Private Branch Exchange (PBX). The PBX phone system is effectively used by companies to execute internal calls (colleague to colleague) as well as external calls (business representative to consumer). Features included in the Private Branch Exchange incudes: voicemail, call transfers and auto attendants (an upgrade from telephone switch attendants or phone operators). PBX allows companies of all sizes to efficiently manage large call volumes, successfully managing call operations seamlessly. Currently, Private Branch Exchange services are leading over traditional switchboards as it offers effortless automated services. The modern and innovative version of PBX phone system also utilizes the internet, which adds to the already sophisticated capabilities of the hosted or cloud based Private Branch Exchanges for call efficiency.

HOW DOES PBX WORK?

Traditionally, Private Branch Exchange (PBX) setup involves a one-time onsite arrangement of hardware (a cabinet for example) that grants phone users within an organization to capacity to effectively perform calls internally and externally. This setup is the same for both cloud hosted PBX’s. External calls are made through Public Switch Telephony Network (PSTN). In more recent times, companies are opting into cloud or hosted Private Branch Exchanges as these options involve internet connection with ample bandwidth or setup of MPLS to prioritize voice traffic. A top feature of the external phone voice service is that it will provide an automated host that will manage the conversation for end users. Cloud or hosted PBX’s are frequently utilized in information centers. Instead of routing calls through onsite hardware, voice data is sent using the internet to the hosted or cloud Private Branch Exchange.

WHAT IS A HOSTED PBX?

A hosted Private Branch Exchange (PBX) is a cloud based private phone service that grants businesses the opportunity to make internal and external calls via its established connection to the internet. Both hosted and cloud features include, but are not limited to:

  • Call routing
  • Online call and phone management
  • Automated attendants/switchboard operators
  • Call to text transcriptions, including emails
  • Group and conference calling
  • Call intercepting
  • CRM integration
  • Hunt groups
  • Soft phones for click and dial
  • Mobile application integrations
  • Remote presence

These features are currently leading in innovation and has helped to create streamlined and efficient phone services by way of the cloud or hosted phone systems. A hosted exchange is managed and maintained by a voice or internet service provider.

HOW DOES A HOSTED PBX WORK?

A hosted PBX utilizes both the internet and IP based phone connections via a hosted system to place internal and external calls. The highlight of a hosted PBX is that it functions effortlessly via a cloud/hosted system, which then eliminates the need for costly or bulky onsite hardware. Hosted PBX’s simply use the service provider (host of the system) to manage, service, maintenance and update the PBX services regularly. The hosted PBX allows users to accept and place calls from a wide variety of devices. A hosted PBX also grants users the opportunity to establish a connection to the internet, connected to the application software, and utilize the office phone systems effectively from anywhere.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HOSTED AND CLOUD PBX?

The hosted and cloud PBX’s grant companies of all sizes the ability to effectively utilize internal calls (colleague to colleague) as well as external calls (business representative to consumer).

Popular variations among the hosted and cloud PBX are, but not limited to:

  • A hosted or cloud-based setup both functions using the internet services
  • A hosted or cloud-based PBX does not require onsite hardware setup
  • A hosted and cloud-based PBX requires IP phones/devices, such as soft phones or mobile apps

A hosted or cloud-based PBX provide affordability as:

  • no hardware and setup is required
  • no need for onsite installation
  • less space requirements as little hardware is needed
  • no on-site technicians for phone system maintenance required
  • calls are free due to internet connection, and more

Popular benefits among the hosted and cloud PBX are, but not limited to:

  • Scaling phone service and/or adding new users is made simple, ideal for growing businesses
  • Hosted PBX’s eliminates the need for costly and/or extensive onsite hardware setup and installation fees
  • Features are rich with options to support business needs/solutions
  • Cloud-based structures provide extensive features that can expand business telecommunications
  • Effectiveness of hosted PBX eliminates any need for troubleshooting, providing businesses with time to focus on higher priority tasks
  • Businesses are granted the opportunity to customize online portals and free phone apps to manage phone system from any device connected to the internet
  • Hosted PBX’s enhance two-way internal and external communications simply and efficiently
  • The use of enterprise level calling features, can be at more affordable costs than traditional services
  • Hosted PBX services ensures the use of multiple servers to provide service in cases of emergency
  • Hosted PBX reduces the need to rely on and potentially troubleshoot one single piece of equipment

Common features available with the hosted and cloud PBX are, but not limited to:

  • Hosted and cloud-based PBX’s provide users with a range of features, including basic, custom, and advance features for phone services
  • Some features include basic services fees per user and/or phoneline, whereas some do not
  • Business can opt into adding additional features and functions per their needs and growth

WHAT TYPE OF BUSINESSES CAN BENEFIT FROM A HOSTED PBX?

The hosted and cloud PBX’s grant companies of all sizes the ability to effectively utilize internal calls with reliability, flexibility, feature-rich business phone solutions to satisfy individual professional needs. From growing startup companies in need of business phone services to large scale Fortune 500 corporations, a hosted or cloud-based PBX can fully support and provide enterprise telecommunication needs.

WHAT ARE DRAWBACKS ASSOCIATED WITH A HOSTED PBX?

Overtime, businesses of all sizes have significantly benefited from a hosted PBX as it is a brilliant solution to business phone system needs. One drawback to consider when selecting the right PBX platform for a company is the company’s internet connection. Businesses that have poor internet connections or is established in an area of frequent internet outages may experience similar outages with a hosted PBX as the hosted PBX phone system is directly dependent on internet connection. We recommend evaluating your internet connection options and possible upgrades to effectively support opting into a hosted PBX platform.

HOW MUCH DOES A HOSTED PBX COST?

Generally, hosted PBX services are often more affordable than traditional PBX’s due to reduced need for hardware and installation services. Exact costs vary based on providers and are often applied per user or phone line basis. Additional fees may be applied for initial setup and/or additional features (voicemail, CRM integration, automated phone operator, etc.).

ARE THERE INSTALLATION FEES WITH A HOSTED OR CLOUD BASED PBX SERVICE?

Exact costs vary based on providers and are often applied per user or phone line basis. For quotes, contact your provider directly to determine installation and setup fees. Check if your provider offers assisted installation (provides instruction on how you will install) or in person setup at the location of your business office (onsite technician sent for setup). Such features are beneficial should you require hardware and in need of assistance with the installation process.

DO I NEED HARDWARE OR CAN I USE A SOFTPHONE VIA A HOSTED PBX?

Hosted PBX services allow the use of hardware (ex. IP phone) or a soft phone and is per the preference of the business/user. A soft phone (ex. Bria for the iPhone or X-Lite 5 for desktops) also provides a user-friendly phone interface. Per configuration, users can place and receive internal and external calls using a keyboard, mouse, or cell-phone touch pad.

CAN CELL PHONES BE USED ON A HOSTED PBX?

Yes. Smart phones are compatible with the hosted PBX system as many hosted or cloud PBX systems allow users to access and utilize the business phone system virtually anywhere and anytime. As such, many providers extend features that include free smartphone apps allowing users to execute calls while away from their desk. Such apps grant businesses phone services remotely to maintain call presence anywhere. This feature is ideal for businesses and users that require frequent travel, work remotely, and more.

ARE THERE SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS ASSOCIATED WITH A HOSTED PBX?

Yes. A capable VoIP, reliable internet connection, and appropriate IP compatible phones by each user is required to effectively utilize the PBX phone systems. Bandwidth requirements vary based on the number of users and other related IT requirements. We recommend contacting your provider to help determine your bandwidth needs for IP based voice solutions.

WHAT IF I NEED TO ADD ADDITIONAL PHONE LINES?

A hosted and cloud-based PBX allows for instant addition or removal of phone lines and users. As businesses grow and change, the flexibility and simplicity of a hosted and cloud-based PBX can efficiently adapt via the use of an online management system.

CAN I SEND AND RECEIVE FAXES THROUGH A HOSTED PHONE SERVICE?

Yes. With both hosted and cloud-based PBX systems, sending and receiving a fax is made simple. Businesses have the option of utilizing traditional fax machines or online. A hosted PBX service allows for seamless integration across a business’s organizational network, which support the sending/receiving and storing of faxes effortlessly.

WHAT HAPPENS IN THE CASE OF A POWER OUTAGE?

Before, traditional PBX’s ran dependent on power and localized power outages interrupted communications until power is restored. Instead, a hosted or cloud-based PBX phone system can perform calls as per usual if the system is connected to the internet.

WHAT TYPE OF EQUIPMENT DO I NEED FOR A PBX?

Both startup and Fortune 500 companies of all sizes opt into a hosted PBX system as it requires little installation hardware, space, and time setting up. A hosted or cloud-based PBX does not as it requires reliable internet service connection and handsets or devices that permit placing calls using the phone system.

WHAT ARE PSTN CALLS?

The Public Switched Telephony Network (PSTN) is the network of landline telephones that provides analog connections (ex. Traditional telephone system). Historically, the telephony network was the only system available for phone calls until modern technically and the use of the internet paved new ways for alternatives such as mobile apps and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). As mobile and IP based phone solutions (ex. VoIP) increased in popularity and affordability, more businesses are opting into hosted and/or cloud-based solutions for phone services. Businesses still require access to the PSTN as the calling functionality connects a hosted PBX user with the external telephony network.

CAN I USE MY EXISTING PHONE NUMBER?

Businesses have the option of migrating its phone services to a hosted PBX using the same existing phone number. Most phone service providers offer seamless porting of phone numbers to their managed voice network.

WHAT IF I HAVE MULTIPLE BUSINESS LOCATIONS?

Hosted phone systems are cloud-based and is independent from onsite hardware. This grants an organization the ability to meet communication needs from multiple business and remote locations. Virtual offices, local or international offices with different phone numbers can all be setup efficiently. Such features promote businesses creating a unified experience for employees and consumers from all around the world.

IS A HOSTED PBX DIFFICULT TO MANAGE?

The management of a hosted PBX is largely the responsibility of the provider, which removes the need for complex training or the need of an in-house IT staff to support. Hosted phone system providers are responsible for ensuring a fully functioning phone system at all times. Phone system customization and management needs are supported by online portals determined and designed by end users. Click HERE for a video demonstration of an online user portal.

CAN I MAKE INTERNATIONAL CALLS FROM MY HOSTED PBX?

Yes. For global business operations, international calling capabilities are necessity. A hosted or cloud-based PBX provides international calling services over the internet connection, which reduces international calling costs considerably.

WHAT IS AN AUTO ATTENDANT?

An auto attendant is a programmed assistant feature that that assist consumers with routing their calls appropriately. By rapidly and accurately funneling calls, the auto attendant feature provides an efficient experience for both customers and employees.

WHAT IS CALL ROUTING?

Automatic Call Distributors (ACD) is a call routing feature that allows businesses to route calls and traffic built on specific qualifiers created by the business/end user to best direct incoming calls. These features grant businesses the ability to utilize call routing through hosted PBX’s.

Examples of qualifiers include:

  • Time of day
  • Current call volume
  • Requested departments
  • Preferred languages of each caller.

Employee departments, business hours and network strains during high call volume hours are additional features that can be created by the business/end user.

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