Virtual PBX

Category: Voicemail

When shopping for a new business phone system you will undoubtedly hear the term "virtual PBX" many times. Millions of businesses, from large enterprises to sole proprietorships, use a virtual PBX (Private Branch Exchange) to save money while enjoying first-class telephone features and benefits. Here's how it works...

What is a Virtual PBX?

Virtual PBX First, let's define the term PBX. In a nutshell, a PBX is a fancy business switchboard. It connects all the internal phones of a business, routes calls from one person or department to another; and provides features such as auto attendant, customized greetings, call forwarding, conference calling, music on hold and voice mail.

A traditional hardware-based PBX is a bulky, temperamental piece of equipment that requires a substantial closet, at least, to house it. You also need multiple copper phone wires coming into the PBX closet, which often get wired to the wrong terminals on the PBX or disconnected inadvertently. Each copper wire carries a monthly phone line fee. A physical PBX’s price starts at several thousand dollars and can run up to several million. A physical PBX generates substantial heat, and so its closet must be air-conditioned at additional ongoing cost. All of that hardware hassle goes away when you opt for a virtual PBX.

What remains are the telephone handsets on each desk and some sort of connection to the Internet. The connection is often a standard office (ethernet) network, which can carry telephony data as easily as any other kind of data. Some wireless networks can handle voice traffic, eliminating even the shared wiring of an Ethernet network. All the copper wires coming into a physical PBX from the phone company are eliminated, along with their monthly fees. But that's not the only way you save money with a virtual PBX.

You don't buy expensive hardware up front. You don't buy future capacity that you can't use right now. You pay only for Internet connectivity and the virtual PBX services that you actually use each month.

Where is the Virtual PBX Equipment?

But where's the PBX hardware if it's not in your office closet? It's in a data center owned by the virtual PBX service provider, somewhere "in the cloud" of the Internet. A virtual PBX is software running on a computer, just like a Web server, only it serves telephony functions instead of Web pages and their many functions.

Your connection to the virtual PBX is made via the Internet. If the party you call uses such VoIP (Voice over IP) telephony too, then all the traffic of your two-way conversation may travel over the Internet only. But the service provider also has all those copper wires that connect to the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) so you can call anyone, whether they use VoIP, landline or mobile telephones.

The potential downside of a virtual PBX is fairly small. Your telephony traffic will share a physical server with that of other companies. It's possible to overload the server if everyone talks at once, but in practice this hardly ever happens. Most virtual PBX service providers maintain plenty of extra capacity to handle peak loads smoothly.

Another potential vulnerability is that your Internet connection may go down. If you have landline or cell phones as backup you can continue to carry on essential business. But few Internet outages last more than a few minutes.

RingCentral, My1Voice and other companies offer virtual PBX services for small, medium and large businesses. You can even use a virtual PBX if you're a one-person operation, to give the appearance of a larger company.

Virtual PBX service makes a compelling cost-savings case for businesses of all sizes. The bigger your telephony needs, the more money you save. Enterprise-class virtual PBX services are available starting as low as ten dollars a month, even for businesses that need only one phone line.

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Posted by Bob Rankin on May 4, 2010 03:26 PM

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Related Keywords: Voicemail   PBX   virtual PBX   auto attendant   call forwarding   conference calling   voice mail  

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Article information: All About Voicemail -- Virtual PBX (Posted: May 4, 2010 03:26 PM)
- Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved