A PBX (Private Branch Exchange) phone system is a private telephone system used within a company or organisation that switches inbound and outbound calls between users, allowing all users to share a certain number of external phone lines or trunks.
The PBX is typically owned and operated by the organisation rather than the telephone company. Originally Private Branch Exchanges used analogue technology but today this has been switched to digital technology namely ISDN and SIP. Traditionally a PBX would be held in a rack or on the wall at the company’s premises and then is connected to the Public Switched Telephone Network (more commonly known as the PSTN) via ISDN lines or SIP trunks.
On-premise PBX, or IP-PBX phone systems, requires the installation of the hardware on the business office premises. This sets them apart from hosted PBX, or VoIP, which are hosted phone systems that your company accesses by connecting to them online. Digital on-premise PBX systems using SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) trunking or ISDN lines are still available as office phone systems. They support many of the features and advantages of hosted IP systems and more.
Most companies still have ISDN in place to carry voice traffic from the PSTN to their PBX and vice-versa. ISDN as a core technology is fast becoming outdated, and in fact it will be phased out by 2025, as part of the transition to IP Voice Services. It is by its nature inflexible, expensive and more difficult to work with than SIP trunking or Cloud based telephony. Indeed, BT has announced it will turn its ISDN network off in 2025 to concentrate on more up to date technology.
Features of On-Premise PBX Systems
Business phone systems, including on-premise office phone systems, are significantly more feature-rich than standard business telephony offerings. Here are just some of the features that can change the ways your team communicates, allowing for greater efficiency, flexibility, and improved customer service.
- Call Transfers: Users can transfer incoming and outgoing calls to anyone on the system as easily as dialling a few keys on the pad. Modern digital PBX systems allow you to transfer calls with an on-screen interface, too.
- Hold Options: While a phone call is being transferred or you are away from the phone, it can play music or marketing messages, increasing the likelihood that the other caller will remain on the line.
- Call routing: You can arrange your system so that callers who use specific numbers are routed to specific people or teams within the business. Automatic call routing can then go on to redirect their calls to other relevant people or teams if the initial recipient isn’t able to answer at the moment of calling.
- Customizable voicemail to email: Set your voicemail for different situations, so you can arrange a message if, for instance, you are away visiting a client or away on holidays. Furthermore, you can arrange it so that your voicemails are sent as an audio attachment on an email. This way, even if you are on-premise, you are still able to access your email.
- Conference calls: Several users can easily be patched into a call at once, as well as external callers, so you can arrange a conference call simply and effectively.
- Remote connectivity: Modern, digital PBX systems allow those from outside the office to connect to it through the internet, as well. As such, you can check your voicemails, or look at the user and call data no matter where you are.
The features available with on-premise PBX systems can vary from system to system. If you want to ensure that your highest priority features are included in your office phone system, we would be delighted to discuss these options with you. We work with NEC, Unify, Wildix and Panasonic systems predominately. Meeting your needs is our top priority and we have the technology to ensure it happens.
The Benefits of On-Premise PBX Systems
All phone systems have the benefit of unifying your business communications, enabling you to respond more quickly to calls, direct customers to where they need to be and to help your team operate much more efficiently. We will take a closer look at the difference between Hosted PBX and On-Premise PBX later, but for now, let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of an on-premise office phone system.
- You own the equipment: With other phone systems, you do not own the equipment used to manage the system. Instead, you pay for a license to use equipment hosted elsewhere. If you prefer ownership and having control over your own hardware, then on-premise PBX may be the correct solution for you.
- Customization potential: If you have an experienced IT team qualified to deal with networking, then the ability to manage and customize your own phone system can be of great benefit to your business.
- Lower on-going costs: It will cost your business less to manage an on-premise PBX system than it will maintain a line for each user to the telephone company’s central office.
- Lower costs on some feature sets: Many hosted VoIP providers have additional charges for some features. For example, multiple auto attendants might incur additional charges. A call queue would also be an additional feature with an additional charge. Music on Hold or Message on Hold can typically incur additional costs with hosted VoIP if they offer it at all. With a premise-based business, IP phone system all these feature sets are typically incorporated in the base PBX software.
- PBX is not dependent on broadband internet – While we like to think of the internet as being reliable, for businesses, nothing is flawless. Copper based ADSL services are still all that’s available in many business areas in the UK. Business internet providers typically guarantee 99.9% uptime, which does not come close to the reliability of an on-premise solution. A company’s productivity can grind to a halt if its voice and faxes are down. A business can protect itself from this potential disaster by having an on-premise PBX solution, rather than a hosted solution. This way, even if the internet goes down, you can pick up the phone in order to make up for the loss of email.
If you would like to learn more about the specific benefits of any phone system, we will be glad to explore your options and highlight their differences.
Hosted PBX vs On-Premise PBX
As mentioned, the primary difference between hosted IP PBX and on-premise PBX systems is who owns and manages the phone system hardware. With hosted PBX, it is owned and managed by the service provider, hosted in the Cloud, and connected to by you and your team over high speed internet connections. With on-premise PBX, you own, maintain, and manage the hardware.
As such, both are effective choices, but your needs and circumstances can make one more suitable than the other. Here are a few considerations:
- If you do not have a qualified IT or telecoms team to manage the system, on-premise PBX may not be the best option for you.
- If you do not want to deal with higher initial installation costs, a hosted VoIP phone system might be preferable.
- Consequently, if you would like to lower running costs as time goes on, on-premise PBX might be more cost-effective.
- On-premise PBX can be cheaper to scale than hosted PBX, since you may have to buy more equipment. Whereas, with the latter, you may need to buy more equipment and licenses.
Both on-premise and hosted IP voice phone systems are effective and reliable phone systems that offer different benefits. These systems are compatible with different types of businesses, depending on what each business expects of an office phone system. It is difficult to say whether one system or approach is better than the other. What is true is this: each system is better for specific office communications requirements based on your technology lifecycle, communication and ISP provider options, and existing contractual obligations. As a rule of thumb, when advanced unified communications features and complex integrations are required and you have a robust and reliable data network and infrastructure, the on-premise system is often best. Alternatively, companies with a mobile workforce, seasonal changes in call volume, a need for remote working, multiple locations or the desire to standardise your communication platform should consider adopting a hosted voice solution for their office business phone system
Juno Telecoms offers both hosted PBX and on-premise PBX phone systems, as small business telecoms solutions, as well as hybrid systems for office phone system solutions. You are welcome to read further on each type or get in touch with us if you are uncertain which is the best fit for you.
Get in touch with us today
If the above features and benefits sound like something worth taking advantage of, we at Juno Telecoms are here to help. We can guide you through the different options available, offering a zero-technical mumbo-jumbo analysis of which on-premise PBX system best fits your needs and the tradeoffs and benefits versus hosted VOIP solutions. Please contact us here.