Make no mistake about it, telephony today is different from the telephone service of yesteryear. But there are similarities, too. What companies have found is that building and maintaining little telephone companies in-house entails a lot more cost and bother than you might expect. If that’s true, though, why did they ever leave good old Ma Bell in the first place?
One problem with business phone service versus what you have in your home is that there are lots and lots of phones. If you only have one or two lines, you probably have just one or two phones. It’s likely that each phone is tied to a particular phone line. Perhaps you have multi-line phones where each line has a switch or “key” so you can select it. Some small offices have only a single phone set one one line and use a second line to connect a FAX machine or credit card terminal.
So what’s the problem with having so many phones? It’s pretty likely that by the time you have a few dozen phones, your office facilities are so spread out that people can’t lean over to the next desk and have a conversation. They either have to get up and walk down the hall or make a phone call. If each phone has its own line, then those calls will go through the phone company and you’ll likely pay a charge. If you want to talk to someone in a branch office in another state, you’re surely going to pay long distance charges.
What companies really wanted was something of an intercom feature, where they could just dial a few digits and get to another phone in-house. To accomplish that, they bought PBX or Private Branch eXchange equipment. The PBX is the device that connects phones and also managed outside lines as needed. All the phones connect to the PBX and the PBX connects to the phone company, but only for calls leaving the premises.
The local telephone companies offer a service called Centrex (Central Office Exchange) to compete with the PBX. The switching equipment is kept at the central office, like always, but the system functioned more like a PBX. The Centrex system based on the individual copper pair from each phone to the CO is now being replaced by HPBX or Hosted PBX service.
What’s different about HPBX is that it is a VoIP phone system. Communication is over a WAN network connection called a SIP Trunk. This frees the user from being tied to a particular local phone company by those ubiquitous twisted copper pair. Now any service provider anywhere in the world can be your phone company as long as you can get a digital connection between their facilities and yours. What you need in-house is IP phones, also called SIP telephones, connected to your converged voice and data network. Your service provider hosts the PBX switching function with termination to the public switched telephone network as needed.
Are you ready for a phone system upgrade or merely concerned that what you are doing now costs more than it could? Get competitive quotes for hosted PBX telephone systems, some of which include new phones as part of the service fee.