What VoIP Offers
VoIP telephony in business phone systems provides several advantages over PBX systems:
- Cost savings - VoIP calls range from very inexpensive to free
- Portability - connectivity and cost don't depend on location or distance. VoIP doesn't "care" whether you're calling halfway around the world or calling an employee at the cross-town branch office. Furthermore, VoIP phone numbers are completely portable, so if you go to work in another branch office, your phone number goes with you.
- Lots of features - audio conferencing, video conferencing, voice mail transcription, call forwarding, call waiting, fax over email, and easy sending of multimedia files
What PBX Brings to the Table
The main advantage that the classic PBX system offers over VoIP business phone systems is dependability. With VoIP systems, businesses risk the following problems if they choose a VoIP provider with poor quality control:
- Latency - delay in delivery of words from speaker to listener. When latency is greater than 150 milliseconds each way, the flow of conversation can be affected.
- Packet loss - data that is lost between the parties talking on the phone
- Network jitter - data that arrives out of order
- Distorted audio
VoIP actually has the potential to provide higher quality of service than the PSTN (public switched telephone network) as long as there is sufficient bandwidth. However, keeping costs down with VoIP systems right now means that VoIP quality of service can (but doesn't necessarily) fall short of that of traditional PBX systems that use the PSTN. Finally, VoIP systems are power-supply dependent. If your power goes out, so does your VoIP system, and that was not the case with PBX systems that used the PSTN.
How PBX and VoIP Are Combined
VoIP business phone providers today offer adapters and services necessary to change PBX equipment to VoIP equipment. VoIP phones can be software-based "soft phones" or hardware instruments that look just like normal phones. Adapters allow PBX phones that use the PSTN network to be used as VoIP phones. The blending of analog and IP business phones eliminates businesses' needs to add analog landline phones when they want to expand or upgrade their system.
Benefits to Users and Businesses
Users of combined PBX-VoIP systems enjoy normal phone operation along with enhanced features like smart call routing and auto-attendant features that ensure calls are routed to the correct recipient. Administrators benefit by being able to expand or reconfigure their phone system quickly and easily, without the necessity of adding expensive copper wiring to the existing system. And businesses are able to save significantly over the costs of expanding or reconfiguring a traditional wire-based PBX system.
Is Combined PBX-VoIP the Future of Business Phone Systems?
The combination of PBX and VoIP telephony is already reality. As VoIP continues to improve its quality of service, the shift away from PBX and toward VoIP will accelerate. In fact, many "traditional" PBX systems make use of IP packet switching in their own networks.
As businesses demand more versatility, features, and savings, PBX systems will have to incorporate VoIP into their systems in order to compete with VoIP business phone systems. Eventually, copper-wired PBX systems could become obsolete, with VoIP taking over. The phone systems that combine PBX and VoIP make it unnecessary for businesses with existing PBX systems to completely uninstall their PBX equipment in order to enjoy the cost and flexibility benefits of VoIP systems. Now that's the best of both worlds.