What is an IP PBX ?
An IP PBX (Internet Protocol Private Branch eXchange) is a customer premises business phone system that manages telephones throughout the enterprise and acts as a gateway to both voice and data networks. An IP-PBX allows you to place calls using a network instead of standard telephone infrastructure. Telephones can be connected to the IP-PBX via the network and calls can be routed via the network instead of the standard public switched telephone network.
An IP PBX takes the place of the PBX you may already have for your company? PSTN calls. Like its PSTN cousin, an IP PBX (for private branch exchange) is an electronic switchboard that receives, routes, holds, forwards to voice mail, or otherwise manipulates calls that arrive over the Internet, rather than via the PSTN. It may be fully automatic or have a human receptionist who routes incoming calls from a main IP phone number to internal IP numbers or extensions. Where a PSTN PBX can connect many incoming and internal phone lines through a set of mechanical or electronic switches, an IP PBX will be mechanically simpler, typically either software that resides on a server or a small, independent server that connects with your existing data network
What is IP telephony?
IP Telephony or Internet Protocol Telephony is the transmission of voice signals over the Internet, wide area network (WAN), or local area network (LAN). IP Telephony uses voice-over-IP to break down voice transmissions into packets of data and transmitting them across a network.
What is Voice-over-IP?
Voice-over-Internet-Protocol or Voice-over-IP or VoIP allows one to send a voice transmission via a network instead of the standard telephone infrastructure. Calls can be routed via the Internet, wide area network (WAN), or local area network (LAN).
Where do pure IP telephony solutions fit best?
Greenfield environments are more optimal for pure IP solutions because the newly installed LAN/WAN infrastructure can be initially designed with voice-grade Quality of Service (QoS) and a single cabling system can be installed for all communications needs. Pure IP solutions are not cost optimized for deployment in many environments though, as these solutions usually require gateways, additional servers, and careful network engineering to ensure proper operation, adding substantial cost to the overall solution.
What are the advantages of an IP-PBX system?
Multiple Branch Offices
With VoIP, expanding your business phone system to multiple branch office sites is easy. Integrated IP Gateways allow you to traffic calls between offices over the Internet and save on long distance charges. Dialing branch offices is as easy as calling an extension down the hall. Make certain that your IP-PBX has an administration tool that simplifies the process of configuring IP gateways between remote systems.
IP-PBXs enable businesses to reduce the cost of long distance calling by routing calls inexpensively over IP networks. If you have overseas facilities, using an IP-PBX could reduce your business's costs significantly.
Even if your business has a single remote office, an IP-PBX can give you the flexibility to pick an affordable solution. Purchasing a solution that allows for a small or large number of IP trunks might be right for you.
Work From Home
Sophisticated IP-PBX software extends easily and seamlessly to your telecommuters, contractors, and consultants and makes them part of the corporate phone system.
And an IP PBX provides more efficient switching and a more professional working than if everyone in a business has their own separate IP connection and account. It allows phone calls to be forwarded within the company, and for internal voice-mail and conferencing capabilities that might otherwise have to be outsourced. An IP PBX is also much more flexible than a PSTN PBX, allowing an essentially infinite number of extensions and voice-mail boxes, plus desktop management via a Web browser rather than at a set of PSTN switches. They can also enable the recording of incoming and outgoing conversations (subject to legal considerations). IP PBXs, both as software and as physical devices, are relatively inexpensive;
What makes an IP-PBX an applications platform?
The platform should be fully application-ready, with the processing power and memory to support third-party applications. The system should be standards-based and use standard application programming interfaces like VoiceXML and TAPI.
Can I use an IP-PBX system if I want to keep my existing analog and digital handsets?
Support of legacy and analog and digital handsets should be a top requirement for most IP-PBX installations. Why throw away your existing phones and wiring, when the right IP-PBX solution can work with legacy handsets as well as IP?
Why you need an IP PBX
Any IP telephony setup that is for more than two or three lines needs a switching system to make it more efficient, allow internal calling and switching between users and to provide more advanced features like voicemail, call forwarding, call hold, conferencing and more. Typically IP PBX systems become economically sensible with as few as 5 users and a good rule of thumb is that if you want an IP telephony system with extensions for your users than you will want an IP PBX.
In addition, market and analyst estimates show that there is a rapid migration to IP telephony underway because of cost, efficiency and performance advantages. Any organization, even a small one that migrates to VoIP or IP telephony will need an IP PBX system. In the past PBX systems for organizations and enterprises cost so much that only large enterprises could afford to make use of them, but recent technological advances and pressure from open source solutions has brought the cost of IP PBX systems down to as low as well under $1000.
What you need in an IP PBX
There are dozens of IP PBX systems and most of them can do an adequate job. Regardless of the size of your organization, any IP PBX should be able to do the following:
-Automated attendant-an automatic system to answer phones with the ability to build phone menu systems, add call menus, transfer to voicemail and create flexible and programmable rules to handle all of these features.
-Call menus-flexible call management menus with user selectable options -- a more advanced version of the traditional phone tree/menu systems. A better quality system will allow you to have multiple sets of menus and even change them based on time or on information gleaned from caller ID.
-Managing extensions-features to help the phone system administrator by allowing the addition of new extensions, removal of unneeded extensions, change of extension locations and much more from a web-based control panel
-Voicemail and voice mailboxes-any IP-PBX should allow an almost infinite number with far more flexibility than regular phone systems -- more advanced features would include the ability to record ALL incoming and outgoing
-Call forwarding-automatic, programmed or manual call forwarding to any number
-Call hold-placing callers properly on hold with no drop off in queues with user selectable hold music and programmable options about handling hold time length.
-Conference calling-handling multi-party conference calls -- internally and externally
-Branch office support-the ability to manage and remotely administer extensions at other offices just as easily as if they were local
-Web-based management and administration-to make it quick and easy to manage your phone system directly from a web browser -- this can include the ability to add end-user configuration and management functions as well
-Some form of integration into your basic data network so that 'click-to-call' functionality can be added or even full blown CRM systems