PBX Business Phone System Buyer Guide
What is a PBX Phone System?
A Private Branch Exchange, or PBX phone system, has become a standard in business communications systems thanks to the array of sophisticated call handling features available for small, medium and large entities. A traditional PBX connects a company’s employees to each other internally – as well as to the outside world – using extensions to create the effect of multiple lines operating from one main number.
Complexity that was once reserved for medium to large organizations is now affordably available to smaller enterprises, with features including but not limited to:
- Transfer calls within the company
- Call forwarding to mobile or home phones
- Internal communication among employees
- Provide voicemail to each employee
- Make outgoing calls to multiple phone lines
- Assign individual extensions to each department or employee
- Scalable and customizable options
- Advanced features such as user location-tracking and collaboration tools
How PBX Telephony Works
One major factor affecting overall system price is the purchase of any necessary equipment. There are a few different ways to configure a PBX phone system, and some offer ways to minimize costs by leveraging existing hardware.
- Traditional PBX systems work off the public switched telephone network using a large central cabinet or switchboard with cables that connect to outside lines. Such systems have been the standard for decades and can still be found in commercial offices.
- Hybrid PBX systems are great for businesses which may already have a functioning private branch exchange and just want to integrate new features. Companies in technological transition can also benefit from these systems as hybrid PBX supports both analog and Voice-Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phones, which lets users place calls inexpensively over the Internet.
- Internet Protocol, or IP PBX systems, have a strictly digital infrastructure and use streaming data across the Internet to run multiple calls through a single line. Not surprisingly, VOIP phones and IP-based PBX systems are quickly gaining an edge in business and consumer markets for their compact size and cost effectiveness. With IP PBX, local calls are free and long distance costs next to nothing.
- With analog, hybrid, and IP PBX, a major factor affecting cost is whether your system is hosted or in-house. Hosted PBX means all the equipment is provided and managed offsite by a third party vendor. Users then pay a monthly service rate, which includes the equipment and a data plan. While an on-premise solution tends to have greater up-front costs and lower long-term costs, the opposite holds true for a hosted VoIP service package.
Private Branch Exchange ConsiderationsWhen preparing to choose a PBX configured system for your business, consider the following questions:
- How many phones/lines are needed?
- What optional features do you require?
- What kind of wiring and equipment is already in place?
How Much Does A PBX Phone System Cost?
Average PBX Phone System Costs
- PBX telephone systems for businesses cost an average of $850-$1,000 per employee. However, thanks to economies of scale, costs per employee will likely be less in organizations with 100 or more employees.
- Business phones range from $150 to $300 for a simple multi-line phone to around $750-$1,000 for a conferencing console.
- For an onsite PBX solution, the most expensive part of the system is the cabinet, which may cost from $1,500-$10,500.
- Unlimited VoIP data plans cost $20-$75 per month. While a metered plan may seem like a money saver up front, overage charges usually end up making the plan cost more in the long run.
- Keep in mind that costs (initial setup, maintenance, and data) are often bundled or subsidized for systems purchased through VoIP providers.