Advantages of an IP based business phone system.
VoIP and Telephony based on IP, are finally bringing voice into your network, just like all the other applications that you have been using for years, such as email, databases, and instant messaging. PBX manufacturers have moved into IP communications and are now using protocols that can communicate and integrate with other existing applications. These PBXs are referred to as IP-PBXs, because they use IP (Internet Protocol) for their signaling. Additionally, Asterisk based IP-PBXs are becoming more available from smaller upstarts, changing forever the traditional proprietary PBX manufacturers stronghold on the business PBX market. In fact, Asterisk has started its eleventh year as an open source PBX software and has captured the dominate position of PBX software. It has proved itself to be efficient, cost effective and stable, and something that the industry giants are having to compete with. That having been said, more companies are exploring an IP solution for their next PBX Business Phone System. And why not, with prices lower, features greater and choices more abundant it should be the way to go.
An IP-PBX is a PBX phone system that uses IP (Internet Protocol) data networks to manage call switching, route calls and handle other messaging. IP-PBX technology includes advanced communication features, like voicemail to email, but also provides scalability and the ability to connect to traditional PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Service) lines, so there is no need to change carriers. An IP-PBX business phone system consists of one or more IP-Phones, an IP-PBX server and an optional VoIP gateway to connect to existing PSTN lines. The IP-PBX server functions in a similar manner as a hosted VoIP proxy server, but resides in most cases on premise: connecting SIP clients, being either soft phones or hardware-based IP-Phones. The IP-PBX server establishes a directory of registered IP-Phones and their corresponding SIP addresses and connects internal network (LAN) calls or routes outgoing calls either to a VoIP gateway or a VoIP service provider.
- It uses your LAN- An IP-PBX business phone system will reside on your network using your existing LAN. The PBX server is only a short distance away, so signaling distance and time (latency) is very short and does not depend on traveling over the Internet and other networks.
- Lower operational costs over time- In addition to taking advantage of lower cost VoIP routing, purchasing your own IP-PBX lowers costs over time. When using hosted VoIP the initial costs are most likely lower, but monthly subscription costs are ongoing and higher over time when compared to an IP-PBX. An business owned IP-PBX will usually result in lower averaged monthly operating costs especially for systems with a higher number of users.
- Easier to configure and install than proprietary phone systems- Proprietary phone systems can be cumbersome and difficult to navigate around their software to configure and install. An IP-PBX system will be much more familiar to computer savvy people, especially someone who has experience with networks. This can be especially true for Asterisk based systems that have a front-end GUI such as FreePBX.
- Simpler Management- The GUI of an IP-PBX will be much more user friendly than traditional PBXs. This allows for easier changes and additions.
- Easy to move phones- Because phones are IP based, they are like PCs, move them from one connection to another and they find home and connect right back up to the PBX server. No longer are the days when a simple phone move needs to have cross connects changed and a phone technician making a billable service call.
- Unified Messaging- Having the ability of receiving and listening to your your messages from your Outlook inbox, along with PDFs of faxes increases communication and productivity. Integration with work applications, such a CRM packages can help business perfrormance.
- Branch offices- can be added to an existing system and connected through an Internet connection. (Again lower cost, with the IP-phones being the major cost of the hardware needed.)
- Remote Extensions- employees can plug in a compatible IP- Phone at home to their Internet connection and be extension dialing.
- Cost savings by connecting to VoIP providers via SIP trunking- Using SIP trunking with an in house IP-PBX can connect to lower cost VoIP providers; reducing phone bills, especially long distance and International calls.
- More choices- Major companies that have built PBXs are now focused on IP connectivity, but even better are all the upstart companies that are building Asterisk IP-PBXs with lower prices and vendor neutral hardware.
An IP-PBX or not?
If you are considering a new in-house PBX then an IP-PBX should be your primary choice. Either one that is based on Asterisk or a proprietary manufacturer, voice over IP is the future. Investing in a software-based IP PBX makes both financial and good business sense, for new companies purchasing a new business phone system, and also for companies who are looking to replace an existing PBX. IP telephony is the way of the future and an IP-PBX will bring to your business cost savings in management, maintenance, and phone call costs, plus additional cost benefits from added efficiencies.
One IP-PBX that is an Asterisk based business phone system which comes preconfigured is Zerabox. It's affordable, dependable and has an intuitive web based control panel.
What about the ultra small company?
For very small companies who need only 2 to 7 phones, or who have more than two very small locations, then a hosted VoIP solution could be the right choice. These systems are easy to install, low in upfront costs and have robust feature sets that will make your small enterprise truly appear large. Additionally, they can be great values for savings on heavy outbound long distance calling volume, even for the one person office.