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How Does VoIP PBX Compare to Traditional Phone PBX

Upgrading your office (or just getting rid of service that doesn’t keep up with needs) is enough of a hassle without having to research all the options out there. For those of you needing to make a quick change, we’re providing the important points your office will need to know to determine which system is right for you.

  1. Economy and Expenses

Physical PBXs are excellent devices – the office standard, prior to VoIP – but they are not for the faint of heart. Physical PBX boxes alone can run anywhere from $1000 for a device that can run a few phones to more than $20,000 for a medium to enterprise grade solution with hundreds of lines. The average cost for these systems, per user, is approximated at between $800 and $1000.

The easiest piece to underestimate is the price of paying for phone lines that are tied to a PBX’s physical equipment. A second pain point for physical PBX pricing is the mandatory phone bundles.

Phone lines are sold to businesses in bundles. Minimum bundles are a business necessity for telephone company providers, since they estimate most small businesses are between 10-150 users. It makes sense, therefore, to package a minimum number and create a repeatable bundle that can be sold many times and activated easily.

The problem with this model is when your business changes.

What if you want to add a single user, but all of your lines are already in use? Sorry to say, but most telephone carriers aren’t going to sell you a single phone line for commercial use. You will need to buy another bundle of lines. You only needed one? “Sorry about that! Our hands are tied!”

Additional costs are a factor too. Installations average around $4800 per office. The average on this is skewed lower because home offices are included in the average, too.

Hosted or virtual PBX, one piece of the complete VoIP phone setup, is simply a more affordable arrangement, particularly for small businesses. With no PBX to purchase and no mandatory phone lines to buy, costs immediately drop. Why? With a decent internet connection, the only fee is a flat, predictable amount for the duration of the agreement. We can’t speak for other VoIP business phone providers, but our service generally runs for a fraction of the price per user each month, compared to PBX-managed, plain old telephone service.

  1. Maintenance and Upkeep

PBX devices are moderately challenging devices to operate. Generally speaking, you can go two routes when using one: hire someone to install and maintain or pay someone to take care of it in-house. For small businesses, we recommend paying a professional IT pro to get these up and running – they are not plug-and-play style devices like some that interface with phones and computers.

In other words, firmware updates, troubleshooting and installation are best left to the pros – but those cost time and money.

That being said, business owners sometimes manage installs and updates using YouTube videos, calls to customer service, forums, etc. It can be done. However, with a hosted PBX setup, providers like 4Voice handle a virtual PBX from their centers of operation. That means less work for the business, little to no expense for maintenance, installation and updates, and more time for your business.

  1. Ability to Scale

As we mentioned earlier, part of the trouble with scaling using a traditional landline POTS phone service and a PBX means new lines must be purchased in bundles. But the annoyances don’t stop there.

A physical PBX costs time for IT staff or on-call help, too. New lines must be configured manually in the PBX for each new phone line. This isn’t an extremely time-consuming process, but it is worth consideration if your business has high turnover or is growing steadily.

Business VoIP solutions tend to scale well in all scenarios. Top VoIP providers will perform phone firmware updates, maintenance, line additions, and more – all without you having to stress about a PBX device. 4Voice prides itself on the level of service in just these situations, with some of the best uptime and service in the business.

That means less work maintaining the PBX, little risk of down time and more time to take care of the work that really makes a difference for your business.

Physical PBXs Are Down for the Count

Business VoIP’s features, scalability, service and inherent design put physical PBXs on the back burner. The virtual PBX provided by hosted VoIP phone service is just one part of the larger, more efficient package that providers have to offer, making VoIP stand out.  

Learn how to build better customer relationships, expedite operations and build the path to better productivity in our infographic: “Quick-Start Guide to Upgrading Your Office from Landlines to VoIP.”


Amruth Laxman

About the Author

Amruth Laxman

25+ years of telecom experience, specializing in high availability software and systems, I’ve seen the transformative impact they have on businesses. As the founding partner of 4Voice, I deliver customized, reliable phone solutions and can’t wait to share my insights with you in this blog.

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