Save by Comparing Telephone System Quotes

Begin your free quote below

Do you already have a telephone system?

Get Quotes It only takes a minute
  • Complete a short form
  • Receive a free quote from leading suppliers
  • Compare prices and save

What is PBX?

Is your business in need of a high quality and scalable way to communicate? How about PBX…?

Whether for internal calls between colleagues or external calls with clients and customers, clear communication is vital for business success.

That’s why you need to be sure the phone system you use is reliable, high quality and feature-rich.

With a private branch exchange (PBX) phone system, you can manage internal communications, improve customer conversations, and cut your costs at the same time.

But what is PBX?

In this article you will learn:

PBX meaning

PBX stands for private branch exchange. This is a business-grade phone system that connects all the phones in an organisation, whether in the same office or across multiple locations.

PBX phone systems are designed to handle the large volume of phone lines, calls, and numbers that flow in and out of your business.

They include features that make them uniquely situated to the daily operations of a business.

There are two kinds of PBX system: on-premises internet protocol (IP) PBX, and hosted PBX.

On-premises IP-PBX

IP-PBXs use the internet to transmit high quality voice and video communications from a PBX system that is based at your business premises.

Unlike older systems, IP-PBXs don’t have to physically connect to copper wiring. Instead, each phone connects to the PBX over an office’s Local Area Network (LAN).

Calls then go through the phone company provider using gateway cards.

The main advantage of an on-premise PBX system is that it, if the internet goes down, it can be run through traditional phone lines.

What is a gateway card?

A gateway card, or gateway VoIP, converts voice and fax calls between your IP network and the public network

This requires your business to shoulder the initial set up cost of buying the server, as well as the gateway cards needed to connect to the provider. This means it is more expensive to set up and maintain, but:

  • It can be cheaper on a monthly basis
  • It’s easier to add more phones
  • It gives you greater control to add and remove users
  • You don’t have to change providers

The diagram below explains how it all works:


Hosted PBX

With hosted PBX systems, the provider is responsible for handling the IP-PBX and the technology necessary to make it work at its location.

The provider then charges your business a monthly fee, which usually comprises a minutes package and certain extra features.

Adding additional IP phones requires extra costs and additional programming time on your side, but:

  • Phone systems can be moved easily
  • Hosted PBX has a lower initial cost to set up
  • There are no maintenance costs

A hosted PBX package for business

Gradwell Communications offers four plans, paid monthly. They include a free phone and set number of minutes.

  • Standard: From £12/ 500 landline minutes
  • Plus: From £16/ 1,000 landline or mobile
  • Professional: From £20/ 3,000 landline minutes
  • Enterprise: Custom pricing

Calling the outside world

In order to make calls to the outside world, you’ll need to connect your on-premises system to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) or integrated services digital network (ISDN).

However, with the UK communications networks expanding and upgrading to superfast fibre internet, the days of PSTN and ISDN are numbered.

BT is planning to put the two networks out to pasture by 2025 and migrate all its services to SIP technology. So, if you’re a new business, it makes sense to opt for session initiation protocol (SIP) trunking or Voice over Internet Protocol technology (VoIP) – which both remove the need for physical phone lines – from the off.

Find out more about SIP Trunking and VoIP here.

Why should you get a PBX system?

A PBX system offers many advantages that can help small businesses deliver a great level of service to customers and keep conversation flowing around the organisation.

If you’re still relying on a single copper telephone line, then it’s high time you considered upgrading.

Here’s why:

  • Cost effective – both types of PBX are more cost-effective options for small businesses, without the need for expensive hardware and maintenance
  • Feature-rich – PBX systems offer a range of features that help you to manage the large volume of calls a modern organisation can expect (explored below)
  • Professionalism – no matter what the size of your business is, a PBX phone system gives your customers the impression that you’re a large, credible organisation. This encourages those who may have reservations about dealing with a smaller operation
  • It’s scalable – hosted PBX systems in particular offer flexible plans, and the ability to add more extensions and features at will

PBX features

The below is not an exhaustive list, but covers the main features you can expect to find with a PBX phone system.

  • A virtual receptionist – also called an auto attendant, these are the pre-recorded voices that can greet the caller and provide them with a number of options. This removes the need to pay for a real receptionist, allows for efficient call routing,  can greet customers out of business hours, and is entirely customisable
  • Call transfer – transfers a call in progress to another destination, such as the next available person or a specific/relevant department
  • Automatic call forwarding – automatically directs calls to another destination when there is no answer
  • A dial-by-extension directory – allows you to create a customisable menu of departments, options, or people with a corresponding number, so the caller can be directed to the most relevant place
  • Call recording – can be very important for quality control training. PBX allows you to record multiple phone lines at once
  • Call logs – help your agents be more productive. They can see a full list of missed, inbound and outbound calls, including caller ID, time and date. Agents just need to click to call back
  • Hold music – can enhance the waiting caller’s experience, differentiate you from other businesses, and build brand awareness and loyalty
  • Call waiting – allows you to suspend one call while in progress and accept another call. You can then switch between calls depending on which needs to be prioritised
  • Conference calling – allows you to have important meetings between internal and external people over the phone. People can join in and drop out when necessary
  • Call screening – evaluates the characteristics of a call before you answer by checking caller ID. This enables you to block nuisance calls, and screen other calls without causing offence
  • Voicemail to email – saves voicemails left at your company phone number as easily retrievable MP3 files, notifying you automatically

Next steps

Modern PBX systems keep your business on track and in the loop. They come with a variety of optional features that give your organisation credibility, and can scale alongside your business as it grows.

Now you know what a PBX phone system can do for your business, you might have further questions.

Click on the following links to find out about:

Alternatively, if you’re ready to start comparing suppliers today, fill in the short form at the top of this page find your perfect match.

Compare Telephone Systems Prices

Do you already have an telephone system?