VoIP and PRI: What's the Difference?

By Robin Wilding
Updated: February 02, 2014

Since the inception of VoIP technology has spread from high-tech geeks to your home and business computers. This cheap alternative to landline-based communications makes it possible to send a voice call over the Internet—eliminating the need for expensive phone lines. The corporate world is beginning to tap into this technology to reduce their communications cost while increasing their businesses’ intelligence.

VoIP is a broad reaching term that umbrellas all the types of phone systems that are broadcast over the Internet, but the technology has become much more complex. Many businesses have begun installing primary rate interfaces (PRI) to turn their existing phone systems into VoIP platforms.

A PRI is a type of VoIP line that provides up to 23 separate 64 Kbps B lines and one data channel line with 64 Kpbs. What this means, for those of us without IT degrees, is that a PRI system offers a business-style system with a multitude of lines that can be sent over the Internet and not over traditional landlines.

A PRI line is quite complex as it can contain lines used for Internet-based phone calls and other lines used for data transmission used for things like video conferencing.

The reason PRIs are becoming increasingly popular is that they can work with a company’s existing technologies and integrate both landlines with IP-based lines. By using their existing PBX system businesses can convert their landline system to VoIP PRI easily and cost effectively.

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Advantages of using PRI:

Not only is there a cost savings from using a VoIP PRI system, but it causes no disturbances for users and therefore no need to retrain. It can be a hosted service, which eliminates hardware costs, and can be used not only for phone lines but also to implement valuable services like video-conferencing and other data-based activities.

  • Use of existing PBX system technologies
  • Low cost from using a VoIP system
  • Multiple sites can be connected into the same system eliminating maintenance and installation charges across locations
  • No change or learning curve for the users
  • Increased high-tech communications options
  • Scalable technologies that can grow or shrink with your business
  • Can be managed remotely via web-based consoles

A PRI system allows you to turn your communications network from traditional landline to a cost saving VoIP network using your existing technology. This new system can offer important business intelligence like faster systems and video-conferencing.

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