Intro to Hosted PBX

By Catherine Hensley
Updated: February 02, 2011

When choosing a telephone system for your business, it’s important to consider the many varied options available for today’s communication needs. Any basic system consists of telephone lines usable from many different telephones, in addition to more advanced features like “switchboard” technology. PBX is a type of telephone exchange akin to the days when operators answered incoming calls and “switched” or directed those calls to their proper destinations. A single “private branch exchange” (or PBX) system services one specific business or office setting, as opposed to a centralized hub or telephone company operator system.

Overview

When you dial an office with a PBX system, you will reach their central (or main) line and then have the option of dialing an individual’s “extension” number (or, in other words, a “branch” from the main line ending with that particular line). A “hosted PBX” system is not housed in a business or office. Instead, it is usually located off site at the hosted PBX company’s location. This basic fact regarding hosted PBX systems is one of its many advantages. With a hosted PBX system, a business does not have to buy and maintain the equipment itself. An organization will simply sign a contract with a service provider to use the hosted PBX system’s services.

Features

Today, hosted PBX systems offer users a number of practical and useful features for enhancing their business telecommunications operations, in addition to the standard options available with basic PBX systems located on the premises of a particular business. For example, a company that has multiple locations geographically can have one phone number to represent the entire company. A call to such a centralized line will then be routed to the appropriate extension based on a dialer’s input following a series of prompts. This hosted-PBX feature also enables the possibility of telecommuting for a company’s employees. With such a system, the necessity of even having a physical office is diminished.

Additional features available with hosted PBX include centralized billing and access to the network through a variety of systems. An organization can opt for individualized rate plans that track certain incoming business-related calls at reduced charges, and business calls made on private lines can be tallied and recorded for inclusion in the company’s main bill. Additionally, employees have the option of accessing their company’s hosted PBX telephone system through programs like VoIP and even cellular phones. With this feature, one extension number can ring in more than one specific location. There is a lot to consider when selecting a business telephone system, but the advantages of hosted PBX make it one to seriously consider.

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