Skype is a free software application that lets you make and receive phone calls over an IP network. Many small businesses would like to utilize the service, but already have a PBX system in place that they use for phone calls.
You can now integrate Skype and a traditional PBX through a process called Skype trunking. You simply need to obtain a PBX-to-Skype gateway, download the necessary software to each computer, and you will be able to add inbound and outbound lines to your phone system that are Skype-enabled. You can also add VoIP trunks through analog, digital, or SIP connections.
The primary benefit to this is the ability to make phone calls to other Skype users for free. You just dial their phone number, and the system will digitize the audio signal and transmit it over the internet. This can provide a cost-effective method to stay in contact with employees who travel or work from home on a regular basis.
Skype and PBX integration also allows you to make phone calls to normal landlines and mobile devices through the SkypeOut feature. You have to purchase the minutes ahead of time (about $ 0.021 per minute), but can then use them in a similar manner as a calling card. You also get to make the phone calls at local rates no matter where the user is physically located.
Another advantage is the ability to transfer calls between different branches at absolutely no cost. Skype treats the phone calls as if they were made in the same office, even if they’re located overseas. A traditional PBX does not have this function and is subject to long distance phone rates.
This type of phone system also has many modern telephony features. You can have an auto-attendant that connects customers with different departments and employees, as well as PSTN failover in case your internet connection should suddenly go down. You can also have voicemail for each employee that is automatically sent to their email address as a sound file.
Keep in mind that all of this is accomplished with the private branch exchange still in place. Your company gets to keep its PBX and the dependability that it provides, particularly in power outages and emergencies. You just gain Skype functionality as well and a cost-effective means of making phone calls over the internet.
Skype and PBX integration does have system requirements in order to properly function. You will generally need about four gigabytes of RAM on the PC server, and a network connection that varies between 0.8 and 4.8 Mbps. The operating system will have to be at least Windows XP, with a preference for later versions. You will also need a microphone or headset and set of computer speakers for each employee who intends to use the service
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