How do I choose the best business phone service?

Calls going to a mobile PBX are routed to employees’ cell phones.

There are several different options for business phone service, each with distinct advantages and disadvantages. The four main business phone service options are traditional Private Branch Exchange (PBX), mobile PBX, hosted Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), and VoIP hardware. Businesses should primarily consider hardware requirements and expansion capabilities when choosing a business telephony solution.

A business telephone service may include a mobile component.

A private branch exchange (PBX) uses physical connections to connect many business phone lines. Using a PBX, business extensions can connect to each other or to an outside caller. Traditional PBX systems often require a human operator, who directs calls and chooses the right connections. Companies that already have PBX switchboards may not need to upgrade to newer systems. Fast-growing businesses, however, can often benefit from a solution that does not require the installation of physical hardware.

Mobile PBX is a business phone solution that works similarly to traditional PBX but requires no hardware. Rather than relying on a physical switch and operator, mobile PBX systems use software hosted by a third-party provider. Virtual extensions can be added to the system and routed to employees’ cell phone numbers. When a call comes in, it is automatically routed to one of the available cell phones. The main advantage of mobile PBX is the simplicity of adding new extensions.

The Hosted Voice Over Internet (VoIP) protocol is a business telephone service that is very similar to mobile PBX. While calls to a mobile PBX are routed to employees’ cell phones, calls through a hosted VoIP system are sent to virtual software. This software interface is often referred to as a “softphone” and acts like a telephone interface installed on a computer. Using microphones or headsets connected to the computer, employees can make and receive calls over the Internet. As with mobile PBX solutions, hosted VoIP phone service allows businesses to rapidly expand without purchasing expensive hardware.

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VoIP hardware bridges the gap between a traditional PBX and hosted VoIP systems. Like traditional PBX, VoIP hardware must be purchased and installed at a commercial location. Instead of using normal phone lines to route calls, however, VoIP hardware uses an Internet connection. This allows new extensions to be added anywhere on the company’s computer network. VoIP hardware allows companies to own and control their own service without relying on a third-party VoIP provider.

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