This guide is all about helping you understand what IP PBX is exactly and what you need in order to start a successful IP PBX company.
FIRST THINGS FIRST – WHAT IS IP PBX EXACTLY?
Years ago, before the existence of PBX, if a worker wanted to speak to another worker in the same office, the full calling price was charged – this was obviously a big waste of money for most companies and so PBX was invented.
It wasn’t always IP PBX… years ago before the internet was used as much as today, it was just plain and simple – PBX.
In 1970 the switchboard started to be used. The switchboard was a hardware based system and was first connected by hand – this is what we call ‘manual call switching’.
This is how it worked:
- When someone called the business phone system, the call came through to the main switchboard.
- The caller had an option to choose who or what department he wanted to be connected to.
- Once he made his choice where to be connected to, a receptionist had to manually connect the PBX server to the phone of the person or department they wanted to call.
- Once the call was finished it had to be unplugged
This obviously had a lot of disadvantages. First of all, companies needed to pay someone to connect and disconnect all those cables. Secondly, the amount of cables going around must have caused a real mess. On top of that, these systems were really expensive so only the very big companies could afford to have one.
This is why a change was needed…
It wasn’t before long that a system was invented to connect those cables automatically.
There were now two types of systems:
- ‘private automated branch exchange’ (PABX) – which was the system that connected the cables automatically, and was used by the big and wealthy companies
- ‘private manual branch exchange‘ (PMBX) – the system where one had to manually connect the cables, which was used by the regular companies
Slowly but surely PMBX disappeared from the market, and it was only PABX which later became PBX short for ‘private branch exchange’.
When VoIP started becoming popular in the years 1990, PBX started turning into IP PBX (internet protocol private branch exchange) as businesses found this an easy way of saving money. Calls through the internet are charged at a fraction of the price of regular calls.
With the years IP PBX has improved dramatically and more features are added all the time.
NOW THAT WE UNDERSTAND WHAT IP PBX IS, LET SEE HOW IT WORKS…
IP PBX is basically a telephone network within a company that allows for free calls to be made between the different users (internal calls). Calls to outside of the network (external calls) can also be made, but they will probably not be free. IP PBX calls are made with VoIP, so even though external calls are charged for, they will still be much cheaper that regular phone calls.
IP PBX offers many features such as call queueing, call transfer, voicemail, call recording, voice menus, etc. in addition to just regular calling.
In order for a business to set up an IP PBX system, they will need an IP PBX server, one or more IP or softphones and an optional gateway (for external calls).
The IP or softphones will need to register with the server so that the server has some sort of list of all the users connected to it.
When a worker in the company wants to call another worker, this is what will happen:
- The person that wants to make the call will ‘ask’ the server to establish a connection
- The server has a list of all the user and phones and their IP addresses, using these IP addresses internal calls are made
- For external calls, the server will make use of a gateway or VoIP provider
- Users can call with the system anywhere they have internet access. This means that they do not all have to be working from the same office – they can be working from home or different offices.
The IP PBX also deals with incoming calls and can easily direct callers to the person or department they wish to call
- The system can be connected to one or several phone numbers
- Companies can choose to have a custom greeting that callers will hear when they call. If there are several phone numbers, there can be separate greetings for each number. Companies can choose to have a custom greeting come on only during out-of-business hours.
- Companies can choose to have a custom menu where callers can choose what person or department they wish to call. Companies can also choose to just have their receptionist answer calls and direct callers to the appropriate person/department.
- Companies can choose to record a message for when a person in the company or department is unavailable.
- The IP PBX system will make sure the call connection is stable for the duration of the call and that the connection gets closed when the call is finished.
- There are additional features such as call queue, hold, call transfer, etc. that some providers will offer. Companies can also choose to have customized music or ads playing while callers are waiting to be connected.
ADVANTAGES OF IP PBX FOR BUSINESSES
- IP PBX makes internal calls easier, more efficient and cost free. This contributes to the smooth running of a company.
- If there is an automatic menu, then it saves money because there is no receptionist answering
- Workers can connect to the system even if they are not in the office. This means that workers can easily work from home and still be connected. Workers can also work from different offices and be connected to the same phone network. It is easy to add or remove phones from the system as there are no wires involved. This means that as the company grows, the system can grow with it
Besides for advantages for the company themselves, there are also advantages for the company’s clients.
- There is only one number needed for clients to call anyone in the company
- When the call menu is automatic, it saves time as it is faster than when a receptionist has to answer and direct the call and they are less likely to be connected to the wrong person
These also benefit the companies themselves as clients are more likely to deal with businesses that have good phone systems that those that haven’t.
A NEW REVOLUTION – HOSTED IP PBX
Hosted means there is no physical IP PBX system in the office. Everything is in the cloud. Companies will basically rent the system from their provider. The system will be in the office of the provider and all company needs in order to be connected is internet connection.
More and more companies these days are turning to hosted systems instead of being their own because they offer many benefits including:
- no upfront fee
- no installation costs
- when software updates, companies with hosted IP PBX can just download the update
The downside of hosted is that there is not as much customization compared to owned systems.
When it comes to choosing between hosted or owned IP PBX systems, small or medium size companies of up to 300 users are advised to use hosted systems, whereas large companies are better off with their own system.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED IN ORDER TO START OFFERING IP PBX TO YOUR CLIENTS
You will need IP PBX software in order to start offering these services to your clients. This is basically a softswitch with IP PBX module. You can either buy or rent one. If you are just starting out, it might be better to rent as it is a lot cheaper. If you are already offering VoIP services and are just adding IP PBX, you can use the same softswitch but you will need to get the IP PBX module.
Before you can decide what you will need in order to start offering IP PBX services, you need to decide what type of clients you will be targeting. If you want to offer your services to small and medium companies, then it is best that you offer hosted services. If you want to offer services to larger companies, then offer regular IP PBX. If you are already offering VoIP services to your clients, decide what your clients would prefer and offer that.
WHAT YOUR IP PBX CUSTOMERS WILL EXPECT FROM YOU
When you start offering IP PBX systems to your clients, there are some thing they will expect from you:
- As with all VoIP systems, there is an issue with privacy and security. Your clients will want to make sure the phone numbers of their clients, suppliers etc. are safe. This is why you will have to show them you are trustworthy and will never give out their info to third parties.
- They will expect good quality at low price
- They want their system to save them money and time
- It needs to be easy to set up
- They might want additional features such as voicemail, call forwarding, queue, hold, options for smartphones and tablets etc.
- They will also want excellent customer service in case something goes wrong
WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO DISCUSS WITH YOUR CLIENTS BEFORE THEY START WITH IP PBX…
When you offer your clients IP PBX services you will need to help them decide on a couple of points to help them get the most out of their system:
- What times of the day will the phone system work? What will happen when it is out of business hours? Will there be a customized message?
- When will voicemail come up? Only when out of hours? Or when an extension is busy?
- When several calls come in at the same time, how should the server manage them?
- Some IP PBX providers will offer a feature that allows companies to see what number the callers are calling to. This is useful for companies that have several phone numbers that all connected to same server and wish to know what number the caller used to make that call.
- Before the IP PBX can be used, a directory has to be made with all the phones that will be connected to it
Because the IP PBX market is growing so fast there are endless of opportunities for offering IP PBX. Whether you wish to cater to large, medium or small businesses, if done correctly it can turn into a very lucrative business.
Source by Sarah Kesselman