What Are the Different Types of PBX Phone Systems?

The phone call is still the first mode of contact between a business and a potential customer in many instances. This means that having a reliable, state of the art PBX system is a crucial and vital decision for any organisation. As technology has advanced we have gone from analogue exchanges to digital and virtual systems, it means that choosing your ideal phone system solution is becoming increasingly difficult.

What is a PBX Phone System?

PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange, which is a private telephone network used within a business. The users of this PBX share a number of outside lines capable of making external phone calls – these phone calls are carried out of the public switched telephone network (PSTN).

PBX phone systems used to only be reserved for large enterprises, but over the years the prices in installation and running costs have been reduced significantly; which means any business can now invest in an office phone system.

Features of PBX phone systems include; welcome messages, call holding, call conferencing, automatic call distribution, a directory of extension numbers and archiving of call records. There are many other features available depending upon the type of system you invest in and if you require and third party plugins.

There are three main types of PBX phone systems

• Traditional PBX/Analogue PBX

Traditional PBX or analogue phone systems exist as a physical exchange box on your company’s premises. The overall costs of this type of PBX system may seem higher than other systems, but due to scaling and costs calculated per employee the price actually decreases with the number of ports required.

Here, a phone box is used that connects all the on-site phone lines (ISDN lines), the costs are usually higher due to installation, down time and maintenance and support. As traditional PBX systems tend to be more complex and bespoke it requires a certified engineer to fix any issues.

Many businesses prefer to operate on traditional PBX phone systems with their own in-house overheads. Usually this is in the form of a comms room that is looked after by your IT team, it also gives you full ownership of the hardware unlike in other PBX solutions. For companies operating out of one building, the PBX phone system can be just as beneficial as a virtual system.

• Hosted PBX

As telephony has advanced significantly over recent years, the trouble with installing a traditional or analogue PBX system is that it starts losing value as soon as it goes on the wall.

Adding new features to PBX systems requires significant engineering in the central PBX on site, this can often mean that if you are fast growing and require urgent applications this could be very timely and cause losses for your organisation. With a Hosted PBX, adding new features is as easy as downloading a new plugin for your web browser.

You can still have all of the same benefits of a PBX but your exchange box is located and serviced virtually by the telecoms provider. Hosted PBX phone systems are the best phone systems for small businesses as they do not require an in-house IT team to manage or maintain any hardware.


An IP PBX system is what is also known as a VOIP system (Voice over IP) and delivers voice or video over a data connection. It can also interoperate with the traditional PSTN.

The IP PBX will convert the voice in to data and transfer it across the network as packets. Using data networks for voice can significantly reduce the cost of long distance, and international phone calls; and considerably reduce the overheads of traditional line rentals.

An IP PBX solution is also able to switch calls between VoIP and traditional telephones while still offering the same functionality of your traditional PBX phone system. It is different from a hosted or cloud based solution as the IP PBX is owned by the business, just as with a traditional PBX.

It can exist as a hardware or software-only solution.


The cost of a PBX telephone system will depend upon the type of system, the features you require and the number of extensions your business needs. To get an accurate idea of cost for your small business, you will need to contact a telecoms company such as Elite Telecom for a quote.

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