A PBX is the function that mediates phone calls. It regards calling a manual or automatic service which further transfers you to the right person or service. The first phone systems consisted of manual PBXs where telephonists connected two parts to be able to perform a call.
A manual PBX still exists in the even where you would for example call a big company. A telephonist in the PBX will then answer and ask who you’re looking for and thereafter connect you to the right person. This is increasingly becoming replaced by an automatic PBX.
An automatic PBX consists of calling a number where an automatic telephonist answers. You’ll hear a few choices and click your way through the PBX by entering the number that is mentioned. This is a common way to move forward in a PBX today.
- A PBX is either automatic or manual.
- Telephonists were previously necessary to connect two parts in a call.
- Today most PBXs have an automatic telephonist that picks up.
- Today there are no longer any phone PBXs for private calls.
- The last phone PBX for private calls was terminated in the 1970s in Sweden.
- Now it’s managed digitally which makes it possible to handle a much larger number of calls.
- Televerket for a long time had monopoly on the phone PBXs in Sweden.
The history of PBX
The first PBX systems were huge and had to be managed by several receptionists. Their main task consisted of connecting calls by plugging and unplugging wires that calls were carried over. By the 1970’s the PBX systems saw a huge improvement in automation which resulted in much less labor heavy work and streamlined communication. Gradually these automated systems completely replaced the manual ones.
By the 90’s, the PBX systems saw some pretty big changes and in 1995 researchers tried to figure out how to transfer voice and videofiles over internet. They succeeded a year later and introduced VoIP to the world. This created what we today recognize as IP-PBX or hosted PBX that became incredibly popular among companies. Companies could as a result buy a PBX without having to house the hardware. ISDN also introduced PBX functions such as conference calls and call transfer. By the 2000’s and forward, VoIP is a huge part of the PBX market and PBX systems today are more powerful and cost efficient than ever before.
Public monopoly on phone PBXs
For a long time there was a public monopoly on everything form service to support that belonged to telephony. For a whole 80 years this monopoly existed in Sweden and the last bit of it, landline telephony, ceased to exist in 2005. During the monopoly the government was responsible for the PBXs, telephonists and the maintenance.
Systems for phone PBXs were expensive and there were only a few alternatives to choose from due to the state monopoly and its’ investment in technically advanced and operation safe alternatives. A big company PBX could cost 5 million Swedish kr. This was a huge initial cost for companies that over time became less expensive.
The government always made sure the operation was reliable. Because of increasing and more important investments of PBXs, with technique developing, votes of releasing the market to invest in PBXs started to diminish.
The digital PBX
In the late 00s the digital PBXs became more advanced. Today you can manage a phone PBX through an interface in your mobile. There are also various interface based programs for PBXs that can be connected to a computer, such as a softphone. In that way you can streamline the PBX if you have a lot of employees.
You can for example connect an incoming call to a landline or a mobile phone. Other programs allow employees to individually enter what available times there are so that the automatic PBX will message the person calling when you can be reached.
The future PBX is expected to pass over to IP telephony or other technique based on infrastructure for internet specifically. This may include resources such as internet traffic shared and placed in the cloud service instead.
Different types of PBX systems
A great PBX system can help companies streamline communication and collaboration. But depending on your needs, there are a few different options to choose from;
- Traditional landline PBX– The analogue PBX solution is based on the landline telephone network and exists in a physical hardware. A local PBX that is located somewhere in the office. The landline wires are connected to it and these wires are connected to the phones on your coworkers’ desks. These systems are often reliable and work well. However, they’re often pricey to buy and run. Hardware such as trunks and extensions are steadily becoming outdated which will ultimately be expensive to support.
- Mobile PBX – This is a type of mobile PBX solution which is activated from the carrier. The complete PBX solution is located at your carrier and you don’t have to own any physical hardware. Incoming calls to the PBX number are managed by the carrier which are then directed to mobile phones that it’s connected to.
- Cloud PBX – This is a cloud based solution that is becoming all the more common together with development. With a cloud based PBX solution, your supplier manages all operations. You don’t have to own any hardware, updates, security or operations – which is all managed by the supplier. In addition, because all of this is managed by the supplier, you only need to install the software to get going. Your current mobile phones and computers can be used to call with. This means that the start up cost is fairly low and it’s a cost efficient alternative for companies with international offices.
- Local IP-PBX – This is a type of IP-PBX that instead is placed at a customers’ office. It offers all basic functionality that a cloud PBX offers and calls are transferred over internet. It’s also possible to integrate mobile phones into the system and connect SIP-trunks which makes it possible to include advanced functions like call recording and advanced ACD-groups. The main benefit here lies in easy startup. Network cables are used to connect the phones instead of regular phone cables. However, these are often quite expensive due to hardware and installation.
Latest update Nov 2020Glossary