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Is this an End to PBX? Has Unified Communications Technologies Replaced it?

April 01, 2013

A once popular telephone system for call handling, where calls were routed manually, was the private branch exchange (PBX). It allowed telephone exchange for the general public for many years. In the 1990s with the availability of the Internet, business telephony led to the development of the VoIP PBX. It was then when people had either a hosted or an on-premises PBX solution.

Even though either option can offer a reliable communication system for business associates and customers, a method for channeling voice signals and has abilities for voice response, voicemail and many other calling features and capabilities, it’s been questioned whether or not the PBX is dead as a result of the rise of Unified Communications (UC).

According to three enterprise IT executives, who were asked if they would ever buy another PBX, it seems that there is no longer need of the PBX (phone system).

Surely a public switched telephone network (PSTN) and SIP trunk connectivity can supplement or replace a PBX public network, but it may be in the best interest for a business to hold on to such an internal phone system at least to provide switching connections between users, if not to manage incoming and outgoing calls.

With all this talk, nowadays, about UC and how it can optimize business processes and enhance human communications, it seems readily able to replace traditional PBXs in many environments. So what should an enterprise do?

It may be suitable not to give up on PBX, yet, but users can consider the use of a media gateway to provide an interface and “a bridge between IP-network-based UC solutions, such as the Microsoft® Lync Server and legacy PBX and PSTN networks,” affirms Dialogic Inc.

Following Dialogics’ easy enough advice would give reason for using or purchasing an IP PBX today and put an end to the dispute of it being “an architectural dead end.”

As per the market today, PBXs could last another 5 to 10 years. In 3Q12, for instance, there is word that “the traditional TDM based PBX market [was] falling, but the Hybrid (TDM/IP PBX) and IP PBX markets continue[d] to generate new sales…”

If possible, it is suggested to keep on hand a PBX (or an IP PBX); only to be replaced, if necessary, by UC voice media streams. It may be feasible to go with the UC and have it installed next to an existing PBX to have both functionalities.

Unified communications goes far beyond typical phone capabilities that are found with PBX. As a matter of fact, it expands communications services such as voicemail to data communications and video, as well as enables people to check and retrieve an E-mail or voice message from across multiple devices and media types at any time.

Yet, just like the traditional PBX, some even cast doubt on an IP PBX architecture being dead.

Despite knowing that answer, it seems one will use what they find is both feasible and economical now; however, as usual, that may need to change as communication technology advances.

Edited by Ashley Caputo

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