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Virtual PBX

If you are looking for a PBX but do not want to host your own, a Virtual PBX is your best option. Also referred to as Hosted VoIP, a Virtual PBX delivers the office phone PBX features without requiring you to have equipment on-premise. Although these services seem to be a bit difficult to understand, VoipReview can help you clearly identify what makes a Virtual PBX and how it can benefit your business.

connecting to a virtual PBX

Virtual PBX Phone Systems

There are many different PBX phone systems

A virtual PBX is a type of hosted PBX. Virtual PBXs may refer to traditional hosted PBXs or cloud PBXs. Lots of businesses are turning to virtual PBXs because they are a more affordable and easy to use business VoIP solution given that they do not require any extra hardware.

The term “PBX” refers to the system a business uses to route calls and manage office phone extensions. PBXs can be hardware systems, software systems, or systems composed of both hardware and software.

There are many different kinds of PBXs. Aside from hosted PBXs or virtual PBXs, there are also IP PBXs and traditional PBXs. Traditional PBXs are large pieces of machinery that may require lots of office space, manual operation, and an on-site maintenance person. Some people still use traditional PBXs, but we won’t cover them here because they aren’t exactly VoIP solutions.

Our chart above will help you start looking into virtual PBXs to see if a virtual VoIP PBX phone system is right for your office.

business VoIP network

What is a Virtual PBX?

Less hardware and no maintenance than an on-site PBX

As mentioned above, a virtual PBX is another term for a type of hosted PBX. The term “hosted PBX” means that your PBX is hosted by a VoIP service provider.

Many virtual PBXs require a full PBX hardware and software system to operate, but you don’t have to own any of the PBX components yourself. Instead, your VoIP service provider owns and manages the PBX hardware system and provides you with PBX service from a remote location. You never have to buy, own, or operate any hardware yourself. This, in turn, helps you save money because you are not staffing anyone for regular maintenance, or buying additional expensive equipment.

The term virtual PBX may also refer to a cloud PBX. A cloud PBX is a PBX that is hosted almost entirely on the Internet. Cloud PBXs eliminate the need for traditional hardware of a PBX and do not have a physical location. Rather, all of your data is stored online through cloud technology. This means that a virtual PBX can be easily connected with any computer, tablet, mobile phone, or VoIP phone from any location without any kind of physical plugging in.

Cloud PBXs are hosted by a service provider in that the service provider designs and implements the cloud PBX, and the cloud technology is hosted by their server.

using VoIP on a laptop computer

How is it different from an IP PBX?

A Virtual PBX requires less hardware and less maintenance than an IP PBX

With an IP PBX, you own and operate the PBX system in your own office. However, the overarching problems with owning an IP PBX includes limited functionality, constant maintenance and upkeep, and a lack of mobility. If you have your own digital IP PBX, it may be composed of some hardware and some software components, or it may be entirely composed of software. Still, owning a digital IP PBX will require you to keep tabs on your system. 

But with a virtual PBX, your only business requirement is IP phones and a computer with Internet access. This drastically reduces your maintenance, upkeep, and equipment costs.

With a virtual PBX, you can have an almost unlimited number of phone extensions for your office. However, many virtual PBX service providers will only include a certain number of extensions in each plan. For example, the Pro plan with RingCentral includes 10 extensions, while the Office 300 plan with Phone.com includes unlimited extensions.

You can also use your virtual PBX VoIP system to provide extensions for employees working in different locations all over the world. Because a virtual PBX is hosted online, you aren’t limited to phone lines at a single specific geographical location for your service.

Virtual PBXs are the most basic type of virtual phone system. Depending on how much you want to spend, you can get more advanced virtual PBXs with more features, or cheaper virtual PBXs with fewer features.

fully-featured IP phone for VoIP

Advantages of a Virtual PBX

No hardware, great features, and an affordable price tag!

Installation is easy with virtual PBX because you don’t have to buy any hardware for the system.

And virtual PBXs are frequently very cheap. In some cases, they may be your cheapest option for PBX service. Top-rated providers like Vonage, Broadvoice, and Jive all offer PBX solutions that are affordable for consumers with any size business.

However, you should note that pricing for virtual PBXs doesn’t always include phone service. With many VoIP service providers, you will also have to be sure to get a business VoIP phone solution as well.

Virtual PBX VoIP systems may also include lots of useful features:

customizing your VoIP plan

Who Uses a Virtual PBX?

A Virtual PBX is suitable for companies who want to keep their costs low

Not everyone is a perfect fit for a Virtual PBX. Virtual PBX's benefit businesses that want to keep their equipment off-site, keeping maintenance and upgrade costs down. A Virtual PBX is also great for businesses that have workers who travel or work off-site; the system allows them to connect in and take advantage of the Virtual PBX features without having a physical desk and phone. Some of the biggest benefits of a virtual PBX are:

  1. No equipment cost or maintenance, since all equipment is hosted by the provider off-site
  2. Scalable and flexible. See changes (additional lines, features, etc.) almost instantly
  3. Free local and long distance calling because your calls are sent over the Internet
  4. Cheap international calling rates
  5. Enterprise features

Virtual PBXs may be very minimal. You should shop around before settling on a virtual PBX to see how various companies stack up based on their included features and overall cost. Some of the more fully-featured virtual PBXs are likely to cost more, but the less expensive virtual PBXs may not be able to provide the services that you need.

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