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March 19, 2008

What Hosted PBX Can Do for the SMB

By Brian Solomon, TMCnet Web Editor

As electronic communications have continued to advance, older forms of technology have been refined in a lot of new ways. Hosted PBX phone systems are a very good example. As a phone system that can function from a remote location, the virtual PBX (News - Alert) has made a big difference in the way many companies do business. Here is some background on hosted PBX phone systems, and how they benefit a number of small and large businesses.

The main purpose of all telephony functions is to allow for clear and efficient communications. Over the years, telecommunications devices for businesses expanded from individual desk phones to central switchboards within businesses that routed calls manually to the PBX phone systems that had the capacity to route calls coming into the business. While for many years this meant the establishment of a large amount of equipment on the company premises, the hosted PBX phone systems of today require minimal equipment, a connection to the World Wide Web via a wireless or wired service provider, and some simple programming.
One particular form of hosted PBX phone systems is the Private Branch eXchange. Sometimes referred to as an Electronic private Automatic Branch Exchange, this system does not rely on switching equipment that is provided or operated by a common telecommunications carrier. Instead, the system is self-contained and is devoted specifically to one subscriber. This form of the hosted PBX can be maintained on the company site or operated by independent IT firms that supply the dedicated service to the company.
In general, hosted PBX phone systems of all types require an internal switching network that is programmed for routing to extensions, as well as voice mail boxes for each user. A central processing unit handles the inbound and outbound traffic for each authorized node on the PBX phone system. Several different cards process the various functions, such as logic progression, internal switching and power flow.
Internal trunks or lines allow the switching to be accomplished, and also provide the link to external trunks provided by a common carrier. There is usually a control console that allows a central person, such as a receptionist, to control the system and handle processing of calls if desired. Backup power supplies allow hosted PBX phone systems to operate even when the power fails.
Remote hosted PBX phone systems are one of the newest innovations. Companies with a number of employees working from home can allow personnel to receive and make calls through the PBX. This can help callers feel as if they are connecting with the company at a central location, even though the recipient of the call may be working from home. This form of telephony support has made it possible for large companies to conduct sales, ordering, and customer care functions without the need for building a huge call center.
Smaller companies can also benefit from the use of these remote systems, since they will have less resources tied up in equipment, buildings and other factors that often drain resources for larger corporations. All the while, the functions of the business can still continue as if everyone were gathered at a central location.
Hosted PBX phone systems are easier to operate and install, as well as being affordable for businesses of all sizes. From the one person home business that wants to appear to be large and prosperous to the corporation that wishes to make the most of company resources, hosted PBX phone systems are a great option.
Brian Solomon is a Web Editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To see more of his articles, please visit Brian Solomon’s columnist page
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