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Rich Tehrani

[March 17, 2003]

Hundred Dollar PBXs!?!



Sidebar: Where To Find Inexpensive PBXs

We are there. You can now buy a PBX for about $100. If you are technical, you can download the software and install it on an old Linux machine (even a laptop) and support about 60 users depending on the software. If you want a turnkey hardware-based system, you can support around eight to16 users and pay around $300-500.

These systems arent stripped down either. Many have voice mail, presence, unified messaging, auto attendant, IP telephony support, Web-based management and administration and some features you dont see on traditional PBXs costing many times more!

But, I have to ask, is this what the market wants? One of the busiest booths at our last Internet Telephony Conference & Expo was Asterisks. They make an IP PBX that is totally open source, meaning free in this instance.

Again, I have to ask, is this what the market wants? You see, for most companies, a PBX is sold through a reseller of some kind. An interconnect, a VAR, an integrator or a company representative that is there to fix your system in case of problems. Telephony is mission critical and you cant afford to have it not be 100 percent working at all times, regardless of company size.

So I wonder, what will come of telephony when there are no margins in the products? Who will sell them? Sure, they will be sold on the Internet, but who will be there when they stop working? How can you ensure that your system will always be there for you?

Perhaps these questions will eventually be answered in the form of redundancy. Certainly, spending an extra few hundred dollars for a redundant system isn't terrible. You could buy a second system and still keep your cost below $1,000!

So, we may be entering a world where the reseller has less and less of a role as we know it today. I wonder what the reseller community thinks about all this? How about corporations? Are they ready to manage their telephony from soup to nuts? Time will tell. I would love to hear your opinions. Please talk back to me in our forums.

Sidebar: Where To Find Inexpensive PBXs

Rich Tehrani is TMC's president. He welcomes your comments. Participate in our forums.

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