Table of Contents
- Top 3 Picks
- What Is A PBX Phone System?
- Virtual PBX Services And Providers
- The Best PBX Phone Systems & Solutions For Small Businesses
- How To Install A PBX Phone System
- Hosted Pbx Comparison
In this article, we’ll go over a few good options for virtual pbx providers, and by the end, you’ll be able to decide which company is right for you. If you get stuck somewhere along the way, comment below at the end of this article, and I’ll get an account rep to help you within 48 hours.
Top 3 Picks
What Is A PBX Phone System?
PBX stands for “Private Branch Exchange” which is a private phone system within a single building normally. A PBX system is hosted phone solution that typically has enterprise level switching to route calls between local and external lines. For medium to larger sized businesses with a high number of employees, this saves on phone service costs by not having to pay for extra physical lines for every single desk/employee/number in the office. (it creates a bank of local lines, better known as internal numbers, without adding any additional physical overhead ((phone lines run to the building)) )
There are pros and cons to a PBX system, the main pro being the costs savings for large telephone systems, and the main con being it’s normally the business’ responsibility to setup, control, and maintain this system, not the phone company or provider. The ability to have more phones than telephone lines, and free calls between users is the main purpose of a PBX.
That said, there are a couple different PBX solutions because of this: hosted pbx and cloud pbx services.
In House Self Hosted PBX Phone System
An on-premise PBX system (IP-PBX) phone system is similar to having a server rack for web hosting in a utility closet on site. All hardware is on site, which means you have access to the entire system at any time, but that also means you must maintain the software your system runs on as well as the hardware.
The advantages of an on site hosted PBX platform, is the ability to control every single aspect of your software and hardware. For instance, if you’re running a call center and you have specialized needs or are in the medical field and sensitive data is continually being passed, you may have to follow regulations and take security into your own hands by managing everything on site. That’s not to say third party providers aren’t secure at all, but it’s akin to having a HIPPA compliant web host. This self hosted system also offers more flexibility for large corporations in high rise offices where constant expansion is required.
Cloud Hosted PBX Phone Systems / Services
A cloud hosted PBX service is normally an enterprise level third party company, providing the telephones platform hosted off site in a secure data-center separate from the main business facility. This removes having to employ techs and service personnel within the business to maintain the system infrastructure and hardware.
The advantages to a hosted PBX service, are you don’t have to maintain the same amount of manpower/payroll to keep things running smoothly, and the disadvantages are limited access (a cloud service can’t give you access to the entire server like you’d get on an in house rack). Other advantages are one central location for all IP phones to connect to, so if you have home office employees and physical office employees, it’s easier to connect and integrate lines from all over the world to your “home base.”
Cloud PBX VS Hosted PBX Costs
Comparing the costs can be difficult when you factor in the reduced man hours to maintain an onsite system. On one hand, the initial startup costs to get a hosted virutal pbx system up and running are much less since you don’t have to buy all the hardware, but on the other hand if your company grows much larger than you anticipated later on down the road, you are incurring a monthly cost to a third party service that can also grow.
Should I Go With Self Hosted PBX On Site Or A Cloud PBX Service?
Unless you already have a couple IT employees on payroll qualified to handle management of your in house self hosted PBX, it’s easier for a startup to get up and running and let an enterprise level service handle it for you. If you run it in house, the amount of revenue that can be lost due to system problems if your business heavily relies on communications far exceeds the cost of a third party solution. But if you’re already a large company with a fully staffed IT department and guys sitting around twiddling their thumbs certain hours of the day, spring for some hardware and manage your own SIP trunk. You’ll get full control over your system, and like any other hardware investment, your initial sky high purchasing costs will diminish over the long term, and monthly expense ratios will be lower.
Can I Get A Virtual PBX Through Google Voice For Free?
No you can’t setup a PBX system through Google Voice, but you could add a Google Voice line to route a certain way during incoming calls TO your PBX. For instance, if you have an in house server and wanted to test something out locally, you setup something like PBX In A Flash: http://pbxinaflash.com/community/home/
Virtual PBX Services And Providers
Here are a few good providers of voip lines and mixed PBX service levels. There are other enterprise level solutions out there, but for most small to medium sized companies researching this topic, those would be a bit over priced and too advanced for your core needs. If you’re just looking for a basic voip setup to use with your business cell phone and just need a single local or toll free number, check out these top 5 best toll free 800 number providers.
Virtual PBX is at the top of the list because they offer their fail-over parachute service in case you ever run into issues. This means, zero downtime, zero loss of revenue, and it’s business as usual even in disastrous visitations where the whole phone system is failing. Having a hot standby PBX will mirror your live system, and in the event that there is a serious problem, the system will automatically switch over to the backup. This is an awesome feature to have, and will likely save you THOUSANDS of dollars if you ever need it.
Easy setup, up and running in 5 minutes, and their integration with any phones and devices make Virtual PBX the go to company for a cloud phone service. Their tagline is…
“The only thing that could slow down your new business phone system is deciding what to do with the extra money.”
Ring Central‘s cloud pbx service is a cost effective replacement for you old phone system, and can easily integrate across multiple office locations. There’s no hardware required to get setup, and activation is instant. Switching from a legacy telephone system to a VOIP system is an increased cost savings, and auto attendant features are that much easier to integrate across multiple locations than ever before. With 24/7 technical assistance, troubleshooting and support is just a call away.
Grasshopper is my favorite VOIP line provider for most all small businesses, and their virtual PBX service as excellent for smaller offices as well. You still get all the same great features that Grasshopper users love (custom greetings, unlimited extensions, hold music, auto attendant, etc…) and everything seamlessly integrates into your existing grasshopper VOIP line if you have one already. A lot of old school businesses worry about the lack of features, but call logs, conference calling, voicemail, and touch tone menus all come standard. Forwarding calls and integrating sms text messaging is a snap! Keep your existing number and simply port it over too!
Phone.com has all the same great features of the above providers, but some come as a premium add on service. While I love Phone.com and highly recommend them, it isn’t always the cheapest service to go with in the beginning, but can run the same later on as you grow. If you’re larger company, they do offer custom plans and pricing here.
PBX Phone System Costs And Pricing
You can get PBX features right when you buy a VOIP line from most of these providers. Expanding to additional lines and offices will be more costly, but base plans at Virtual PBX start a $24.99 for the DASH plan. Grasshopper and Ring Central are around $49/mo with unlimited extensions, but that includes 2 lines right off the bat with your plan.
>> Virtual PBX Discount Coupon <<
Here’s what to do:
- Sign up for any plan by clicking on one of the pictures below
- Opt for annual payment on the first page of the signup process
- Make sure the promo code “OFFICE10P” is included in the promo code box on the “Submit Order” page of the online setup form.
- The 10% discount will be applied at checkout.
The Best PBX Phone Systems & Solutions For Small Businesses
Best Virtual Phone System Small Office Solutions
1 – 5 Lines
Grasshopper is easy to setup and manage with almost no technical experience required. They’re adorable for most small businesses that just need a flexible VOIP line or two, and can expand into more complex cloud PBX functionality.
5 – 20 + lines
Virtual PBX is also affordable, but much more robust for medium to larger sized offices, and has the add on service of Parachute PBX for fail-over redundancy. Never worry about losing revenue ever again due to phone outages if your business relies heavily on phone communications!
Cheapest Small Business Call Center Solutions
Best Overall Virtual Phone System For Small Businesses
How To Install A PBX Phone System
PBX Phone System Tutorials
I don’t have the PBX software portion up right now, as most small business owners are looking for cloud based solutions so they can focus on their business instead of worrying about the phone system. That said, here is the 3cx tutorial for anyone that is still using that PBX software:
Hosted Pbx Comparison
Grasshopper has a really good PBX comparison for most of the virtual phone system providers that’s very helpful. Most of the info is unbiased, and does point out some of the pros and cons of using different services, even if that means you don’t sign up for their phone services. >> Hosted PBX Comparison Chart
VOIP Business Phone Line Provider Comparison
|Plan Details||Grasshopper||Virtual PBX.com||Ring Central||Phone.com||Callfire|
|Unlimited Minutes Option||yes||yes||yes||yes||no|
|Toll Free Minutes||pay as you go or monthly packages||unlimited||1,000||100||2500|
|Local / Toll Free Numbers Included||1-3||1||1||1||none|
|30 Day Money Back Guarantee||yes||yes||yes||yes||no|
|Call Recording Capability||no||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Call Log Reports||yes||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Mobile / Cell / Smartphone Compatible||yes||yes||yes||yes||no|
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Which one should I choose?
For most entrepreneurs and small business owners, Grasshopper is going to be the most flexible and easiest to use. If you just started your business, or are working on a startup and simply need a cheap toll free 800 number service, this is a good choice as well. In a close second place, Virtual PBX and Phone.com both excel in certain areas depending on your needs, but unfortunately Phone.com only offers 100 minutes with their plans… which is quite low. Third, Ring Central is a great option, it’s just not as cheap as some of the others when you’re starting out. It might become more cost effective as you grow however.
>> Our #1 pick for small to medium size businesses for best value for the money, goes to Grasshopper.
If you want to learn more about PBX systems from other sources, here are some good resources for you: (if you just want a simple toll free number for your business, here’s a list of the best 800 number services for small business)