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What is a PBX System? | Print |

PBX stands for Private Branch EXchange. Although definitions vary depending upon the source, most agree that PBX Systems often share the following characteristics:

  • A Private Branch Exchange is located on the client's premises, owned and operated by the client, not by the telephone company. The telephone company may be a supplier or service provider, but full control belongs to the client.

  • A computer manages the switching of calls within the PBX, and in and out of the system. The PBX connects internal telephone extensions of an enterprise, with external trunks (telephone lines) of a Local Exchange Carrier (LEC) also known as a Local Phone Company, and an InterExchange Carrier, also known as a Long Distance Carrier. There is usually a console or switchboard for a human operator.

  • PBX Systems are typically used in larger office environments.

  • PBX Systems are highly scalable. Today, it is less clear where a Hybrid System leaves off and a PBX System becomes more viable. However, as a guide, a PBX System may handle from a couple of dozen trunks (lines that carry multiple voice or data channels between two telephone exchange switching systems, like a PBX) to as many as hundreds of trunks. A PBX System supports as few as 50 to as many as thousands of  extensions.

  • Typically, a PBX System's size is rated by its number of ports. A port connects internal extensions, external extensions, telephone lines or trunks, tie-lines to other locations, and so on. Some PBX Systems support tens of thousands of overall ports. So, when someone asks, "How big do you want your PBX System to be?" you might answer, "I need a 200 port system," or, "I'm looking for a system that supports around 80,000 ports."

  • Unlike a Key System, a PBX System does not show all lines on all phones. PBX Systems are most often used for large applications with numerous extensions and trunks connected to the system; it would be impossible to show all trunks on all phones.

  • Therefore, each telephone station has a set of "call buttons." These buttons are used to place external calls or receive incoming calls. When a call button is pressed, and an access number such as "9" is dialed, the PBX System accesses an available line from the trunk group the user is part of and allows the call to be placed.

  • In the event of an incoming call, the call is routed to the intended station by the operator, automated attendant, or directly routed by the system, like in the case of a DID number, or internal calling. The call is then answered by pressing a call button.

  • There may be two or three call buttons per station, in the event of more than one incoming call at a time. For internal calls, an extension number is typically dialed to call another station on the system.

  • PBX Systems offer more robust features than that of their Hybrid and Key System cousins. Although the smaller systems have come a long way in becoming more like PBX Systems, a typical PBX will offer more advanced and flexible versions of the same features available on smaller systems, as well as having some features unique to the PBX.

  • PBX Systems are designed with the features of the Local Exchange Carriers (LECs) and the Interexchange Carriers (IXCs-Long Distance Carriers) in mind. PBX Systems are able to take advantage of all the features a telephone company can put on their lines to assist the company in the routing of inbound and outbound calls to achieve maximum efficiency.
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