Sonic Crash: PBX vs VOIP

A sonic battle has begun between the time proven PBX and VoIP, a flak catcher. So who shall be the winner? Read on to find out.

At one corner of the ring, we have the time proven PBX that has served corporate for more than four decades. Back by an unmatched real-time voice communications and experienced professionals, armed with proud track record, is being challenged by the contestant at the other corner! VOIP!

VOIP, a young challenger that promises huge cost saving over long distance phone call and simplicity over PBX, has risen promptly past its five years of its existence. Aided with rapid Internet technology advancement and availability of technical expertise as well as hardware equipments backed by reputable vendors, seems to have geared up and ready for any tackle that PBX has in store.

While both contestants are busy putting on their battle gear, we shall now bring to you some insights of each player and thus, allowing you to place your bets with an ease of mind.

Denunciative PBX

A PBX system is a telephone system, much like a typical office intranet, that resides within a business organization. What a PBX does is that, it switches calls between each users in a business organization on a local line while at the same time, allowing everyone to share a certain number of external phone line.

The PBX is owned and usually operated by the business organization. The telephone company would than act as a service provider or a supplier to such system. While some PBX system still uses analog technology, other PBX systems are using digital technology.

Before the coming of PBX, companies used to receive their incoming call by an operator using cords and switchboards. With the introduction of PBX in the 1960s, it is possible for employees of a certain business organization to place a call within a building or connect to an outside line without the help of an operator. Most operators of the past have been replaced by Automatic Call Distributors (ACD), which is a telephone facility that manages incoming calls, of today.

It has been quite a while since network and PBX equipment vendors have been talking about voice and data convergence as the major milestone in networking. Several announcements have been made this year (2001) with regards to VOIP hardware devices, services, software or solutions.

For instances, Nortel Network has announced new solutions, which will be delivered through Internet Telephony, that will merge voice, data, video and graphics over IP networks for enterprise. According to Eric Ross, president, Enterprise Solutions, Nortel Networks, Nortel will provide a pure-IP network for businesses wanting to deploy Internet Telephony from the ground floor up. These solutions will be designed to maximize companies’ profitability by reducing network costs and increasing employee productivity, while delivering the unsurpassed reliability to Nortel’s customers whom have come to expect from traditional voice solutions.

Not wanting to be left out of the VOIP bandwagon, IBM launches Lotus Sametime 2.0, the latest version of its real-time collaboration platform. Some of the new features include interactive audio/video conferencing over Internet Protocol and the ability to broadcast audio/video/data presentations throughout an entire corporate network and the Internet.

Even Intel Corporation, the name that is associated most with computer processor, has introduced a suite of communications products, including software, silicon components and reference designs, that round out the company's comprehensive portfolio for building the systems used to transmit voice communications over the Internet.

Other than the major announcements made that has got the attention of everyone, there are several factors that make VOIP a hot favorite to bet on. The issue of cost has always been a popular betting factor. VOIP offers a sharp reduction in cost for long distance call over PBX. One can have a fix pricing which would result in a significant savings for voice and fax.

Where infrastructure is concerned, instead of having a separate infrastructure to support voice and data, an integrated infrastructure would be sufficient enough to accommodate both communication needs. And being on an integrated infrastructure, VOIP is open up to many advanced applications such as multimedia and multiservice application.

PBX and VOIP Compendious

For those who want the facts quick and concise, we present the strength and weaknesses of both competitors.


  • Solid track record
  • Widely accepted
  • Costly upgrades
  • Fiercely proprietary
  • Cannot be integrated into data network


  • Significant savings on international calls.
  • Integrate corporate data applications with voice applications.
  • Opening up possibility of future advance application
  • Enables applications that are not available from today's public switched telephone network (PSTN)voice switching equipment
  • Subjected to Quality of Service issues

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