Traditional PBX phone systems were once the pinnacle of telecommunications; however, over the last few years the solution has seen a continued drop off. As digitization takes a hold of the telephony industry, traditional PBX systems become less and less common.Additionally, many also contribute this drop off to the economy. Now, a variety of innovative alternative services are becoming readily available to users. These services offer increase ease of use, cost efficiency, accessibility, and number of features, making Traditional PBX a much less popular choice. While there are a number of reasons that ultimately account for Traditional PBX’s progressive demise, we have selected four that encapsulate the fundamental reasons.

1. Cost: Traditional PBX systems are often too expensive, especially in comparison to digitized solutions such as IP-PBX. The upfront cost of a traditional system is high and usually does not justify the cash flow savings of VoIP, both for the system and for savings on long-distance and toll costs. These systems require an onsite PBX box, which can cost up to thousands of dollars. Additionally, users will have to pay the cost of hardware also. Along with hefty hardware/equipment costs, traditional PBX is subject to installation fees. Once the system is up and running, however, it still doesn’t offer tremendous functionality. With traditional systems one has to account for physical maintenance and regular monitoring. To do this, users typically need an IT support staff, which leads to more expenses. Along the same line as maintenance and monitoring, the system will need to be kept updated regularly to ensure the systems optimization.

VoIP services provide tremendous flexibility, features/functions, and cost efficiency, but it is ultimately an IT based solution; therefore, IT solution providers typically have the advantage in ensuring it is reliable and configured correctly for QoS (Quality of Service), as well as other necessary protocols and measures. With an external party ensuring this, users are typically freed of equipment/hardware costs, installation costs, maintenance costs, and upgrade costs.

Alternative solutions to traditional PBX typically offer much more cost efficiency. For example, VoIP Complete has put together a comparison between a Hosted PBX and traditional PBX. This model, which features a system with 25 workstations in office and 5 home stations, showcases the cost inefficiency of a traditional system.

2. Limited Functionality: The communications industry is subject to the fast pace of technological change. As a result, customers must take an active role in staying up to date. Under this fast pace, traditional PBX systems is unable to offer the most recent features/functions. Traditional PBX systems are based on an increasingly obsolete technology, which results in the limiting of features. The technology traditional systems implore is no longer actively developed. This results in traditional systems lacking comprehensive and current (VoIP) features and functions including single network, inter branch calls, long distance calls, soft switch (software), call phone/landline integration, fixed mobile convergence, WiFi phones, IP phones/softphones, encryption, IP faxing, mobile faxing, video calls, unified communications, call recording, presence, remote maintenance, database integration, help desk/call center functionalities, and more.

Aside from not including these features, traditional PBX cannot support many of these features. Even traditional PBX systems that are fit with a wide array of features will ultimately fail to meet the needs of every customer. Regardless of how many features are included with the system, there will always be a group of users that want a feature the design team did not think to add or couldn’t justify the cost of building. As a result, traditional PBX lacks the universal compatibility and functionality that many digital solutions offer. Additionally, traditional PBX cannot be added to existing broadband; therefore, users will have to pay for both connections separately.

3. Inaccessibility: As mentioned in previous points, Traditional PBX systems do not typically account for every user’s needs. Traditional PBX systems lack the universality and flexibility of other solutions in terms of setup and configuration, feature, and maintenance. This is especially true in the case of smaller businesses that cannot justify the cost. Alternative solutions allow for greater accessibility as well as increased ease of use. With a traditional system, the user has to manage connections, wiring, equipment, system upgrades/maintenance, and more. This is often a harrowing and convoluted process. And while the option costs more, it is slowly becoming a less and less viable solution. Users do not want pay more for decreased accessibility, especially while other solutions better optimize ease of use as well cost efficiency.

With a traditional solution, flexibility is greatly inhibited. Once the system has been installed, it will stay as it is when initially installed until a technician physically intervenes and re-wires or expands upon the system. Note: A technician doing this represents substantial labor costs.

Traditional PBX systems are not end-user friendly. In instances that require system upgrades, additional lines to be added, feature upgrades/additions, and/or users to be moved around, users often find that the systems to be complicated and hard to navigate. Subsequently, this level of complexity and lack of flexibility spews both time management and further technical issues. Technical problems may require users to call a qualified engineer onsite. While this is costly, it also can sometimes take time depending on availability and schedule.

Another grey area of traditional PBX is with mobility. Using this method, users are not able to work from any location. Instead, they have to work within the proximity of the system’s location, as the PBX system is tied to the location through its dependence on landline telephone wiring and PBX box location.

4. Redundancy: Traditional PBX does not offer any failsafe or backup solutions. In the event of a hardware malfunction or failure, users can be left without their systems for prolonged periods of time. Also, in the event of hardware crash, repair staff will be needed. This can create an even longer delay depending on availability and scheduling.

Traditional PBX systems are completely dependent on the central “box” installed in the user’s office. All routing is then handled through the centralized device. So, if hardware fails, the entire company’s PBX will no longer be operational. As mentioned above the wiring and connections are often intricate and complex; therefore, users will need a trained professional to repair any and all damage(s) or replace the system (if necessary).

Traditional PBX systems are still offered as options, and many still use the system; however, in an industry that has adopted streamlined tech at a quickened pace, older systems are being utilizes less and less. While the drop off in usage has stayed consistent, Traditional PBX continues to make strides at its own pace, however futile it may be.

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