Business phone systems can be grouped into three main types KSU, PBX and VOIP with each having a cloud hosted or non-cloud hosted option.
A KSU (Key System Unit) is often a choice for smaller businesses due to the limitations on the number of phones which can be connected into the phone network. It’s a basic system with all the useful features and the KSU base unit determines phone line selection and manages connection and features. Though a wireless KSU option is also available which is more portable and flexible, called KSU-less it’s not a common choice or readily available due to its limitations. The base unit for a KSU is usually about the size of a bathroom cabinet and wall mounted.
PBX stands for Private Bench Exchange. The PBX connects the internal phone lines to the external phone network. It’s more advanced than a KSU and automatically routes calls. PBX systems have an uninterruptable power supply which can be useful in a power outage. Unless your choice is a hosted PBX system there will be a physical base unit.
The most advanced option on the market currently is VoIP. A VoIP phone or IP phone uses Voice over IP technologies for transmitting telephone calls over an IP network, the internet. KSU and PBX options use the traditional PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network).
VoIP devices can be software based phones used with a PC or hardware devices which appear very like a traditional phone. VoIP systems have the following benefits:
- Flexible power allocation
- Greater cord range
- Single connectors
- Ethernet protocol
These features mean more to the technologically savvy IT departments, and generally mean that VoIP systems are more flexible, integrated and have a wider range with less hardwire and wiring requirements. There is also much greater control over the digital VoIP system.
For a VoIP system both hardware and software is required. The system must be networked into the PC system for control and a network stack and physical phones are needed.
VoIP phones are advanced in themselves and may include a small display, a processor, and converters to translate voice data to digital data. They have ethernet or wireless network hardware to send and receive messages on the data network.