PBX Phone Systems for Business

pbx phone systems for business

By Aimee Bradshaw | Writer and researcher

What is a PBX Phone System?

A Private Bench Exchange (PBX) system is one that connects phone lines and extensions to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). An IP (Internet Protocol) PBX is a PBX system combined with IP which can give additional features such as audio, video, or instant messaging via the internet.

PBX phone systems are the traditional analog phone systems which have been in use for decades. A PBX uses a line to line connection made by an exchange.

VoIP can be combined with traditional PBX functionality to enable businesses to use their managed intranet to reduce call costs and combine their voice and data, or phone and computer systems for efficiency.

VoIP system is one which uses the internet to make and receive calls without using the traditional PSTN network at all. A combined PBX and VoIP system uses both traditional telephony and the PSTN network and the internet.

PBX phone system in office

PBX Phone System Features and Types

Traditional PBX Systems

PBX systems or a Private Bench Exchange is used when one phone line needs to become multiple lines, maybe as your business expands. The exchange allows calls to be routed across multiple phone lines and enables internal calling without dialling externally.

PBX systems can have a reception system or centralized control where calls to one number are then routed to the right person or department. This type of system can be manned or use an “auto-attendant”.

PBX systems do allow call routing across the system but mostly only within the system itself unlike VoIP which can transfer and allow call answering on integrated mobile devices. They also allow call monitoring and reporting though again not as advanced as VoIP.

A PBX system will usually have a server which manages call switching, telephone trunk lines which connect to the PSTN, internal PBX lines and the reception or centralized control. A centralized control would also be a switchboard.

IP PBX Phone Systems

If you already have a PBX system and are looking for additional features but don’t want to lose reliability, a combined system could be an option. Adding VoIP is cost minimal but would give many additional features without losing the investment in your current PBX system.

If you are choosing a new system but need the reliability of a PBX system combined with the multimedia, mobile and high tech functionality of a VoIP system an IP PBX  system could be an effective option. IP PBX systems can also access PSTN lines and can be configured to use them as a backup.

IP PBX systems can be referred to as hybrid PBX. They have a mix of physical office based systems and cloud based VoIP services.

Virtual PBX Phone Systems

A virtual or cloud PBX does not have an onsite server. So no hardware requirement, the server is based with the provider and control and access is via an application.

A cloud PBX can support the hybrid model using Analogue Terminal Adapters (ATA’s) to connect with your analogue phone system and the PSTN network. A virtual PBX system gives the additional benefits of VoIP.

Hosted PBX systems are a step further with all the infrastructure in a virtual environment, full feature rich functionality like VoIP but still with access to the PSTN network.

What are the Benefits of PBX for my Business?

The key benefit of a traditional PBX system is its reliability. With VoIP any internet downtime will mean downtime for your business. Even bandwidth or speed issues may reduce call quality.

With VoIP a power outage can shut down computer systems and the internet leaving you unable to make calls. A PBX system is independent and not at risk to this type of outage. If your business must stay online, even during times of internet issues then PBX is a good choice for you.

PBX systems connect to the central telephone exchange which means an emergency call can be tracked to a geographic location by the identification of the line. With VoIP this is not possible, emergency services would not know where a caller was located unless they were told.

What will a PBX Phone System Cost in Canada?

A PBX phone system will run more expensive than VoIP due to hardware costs. However PBX systems can be more reliable than internet based VoIP.

A VoIP system rarely has an upfront or infrastructural cost, it simply needs VoIP compatible phones and an internet connection. Combining phone and data services across the internet can remove the need for separate phone systems and bills.

The cost of a PBX system will vary depending on the size of your business and number of employees and phone lines you need to cater for. It will also vary across traditional PBX, hybrid PBX or virtual PBX. Then of course price will vary from provider to provider. As with any decision of this importance to your business the best route is to decide the features which are essential, assess any need for scalability, decide the best system, then compare the price across at least three suppliers who interest you.

Who are the best PBX telephone system providers in Canada?


Digitcom is an established Canadian brand, formed in 1991 as a telephone system supply and installation company. Their product range is now broader and includes IP offerings, hosted PBX and SIP trunks, cabling, networking, call centre solutions and full system design.

They are one of few companies in Canada that sell both premise and hosted and PBX solutions. Digitcom have their own cloud infrastructure based in downtown Toronto and are market leaders in voice and data communications.

Digitcom hosted PBX solutions include:

  • Multiple office connection with fluid call centre, desk dialling, auto attendants integrated across all extensions and locations
  • Voicemail to email
  • HD quality voice calls or “Wideband Audio”
  • Automated attendant
  • Mobile twinning to integrate desk and cell calling, and shift between the two
  • ACD call centre – enabled queuing, customized greetings, supervisor panel and reporting


BroadConnect are a leading Canadian provider of VoIP, founded in 2005. They have around 10,000 business customers in Canada. BroadConnect pride themselves on innovative technology and business-class service and support. Their HQ is in Ontario and they have offices with dedicated account and services teams across Canada.

BroadConnect provide services to improve productivity and competitive advantage and supply education, retail, government, healthcare, professional services and manufacturing.

BroadConnect provide business VOIP phone services, including hosted PBX, cloud-based, hosted cloud call center solutions and SIP trunking. They are at the forefront of VoIP innovation and are a market leader in Cloud PBX, premise based IP and unified communications.

They have a detailed business phone system proposition with features that include: MobileLink mobility, video conferencing, voice broadcasting, call analytics, audio conferencing, interactive voice response and a range of apps and integration tools.


RingCentral is an award winning global provider of cloud based unified communications and collaboration solutions. They provide flexible and cost effective hosted business systems to over 350,000 organizations worldwide.

They are headquartered in Belmont, California but serve a good proportion of the Canadian market.

RingCentral services empower workforces by enabling them to be connected anywhere and on any device via voice, video, team messaging, collaboration, SMS, conferencing, online meetings, contact center solutions and fax.

They have an open platform which integrates with popular business apps allowing customers to bespoke their own workflows.

Aimee profile image
Aimee Bradshaw Writer and researcher

Aimee is Expert Market’s resident telephone systems, point of sale, and field service software go-to. If she’s not writing about business products, you’ll find her daydreaming about Dorset beaches.

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