PBX vs VoIP: What’s the difference?


When you’re trying to choose the best communication system for your business, you might come across two terms – PBX and VoIP. These two systems, PBX vs VoIP, both have their strengths and can significantly affect your company’s communication style.

PBX, or Private Branch Exchange, is a private telephone network used within a company. VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, uses the internet to make and receive calls. Understanding the difference between PBX and VoIP is vital to make the right choice for your business communication needs.

Old School vs New School: A look at the history and technology behind PBX and VoIP

PBX, the old school player, has been a reliable choice for business communications for many years. The PBX private branch exchange system uses standard telephone lines. It’s like a mini telephone network that’s just for one company. 

PBX phone systems have been around for a long time, so they’ve got a solid history. They need physical equipment, though, so they may require a bigger initial investment.

New school VoIP has changed the game by using the internet to handle calls. VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. With VoIP, you send voice communications as digital data over the internet. 

This means you can make VoIP voice calls from any device with an internet connection. VoIP voice over internet protocol systems are easier to set up than PBX and often cost less. But they depend on a strong internet connection, so they may not be right for every business.


PBX 101: The basics of Private Branch Exchange phone systems and how they work

PBX systems, often known as hosted PBX, are a go-to for many businesses. They use standard telephone lines and work like a private phone network. 

This means, within your business, you can make calls without dialing the full phone number. It’s a great way to keep things simple and efficient.

With hosted PBX, you don’t need to worry about long-distance charges for calls between your offices. You also get features like call forwarding and voicemail. 

Remember, though, PBX systems need certain hardware to work. On the flip side, VoIP phone systems use the internet instead of telephone lines. With a good internet connection, they can be a cost-effective choice.

VoIP 101: An introduction to Voice over Internet Protocol telephony

Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP technology, is a fresh wave in telecommunication. It lets you make calls using the internet. 

Unlike PBX, VoIP doesn’t need separate phone lines. So, it’s often a cheaper option. Also, setting up VoIP phones is easy. You just need a good internet connection.

VoIP service comes with plenty of features, making life easier for businesses. These include voicemail, call forwarding, and even video conferencing. But remember, the quality of VoIP calls depends on your internet connection. 

So, if you’re thinking about switching to VoIP, ensure you have a steady and robust internet connection.


The connectivity difference: Wired vs wireless infrastructure requirements

When we talk about VoIP vs PBX, the connectivity difference is a key point to note. The PBX system uses wired infrastructure. This means all the phones in your business need to connect with cables. 

It’s reliable and works even during power outages. But installing all these wires can be a big job. The setup may also take more time and cost more money.

VoIP uses wireless infrastructure. You just need a solid internet connection to make calls. It’s quick to set up and you can add new lines easily. Plus, you can use VoIP services on any device connected to the internet. 

But remember, VoIP calls depend on your internet speed. So you’ll need stable internet to keep your calls clear and smooth.

Cost comparison: TCO for PBX vs VoIP when considering equipment, maintenance and features

When looking at the total cost of ownership (TCO), both PBX and VoIP offer different financial implications. 

For a PBX service, initial costs may be substantial. This is because of the need for physical equipment like desk phones and wiring, along with the setup of a data network. However, once set up, the ongoing maintenance costs may be lower. 

The reliability of a PBX system also means less risk of downtime, which can save money in the long run.

In contrast, VoIP systems often have lower up-front costs. There’s no need for a physical data network or traditional desk phones. You can use existing devices like computers, smartphones, or special VoIP phones. 

The maintenance is often less expensive, as it relies on an existing internet connection. However, the quality of VoIP service depends on your internet reliability. This means you should consider potential costs for upgrading or maintaining a robust internet connection.


Flexibility and mobility: Making and receiving calls anywhere vs office-bound systems

One of the biggest advantages of VoIP is its flexibility and mobility. Unlike traditional PBX systems, VoIP lets you make and receive calls anywhere. 

When it comes to Voip vs PBX, a large difference comes from the internet. 

With VoIP, all you need is a device with an internet connection. This makes VoIP a splendid choice for businesses with remote workers or multiple locations. You can even set up a system where calls to an office phone automatically forward to a mobile device.

Another standout feature of VoIP is SIP trunking. SIP trunking allows businesses to make phone calls over the internet, reducing the need for traditional phone lines. It’s like having a highway for your phone calls that bypasses regular phone lines. 

This means fewer resources used and more cost savings. Plus, it’s easy to add or remove lines as your business needs change. This flexibility is something that traditional PBX systems, limited by physical phone lines, just can’t match.

Modern features: Integrations like auto attendants, IVR, call recording and more

In the world of modern features, both PBX and VoIP bring impressive tools to the table. PBX, as a business phone system, offers popular features such as call waiting, forwarding, and voicemail. 

These features help businesses streamline their call operations. Though it may come with higher setup costs, the value it delivers can improve communication efficiency.

VoIP solutions offer even more advanced features. These include auto attendants, Interactive Voice Response (IVR), and call recording. 

These features help to manage incoming calls and improve customer service. VoIP also allows innovative integrations with other business apps and software. In short, VoIP can bring your business phone system to the next level.


Upgrades and future-proofing: Evolving your system vs hardware refreshes

In terms of upgrades and future-proofing, a VoIP offer often has the upper hand. This is because VoIP systems are software-based and can develop with technology. When there’s a new feature or an upgrade, it’s often as simple as updating the software. 

You don’t need to replace your hardware. VoIP systems are also scalable. As your business grows, you can add new lines or features without a big fuss. This makes VoIP an attractive choice for future-proofing your communication system.

A PBX solution is hardware-based. This means upgrading can be a bigger task. You might need to replace old hardware or install new lines. 

This could lead to a lot of work and potential downtime. But let’s not forget, PBX systems are reliable. 

They’ve been around for years and they do their job well. If your business mainly operates from one location, and you see little change soon, a PBX solution could suit you just fine.

Security considerations: Protecting data and availability with PBX vs VoIP

For security, PBX and VoIP have different ways to protect your data. PBX systems are secure because they work over dedicated lines. 

This gives less chance for hackers to access your calls. VoIP systems depend on the internet, which can be a target for cyber threats.

But, VoIP providers take good measures to secure your data. They use strong encryption methods to make sure your calls and messages are safe. 

This means even if hackers try to listen in, they won’t understand what they hear. So, when thinking about PBX vs VoIP both provide good security.

Choosing the right solution: An overview of factors to consider for your business needs

Choosing between PBX and VoIP depends on what your business needs. Let’s look at the factors you should consider. 

The size and type of your business are important. For small businesses or startups, VoIP may be a good choice. It’s easy to set up and costs less to start with. Plus, you can add new lines or features as your business grows.

Now, let’s think about where you do your work. If you have teams in different places, or you often work from home, VoIP is great. 

It lets you make calls from anywhere with an internet connection. But, if your work is mainly in one place, a PBX system might be more reliable. Always remember, whether it’s PBX or VoIP, the right solution should make your work easier, not harder.


In wrapping up, PBX and VoIP both offer unique advantages for businesses. PBX systems are a solid choice for companies that prioritize security and value traditional, reliable communication methods. They are ideal for a business that operates primarily from one location. On the other hand, VoIP shines in flexibility and modern features. It’s a perfect choice for businesses with a diverse or remote workforce, and those that want to integrate their communication with other business applications.

Choosing between PBX and VoIP boils down to understanding your business needs. It’s about picking a system that boosts your efficiency and fits the way you work. Both systems offer good security, a range of features, and potential cost savings. Therefore, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Your choice will depend on the unique needs and circumstances of your business.

Remember, the goal is to make communication easier. So, choose a solution that does just that. Whether it’s PBX or VoIP, the right choice will help your business communicate effectively, improve productivity, and ultimately thrive in today’s fast-paced business environment.

By Alex Vetter

Alex Vetter is the product marketing manager at DYL. With a Masters from College de Paris, he runs the marketing department and helps with product management at DYL.