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What is a PABX?

What is a PABX?

In the spirit of educating business people on how they can cut down on telecommunications cost and increase business communications efficiency, Standard Global Communications (Standard Global Communications), will be contributing articles on business communications, in the Financial Gazette, until 8 April 2011.

PABX (Private Automatic Branch eXchange) is a privately owned telephone switching system for handling multiple telephone lines without having to pay the phone company to lease each line separately.

Normally a telephone line is connected to the phone company's local Central Office through a trunk like Telone does with their landlines. The Central Office is responsible for routing incoming and outgoing calls.

A PABX essentially takes the place of the phone company's Central Office within the company by acting as the exchange point, routing calls. With a PABX in place, each phone only needs an extension, not a phone number, and the PABX handles all calls made from desk-todesk within the company.

When an outside call is required, an access number is dialed first, usually a "0". The PABX then transfers the call to the phone company's network which could be Telone, Econet, Telecel, Telco, NetOne. From which point the call is routed to the intended destination as dialed.

A PABX reduces cost because the company only pays for the number of lines liable to be connected at any given time to the outside. If a company has 100 telephones, it's unlikely everyone will be making an outside call at once. Perhaps only 10% will require an outside line at any given time. Therefore the company would lease 10 lines from the phone company rather than 100.

IP-PABX – Replacing your old legacy PABX systems

This has been made possible by VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). This is in a nutshell allows you to place calls using your currently existing data network without having to go via a telephone network!

Yes, it's legal. If say your company Global Brands has a branch in Gweru, Bulawayo and Mutare you can assign each branch office different extensions which are all hooked to the same PABX over your IP network. So a worker in Bulawayo can call the accounts office in Harare as if he was calling an extension across his office. This is made possible by using your IP data network to carry voice packets. Naturally you need to have a reliable Internet connection for the quality of the voice to be decent.

Some IP-PABX Features

In addition to these basic functions, PABXs offer many other calling features and capabilities, with different manufacturers providing different features in an effort to differentiate their products. Common capabilities include (manufacturers may have a different name for each capability):

Auto attendant ,Voice mail ,Music-on-hold, Night service ,Automatic call distributor,Automated directory services (where callers can be routed to a given employee by keying or speaking the letters of the employee's name) Automatic ring back , Call accounting , Call blocking , Call forwarding on busy or absence , Call park , Call pick-up , Call transfer, Call waiting, Conference call, Custom greetings, Do not disturb (DND) ,Find Me Follow me etc.

This is the strength of the modern IP-PABX system because they have been built to be able to interoperate with different systems with NO huge amounts being paid as most of these features are SOFTWARE based and NOT hardware based where you have to buy some component from your legacy PABX supplier and no one else. How much will it cost me?

This depends on basically the size of your organization determined by the number of extensions you will need , the number of concurrent calls you are budgeting for , the different technologies that you want your PABX to interface with e.g. with GSM networks , CDMA networks , PSTN (Iand lines) , Internet etc.

A small PABX can have as up to 8 extensions or more and say use 2 Telone lines, 2 Cellular Lines and UNLIMITED VoIP lines. For the Zimbabwean market, huge systems have up to 2 000 lines depending on specific needs. Keys cost pointers include the PABX system itself and the inter connection between your branches if you need any via IP , an installation cost and training costs which could be bundled together with the PABX package you are getting.

Normally the first step towards migrating your old, rigid, vendor tied, legacy PABX is to have a site survey. This entails contacting a reputable PABX company who will normally send an engineer to do a site survey and establish what you have and what you want to have. After this, then a quotation can be made based on your actual needs that meet your expectations with room for future expansion and new feature addition. If you thought the cost of making telephone calls in Zimbabwe will remain prohibitive think twice and look around the amount of digging that's happen within the country to connect Zimbabwe via different routes using fibre optics to the undersea cables. Different telecoms players have invested millions into these connections via Mutare, Chirundu , Plumtree , Beitbridge and Victoria Falls. So the more connections we have to the under sea cables will push down the price of the internet and data connectivity. So, position yourself now for that inevitable shift and start saving on calls. Start with getting an IPABX today .Get rid of your legacy PABX!!!!

Standard Global Communications has been deploying PABX solutions and systems in Zimbabwe for over decade. Backed by skilled local and international technical team, Standard Global Communications will conduct a free site survey, offer you a tailor made solution that meets your specific PABX needs be it a small business, medium sized or large corporate company ,Standard Global Communications always tailor makes telephony solutions that will most importantly slash your calling costs while enjoying flexible and scalable PABX systems at affordable cost.

For more information, questions and/or comments, contact, Cornwell Nemberi, Chief Executive of Standard Global Communications, at cornwell@standardglobal.co.zw

27 January 2011

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