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How Much Does a PBX Phone System Cost?


PBX phone systems are the most advanced business phone systems on the market. They’re also the most expensive, but prices have come down as technology has improved. Once reserved for large enterprises, PBX systems are now affordable for small and mid-sized companies, too.

About PBX Phone Systems

A PBX phone system is company’s private telephone network. The system’s hardware connects internal phones to one another, and also to outside lines through the public telephone network. PBX is short for Private Branch Exchange.

PBX systems are fully customizable and programmable. They’re easily expandable to accommodate growth. Standard features include, but are not limited to:

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  • Voicemail
  • Auto attendant
  • Customized greetings
  • Dial-by-name directory
  • Call forwarding
  • Call transferring
  • Call waiting
  • Caller ID

PBX systems were initially created for landlines, but now they’re also available as Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) systems, which route calls over the Internet. Regular PBX phone systems require separate networks for voice and data, while PBX VoIP systems, known as IP PBX, have a single network for voice and data. IP PBX systems tend to be far less expensive, both initially and in the long run.

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Cost of PBX Phone Systems

Most PBX phone systems are priced on a per-user basis. Traditional PBX systems cost about $800 to $1,000 per user for mid-sized companies, including hardware and installation. Dealers often offer volume discounts, so large companies with hundreds or thousands of employees will pay considerably less per user.

Complete IP PBX systems for smaller or mid-sized businesses start at around $500 and range up to about $1,000. If you have 20 users, a system with standard features might cost $10,000.

For large enterprises, the per-user costs for IP PBX are much lower due to volume discounts. Companies with up to 1,000 phone lines might pay $100 to $200 per user, while those with more than 1,000 lines could pay as little as $50 to $100 per user.

Aside from being less expensive upfront, IP PBX systems have lower maintenance costs because they are more software-based. The monthly charges are less, too, because there are no long distance charges when calls are routed over the Internet.

Tips for Choosing a Phone System

Shopping for phone systems can be a tedious, overwhelming process. There are many brands and countless features from which to choose. It’s not a decision you’ll want to make quickly or hastily because you’ll have to live with the phone system for a long time. Here are some tips that will help you through the process:

  • Talk to other businesses - Compare notes with similarly-sized companies to find out which phone system they purchased and why. How is the phone system working out? Would they recommend it to others?
  • Take it for a test drive - Never buy a phone system without doing a demo first. You’ll never know if the system is user-friendly if you don’t actually use it. Are the phones comfortable to hold? How easily can you transfer a call to another extension? Are speakerphone calls clear?
  • Plan for growth - A phone system is long-term investment, so think about where your company might be five or 10 years down the road. You want a system that is easily scalable, and you might also want to have extra wiring run during the installation to accommodate future growth.
  • Buy at the right time - The best time to buy is at the end of the quarter, when sales teams are scrambling to meet their goals. You’re likely to get a better deal than if you bought at the beginning of the quarter.
  • Shop around - Get quotes from multiple dealers to compare prices. However, never choose on price alone. Consider the dealer’s reputation, too.

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