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What Is a PBX

A PBX is a Private Branch eXchange. In the old analogue days it was a small telephone exchange 'manned' by Telephone Operators in big companies to send calls from the public network to the correct telephone attached to the private network inside the building of a big company.

This was necessary because otherwise everybody in the company would need their own external telephone line and number - a very wasteful and expensive thing as most of the time those lines would not be in use.

By having a PBX they could have a lot of telephone extensions, but only a few external telephone lines. So when a call came into the company the operator directed the call to the correct person by physically plugging in connecting cables on a switchboard - hence the phrase 'connecting you now'.

As technology progressed the PBXs became automatic but were still large and expensive, often needed their own room with power and cooling taking up expensive floor space in your building and required specialist telephone engineers to install and run them. Despite this, they became an indispensable requirement of any medium or large business.

The Voipfone Virtual PBX

The Internet and Voipfone has now brought the large scale and extensive PBX functionality to the small, sometimes single, user. We have built a production scale, secure, PBX in our Network Operating Centre in London's Docklands.

It's called a 'Virtual' PBX because we host it on our premises so that you don't have to know anything about it. This modern switch is connected to the Internet with high speed lines and is managed by us. All you have to do is pick the number of extensions you want and add them to your account.

This is a 'Self Service' PBX which you set up and control yourself from our web site. It gives you the features and functionality of telephone systems that were previously only affordable by large corporations. It's a sophisticated call management system too and it's suitable for an ordinary office, a virtual office or several offices in several locations and even your own home.

The Virtual PBX will save you a lot of money on your telephone bill because it's all based on Voice over IP technologies so you no longer need several expensive incoming PSTN/ISDN lines and all calls within the service are free, no matter where they are made to. This means that if you have home workers or a home office, a real office in the UK and another in say, France, all calls between them are free - it's as though you are all in the same building.

All extensions have a full PBX suite of features including - Call Transfer, Music on Hold, Call Waiting, Call ID, Voice Mail, Call Conferencing, 3 Way Calling, Free Calls between Offices/Homes etc. Additionally, with all PBX accounts you get Business Hours and Line Presentation - see below.

You can also optionally add Call Queuing, Call Groups and Interactive Voice Response systems (IVR) - see below.

PBX Features

PBX Features

Voipfone's Virtual PBX is your own customised telephone switchboard, hosted by us on our premises so that you don't have to worry about it - we maintain it and keep it up to date, safe and secure.

It's a 'DIY', plug and play, no-commitment service - you rent only what you need, only for as long as you need it; from a single telephone extension to a call queue and a sophisticated Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system with call recording.

Each telephone extension on your PBX has all the free standard features but also has a suite of other clever, but simple to use stuff and it can be set up in minutes.

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How Much Does It Cost?

Like all our services we let you choose exactly what you need and no more:

Each extension costs £1 per month, Call Queuing £2 per month, Call Groups £1 per month, Single-Level IVR Switchboards £5 per month and Multi-Level IVR Switchboards £10. See the sections below for further details.

What Does It Do?

It allows you to have as many telephones in your business and home as you want. So, for example, if you have a small office with say 4 people in it, you take 4 extensions from us and one incoming telephone number (let's say you take a London number 020 7043 5555).

When someone calls that number (anybody, anywhere on any telephone network can call your number) either all the extensions can ring at once and the first person to pick up gets the call, or just one phone rings and your receptionist picks it up then forwards the call to the correct extension.

You can take individual extensions out of the ring Group or put them back in again at will from your own 'control panel'.

You can create Call Groups which are groups of extensions which you want to ring all at once - this is useful if your company is organised into departments like Sales or Account etc.

All the telephones can call out simultaneously. All the phones have individual voicemail so if all the phones are engaged your incoming calls go straight to voicemail. You can have as many incoming calls as you can handle, so it's like having an infinite number of exchange lines. You do not pay for extra 'exchange lines'. (The 'exchange lines' are called SIP Trunks with VoIP and we make them free).

All the extensions can also have their own incoming number too so that they can receive calls directly (DDI - Direct Dialling In).

You can call between extensions, so x200 can call x 204. Amazingly, it doesn't matter where these extensions are located - they can be plugged into the internet in Australia and they would work in the same way as in the UK. So you could have 5 people in your Basingstoke Main Office, 2 people at home and a small office in Barcelona and it will be as though they are in the same room. Even more amazingly all calls between them are FREE.

You can add in a Call Queue so that incoming calls are automatically answered; callers are played music on hold and told their position in the queue until their call can be taken.

And get the really big company feel by adding Interactive Voice Response (IVR) so that callers can direct themselves to the correct department - 'Press 1 for Sales, 2 for accounts' etc.

All these features are optional additions to your self-service PBX, so you just choose what you need.

What Equipment Do I Need?

You need a telephone for each extension. This can be a new SIP phone, an adapter for an ordinary telephone (ATA) or our free softphone. (But for heavy business use we recommend a real SIP telephone).

You also need a Local Area Network (LAN) and a broadband connection to the internet. The speed of this connection will directly affect the quality of your phone calls, so the faster the better.

We supply everything else automatically.

Got a Question?

New technology can seem confusing at first, but don't worry, we are here to help!

Contact Customer Services

Got a Question?

You can speak to one of our Customer Service representatives by calling our dedicated Customer service line on 020 7043 5555 and we will be happy to answer any questions you have.

Configure Services

Log in to your online control panel to configure your services. With Voipfone's online control panel you can manage your account in real time, from your PC anywhere in the world.


You can try our service for FREE - without risk or commitment. Firstly, we'll give you a free incoming 056 telephone number so that people can call you from ordinary telephones.