What is the difference between PBX and VoIP?

Thursday, 23rd June 2022

With the number of acronyms that are used in telecommunications, it’s easy to get confused and mixed up between them all. Two acronyms you do need to know the difference between are PBX and VoIP. Understanding the difference between them is essential to make sure you’re getting the best business phone system for you.



PBX – Private Branch Exchange

VoIP – Voice over Internet Protocol

PBX is more like a traditional telephone line. It connects all the users within a business while allowing for external calls to be made too. It does not require data or an internet connection in order to work, and is instead wired in.

VoIP harnesses the power of data for phone calls. VoIP converts voices into data, packetizes it, and transfers it over data networks. It uses the internet for calling and doesn’t rely on being tied to a set of networked phone lines to operate. It’s a subscription-based service, so you can expand or contract as necessary, ideal for seasonal businesses and high demand periods.

If we break it down into the most basic of differences:

PBX: Uses physical phone lines, not reliant on data connection, simple functionality, and a no-frills approach to communication.

VoIP: Cloud phone system, uses internet connections to communicate, not tied to physical phone lines, wide range of functionality, and very flexible approach to communications.



When it comes to flexibility in your telecommunications, VoIP offers far more options than PBX. PBX systems are purchased as a whole service package, including maintenance, line set up, and phone handsets. The ports required for hooking up PBX systems are also finite, so if you need more or less ports, you’re often stuck with what you have unless you do a complete overhaul. This means adapting to the changing needs of a business is difficult to respond to quickly.

VoIP is a subscription-based service, and not tied to physical phone lines or ports. It’s much easier to adapt the number of licences held without the need for upgrading or altering hardware. VoIP services can be changed month on month, ideal for supporting businesses at busier times without incurring unnecessary costs throughout the year.



As PBX uses a traditional office phone system, and VoIP uses an internet connection, the security measures between them are quite different, and can be a key decision in choosing business phone systems for you.

PBX systems are very secure, and as they don’t rely on internet, there’s no chance of hackers or malware causing issues. VoIP may seem to be the less secure option in comparison to PBX, but there have been many advances in digital security, making VoIP a perfectly safe option to choose. Businesses who choose VoIP should also implement secure firewalls, encryption and two factor authentication where possible to ensure security in cloud phone systems.



It’s essential when choosing a phone system set up that it fits with the needs of your business, staff, and customers. Getting the right functionality is key to delivering a great service.

VoIP offers much more in the way of functionality than PBX. You can make calls from mobiles, desk phones, and computers, with no loss of service in between. You can handover between devices, share files, engage with video and more. Staff can work from a mobile or desk phone with no difference in functionality, and no need for alternate numbers or extensions. This makes VoIP an ideal cloud-based phone system for use in businesses who embrace hybrid working or that have staff working off-site.

PBX could be a good option for businesses who have very poor internet connectivity, as VoIP requires a reliable internet connection. You can have some extra functionality aspects with PBX, such as call transfers, but generally it operates on a basic level.

Whether you choose PBX or VoIP, consulting with an expert in business communication and cloud telephony will help you and your business find the right solution. Contact Enreach today to find out more and speak to our friendly account managers to see what more you can get from your phone system.


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Enreach UK Ltd, Communications House, Hadley Park, Telford TF1 6QJ
Call us: 0800 097 6543 Email: enquiries.uk@enreach.com

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