What is the Difference Between PBX and PABX?

Written by expressvirtualmeetings
What is the difference between PBX and PABX?

When people talk about telecommunications, there’s a lot of terminology thrown around and it becomes a bit of a blur. If you’ve ever shopped around for business phone solutions, you would have heard PBX and PABX before. But what do they really mean?

Rather than make the job of solving your communication problems more difficult, here’s what you need to know about PBX and PABX

What is PBX?

PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange. If you think that sounds outdated, you’re absolutely right. When most people think of a telephone exchange, they imagine scenes from old movies where a team of operators connect people’s calls for them, navigating a mess of wires and plugs.

Well, that’s exactly what a Private Branch Exchange is. The term isn’t really accurate, even though it is still used today. This is because it specifically refers to the manual task of connecting calls.

What is PABX?

PABX, on the other hand stands for Private Automatic Branch Exchange. While we still send the reference to an exchange, technological advancement has moved us away from using operators in a room. However, if you consider that most businesses may have a receptionist or even an IVR system to direct your calls, the concept of manually connecting calls does still exist.

Modern PABX automates this process. Think about a receptionist transferring a call. Or even or a digital system directing your call based on the options you choose when prompted. Automatic switching, rather than manual switching is the key difference.

So, is there Really Much Difference Today?

In short, no. All telephone exchanges are now automated, meaning they are all PABX rather than PBX. So, the terms actually refer to the same thing. Every PBX system is automated now, which technically makes it a PABX system.

If you’re researching business phone systems, don’t be confused by the technology. Essentially, they both mean the same thing. Because all systems now operate with electronic switching, the manual nature of connecting calls has been removed.

So, if you see a PBX system advertised, don’t worry – you’re not signing up to employ a bunch of people asking, “How may I direct your call?” before connecting different wires in a small, smoke filled room.

The Added Features of PABX

Thanks to electronic switching being able to automate the process of call connection, many features are available that we now take for granted. In the old manual PBX systems, we certainly couldn’t hold conference calls with participants from around the world.

Some of the added features include:

Call waiting

Automatic call-back


Conference calling

Outbound diallers

The evolution of telecommunications technology has obviously now advanced much further than these basics though. Cloud business phone systems systems, for example, are hosted online. You don’t even need to use your own servers. This gives businesses several added benefits such as reduced costs, far better security, increased scalability and more added features.

We’ve come a long way from the old PBX exchanges, so it makes us wonder what could be next in the world of telecommunication.

Is There Anything Like Old-School PBX Today?

The traditional PBX exchanges are now only found in old movies. However, there are certainly similar services out there. These services allow companies to essentially obtain the service of a call screening or forwarding process, even if you don’t have an office.

You’ve probably heard them referred to as virtual reception services. In many ways they operate like a modern version of the PBX exchange. A virtual receptionist uses software that allows them to manage incoming calls on behalf of several companies. They can easily see which of their clients’ phones is ringing, and answer accordingly. They can then transfer to call to a mobile or take messages accordingly.

Managed Conferencing services are another modern PBX-like solution, which help businesses to schedule and handle phone conferencing for large scale conferences, interviews or any other type of connection. These services can save you plenty of time and hassle. They ensure your meetings get started without a hitch by dialling out to your attendees and guests and connecting them on time.

So, as you can see, the world of telecoms has changed dramatically since the days of the old PBX exchanges. However, one thing that never changes is the way business relies heavily on communications. Whether it be for daily operations, collaboration between remote staff or scheduling global phone conferences and meetings, it’s clear we need quality business phone systems.

If your business could benefit from a cloud-based PABX system, managed conferencing services, or even assistance with video conferencing and audio conferencing, we’d love to hear from you. At Express Virtual Meetings, we take the stress out of your business communication needs.

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