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What are the Different Types of Telephone Systems?
June 11, 2019

Here is our guide to the three main types of business telephone system.

One of the most common misconceptions about telephone systems is that they're just 'phones'.

People often consider phone systems to be simple 'boxes on the wall' that control your phones, but this is not the case.

So, what are the different types of telephone system?

The three main types of business phone system are:
  • Traditional, On-Premise PBX
  • VoIP PBX
  • Hosted VoIP Phone System

Learn more about each of these three systems below:

1. Traditional, On-Premise PBX

The grandad of business telephony is the PBX or 'telephone switch'. The PBX is a box that sits on your premises somewhere, and controls all aspects of your business telephony.

These telephone systems are robust, reliable and offer a a comprehensive set of features to businesses.

How do traditional PBXs work?

Well, when you break ti down, the PBX is a simple concept.

Each person using the same system has a set extension that is unique to them. A PBX takes all of your incoming lines, and all of the calls on those lines, and serves them up to the correct extension.

Of course, there are many other features, such as; call queueing, on-hold music, transfers, call recording and more - but at heart, a traditional PBX controls your businesses' telephone calls.

The future of the on-premise PBX

The traditional business telephone system is, as we mentioned, the grandad of telecoms. Whilst they do still support business across the UK, they do lack the newer technology being used in modern communication solutions.

These traditional systems are becoming less and less common, as the move towards digital Britain continues.

The traditional system is fast being replaced by its more modern, younger counterpart: The VoIP PBX


The VoIP PBX or VoIP telephone system is an updated version of the traditional telephone system we talked about above.

Both traditional and VoIP PBX systems are very similar, they both control your businesses' calls.

So, what's the difference?

The main difference between the traditional and VoIP PBX is how the systems work and the types of technology they use.

A traditional PBX uses analogue or digital lines, called ISDN, whereas a VoIP PBX uses your broadband or data connection to make and receive calls. This can be substantially cheaper than the traditional alternative.

Samsung and Mitel business telephone systems
The Samsung OfficeServ 7100 (left) & Mitel MiVoice 250 (right) PBX telephone systems.

Above, you can see two examples of a VoIP phone system, the Mitel MiVoice and the Samsung Officeserv.

The added benefits of a VoIP phone system

Whilst the basis of a VoIP phone system remain similar to a traditional phone system, they do come with some added benefits.

Benefits including:

  • Higher quality voice calls
  • Free calls between sites
  • Preparing for the ISDN switch off
  • Using one system for multiple sites

3. Hosted VoIP Phone System

The final type of telephone system is a hosted VoIP system. A hosted telephone system is the most modern, flexible type of telephone system.

A hosted telephone system does away with the 'box on the wall' model and instead uses the a cloud telephony platform. This platform serves as your business telephone system.

How does hosted VoIP work?

Hosted VoIP uses your existing internet connection and a robust cloud telephony platform to make and receive calls.

Our platform is called 'eve' and is one of the most robust and reliable

It comes with a rich feature set and is fully flexible and adjustable to suit your business requirements.

We did a deep dive blog on how hosted telephone works: How does hosted telephony work?

Diagram of a hosted voip phone system
A diagram of a hosted VoIP telephone system

What are the main benefits of hosted VoIP?

Hosted VoIP has a lot of benefits when compared to traditional on-premise solutions, these include:

  • Cheaper than a PBX
  • More flexible
  • Less maintenance and installation costs
  • High quality voice

So there you have it, the three main types of business telephone system, broken down and explained.

Telephony is so important to businesses - keeping them in touch with customers, prospects and ensuring smooth daily operations. Upgrading to a more modern solution may decrease your costs and ensure that you're ready for the ISDN switch off.

For more information about any of the solutions in this article, or for a free, no obligations chat about telecoms with one of our team, give us a call on 01934 882200 or email

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