Hosted private branch exchange (PBX) also referred to as virtual PBX, allows businesses to use sophisticated telephone systems without investing in the telecom equipment. The call platform is hosted at the service provider’s location. The subscribers connect via IP to the service provider for voice service. It is a cloud-based system that can be accessed via an IP network. As all services are hosted in the cloud operating costs are reduced. The service provider takes care of the hardware, software and necessary maintenance. Hosted PBX allows employees to work from home or their cellphones and still be connected to the office telephone system. Call routing and switching is handled by service providers at their own location. Such systems can function over public switched telephone networks (PSTN) and VoIP. Like a regular telephone system, calls can be transferred or put on hold, conference calls can be set up and the phone can be answered by an automated attendant who can route callers to different departments in an organization. As per business requirements, ranging from a single user at an office to multiple users scattered across different continents, necessary solutions can be provided by hosted PBX service providers.
Infrastructure costs have direct impact on profitability of companies. The key growth driver for hosted PBX market is the significant cost savings in telecom infrastructure it offers to companies. Also, as the office phone system is virtual, location constraints are eliminated. Businesses are increasingly going global and hosted PBX makes it possible for them to establish a virtual presence at locations where they do not have a physical presence. Thus, increasing number of companies are opting for these services. Traditional phone systems are also limited by the number of users they can handle. Virtual systems can expand to accommodate growing needs of a business. With intuitive web interfaces which anybody can manage and monitor, hosted PBX system is more user friendly than traditional telephone system. The multiple security layers and failover technology offered by service providers is further likely to fuel the growth of hosted PBX technology. However, as voice quality and connections depend on Internet service, any disruptions in Internet results in loss of phone service. Furthermore, the unfamiliarity of hosted PBX users with VoIP technology and support issues from service providers pose challenges in the growth of hosted PBX market.
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The hosted PBX market can be categorized in terms of organization size, end-users, and services. On the basis of organization size the market can be categorized into small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) and large organizations. On the basis of end-users, the market can be classified into financial services, health care, retail, education, manufacturing, real estate, professional services and others. Also, on the basis of services, the market is categorized into network services, managed services, security services, unified communications and cloud & IT services.
The major companies in the hosted PBX market include XO Communications, LLC, VirtualPBX.com, Inc., Jive Canada, RingCentral, Inc., Digium, Inc., 8×8, Inc., Intermedia.net,Inc., TelePacific Communications, 3CX, Megapath, Engin, Bullseye Telecom, Nextiva, Vonage, Mitel Networks Corporation and ShoreTel Inc.
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