Hosted PBX vs SIP trunking, explained

Understand which one is better for communicating with your customer—hosted PBX and SIP trunking with pros & cons of each.
Abstract server with cloud and phone symbols to represent SIP trunking

There are so many ways to communicate with your customers in the modern-day that even the different options have options.

One of the more complicated debates is how much control a business needs (or wants) over their communications, and the implications of choosing between a hosted PBX and SIP trunking.

PBX vs. Hosted PBX vs. SIP Trunking

A PBX, or Private Branch Exchange, is a piece of hardware that a business uses to connect their phones to as opposed to using ISDN which is an older system with some limitations.

On the other hand, a Hosted PBX is exactly the same as a PBX but it is managed and stored offsite by a different company. This company then has control over your call traffic and how it’s routed.

Finally, SIP trunking is a way of transferring your call traffic over the internet to wherever it needs to go. For businesses with lots of traffic, it’s cheaper than using the old-fashioned phone lines you use at home.

Want to know more about SIP trunks and SIP trunking?

Simply put, a hosted PBX and SIP trunking are not completely interchangeable. A hosted PBX will often use SIP trunking to provide communications and access to the PSTN and other communication lines. The difference is the amount of control you have over your comms.

Pros of a Hosted PBX

With a hosted PBX you no longer need to worry about the day-to-day management of your cloud comms. Everything about your exchange is managed off-site by a third party. This comes with a good chunk of benefits for your business including:

  • Reduced equipment needed onsite – A PBX requires a few bits of kit to get up and running and takes an experienced IT technician to get underway. With a hosted PBX you don’t need to worry about any of that.
  • With a hosted PBX you get everything you would expect from a typical landline as standard, including voicemail, conference calling, and call records.
  • Flexibility to implement “add-on” services depending on your provider allowing you to pick and choose capabilities based on your needs.

Cons of a Hosted PBX

The problem with a hosted PBX really comes down to one thing: control. Unfortunately, it’s a double-edged sword in this case, with plenty of cons, including:

  • The quality of your service relies heavily on the vendor – if something goes wrong on their end, it’s going to affect you and there’s nothing you can really do about it until it’s fixed.
  • The service provider basically has control over your comms traffic, meaning you can’t increase or decrease your usage needs as and when you need to.
  • The add-on services available to you are limited to what the vendor can do for you rather than picking the services yourself.

Pros of SIP trunking

With SIP trunking you have all the freedom you could want with a cloud comms service including:

  • Improved cost-efficiency and savings by ditching your old PSTN service and replacing it with an IP-based connection that uses your internet, rather than copper lines.
  • Increased flexibility and control over usage allowing you to increase or decrease the number of channels and available bandwidth for your traffic.
  • The ability to share call traffic with other sites/offices so you can share traffic on the same exchange.

Cons of SIP trunking

SIP trunking cons are pretty few and far between, especially if you’re a larger business with an international customer base. But as with all things, there are always downsides. These include:

  • A fairly large initial investment is needed in order to set up the correct equipment and software, though some businesses may already have this equipment to hand and would simply need to pay a SIP trunk provider to get started.
  • A decent broadband connection (business-grade) is needed in order to sustain the increase in traffic from voice.
  • Getting the right support can be difficult because of how new the technology is though some providers will have their own technical support that you can access. Make sure your provider of choice has this available for you.

Hosted PBX vs. SIP Trunking: What should you do?

If you want to get the full benefits of cloud communications, using a SIP trunk connection really is a no-brainer, especially if you’re a larger or enterprise business with the scope to increase in size rapidly.

Explore Global SIP trunk