Can I Combine a Standard Phone System With a VoIP System?

Posted on Thu, Sep 10, 2015 @ 09:10 AM by Carlos Lahrssen

Hybrid phone systems have the functionality of cloud systems with the low cost of analog phone lines.Business phone solutions are changing. Companies that embrace the cloud and cloud-based phone systems have an edge over those that remain stuck in the past; those that keep inefficient, high cost standard phone systems in their offices. Internet-enabled Voice-over IP (VoIP) and Private Branch Exchange (PBX) phones systems are changing the way growing businesses operate.

Integrating a VoIP phone system throughout an enterprise is a big transition, however, and some businesses are wary of jumping in to. Business owners often ask us if they can keep their current, traditional phone system and integrate it with VoIP solutions to ease the transition, and get the basic benefits of Internet phone systems without making a full upgrade.

To tackle this question head-first, yes, you can combine your standard phone system with a VoIP phone system. Typically, this can be done with hybrid VoIP and cloud PBX solutions, as well as web-enabled personal devices. VoIP phone systems are the most flexible and efficient business phone solutions on the market - solutions your organization can implement without replacing existing standard phone lines.

Why Consider a Hybrid Solution?

Hybrid PBX and VoIP solutions, which allow cloud integration with existing phone systems, are perfect for growing businesses and those new to Internet phone systems. Replacing an entire enterprise’s phone system is a significant transition to make. Hybrid Internet/standard phone systems ease the transition phase and allow businesses to benefit from VoIP/hosted PBX solutions while retaining their existing phone hardware.

By integrating cloud technologies with the analog phone systems of old, growing companies can benefit from cloud features while keeping upgrade costs at a minimum; they get the general benefits of each solution without going all-in for either.

How Hybrid Phone Systems Work

Before we highlight the benefits of a hybrid, analog/cloud phone system, let’s explain how such systems work. Hybrid PBX systems begin with Primary Rate Interfaces and Basic Rate Interfaces (PRI and BRI, respectively); these are interface standards used for Integrated Services Digital Networks (ISDNs), which can carry multiple devices and transmissions at one time.

The key difference between BRIs and PRIs is the number of channels they feature. BRIs feature one 16-kbits/s D channel and two 64-kbit/s B channels, while PRIs feature one 64-kbit/s D channel and 23/30 64-kbit/s B channels. Thus, BRIs are ideal for smaller businesses or startups, while PRIs are suitable for large-scale organizations.

Through a PRI or BRI, a business’s cloud-based phone system then transmits data to a hybrid PBX device. This PBX device then uploads that information to the Internet, enabling core VoIP functionality. In short, PRIs/BRIs collect analog phone information and send the information to a PBX device, which then transmits the data online. Hybrid PBX phone systems only operate if analog lines are connected through a PRI or BRI, however; legacy PBX networks do not interface with POTS lines - that is, "plain old telephone service" lines.

Once the PBX hybrid device is online, other VoIP devices and web-enabled personal devices can connect to the system via the cloud - this can be particularly beneficial for businesses with many field agents or geographically separated office locations.

Benefits of a Hybrid VoIP/PBX Phone System

While benefits of cloud-based phone systems are most realized during broad implementation, hybrid systems do deliver many of the basic, core benefits and features of VoIP. In terms of cost savings, a hybrid PBX/VoIP system can help your business:

  • Reduce maintenance requirements and costs of future upgrades
  • Limit direct phone company charges, as analog calls can now be routed over the Internet (granted, however, that this may result in higher bandwidth requirements and more expensive Internet)
  • Call and voicemail management from personal devices
  • Easy scalability and system reconfiguration

Hybrid phone systems offer the basic functionality of IP phone systems without the higher transition and hardware costs. For many small and growing businesses, these core capabilities are all that’s required out of the phone system. Not all businesses require an intuitive VoIP phone line at every desk (not yet, at least). Hybrid systems fill the gap between traditional analog phones and the fully cloud-enabled solutions of tomorrow.


Topics: hosted VoIP, cloud PBX, business voip

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About the Author

Carlos Lahrssen
Carlos Lahrssen
Carlos Lahrssen is president and CEO of nexogy, as well as founder, president and CEO of LD Telecommunications, Inc., nexogy’s parent company. Lahrssen is an industry fan, follower and advocate — more