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So what is an IP-PBX?
First, we must go back to the analog days and address what a PBX is.
3CX says it best when they say: “A PBX connects the internal telephones within a business and also connects them to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). One of the latest tendencies in PBX phone system development is the VoIP PBX, also known as IP PBX, which uses the Internet Protocol to transmit calls…IP PBX is a software-based PBX phone system solution which helps accomplish certain tasks and delivers services that can be difficult and costly to implement when using a traditional proprietary PABX (private automated branch exchange).”
That’s pretty plain English, but just in case you’re like me and like it boiled down to the delicious bits at the bottom of the pot, it means the PBX is your personal in-house operator.
Depending on the functionality of the PBX you choose, you can get features and functions such as call park, call forward, call transfer, Do not Disturb, ring/hunt group, and paging and intercom capability. Conveniently, the Grandstream UCM6102 IP-PBX supports all these call features!
Initial set up of the UCM6102 was simple. It’s advertised as plug-N-play, and it most certainly is. It’s a basic PBX that will allow for up to 500 extension, supports 30 simultaneous calls, support up to 3 conference bridges and allow for 25 simultaneous PSTN or IP participants, and it supports T.30/T.38 Fax and Fax Pass-Thru. It’s a good, functional, basic IP-PBX that’s going to be perfect for a small business hovering around the 20 people mark. As long as you don’t need anything “fancy,” this PBX is going to do the trick.
Understand: the moment you need to have some kind of special configuration that isn’t in the user manual, or you want to start integrating customized components, things aren’t going to be simple anymore. For instance: the Grandstream UCM6102 will auto provision all your Grandstream IP Phones with incredible ease and very little hassle. The Grandstream is compatible with your Polycom, Cisco, Aastra, Snom, and Yealink SIP-based phones because Grandstream has tested basic functionality with them and the UCM6100 series runs on a customized version of Asterisk OS, but now you’re already limiting yourself. If your needs are already more complicated than this, I suggest you walk away from this product and consider spending a little more money.
However, if what I’ve just described is already more than you were thinking, then hang out with me for a second. If you need less than 500 extensions, 30 simultaneous calls running, conference bridges, blacklist support, only plan on using Grandstream IP Phones (which, honestly, are more and more impressive every year), need to fax, want a basic Web GUI to adjust settings and troubleshoot, then call it good, this is the IP-PBX for you. The truth is, a lot of people don’t need a lot of fancy features. If you have a full blown enterprise call center, then yes, look elsewhere, but if you have a tiny call center, save yourself some money and go with the UCM6100 series. If you’re a large restaurant with several phones throughout, a retail store with dozens of departments, an full service gas station, or whatever your situation may be, this will cover your basics at a great price.
Since Grandstream works with Grandstream, the UCM6102 can work as a base for your entire VoIP system, be that Voice over IP or Video over IP, because in addition to IP phones, video phones, and gateways, Grandstream also has an ever improving line of IP cameras as well. It’s safe to say you can build your entire VoIP network over Grandstream with little cost and little hassle, but you’re going to have to live with basic functions.
For me, that would be alright as I’m a plug-and-play kind of person, and I feel like for a lot of other people it will be the same. I was thoroughly pleased at how easy it was to set up.
But if you’re a techie and enjoy configuring and creating, such as my husband who got frustrated because he couldn’t make some customized function work, you might want to keep shopping; this is not the advanced PBX you’re looking for.