Office 365 or PBX Systems — Which is a Better Choice?

The modern PBX or VoIP business has come a long way from the bell key telephone systems that were prevalent in the 1930s. While some of the enterprises may still have an on-premises PBX phone system, most of them are increasingly turning towards cloud based solutions for better communication. Deploying a cloud network can be tricky as an enterprise may need to replace their on-site phone system with a hosted cloud or require a cloud data and productivity service like Office 365 Microsoft collaboration products.

After acquiring Skype in 2011, Microsoft has expanded and evolved audio, video and chat services. It has also merged Lync communication services into Skype for business. This particular product is capable of holding large meetings and can also integrate several Office apps together. In 2015, Microsoft took the plunge of developing Skype furthermore by creating its subset called Skype for Business that includes a hosted PBX network capable of replacing VoIP business phone system.

In the current scenario, Skype for Business PBX functionality is being set using these following steps:

· A block of direct inward dial (DID) is chosen.

· License should be assigned to each user in the web portal so that the PSTN calling can be enabled.

· Specific number can be assigned to each user in the Skype Section.

Let us find out how it is different from a fully-featured on-premises or cloud-based PBX system:

1. Losing the Handset Can Be Uncomfortable for Some

The features in inculcated in the new Hosted PBX of Skype, definitely looks promising but as a customer, you will also have to compromise on certain things when you scale back to a PBX system.

Since all voice calls are limited to a laptop speaker and microphone or the use of an USB headphone in Skype for business, there is no way to use a handset. Many people prefer to use a handset for lengthy conference calls or webinars as it is comfortable and also includes extra features. The people who like the comfort and extra features associated with a handset may find getting over it a bit hard.

2. No Facilities of Voicemail

No employee can stay at their desk 24 x 7. Hence, without a voicemail, calls are bound to be missed. At present, there are no voicemail services available on Skype for business, a feature provided by Exchange Unified Messaging (UM). Moreover, Exchange UM is not supported for use with Skype PSTN calling. Hence, users have to listen to the bugging ring constantly, till a call is answered. The call cannot be redirected to the mobile phone and neither can it be rejected by the receiver manually.

3. No Provision for Emergency Calling

Another area where, Skype’s “cloud PBX with PSTN calling” lags behind PBX system is Emergency calling. Microsoft makes sure that before a phone number is being assigned to a user, it is imperative to create one emergency address and optionally, an emergency location of the organization. These emergency address and locations are to be assigned to each user along with the number. All these emergency addresses should be validated before you assign a phone number. This can prove to be a potentially tedious task for administrators.

4. Many PSTN Features need to be added Separately

Many Unified Communications (UC) packages offered by current hosted PBX retailers come with comprehensive services and solutions. Though, many of Skype’s PSTN need to be added separately.

If businesses wish to have PSTN conferencing available to them through Skype for Business, then they need to choose ‘Advance Meetings Add-on for Business’ so that the users can avail dial-in audio conferencing as an option for online meetings.

Office 365 with PSTN functionality seems quite appealing to some businesses but many businesses would also like to retain the full functionality of their on-site or hosted PBX systems that also includes Unified communications integrated with Skype services. This way companies can get hold of the power of business VoIP without compromising on the features that both employers and employees need to have. For the best in class VoIP solutions and optimizing voice traffic for your business data at minimal start-up costs, you can visit us at

Summary — Skype for Business has made things easier for the enterprises by taking communication solutions to the cloud. Although, Microsoft has missed on few traditional amenities provided by PSTN. We try to compare Office 365 and PBX Systems for business use in this blog.