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What Does PABX Stand for, and is it Different from a PBX?

The distinction between a PBX (Private Branch Exchange) and a PABX (Private Automatic Branch Exchange) is perhaps an instance of technology traveling faster than day-to-day language can keep up.

Telephone switches have certainly come a long way since the “carriage bolts...teapot lids, and bustle wire” model first introduced back in 1878—and, as common in the wake of progress, a terminological haze remains clouding the public atmosphere long after that ever whooshing train has whistled by.

So if you're wondering "what is PABX? anyhow?!"—don't worry, you're not alone. Here's a brief overview that will clear things up faster than you can say 'choo choo!'

(Or, if you're really in a rush, skip right down to the bottom line)

The Birth of PBX

In the olden days, telephone calls were routed over the Public Switched Telephone Network to a hive of Switchboard Operators equipped with patch cords, who then manually connected them to the recipient. These telephone exchanges were facilitated by the phone companies. With time, reasons of economics and efficiency encouraged large organization to start their own in-house exchange rooms for local communications, and so Private Branch Exchange was born.

Progress Breeds a Whole Family of Acronyms

As technology moved on from analog to electro-mechanical and finally to electronic switchboards and the process became automated, the general term PBX was sometimes broken down into PMBX (Private Manual Branch Exchange) and PABX (Private Automated Branch Exchange) to differentiate between the two.

Solid state electronic systems were christened with their own acronym as well: EPABX (Electronic Private Automated Branch Exchange).

PBX in the Virtual Age: a Return to the Roots.

Today virtually all PBX systems are automated, so the distinction between PBX (or PMBX) and PABX has become literally obsolete. Even the finer technological varieties are largely a matter of semantics—so with the advent of the latest cloud based digital systems, rather than coining yet another acronym, companies were content to adopt the good old ‘PBX’ with the simple prefix ‘virtual’ or ‘hosted’.

The Bottom Line:

While PABX still has its share of adopters, PBX is the widely used term between the two, and for all practical intents and purposes they are both one and the same—to find a manual switchboard you'd have to visit a museum!



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posted by Maty Grosman @ 3:22 PM