Life with a $70 per extension PBX

by Colin Berkshire

Colin here…

So we are deploying these PBX systems that are costing us $50 to $70 per extension including the multi-line feature phone and then PBX (see prior post). This is crazy-cheap. I have a friend in a rival company that is spending well over $1,000 per extension for their integrated offering.

The Grandstream UCM6100 PBX and their associated feature phones are just crazy cheap.

I was floored when the PBX didn’t even need a power cable. It just powers up using our POE Ethernet switches. That’s just wild.

The PBX is so simple to administer that clerical staff can do most changes. We can access them through the company LAN and do things for them. The web-based interface is plain and simple.

The switches have voice mail, fax mail, paging, conferencing, corporate call routing to branches, speed dialing, call center queueing, and on and on. It’s just crazy that you can get all of these features for $300 to $600. (The $300 model is suitable for up to perhaps 25~50 extensions and the $600 model supports up to 500 extensions.)

Now, Grandstream has a $1,200 version of the PBX, the UCM6510 that supports up to 2,000 extensions and includes a PRI T1/J1/E1. We haven’t tried that one yet. But I know we have paid more for a PRI interface to some switches than the entire UCM6510 costs.

I just can’t believe how cheap this stuff is getting.

But what is more surprising is that it’s stable and easy. There are no hard disks, it is all solid state. The administration is done through a web interface that we let clerical people do. Even though deep under the hood it is an asterisk system, you can’t see or touch that. (And I am thankful for this!)

Our organization is very frugal, and we take pride in this. These little Grandstream PBXs aren’t the robust systems that integrate with SalesForce, and they don’t do screen-pops. But they are a heck of a good value, and they have all of the functionality we need for our branch offices.

I have been in this business for forty years and I never thought it would get to this incredible point.

Life is good.