How Do Local Telephony Gateways Work?

In an increasingly connected work, traditional phone services are finding themselves in the same boat as cable services. But some businesses require phone services in order to operate. In order for these businesses to take advantage of VoIP, local telephony gateways can be used. In this article, you'll learn how they work.

What Is a Local PBX?

A local PBX (private branch exchange) is an on-site telephone switching system. A PBX handles all phone operations for a facility. This includes:

  • Income phone calls
  • Outgoing phone calls
  • Hold music
  • IVR (interactive voice response)
  • Security
  • Internal routing of calls from workstation to workstation

Depending on the business and PBX system being used, it can do a lot more. There are many reasons why a company chooses to use an on-site PBX. One of the most common is security and privacy. The company has complete control over who accesses the PBX and any associated data. Data is hosted on-site, which is possible because the PBX is also on-site.

There are some drawbacks to an on-site PBX. The main one is cost. All equipment must be purchased or leased from the telephone company. The telephone company also must install and support the equipment. This involves signing a contract with the telephone company. They are also the only ones who can provide hardware in case of any failure.

Local PBX Extension Through Gateways

Before we get into gateways, let's briefly review what VoIP is. VoIP stands for voice over Internet Protocol (IP). A traditional telephone transmits voice data as analog signals. VoIP sends voice data as digital signals. This means your regular telephone can't send voice data over the Internet since IP only transmits in digital data packets. VoIP solves this problem by converting analog signals to digital and then back to analog if needed.

In some cases, a SIP phone is used for VoIP. SIP stands for Session Initiated Protocol. SIP wraps voice packets to ensure they reach their destination. A SIP phone is all digital, so no conversion from analog to digital needs to take place. In fact, a business with SIP phones doesn't even need a traditional telephone service. I can go straight to the Internet.

A gateway is a machine that sits between two systems. It manages the passing of data from one system to the other. It also handles security. For a local telephony gateway, it provides VoIP services. The technical term for this gateway is an IP Telephony Gateway. It's a device rather than a computer.

The gateway extends a local (i.e., on-site) PBX so VoIP can be used. The device has several ports including:

  • FXO: This stands for foreign exchange office. It's a port that connects to your telephone service or public switched telephone network (PSTN). The "office" part means the telephone company office. Think of it as external, since that is where the telephone company is located.
  • FXS: This stands for foreign exchange subscriber. It provides ports to connect with workstations or employees. This is how employees connect with VoIP.
  • Power: Power supply port that connects to a power source. The gateway needs constant power to operate, which means it will need to be on a battery backup.
  • Ethernet: Connection to the network router. An Internet connection is required for VoIP. That is how voice data packets make it from a workstation onto the Internet.

Some gateways provide WiFi VoIP allowing workstations to connect to the gateway wirelessly. Gateways also ensure that voice data is of high quality. Higher than what you will find in VoIP adapters. Gateways are able to accomplish this through QoS or Quality of Service. QoS provides voice data with a clear line to the Internet. This is in contrast to standard routers, which make all data compete for space. That's why VoIP often doesn't sound good on a home network.

Unified Communications Services

Are local telephony gateways necessary with unified communications services (UC)? UC services provide all the backend hardware needed for a call center. An on-premise PBX isn't needed. But again, this case back to the specific business. A business may have a reason for keeping traditional phone services. If that's the case, a gateway can still benefit the business. The gateway will perform the same function as mentioned earlier.

Local telephony gateways allow businesses with an on-premise PBX to utilize VoIP. The gateway provides VoIP access to all workstations, handles security, and ensures voice quality is of the highest quality. Gateways are also business-grade devices. From small businesses to enterprises, gateways can handle all of their VoIP needs.

Businesses rely on their technology to empower them to be as productive as possible. With 8x8's world-class technology you get everything your business needs in one place. Call 1-866-879-8647 or fill out an online form to request a no-obligation quote from an 8x8 product specialist.

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