Introduction, Licensing, Support
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What is 3CX?
3CX is a software-based PBX that works with SIP standard based IP Phones, SIP Trunks and VoIP gateways to provide a complete PBX solution – without the inflated cost and management headaches of an ‘old style’ PBX. The IP PBX supports all traditional PBX features but also includes many new mobility and productivity features. An IP PBX is also referred to as a VoIP phone system or SIP server.
Calls are sent as data packets over the computer data network instead of the traditional phone network. Phones share the network with computers so no separate phone wiring is required. With the use of a VoIP / PSTN gateway, you can connect existing phone lines to the IP PBX to make and receive phone calls via a regular PSTN line. You can also use a SIP Trunk or VoIP Provider, which removes the requirement for a gateway.
How an IP Phone system works
A VoIP phone system generally consists of the IP PBX server (SIP server), one or more SIP based IP Phones and a VoIP / PSTN gateway or a SIP Trunk / VoIP service provider. The SIP IP Phones, being either softphones or hardware based phones, register with the IP PBX server.
When they wish to make a call they ask the IP PBX to establish the connection. The IP PBX has a directory of all phones/users and their corresponding SIP address, and connects an internal call or routes an external call via either a VoIP / PSTN gateway or a VoIP service provider.
Figure - VoIP Phone System Overview
The image illustrates how an IP PBX integrates with the network and how it uses the PSTN and/or the Internet to connect calls.
A VoIP phone system requires the use of SIP Phones. These phones are based on the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), an industry standard to which all modern IP PBX systems adhere to. The SIP protocol defines how calls should be established and is specified in RFC 3261. SIP allows the possibility to mix and match IP PBX software, phones and gateways. This protects your investment in phone hardware. 3CX supports popular IP Phones out of the box. SIP Phones are available in several versions / types:
Software (based) SIP Phones
3CX client for Windows (left), 3CX client for Mac (right)
A software-based SIP Phone is a program which makes use of your computer's microphone and speakers, or an attached headset to allow you to make or receive calls. 3CX includes a softphone for Windows and Mac.
Hardware (based) SIP Phones
Hardware based SIP Phones look and behave like normal phones. They are actually mini computers that connect directly to the computer network. They have an integrated mini hub, allowing them to share a network connection point with a computer, eliminating the need for an additional network point for the phone.
Smartphones (iOS and Android)
Using an iPhone or Android Smartphone with 3CX
3CX includes clients for iOS and Android making your smartphone or tablet a wireless desk phone in the office that can be used to answer and receive company calls from anywhere, be it in the office, at home or on the road using 3G or 4G.
3CX Phone System licensing
Licensing is based on the number of simultaneous calls that your company requires, including both external and internal calls. Each 3CX Phone System allows you to create an UNLIMITED number of extensions. To arrive at the correct number of simultaneous calls that you will need you must usually take the projected number of extensions and divide by two to four times depending on how much your organisation uses the phone.
3CX Phone System is available in three different editions:
- Standard edition – Includes most required PBX features.
- PRO edition - Adds key productivity features.
- Enterprise edition - Adds features required by enterprise such as failover.
Find out more about the differences between versions from our features comparison page.
3CX maintains a knowledge base / help page. Be sure to use SUPPORTED hardware and SIP Trunks: follow the configuration guides for the make and model of your IP Phones, VoIP gateways, SIP Trunks or firewall. The configuration guides can be found in the main support page.
- Overview page, PRO edition, enterprise, pricing, edition comparison.
- Review our support procedures and pricing.
- See our community forums and obtain user to user support for our products.
- Find configuration guides in the main support page.
- Evaluating or upgrading to v15