Last Updated: March 10, 2023

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PBX vs KSU Phone System Cost

KSU Phone Systems

KSU phone systems use a central control device known as a key system unit to route calls. The device allows for multiple lines and provides more advanced features than traditional phone systems.

KSU phone systems are designed for small- to medium-sized businesses with no more than 40 employees. However, as technology improves, KSU systems are beginning to incorporate features once reserved for large business systems.

How Much Does a KSU Phone Systems Cost?

Most companies can expect to pay about $300 to $1,000 per user for a KSU phone system. For a company with 10 employees, that works out to $3,000 to $10,000 for the complete system. The price includes the KSU control device, handsets, installation, training and support.

KSU Pros

  • Price - KSU phone systems tend to cost less than PBX systems. If a KSU system provides all the functionality you need, and you don’t expect the business to grow significantly, it’s likely the best option.
  • Ease of use - KSU systems tend to be less complicated and more user-friendly. This is partially because they have fewer features.

KSU Cons

  • Not as flexible - KSU systems do offer advanced features, but they’re not as customizable as PBX systems.
  • Less room for growth - If your business grows to more than about 40 employees, you’ll have to replace the KSU with a PBX.

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PBX Phone Systems

Private Branch Exchange (PBX) phone systems provide more advanced functionality for larger businesses. They usually come standard with features such as conferencing, auto attendant, music on hold and dial-by-name directories.

PBX Phone System

PBX phone systems rely on telephone hardware and switches to route calls. The hardware is stored in a telecom cabinet that resides in the office.

How Much Does a PBX Phone System Cost?

PBX phone systems are more expensive. They generally cost anywhere from $800 to $1,000 per user. Larger companies placing big orders will get a volume discount, paying on the lower end of that price range, while small- to mid-sized companies will pay on the high end.

PBX Pros

  • Flexibility - PBX systems are fully programmable and customizable. The system can be configured to meet the unique and specific needs of your business.
  • Room for growth - PBX systems offer considerably more room for growth. They’re fairly simple to expand if your business grows. Adding users won’t break the bank either.

PBX Cons

  • Price - PBX systems are considerably more expensive. They’re priced out of the range of some small businesses.
  • Harder to use - Because PBX systems are more complex, they tend to be harder to use. Your employees might require additional training, and you should expect a bit of a learning curve.

Video: What is a PBX?

Learn about PBX Maintenance & Support by watching this video.

Tips for Choosing a Phone System

Choosing a phone system can be difficult. Even after you’ve decided on KSU or PBX, there are many different brands and a myriad of features to consider. These tips should help you in the selection process:

  • Talk to other businesses - Compare notes with similarly-sized companies to find out which phone system they purchased and why. How is the phone system working out? Would they recommend it to others?
  • Take it for a test drive - Never buy a phone system without doing a demo first. You’ll never know if the system is user-friendly if you don’t actually use it. Are the phones comfortable to hold? How easily can you transfer a call to another extension? Are speakerphone calls clear?
  • Plan for growth - A phone system is long-term investment, so think about where your company might be five or 10 years down the road. If you have 30 employees now but can imagine growing to 50, you’re probably better off springing for a PBX phone system.
  • Buy at the right time - The best time to buy is at the end of the quarter, when sales teams are scrambling to meet their goals. You’re likely to get a better deal than if you bought at the beginning of the quarter.


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