What is 3CX? Buyer’s Guide

The rise in remote working means businesses are looking to software to help them stay as productive as possible while their employees are in their living rooms, spare rooms and kitchens, rather than the office. Cloud-based phone software and systems are one key element of any business.

Among hosted phone systems, 3CX is one of the most well-known, offering great functionality and reliability across desktop and mobile devices and conventional phone handsets. But what is 3CX and can it really help your business?

What is 3CX?

A 3CX phone system is a PBX, which stands for Private Branch Exchange. This is a private telephone network used within a business. The users of the PBX phone system can communicate internally (within their company) and externally (with the outside world), using different communication channels like Voice over IP, ISDN or analogue. A 3CX also allows you to have more phones than physical phone lines (PTSN) and free calls between users. Additionally, it provides features like transfer calls, voicemail, call recording, interactive voice menus (IVRs) and call queues.

Time and technology have changed the consumer telephony landscape in the past years, with the flag-bearer being the Open-Standards-based IP 3CX. Now you can telephone via the Internet Protocol technology. 3CXphone systems are available as hosted or virtual (cloud) solutions and as on-premise solutions on your own hardware.

This image gives us an idea of what a 3CX system allows in terms of connectivity and reachability. With a traditional PBX, you are typically constrained to a certain maximum number of outside telephone lines (trunks) and to a certain maximum number of internal telephone devices or extensions. Users of the PBX phone system (phones or extensions) share the outside lines for making external phone calls.

Switching to a 3CX brings many benefits and opens up possibilities, allowing for almost unlimited growth in terms of extensions and trunks, and introducing more complex functions that are more costly and difficult to implement with  a traditional PBX, such as ring groups, queues, digital receptionists, voicemail and reporting. C2 Communications relies on 3CX , as it has established itself as the leading IP-PBX manufacturer, ticking all the checkboxes for any business looking for enterprise-grade features.


What is an IP PBX?

An IP PBX is a complete telephony system that provides telephone calls over IP data networks. All conversations are sent as data packets over the network.

The technology includes advanced communication features but also provides a significant dose of worry-free scalability and robustness. The IP PBX is also able to connect to traditional PSTN lines via an optional gateway – so upgrading day-to-day business communication to this most advanced voice and data network is a breeze!

Enterprises don’t need to disrupt their current external communication infrastructure and operations. With an IP PBX deployed, an enterprise can even keep its regular telephone numbers. This way, the IP PBX switches local calls over the data network inside the enterprise and allows all users to share the same external phone lines.

An IP PBX or IP Telephone System consists of one or more SIP phones, an IP PBX server and optionally a VoIP Gateway to connect to existing PSTN lines. The IP PBX server functions in a similar manner to a proxy server. SIP clients, being either soft phones or desk phones, register with the IP PBX server, and 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 thus is able to connect an internal call or route an external call via either a VoIP gateway or a VoIP service provider. More information and commonly asked questioned about IP PBXs can be found on IP PBX, SIP & VoIP FAQ.


The 3CX setup

To get started you’ll need a 3CX licence, SIP Trunks and a place to install the 3CX server (cloud or local).

Tronic is a 3CX partner so we can provide you with everything 3CX. From 3CX cloud hosating to installation andthe required 3CX license.We even do our own SIP trunks that are designed to be 100% 3CX compatable.

3CX is available on desktops, tablets and mobiles. To use 3CX on your mobile phone, you can download the 3CX app for free. With the app, you’ll still be connected to your company’s infrastructure and can take your office communications with you wherever you go. 3CX also support a number of SIP phones and handsets. We’d recommend phones from Fanvil and Yealink.

SIP Trunks

A SIP Trunk is a way to connect your 3CX server to the traditional phone network over the internet. As 3CX is based on the SIP standard which is also called VoIP or Voice Over IP, The SIP Trunk is the virtual connection between your 3CX system and the telephone service provider and runs over a regular broadband internet connection. 

Tronic offers SIP trunks at much lower pricing then the large telcos.

3CX Licences

In order to start using 3CX, you need a licence. 3CX like most things these days requires a licence. This is a subscription based licnece which is renewed annually.

Un like other PBX system that require user or feature based Licences the 3CX licencing is very simple.The licence is based on the number of simultaneous calls for internal and external calls on the system.

The three types of licences are: Standard, Pro and Enterprise.

What are the benefits of 3CX?

Easy set up & integration

All you need to set up 3CX is an internet connection, a 3CX licence and a SIP Trunk. Installing 3CX is an easy process via a browser and for truly simple setup, you’ll probably want to look at a dedicated and recommended SIP Trunk provider (of which Tronic is one of the most recommended).

Integrating with other systems is also straightforward, with well-documented processes for linking with CRM systems such as Salesforce.

Unified Communications

3CX is a complete Unified Communications solution, meaning it goes beyond just phone calls to include features like CRM management, messaging, calls, live chat, web conferencing, iOS and Android apps, email and more. This solution comes without the cost and management headaches of an ‘old’ phone system or the limitations of a shared cloud PBX (where all users share the same hosting space). With integration, these call features and functions are all in one convenient place.

CRM integration

A CRM or Customer Relationship Management is a system that manages company relationships and interactions with customers and prospects. It’s absolutely crucial to most businesses as it centralises all their information on their customers, including things like their contact and/or company details, products bought, interactions and more.

3CX allows you to integrate PBX and CRM system easily so you can make and log calls while also keeping track of customer interactions and records from any channel. CRMs like HubSpot, Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce and other database software like Zendesk can all be integrated with 3CX server-side. This means the CRM can be integrated by the administrator with no plugins or manual configuration required.

Live chat

Live chat allows businesses to engage with their website visitors in real time. Visitors on a website can chat to sales and support teams in a chat box within a browser. Look at the box in the bottom right corner of this page – that’s our own live chat! Live chat helps create a strong lasting relationship between businesses and customers. Companies that deliver good live chat support can see an increase in customer satisfaction and higher sales. According to Zendesk, live chat has a 92% customer satisfaction rate.

3CX live chat and talk is available for any content management system (CMS) or custom-built website. Much like Tronic websites Live chat interface runnign 3CX live chat. 3CX live chat sits in the corner of your web page and pops up with helpful tips, suggestions and support information. This is what it looks like:

Web conferencing

Web conferencing refers to various types of online collaborative services, like online meetings, webcasts and webinars. With web conferencing, you can hold live meetings, presentations, training and more simply through a VoIP connection. This type of communication transforms the way you and your business communicate and collaborate, especially during this current time of remote working.

It’s extremely easy to set up a web conference. First, login to the 3CX Web Client. There is a section on the left-hand side that says, ‘Schedule Conference’. Once you click on it, you can select the type of conference you want to hold – audio or video – and when you want to have the meeting. You can schedule a date and time, or you can start the meeting immediately.

Web client

The 3CX Web Client is essentially a dashboard or control panel, that combines all the call and communication features that you need to connect with your colleagues, partners and customers from your browser. The Web Client has complete telephony functionality and gives access to audio and video calls, call hold, transfer and conferencing, access to IP phones, chat functionalities and file transfers.

iOS and Android apps

The 3CX smartphone app is available for iPhones and Androids. The app allows you to take your business communications with you wherever you go. With the app downloaded on to your phone, you can access your company phone book, make phone calls and send messages seamlessly.

Using the smartphone app is extremely useful. It allows you to make phone calls to colleagues and customers and still appear professional and trustworthy as you’re using your work number rather than your personal number. The apps have become increasingly helpful this year with the increase of remote working. All you have to do to start using the app is download and install it from the app store.


With advanced 3CX security protocols and technologies, your 3CX system will stay safe, secure and reliable. 3CX provides a secure SSL login and a backup and restore function – so files and data sensitive information won’t be lost if there are connectivity issues or any extreme circumstances.

To make device management easier, 3CX offer a Session Border Controller. An SBC is a device that is deployed in SIP-based VoIP networks to regulate and protect communication systems, as well as ensure network security and efficiency. The 3CX SBC allows for greater security as it uses 3CX’s own tunnel ports.

How 3CX differs from other systems

The main difference between 3CX and its competitors is their licensing options and additional features.

3CX is based on a simultaneous call licence which differs from most of its competitors on the market which price their offerings based on a per-user or “per-seat” basis. This means that 3CX allows as many users as you’d like depending on the size of your business for the same cost, as long as your usage remains beneath your simultaneous call threshold. This is particularly useful for organisations with high employee numbers but low call usage and is also used in more specialist environments like hotels.

Unlike many competitors, 3CX also doesn’t charge or tier users for additional features, like voicemail, call recording or CRM integrations. 3CX gives IT managers a great choice of on-premise (“on-prem”) or cloud hosting. For those that want extra security, you can even have both, providing an almost perfect redundancy solution. Although 3CX is designed as a cloud-hosted system, the PBX software can be deployed on a regular desktop PC, or even a Raspberry Pi.

A hosted system is a virtual PBX hosted for you by a service provider. With a hosted PBX service, companies take their phone system off-premises to a third-party PBX provider and let them handle and manage the system. A hosted service is quick and easy to setup and eliminates expensive installation costs. The responsibility and administration of the system is passed on to the provider. This is our preferred deployment route.

Tronic offer a hosted 3CX service, meaning we install, manage and support your 3CX system for you. As a 3CX solutions provider, we have different hosting options depending on which 3CX licence you choose.



How can 3CX help my business?

Remote working

Hosted phone systems and instant messaging platforms have become a vital way to communicate for companies and organisations. 3CX has been particularly popular during this time of Coronavirus, due to their licence discounts and handy features. To work from home effectively, you need to take full advantage of the 3CX web client and the softphone.

While working from home, the 3CX softphone still allows you to make calls and manage your communications remotely from whichever device you’re using. The app is beneficial during this time, as it keeps the costs down and has quick and simple installation, getting you and your company up and running within a matter of hours. The 3CX softphone app is free to download.


A big attraction of 3CX is the competitive pricing. The pricing is based on the number of simultaneous calls that your company needs rather than the number of users/extensions. 3CX have a pricing generator that automatically calculates the licence your company needs.