Skip to content
Connect with us
    June 10, 2024

    The PBX in 2024: A steadfast system in its sunset years

    In the world of telecommunications, the PBX  is worthy of the name “Ol’ Reliable.” It comes in many different shapes. Some are analog, some are digital, and some are a combination of both. It’s been the backbone of business communication since Kennedy was president.  A PBX phone sitting on an office desk with the sun setting in the background.

    With the rise of UCaaS and other cloud-based solutions, one may wonder how, where, or why PBX systems are still in use. We’re here to look at what a PBX in 2024 looks like and where these systems will go from here. 

    The Top 8 PBXs 

    For PBXs, the most popular providers are Avaya, Cisco, and Mitel.  


    Spun off from Lucent technologies, Avaya began developing PBX systems around the year 2000, and has since evolved them into the Avaya Aura Communication Manager. This system provides advanced call management, forwarding, recording, and monitoring along with other UC benefits. 

    The Avaya Aura Communication Manager is currently on version 10.2, which will go to end of manufacturer support (EoMS) on December 31, 2026. 


    Cisco is an older company, but it wasn’t until 1998 with the acquisition of Selsius Systems that it began its foray into the IP telephony space. Now it’s the proud parent of the Cisco Unified Communication Manager (CUCM), an IP-based PBX with UC capabilities, enterprise-grade security, and interoperability with a wide range of third-party applications and devices. 

    CUCM version 15, the most current version, was released in October 2023. Its end of life (EoL) date hasn’t been announced yet but knowing that version 12.5’s EoL will come in August 2025, 15 will most likely be supported until sometime between 2029 and 2030. 


    Mitel has been developing PBXs since 1972. It's managed to stick around for more than fifty years by continuously evolving its products. Today, we have the Mitel MiVoice, an IP PBX with all the tried-and-true features of a Mitel phone system that can be scaled to up to 65,000 users. 

    Mitel has two versions of MiVoice on the market: MiVoice MX-ONE and MiVoice Business. EoL hasn’t been announced for these products yet, but older MiVoice products like MiVoice Connect will no longer receive updates after the end of this year. 


    NEC has quite a storied history, being Japan’s first joint venture with a Western Company back in 1899. It spent the next one hundred years developing its telephony offerings until it developed the NEC UNIVERGE SV9000 series. Its solutions are used by massive global organizations that support 10 to 192,000 users. 

    NEC may seem like an old-world company, but the UNIVERGE SV9100 and SV9500 remain on the market, offering UC capabilities to organizations looking to build a hybrid environment.  

    They won’t remain for long, however. NEC has announced that it will phase out its on-premises solutions, including the SV9100. Its end of service date is March 31, 2026. After that, NEC will only release cloud-based solutions. 


    Nortel is the oldest company on this list so far, spun off from the Bell Company back in 1895. It spent the 20th century developing its Meridian and CS series before going bankrupt in 2009. It was then acquired by Avaya where it became Avaya Blue. 

    Nortel’s CS1000 reached its end of support date back in 2022. Neither Avaya nor Nortel will provide support for this system, and no new ones are currently in production. Avaya recommends Nortel users migrate to a more modern solution such as the Aura CM.  


    Panasonic is another older company, but its foray into PBX production began in the 1980s with the origin of the KX series. Originating as traditional landline phone systems, this series evolved into IP-based servers like the KX-NSX2000.  

    As of 2023, all of Panasonic’s business phone systems, including the KX-NSX2000, have been discontinued. That, of course, doesn’t just magically erase all the Panasonic systems in use across the world. It does mean that KX users will have to find support from providers other than Panasonic to keep the systems in use. 


    Throughout its history, South Korea’s largest company has pretty much done it all, including business phone systems. It developed the Samsung OfficeServ as its flagship IP-based PBX server, a series which includes systems for small organizations like the OfficeServ 7100 and for large enterprises like the OfficeServ 7400. 

    Like Panasonic, Samsung has discontinued this line of products. Direct support from Samsung ended back in 2021, and the last date for any Samsung warranties is 9/30/2014. With its legacy systems no longer supported, Samsung now provides its Galaxy smartphones as a business solution, a tactic other communications companies may adopt in the future. 


    This organization was known for decades as Siemens before it rebranded in 2013 to Unify. Its products include the OpenStage series of business phone systems and the OpenScape series of UC servers.  

    Unify’s products follow a surprisingly rigid product lifecycle. It varies from item to item, but major releases in both series have a 24-month sales period, followed by a 24-month support period post end of sales, then a period of extended manufacturer software support lasting up to 18 months.  

    As of October 2023, Unify is now a part of Mitel, making it the second largest communications company in the world.  

    Honorable Mentions 

    With the top 8 out of the way, let’s look at some honorable mentions. 

    Toshiba developed PBX systems from the 1970s to the early 2000s as part of the Strata series. It was a prominent provider during that time, but in 2017 it announced it would exit the telecommunications business, with support ending on October 31, 2021. Toshiba systems are rare but can still be found in odd places across the world.  

    Toshiba’s western cousins Ericsson and Phillips were also once great PBX providers that exited the world of telecommunications years ago. Understandably, their systems are as rare as Toshiba’s if not more so. 

    Sangoma has a similar storied legacy, providing PBXs since the 1980s. Its products include the Asterisk series of UC solutions and its incredibly unique, open-source phone system freePBX. The unorthodoxy of this company earns it an honorable mention. 

    There are several younger communications companies that have produced VoIP or software-based phone systems ever since their beginning. This includes Nextiva, 3CX, Ooma, and RingCentral. They each provide cost-effective, flexible solutions to businesses large and small, but they don’t quite fit in the same category as organizations like Cisco and Mitel. 

    Then there are the organizations that are integral to the continued use of business phone systems even if they don’t sell the phones themselves. Companies like Polycom provide essential conferencing devices, whereas companies like Fujitsu offer IT services to keep the systems running.

    Maintaining the PBX 

    Scalable IP-based PBXs with UC capabilities help keep Avaya, Cisco, and Mitel afloat, but most of their products throughout their history were landline devices. Many organizations still use these. Schools keep landlines in case of emergency, hospitals use special devices to manage pagers, and law firms use fax machines to securely send long documents. 

    For these organizations, moving beyond these systems isn’t an option. For others still using their legacy devices, it’s not exactly practical. Ripping out and replacing these systems would likely cost too much time and money. 

    Of course, maintaining the PBX isn’t always a walk in the park. It requires regular hardware inspections and system audits to minimize downtime. Since most organizations don’t have the resources to do this themselves, maintenance becomes the provider’s job. 

    That’s all well and good for organizations using the latest and greatest systems, but not so much for legacy users. Since providers are constantly evolving their products, they want their users to upgrade even if it’s not in their best financial interest. For users that want to keep their legacy systems, their best option is third-party maintenance. 

    Third-party maintenance providers such as Continuant keep legacy PBX systems running. They provide constant monitoring, tier III engineering, and a service desk that’s easy to reach all at a reasonable cost. More than anything else, they put no pressure on their customers to upgrade their systems. 

    Of course, with the copper sunset fast approaching, upgrading may not be optional in the future. Fortunately, many third-party maintenance providers can also aid in migrating away from a PBX to whatever solution comes next. 

    The Great PBX Migration 

    With the phasing out of copper lines, migrating from a legacy PBX is or soon will be a necessity, not a luxury. The legacy PBX will soon give way to one of its more modern digital cousins or to cloud-based UCaaS solutions. 

    This migration can be a tricky process for many organizations. Any issues that crop up in the new system or the one it’s replacing will result in downtime. Being unable to reach coworkers or customers during the migration would be a disaster.  

    Fortunately, many third-party PBX maintenance providers can also serve as guides and integrators for a PBX migration. Continuant, for example, has expert knowledge in UCaaS and CCaaS solutions such as Microsoft Teams and Genesys Cloud CX.  

    Skilled integrators keep old systems running like new while their users migrate to a new solution. They can even aid in deploying and managing the new solution, performing audits and training users to ensure it pays off. 


    PBXs, analog and digital alike, are still in use in many organizations, but they won’t be forever. With each passing year, more systems lose manufacturing support, more copper lines get decommissioned, and more old-school telephony finds its way from the office to the landfill. 

    Wherever you are in that process, we’re here to help. We want to ensure you know what options are available to you when maintaining your current systems and exploring new solutions. Check out our support pages to see what we can do for you.

    Connect with us

    David Shelby

    David Shelby graduated from George Fox University in 2018 with a bachelor's degree in English and began writing for Continuant soon after. With the help of Continuant's world-class engineers and subject matter experts, he's dedicated himself to understanding all things business communications. When it comes to UC, AV,...

    Other posts you might be interested in

    View All Posts