Understanding PBX vs analog phone systems


From common scenarios such as poor quality on phone calls to handset issues, learn how to troubleshoot Private Branch Exchange (PBX) phone system issues with these tips.

Identifying and bypassing your PBX

Your business’ phones might be a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) phone system rather than simple Analog phones. For businesses with a PBX, it’ll be important to narrow down if challenges come from the PBX system or Rogers phone lines.

We will go over the following:

  1. Identifying PBX phones
  2. Wiring directly into the Rogers phone terminal
  3. Obtaining PBX system support

Identifying PBX phones

The list below will help you to determine if your business has a PBX business phone system.

Phone features:

  • You have your own extension.
  • On some PBX systems, you have to dial 9 before calling an external number.
  • There is an Auto Attendant when calling the main line.
  • Your answering service has multiple mailboxes and isn’t provided by Rogers.
  • Features such as call waiting and call forwarding are enabled on your phones but show as disabled through the My Shaw phone features.


  • Find the model number on your phone's handset and look it up online. Most results will have descriptions like 'PBX' or 'digital phone', which indicates a PBX system.
  • Analog phones can only have one to four lines and require two phone cords if you have three or four lines. (Some even require two phone cords for two lines.)
  • Many brands specialize in only one type: PBX or analog. Nortel, Mitel, Avaya, Cisco, Toshiba, Samsung, and others generally only make PBX systems. Panasonic and AT&T do both PBX systems and analog. RCA and VTech are rarely PBX. In all cases, try to verify whether your phone is a PBX system or analog.

Wiring directly into the Rogers phone terminal

Never plug a PBX phone into the Rogers phone terminal. The phone terminal has analog line connections but PBX phones are a digital system with their own unique wiring. Because of this difference, plugging the PBX phone handset directly into the phone terminal could damage either your phone, the Rogers phone terminal, or both.

Any other equipment can be tested by wiring directly into the Rogers phone terminal. Fax machines, or any basic analog phone, that are not part of your PBX phone system are good devices to test with. For more information on how to do this, see How to connect a phone directly to the phone terminal.

Obtaining PBX system support

Companies that support PBX systems are commonly referred to as interconnects. Please note that Rogers cannot help with PBX equipment or the wiring that connects PBX equipment.

Usually, someone in your business will know who the interconnect for your phone system is. If this information cannot be found, look on the back or bottom of your phones or check the main PBX box. Most interconnects will tape their business cards onto the equipment for ease of access. If you can't find a business card on the phones, make sure to ask the interconnect to do this with all of the equipment the next time they visit.

If you don’t already have a support person you deal with, search online with a term like “Calgary Nortel Interconnect”, replacing for your city and the brand name of your phone system. This should provide a number of search results for local companies that can help with configuring your system.

Common scenarios with PBX systems

Use these troubleshooting tips to direct you in handling common issues that occur with PBX phone systems.

Caller reaches the Auto Attendant, but after entering their call handling option, the call fails.

  • Calls that reach your own Auto Attendant mean that the calls were successfully routed through Rogers to your internal phone system. Failures within your phone system are outside of Rogers’ control. Contact your interconnect to further troubleshoot your PBX system.

Phone handsets go dead.

  1. Check for signs of power, such as lights or displays, on the phone. If there is no sign of power, call interconnect.
  2. Check whether you are able to call from one desk to another, or access your PBX’s voicemail. If neither of these work, call interconnect.
  3. If everything seems to work internally but there is no ability to get an outside line, contact Rogers Technical Support.

Poor sound quality on phone calls.

  1. Check if all handsets have the same issue or only specific handsets.
    • For issues specific to certain handsets, disconnect and reconnect the phone cord. If this does not fix the problem, contact your interconnect.
    • If all phones are affected, perform an internal test call from one handset to another. The internal call should sound crystal clear. If it does not, contact your interconnect.
  2. If tests results are good, your problem may still be an internal issue, but we would recommend first calling Rogers Technical Support to rule out any issues on our side. We can provide free support to rule out Rogers and ensure we aren't the issue, whereas most interconnects will charge a support fee. So start with us!

When you try to use External Call Transfer (ECT) or three-way calling, the call disconnects when flashing over to the other caller.

  • Most PBX phones are programmed for a supervisory disconnect (also known as disconnect supervision) on a feature-by-feature basis, so it's best to start with programming this into your PBX to manage ECT. However, for some PBX models/brands, this feature cannot be adjusted.
  • If the ECT cannot be managed through your PBX phones you can contact Rogers Business Technical Support and we can make an adjustment to our lines that may resolve this issue. This can, however, cause delays in line availability and can negatively impact busy offices. Generally, whenever possible, this is best managed through the PBX system itself.

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