VoIP is an acronym for Voice over Internet Protocol, which means phone calls made over the internet in simplistic terms. Both home users and businesses need to switch to VoIP, as BT is turning off its legacy networks (ISDN and PSTN) in 2025, but fortunately, there are many benefits of switching, not least the cost savings. A VoIP phone system, typically used by businesses, provides many additional features that enable companies to become more efficient and level up their communications. The brilliance of VoIP is that as phone calls are just bits of data on a network, the phone system can be hooked up to all other systems and devices, improving communications in many ways.
Want to know more? Read this guide that explains "What is VoIP?
The two types of VoIP phone system
Before we get onto our review of the 3CX phone system, it's important to point out that there are two types of VoIP phone systems on the market.
- Fully managed cloud phone systems are what all of the biggest companies are selling. Think Microsoft Teams, RingCentral, Gamma Horizon, Zoom and beOnline, to name a few. These companies have their own platforms you pay a subscription fee to use. They look after the underlying infrastructure, leaving you to focus on running your business. While there are many benefits of going for a system like this, not least that they're super simple to manage and hassle-free, there are downsides, like lack of flexibility and higher costs.
- Software-based phone systems - you buy licenses to use the software, but where you install the system and how it's configured is down to you. With a software-based phone system, you get maximum flexibility; you choose your SIP trunk provider, access a wider range of handsets, and are less constrained by the providers' platform. 3CX falls into this camp, and as we'll explain, it gives you a massive amount of flexibility and control over your business communications and for a fraction of the cost of fully hosted solutions.
About T2k - we’re independent and impartial
Before we get any further, we want to say that here at T2k; we’re a UK-based independent and impartial business telecoms provider. We’ve been in business for over 25 years, and in that time, we’ve been at the forefront of developments in telephony. We regularly review all of the VoIP platforms and systems to offer only the best to our customers. All of our views are based on first-hand experience installing and supporting our customers with these phone systems.
3CX was founded in 2005 and since then has established itself as one of the leaders in business communications. They have over 600,000 customers in 190 countries worldwide, and their phone system has developed into a comprehensive communications system. What stands 3CX out against most other providers is that they give you far greater control over your phone system. Its compatibility with handsets and other systems is unrivalled because it's built on open standards. As we'll explain in our review, 3CX does everything from voice and video calling to internal team communications and live chat on your website. They're adding to it all the time, so your system will improve as they develop it further.
Ok, so that's our high-level review of 3CX done, and as you can tell, we love it. Let's now get into the juicy detail about what makes 3CX so powerful. In this section, we will look at the system's core features so you can see for yourself just how good it is.
1. Host your 3CX system anywhere
3CX can be hosted pretty anywhere that has an internet connection; you can choose to locate your system in any of the following:
- Google Cloud Platform
- Microsoft Azure
- Amazon Web Services
- Amazon Lightsail
- Digital Ocean
- Your own office or private cloud
- 3CX's cloud environment
2. Call management - queues, hunt groups, routing and more
A core part of any VoIP phone system is its call management features, and 3CX is packed full of options, allowing you to distribute calls precisely as your business needs. All of the basics are covered, from automatic callbacks to priority queuing. When it comes to hunt groups, you've got various call routing options to choose from, which 3CX calls "Polling Strategy". These types of call distribution are particularly useful in call centres but equally can be used in smaller teams:
- Hunt random start - distribute calls evenly to agents randomly
- Ring all - make everyone's phone in the group ring
- Longest Waiting Time - send calls to the agent who has been idle the longest
- Least Talk Time - send calls to the agent with the least total talk time
- Fewest Answered - forward calls to the person who has answered the least calls
- Hunt by Threes - sends calls to the three best performing people at the same time
- Round Robin - sequentially cycle through agents that are logged in
3. Video calls and conferencing
3CX gives you enterprise-grade video conferencing that's quick and easy to use and, importantly, free as part of your phone system. You don't have to worry about separate apps for voice and video; everything is done in one place. If you're in a call and need to switch to video, you can, with a single click. Like software like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, you can run scheduled and ad-hoc meetings, view and control remote screens, share documents, present on a whiteboard, chat and more! Your attendees can join directly from their web browser with no account needed and no downloads or plugins.
4. Mobile and desktop apps
With 3CX, you don't need to give handsets to everyone in the business if you don't think they need them. The mobile and desktop apps are excellent and connected to Bluetooth headsets can, for many people, do the job. Yes, a physical handset might be the preference for those who use the phone a lot, but it's good to have the option. With 3CX installed on your mobile phone, you can take and manage business calls from anywhere with a reliable internet connection, which is excellent for those of you who aren't always at your desks. It avoids the situation of hunting around the office for people; as long as they have their mobile on them, you can put calls through to them. Not only that, but with call park and pickup, your team can switch between devices part-way through a call. It could be that you need to head out of the office, but you're on a long call, simply park the call and pick it back up on your mobile and off you go.
5. An extensive number of integrations
3CX integrates with many apps and systems out of the box, giving you the tools you need to truly embrace Unified Communications in your business. From Outlook and Microsoft Teams to various CRMs and even hotel property management systems, 3CX has you covered. Here are some of the apps 3CX integrates with:
- Microsoft Dynamics 365
- Microsoft Teams (
- Microsoft Outlook
- SQL databases
Additionally, 3CX gives you access to their API, which means if you've got a developer, you can connect custom applications to your phone system!
6. Live chat for your website
Ok, this one is pretty unique. With 3CX, you get a free live chat for your website, and when customers use it, they'll come straight into your internal chat groups 🔥. If the customer needs to speak to you or wants a video call, they can turn the live chat session into a call or video call with a couple of clicks. They can go from having a live chat conversation to speaking to the person they're chatting with within seconds - now that's customer service. Finally, if your customers are on Facebook, you can link 3CX up to that too, once again reducing the number of channels your team needs to monitor. Want to see how it works? Click the live chat icon in the bottom right of this page and say hello!
7. IVR (digital receptionist)
All 3CX plans come with a digital receptionist. You can route calls to the best destination using either an Auto Attendant or IVR (Interactive Voice Response) options. Depending on the size of your company, you might put one or more levels in your menu system to enable people to be routed to specific teams or individuals. With 3CX's Digital Receptionist, you can upload your own greetings and menu options, making them completely tailored to your company. You can also allow people to skip the menu system by inputting a direct dial number and using the IVR part of the system; people can even search for the right person in the company using their name! It's powerful stuff and just another example of how 3CX enables you to level up your business communications.
8. Call recording (available with Pro and Enterprise plans)
Call recording is becoming increasingly popular, not just among call centres and financial services companies. Companies of all sizes, especially small businesses that are switching to VoIP from older technologies, find that by recording calls, they can protect their team and their customers, minimising disputes and abuse while having an excellent platform for training. If you choose either 3CX Pro or Enterprise, Call Recording is included, and we'd recommend that you ask your VoIP provider to set it up for you.
9. Voicemail to email and transcription
All 3CX plans come with voicemail to email as standard, so there's no need to dial a number on your phone or even press a button - wherever you are, you can listen to your voicemail. If you opt for a Professional or Enterprise 3CX license, you'll also benefit from Voicemail Transcription, sometimes called "Visual Voicemail". For many of us, listening to a whole voicemail message can take longer than reading it, and if there's important information in the message, like a call back number, you can easily find yourself listening back a couple of times to get it down correctly. With Voicemail Transcription, your voicemails are turned into text-based messages using Google Speech to Text and emailed directly to you. No more messing about trying to find a pen and paper and listening back to voicemails.
10. Connect Remote Offices (Bridges)
The final core feature we'd like to highlight, which really is aimed at larger businesses or those operating multiple sites, is the ability to connect two or more 3CX systems together. This gives several advantages, but the most important is that each office can have a local phone system, meaning internal calls needn't leave the building. As many of the best VoIP Providers and systems offer cloud-based solutions, all calls, even those between people sitting in the same room, have to at least communicate back to the system over the internet before the call can be connected. While this isn't an issue for many, it adds reliance on your internet connection, increases bandwidth use, and can result in lower quality calls both internally and externally. By deploying a 3CX system in each of your offices and bridging them, local calls are handled locally, and inter-site calls take place for free. Best of all, it's all centrally managed.
If you'd like to know more about bridges, please get in touch, or watch this video from 3CX themselves.
We’re not going to spend too much time in this blog getting into how all of the call centre features in 3CX work, but just know, it’ll do everything you need and more.
Here are some of the 3CX features designed for call centres specifically:
- Call logging
- Click2Talk and Meet
- Call Queuing
- Real-Time Statistics and Monitoring
- SLA Alerting
- Call & Queue Reporting
- Call centre specific functionality
- Barge In / Listen In / Whisper
- Call Recording Transcription and Search
- Skill-based Routing
You rarely find such collective positivity from reviewers, but that's the case with 3CX. Here are some other notable reviews of 3CX:
TechRadar - 4.5 out of 5
G2 - 4.4 our of 5
Trustradius - 7.5 out of 10
Capterra - 4.5 out of 5
Spiceworks - 4.2 out of 5
ITPro.co.uk - 5 out of 5
3CX is an excellent fit for most businesses, bar perhaps the very smallest that want less management overhead. It's flexible, packed full of features, and brilliant to use. Here at T2k we highly-recommend it. If you have any questions or would like a quote for 3CX for your business, please request a quote or give us a call.
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Tell us a bit about your business and requirements, and we'll come back to you with a quote for the system that best meets your needs.
Is 3CX a good phone system?
Yes, it's excellent and one of the best a business can get, not just for the features and functionality but also for the very competitive price.
Is 3CX free?
3CX currently offers free licensing for the first year on all plans, which is brilliant. However, you will likely incur some costs in partner set-up, SIP trunks and hosting.
What is a good alternative to 3CX?
Gamma Horizon is a good alternative to 3CX if you're looking for a system that requires less management, albeit at a higher cost.
Where is 3CX hosted?
With 3CX, you choose where the system is hosted, be that in your office, in your private cloud or perhaps with 3CX directly. When you speak to us about your requirements, we'll help you decide the best place to locate your system/s.
How can I get 3CX setup for my business?
The easiest way to get started is to request a comparison quote from us. We'll look at your requirements to make sure that 3CX is the best fit before arranging installation for you.