Difference Between an ATA, a Softphone, an IP Phone and a PBX and Which is the Best Option for You? - VoIP.ms Wiki

Difference Between an ATA, a Softphone, an IP Phone and a PBX and Which is the Best Option for You?

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Difference Between an ATA, a Softphone, an IP Phone and a PBX and Which is the Best Option for You?

When navigating through our Wiki, you may notice that there are various configuration guides for a plenitude of devices... but which one is actually the best option for you? Here is a quick summary of the differences between all these devices.

Analog Telephone Adapter

An ATA or Analog Telephone Adapter is a device that is used to connect a traditional telephone to a router, switch or hub - thus allowing the user to make cheaper calls over the internet. An ATA is better suited for residential users and small businesses who are looking to implement a low budget solution by using their existing infrastructure and internet services to integrate data and voice services.

There are many different types of ATA devices. All of these analog telephone adapters create a physical connection between the traditional telephone and your Voice over IP provider (us!). ATA devices perform analog to digital conversion, connecting directly to your VoIP server provider.

Take a peek at all of our configuration guides here.


A softphone is a software program that allows users to make calls over the internet using a computer, mobile or tablet while not needing a dedicated piece of hardware to make and receive calls. It also comes with a user-friendly interface that works more or less in the same manner of a mobile phone dialer.

The interface of the softphone allows the user to access different features, including making and receiving a call. Some of the features that you can get access with VoIP softphone include SMS, speed dialing and call waiting. Softphones offer enhanced mobility, flexibility, and cost-efficiency given the absence of specific hardware requirements.

Read more about how to configure a softphone on our Wiki here.

IP Phone

An IP phone is a phone considered to work with an IP PBX but the IP PBX as we know it today has evolved, almost generally, into a SIP-based PBX. IP phones connect to your phone service provider via the internet, using an ethernet cable or WiFi connection. IP phones include desk phones, cordless phones, and conference phones that resemble your everyday office phone, but use a different technology for powering calls since it transmits voice data digitally.

Another great quality of these type of phones is that you can use them in any location where you have an internet connection since it does not rely on the physical location of the office. Thus, you can unplug an IP phone, take it to another location, and plug it in again where your line and its settings will be unchanged.

Learn how to configure your favorite IP Phone right here.


PBX is the acronym for Private Branch eXchange. A private branch exchange phone service is a telephone system that is primarily used for business purposes due to its functions and features. It comes in many different sizes. Included in a PBX system are 2 lines or thousands of phone lines and you can configure it depending upon the requirement of your business.

A PBX is better suited for businesses that require multiple phone lines, maybe one for each employee. Thus, instead of getting separate lines for each employee, businesses make use of PBX to link all of their internal phones together so that it can be efficiently linked with the outside world.

Read more about all of the configurations guides we have here.

Which are the most common uses?

An ATA is better suited for residential or small businesses that do not want to spend much more than required. If you need greater flexibility and mobility, along with some advanced functionalities – a Softphone can be a good choice for you. On the other hand, if you prefer to handle incoming and outgoing calls at your location while wanting to customize as much as you want the routing of your incoming calls once it reaches your server, then the best option will be either IP Phones or a PBX. It allows you to have some more flexibility while having a professional approach for your callers.

Still not sure about which device is the best fit for your needs? Reach out to our support right now!


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