A key telephone system was originally distinguished from a private branch exchange (PBX) in that it did not require an operator or attendant at the switchboard to establish connections between the central office trunks and stations, or between stations. Technologically, private branch exchanges share lineage with central office telephone systems, and in larger or more complex systems, may rival a central office in capacity and features. With a key telephone system, a station user could control the connections directly using line buttons, which indicated the status of lines with built-in lamps.

Many business verticals still use key system functionality, particularly when there are more phone stations than employees, such as in warehouses and retail outlets.

While the fundamental premise of a Hosted PBX differs widely from that of a Key System, the Customer Administration Portal allows you to simulate some of the core functions to make the adoption of the new system easier for users.

LOCATION IN THE CUSTOMER ADMIN PORTAL

You will find the Key System Emulation subsection in the Services category in the Customer Administration Portal. You can remember this because it affects call flow. Key System Emulation is a standard feature and requires no special license to enable, apart from the PBX having more than one seat with a DID.

KEY SYSTEM GROUP WINDOW

You can add a new group with the “+ Key System Group” button at the top of the page. You can also edit any existing groups by selecting them in the list. Either method will bring you to the Key System Group window.

Key System Group Name: Enter a name in this field to remind you and other what the group is intended to do.

Location Drop Down: select the location where the Key Group will be used. Key extensions cannot exist across locations.

User: select extensions from the left side and move them to the right side or vice versa with the right and left arrow keys. You can sort their order once they have been added with the up and down arrow keys in the rightmost box. This establishes the line order for every member of the key group.

Press the Save key when you are satisfied with the updates. After the Key System Group has been established, the system needs to make some updates. These can take up to 10 minutes and after that time you will need to manually reboot the phones in that group, plus any that had been removed.

FUNCTIONALITY

Now that the group is set, all of the phones in the group will have access to any and all calls from the others, because they share the key group. There is now no longer such a thing as a direct call to just one of these extensions, as all of them will ring when a call comes in.

  • When the number associated with the first phone number is called, it will ring all the devices in that group (assuming they are not already busy).
  • Once a phone is on an active call, when another call comes in it will “roll” to the line indicated by Line 2, and so on. All of the phones in the group have the ability to see and accept the calls.
  • When calls on these shared lines are placed on hold, they are “occupied” and no other call can come into that line – in stead it will roll to the next available line in the group. Any of the phones in the key group can pick up the held call. Any of them can also see the voicemail message waiting indicator and retrieve messages, as well.
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