No catches: How 3CX v16 can slash your costs

With v16 of 3CX, the company didn't just introduce a bunch of new features - it also introduced a pricing structure that cut the costs by up to 66%. In fact, many smaller businesses can happily run a 3CX PBX without spending a penny on licence fees.

New, lower prices

Here's how 3CX's charging structure works. Unlike rivals, who may charge you a fixed fee per user or for call centre features, it charges based on how many simultaneous calls (SC) you need. Typically, that translates into 3-4 end users per SC, so a 25-seat company should get along fine with an 8SC licence. And that's free.

In fact, for the first year, the standard licence is completely free no matter how many simultaneous calls you require. It's only after 12 months (by which point you should know exactly how many SCs you require) that you need to pay. What's more, with version 16 3CX has introduced a number of new licence sizes to make this easier: you can now choose from 4SC, 8SC, 16SC, 32SC, 64SC, 96SC, 128SC, 192SC, 256SC, 512SC and 1024SC.

The standard licence includes all core PBX features

Once you've settled on the number of SCs you need, you can choose from 3CX's simple three-tier structure. We've summarised it in the table below so you can see what's included at a glance, but head to 3CX's website for full details.

The key thing to understand is that the Standard licence includes all the core PBX features. As you can see from the table, that includes unlimited extensions, voicemail and free use of the 3CX iOS and Android apps. However, there are many more options, such as real-time system status, compatibility with VMs and your choice of SIP trunk.

3CX realises that businesses won't know which features they need until they try them in real life, which is why it allows you to try the Pro plan for 40 days without charge. There's no sneaky fee at the end of that term: your plan is simply returned to Standard for the rest of your first, totally free year.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Standard licencePro licenceEnterprise licence
Core PBX featuresRow 1 - Cell 1 Row 1 - Cell 2 Row 1 - Cell 3
Unlimited extensionsRow 2 - Cell 1 Row 2 - Cell 2 Row 2 - Cell 3
iOS & Android appsRow 3 - Cell 1 Row 3 - Cell 2 Row 3 - Cell 3
Auto-provisioningRow 4 - Cell 1 Row 4 - Cell 2 Row 4 - Cell 3
VoicemailRow 5 - Cell 1 Row 5 - Cell 2 Row 5 - Cell 3
Office productivityRow 6 - Cell 1 Row 6 - Cell 2 Row 6 - Cell 3
Office 365 integrationRow 7 - Cell 1 Row 7 - Cell 2 Row 7 - Cell 3
CRM integrationRow 8 - Cell 1 Row 8 - Cell 2 Row 8 - Cell 3
Web conferencing25100250
Call centre featuresRow 10 - Cell 1 Row 10 - Cell 2 Row 10 - Cell 3
Call queuesRow 11 - Cell 1 Row 11 - Cell 2 Row 11 - Cell 3
Call reportsRow 12 - Cell 1 Row 12 - Cell 2 Row 12 - Cell 3
Call recordingRow 13 - Cell 1 Row 13 - Cell 2 Row 13 - Cell 3
Contact centreRow 14 - Cell 1 Row 14 - Cell 2 Row 14 - Cell 3
Enterprise featuresRow 15 - Cell 1 Row 15 - Cell 2 Row 15 - Cell 3
Call recording controlRow 16 - Cell 1 Row 16 - Cell 2 Row 16 - Cell 3
Inbuilt failoverRow 17 - Cell 1 Row 17 - Cell 2 Row 17 - Cell 3
Standby licenceRow 18 - Cell 1 Row 18 - Cell 2 Row 18 - Cell 3
Support ticket757575

Direct savings

A glance at the table shows that you aren't simply buying a replacement phone system: this is a unified comms system of the type that used to cost enterprises hundreds of thousands of pounds. As such, the real savings come when you implement it in a way that supports your business, solves problems for your employees and cuts real costs.

Some of those are direct, obvious savings. For example, if your business includes teleworkers, travelling salespeople or branch offices, then it may be costing you money simply for employees to make internal calls. With 3CX, anyone armed with a smartphone and network connection can directly call anyone else in the business for free.

Then two other features come into play. First, presence information. You'll be familiar with the basics: a green dot indicates someone is available, a red dot shows when they aren't. But often people forget to set these when they're heading to a meeting - because 3CX v16 fully integrates with Office 365, for example, your status will automatically change based on any scheduled meetings.

The second feature? Your employees can use the best form of communication to hand, with video calls, instant messaging and good old-fashioned phone calls all available. And all at no extra charge.

For another example of how 3CX users can cut costs, consider how many fixed telephony lines you currently have installed. Because 3CX works on the basis of simultaneous calls rather than end users, there's no need to pay for extra capacity that you never use. That's one of the reasons why 3CX can so boldly claim that it can cut your costs in half: if you're switching from a conventional PBX system, your overheads can be massively reduced.

Clever savings

Of course, some calls have to leave the network to reach users on carriers like BT, which connect the calls to ordinary phones or mobile phones. Calls with these destinations cost money, so 3CX employs least-cost routing: a set of mathematical algorithms to automatically select the cheapest route for all outgoing calls.

Four people chat in a video conference on a laptop screen

There are no extra charges for videoconferencing and you can include up to 25 users

This works because 3CX chooses which path on the data network the call should take, and then at what point the call should join the PSTN. At this point, it selects the cheapest carrier, so that the user pays the lowest possible cost.

How can it be sure you're paying the lowest prices? Because the system continuously receives call charge information from multiple trunks and frequently updates its database using the latest call charge information. In this way, it can calculate the cost of a given call at a given time with a specific destination.

Take control of your costs

3CX gives you control over how you install its system. Perhaps you'd like to take control and install it on-premise. No problem: you don't even need expensive hardware, as v16 even runs on a Raspberry Pi! And it's just as happy to run on a Windows or Linux-based device.

Alternatively, you may prefer to install 3CX on Google Cloud, Amazon Lightsail or Microsoft Azure. Using 3CX's PBX Express setup tool, you can have the system running in minutes - with the added benefit that it's incredibly easy to scale to match your business growth.

The point is this: how you install 3CX is up to you. Perhaps you'd prefer to work with a local 3CX partner, who will then create a solution based on your business needs. Perhaps you have a favoured SIP trunk provider that you would like to work with. It's your choice.

Five easy ways 3CX v16 saves you money

No need for deskphones: run 3CX on your PC, tablet or phone

While 3CX is compatible with all the major SIP hardphones, you don't need one: just run 3CX on your PC, tablet or smartphone. Want to keep on using your existing phones? No problem: plug in an ATA adapter and it will appear to 3CX as a regular SIP phone.

No cost for internal calls

It doesn't matter if your 3CX PBX is for one physical office or 50: as far as 3CX is concerned, every call to another number on your network is internal and free of charge.

Free video conferencing

There are no extra charges for video conferencing. Even on the free Standard 8SC plan, you can hold a video conference with 25 users!

Free calls from smartphones over Wi-Fi

If you have a network connection, and the (free) 3CX Android or iOS app installed, then you can make free calls to anyone else on the network. (And even if you need to make "external" calls, you'll pay the lowest prices 3CX can find.)

The right licence for your needs

With v16, 3CX has introduced four new licence sizes - 24SC, 48SC, 96SC and 192SC - so you only pay for what you need.

Download 3CX for free at


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