The Yacht Technology Blog

VoIP Yacht Telephony: Pure-IP vs. Hybrid IP/PBX

Posted by Darren Mayhead on Jun 5, 2013 10:32:00 AM



Yacht telephony has gone through some radical changes in the past few years. Old-school PBX systems are being replaced by systems using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.


With VoIP telephony, the voice server and phones are connected to the vessel's IP network rather than a separate dedicated telephony network.


There are primarily two types of VoIP systems available: VoIP IP (often referred to as Pure-IP) and Hybrid or Converged IP/PBX products.



In this article, I'll discuss the differences between Pure-IP and Hybrid IP/PBX systems so you can make an educated telephone communications choice for your vessel. But first, let’s review the meaning of “telephony.” 

Image: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.



What is telephony?

Today, the term “telephony” often refers to the computer hardware and softwarethat performs the tasks traditionally done by old-style telephone equipment. According to Webopedia, telephony is defined as “the science of translating sound into electrical signals, transmitting them, and then converting them back to sound; that is,the science of telephones


Yachts are moving to IP telephony because unlike legacy PBX phone systems, IP phones allow you to move and expand users at no additional cost. Pure-IP telephony systems take full advantage of the most recent Internet technology and are the trend for the future.


However, many vessels that have invested money in PBX systems are reluctant to switch to an upgraded telephony system. They may therefore choose a hybrid system that combines PBX technology with IP capabilities.


But it is a given that any telephony based on PBX technology will eventually be obsolete, requiring the implementation of a new telephone communications system for both legacy PBX and hybrid IP/PBX users.


What is a Hybrid or Converged IP/PBX telephony system?

Converged IP/PBX products are capable of supporting both TDM (Digital and Analog) and IP communications.


A hybrid PBX system uses the PBX plus IP data networks to manage call switching, route calls and handle other messaging. So if you already have a PBX system, it can often be expanded to incorporate IP technology.


A Hybrid IP/PBX is less expensive than Pure-IP telephony if you already have an expandable PBX system. Also, you will avoid (for now) the IP infrastructure upgrade most likely necessary to support changing to a Pure-IP system.


What is a Pure-IP telephony system?

Pure-IP telephony uses VoIP plus additional computer software features that collectively replace the legacy PBX-type system with a computer-based solution. With Pure-IP, there is no need for a dedicated PBX, cables, or even telephones. An audio-enabled personal computer can serve as the voice communication endpoint.


Pure-IP telephony systems are the wave of the future. If you are building your telephony system from scratch, you should strongly consider a Pure-IP product becauseyou can plan the infrastructure necessary to support the system before your build or refit.


If designed and implemented correctly, the infrastructure will not only support future expanded telephony on your vessel, but many future IP-based products and services currently in development.


And although the initial cost is higher than a Converged IP/PBX product, you will ultimately save money by avoiding an inevitable future upgrade from a hybrid to a Pure-IP system.


Should your vessel go Pure or Hybrid?

pure_or_hubrid_ip_telephonyNow that you have some basic information about VoIP telephony, you may be ready to select a system for your vessel.But to make the best choice between a Hybrid IP/PBX and a Pure-IP telephony system, there are a few basic questions to ask yourself. 
Image by: purzen



1. Can your vessel’s network support Pure-IP telephony? Is there an adequate switching and routing infrastructure to support VoIP traffic? 

If you are buidling from scratch or doing a total infrastructure refit, you can easily design a system to support Pure-IP telephony. In fact, it would be short-sighted to implement a new hybrid system for a new build or total infrastructure refit when you know that yacht telephony is quickly evolving in the direction of Pure-IP. An Internet design specialist can help you assess your network’s readiness and make recommendations.

2. Have you already used up your telephony budget purchasing your current (and fairly new) PBX phone system?

If so, a Hybrid IP/PBX telephony system might be your best choice. You will be able to reap some VoIP benefits in your current phone system without having to change the network infrastructure. But know that as technology evolves, you will eventually need to move to a Pure-IP telephony system.


Telephony services from Great Circle Systems.

Avaya-voip-telephonyGreat Circle Systems installs and maintains Pure-IP yacht telephony systems. As a certified Avaya Business Partner, GCS designs systems unique to each vessel.



Our Pure-IP telephony systems allow individual crew members to send and receive voice communications on the device of his or her choice, including laptops, mobile phones, desktop phones and wireless phones. 



For more information on GCS's VoIP telephony systems, please click the red Request More Information button.

Request More Information


Or schedule a chat with a VoIP telephony specialist by clicking the green button.New Call-to-Action


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Topics: vessel communications, yacht telephony, marine voip, marine system integration

JD_Crawford_head_shotDarren and the GCS team have been instrumental in the development and deployment of several carrier grade IT networks for large scale, Savant-based super-yacht projects where the technology infrastructure needed to be extremely reliable. 


The capabilities of the GCS team have proven instrumental in helping us deliver a world class technology experience to some of the most prestigious yachts in the world.


J.D. Crawford of Savant Systems


I have been working with Great Circle Systems since 2006 when they did the installation of all our networking and Internet communications equipment on our boat being built in Germany.


The equipment they recommended and installed was exactly as we required.  We have had extremely good results with all of their equipment and it has performed as they had advised.


I would highly recommend them to all fellow captains.


Captain Keith T. Moore of M/Y Lady Sheridan

CE_W_Michael_Hummel_of_MY_TVTriton Administrator has proven to be the perfect tool for us on M/Y TV, which is a 78 meter Luerssen yacht.


Triton has comprehensive essential features plus any additional features one can possibly need. It is still easy to use and has a swift support team to implement customer-specific wishes, such as individual day logs, etc.


W. Michael Hummel, Chief Engineer of M/Y TV


Captain Bruno Herregods talks about Great Circle Systems tech support. 

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