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What is a PRI and How Can It Help My Business?

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Put simply, a PRI (Primary Rate Interface) is a one-to-many digital circuit that can handle 30 different data and voice transmissions at the same time over a single line. Your entire office can call out and receive calls, send and receive files, and even stream video…without the tangled maze of cords that made old-school telephony such a nightmare.

Technically Speaking

A PRI circuit assembly is two pairs of copper wires running from the provider to to the PBX (private branch exchange) at the customer location. The line itself is a type of ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) line that allows voice, data and video traffic over an amped-up telephone line. The modem interface uses multiplexing/de-multiplexing techniques to carry multiple channels in a single circuit. Each channel offers 64 Kbps for data transmission (computer use). A PRI can also be used to connect two PBX boards to provide additional lines. That means fast switching, plenty of data transfer ability, and tons of flexibility for a whole building full of people doing different things.

PRI Line Advantages

  • One PRI line is considerably less expensive than dozens of analog lines.
  • PRI lines offer ultimate versatility; data, fax, voice, and videoconferencing can all be done simultaneously.
  • Digital quality is vastly superior to old-fashioned analog technology.
  • Digital lines are also more reliable and easier to troubleshoot.
  • It is more difficult to tap a digital line.
  • PRI lines connect faster.


PRI lines offer unique numbers, so there’s no need for a receptionist or those automated phone mazes universally hated by callers. Each line also has a separate caller ID identity. This can be invaluable for a call center, for example, that handles multiple clients.

For phone banks, like customer service departments, calls can be routed to an alternate line with no fuss. This feature can be set up on an analog configuration, but it is handled at the service provider end, and it can be quite costly.

How can a PRI line help my business?

Installing a PRI line for business has a number of benefits, but the most visible result is the professional impression your business will make on clients, business relationships, and investors. Even a small business can maintain a professional edge by avoiding the pitfalls of poor response due to poor equipment. There’s nothing more frustrating for a customer or an investor than not being able to get through. Your customer service will improve, and that’s a proven path to a healthier bottom line. Today’s customer has had it with poor corporate response. If you don’t answer, they call somebody else…and you lose the business, potential future business, and the recommendation. In the communications age, you simply can’t afford bad press from disgruntled customers. Reputation is everything.

PRI lines also increase the productivity of your staff, with faster uploads, downloads, fax capability, internet speeds, and the ability to hold video conferences with other employees and remote clients, vendors, contractors, investors, or business partners. Remember those days of waiting for the fax line? We’re done with that. We’re digital now.

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