As your business grows, so will your technology needs. As you’re considering upgrades, it’s important to be aware of all the options available and choose the solutions that can grow with your business and help keep things running productively and seamlessly.

On the telecommunications front, that solution might be Primary Rate Interface, or PRI. PRI is a voice service that is a great solution for a small business with 10 or more employees. Instead of needing a separate line to handle each call, PRI allows up to 23 channels to communicate simultaneously across one single line, says Anthony “Clay” Catinella, director of sales for Comcast Business Class, Atlanta region.

“PRI makes a lot of sense for a growing business that needs a scalable solution managed to their busy schedule,” Catinella says. “The Comcast Business Class PRI solution allows businesses to add channels simply by placing a quick phone call.  Many times, no technician or appointment is needed.”

Smart Business spoke with Catinella about how PRI technology works and how to determine if it can help your business.

What are the advantages to PRI technology?

The biggest advantage is flexibility when it comes to how businesses organize their voice service. Businesses with a PBX could start with as little as six channels and could easily add more as the business grows with very little impact, and no additional telephone lines to install.

Another benefit to PRI, especially as you move into a larger business environment, is direct inward dialing (DID). This technology enables businesses to give clients telephone numbers that can be routed directly to employees’ phone extensions instead of through a receptionist or by calling the main number and entering an extension.

What types of businesses could use PRI service?

Any business with at least 10 employees should really take a look at this voice technology. When you have that many employees and you’re looking to meet your voice needs with individual lines, it can start to get very expensive. PRI can help ensure you are giving your employees enough access to outgoing lines when they are needed. It allows clients to reach an employee extension directly, and it offers a simple solution to upgrade voice service as the business grows.

What is involved in the upgrade process?

Once the circuit has been installed, all it takes is a quick call to your service provider to activate a few more channels on the circuit. That activation will give you additional call paths that you can distribute or set up however you like within your business. It shouldn’t require any technician to come onsite, and it requires very little waiting time between when an order is placed and when it can be delivered.

In what situations does PRI provide a competitive alternative to traditional telephone service?

PRI certainly is a great option if a business expects to grow quickly or if it has already invested in voice hardware, such as a PBX phone switch, to best take advantage of existing resources.

PRI also can provide an advantage over traditional telephone service if a business requires the flexibility of changing how its voice service is configured, or if it wants the ability to bypass having a receptionist who routes calls to employees.

What kind of benefits can companies expect from this technology?

If you expect your small business to grow, PRI service helps to meet the needs of your business as you grow.

For companies that are already looking at PRI service and determining the best option, it’s important to consider the whole package. Companies are rarely purchasing voice service without data service. When you pull data into the conversation of whether PRI is right for the company, customers with PRI service typically also have data service over a T1 connection. Today, for a cost similar to a PRI and a T1 circuit for data, you could get a PRI and a 100 megabit cable modem with download speeds up to 64 times faster than a T1 line.

That’s where you could see increased productivity for your employees. You really start to see advantages in terms of the amount of resources necessary to manage the day-to-day business.

Anthony Catinella is director of sales for Comcast Business Class, Atlanta region. Reach him at (770) 559-2132 or

Insights Telecommunications is brought to you by Comcast Business Services

Published in Atlanta