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The building blocks for the `electronic office of the future' are now available but the debate about the most efficient hardware for connecting them together continues. The merits of the local area network, the PABX and the hybrid integrated (voice and data) PABX are discussed. A significant advantage of PABXs over local area networks is their efficient software for handling voice communication and routing message optimally over the least costly transmission paths, as well as their greater potential for optimizing voice and data integration and adapting to equipment from many different vendors. The hybrid PABX blends a PABX with a local area network into a single system for routing voice, data, electronic mail, facsimile or graphics within an office or between branch offices around the world.