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Compare Business Phone Lines and Small Business Phone Systems
What is a business phone system?
A business phone system is a network of phone lines that can allow your business to set up advanced features. These include call handling and transferring, conference calling, call metering and accounting, private and shared voice message boxes etc.
Phone systems are at the heart of most business communications and an essential part of how we all communicate. In the UK, the entire market used to be dominated by one provider. Expensive options were all businesses could get. Nowadays there is almost too much choice with phone systems becoming really complex to ensure business requirements are met.
However, when you are buying new business phones it can get confusing seeing so many options and abbreviations. We have prepared a proper guide with all the information you need to take the best decision.
What types of business phone systems are there?
As with most of our own personal phone and broadband when it comes to business telephone systems it can pay to shop around and do a comparison. Many businesses will go to different providers and get quotes. This can be a time-consuming and frustrating process. Why use a comparison site for your business?
As technology has evolved so has the types of phone systems business can now have. The main ones used today are:
- Key System Unit (KSU) — Otherwise known as KSU, Key phones or Key systems. This is the most basic type of business telephone system. It’s only suitable for small businesses with no more than 40 phone operators. It’s easy to use — most like your home phone system. No companies advertise this as its outdated and has no scalability which makes it not suitable for most businesses. Everything is manual with it. This is a good option for small one-man-band type companies.
- Private Branch Exchange (PBX) — PBX based systems are more expensive than VoIP but can host a diversity of advanced features and is suitable for businesses with over 40 employees too. This was the system favoured by most companies before the introduction of VoIP system. With PBX there is usually a high upfront cost for all the equipment but it does allow you to have more advanced systems like automatic call routing. PBX also has an uninterrupted power supply allowing it to function even if there is a power cut. This type of phone system is suitable for nearly all businesses. There are two options if you want to go ahead with this option, you can either pay the equipment as an up-front cost or get a hosted PBX phone system. This gives you all the same features but is hosted in the cloud, so all equipment is owned by the provider.
- Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) — VoIP phone systems have become extremely popular in recent years partly. This is due to how advanced the system can be but also for how cost-effective it is. The line runs over the internet so makes it much easier and cheaper to make international calls. All you need is a computer or compatible device, a headset and an internet connection. It’s the same technology Skype uses so most of us are in some way familiar with it. Businesses prefer this phone system because you can talk to anyone in the world using it at a low cost. It also allows people to work flexibly so employees can work from home or while travelling to clients.
How much does a business phone line cost?
It all depends on 3 key factors –
- The type of system you want
- The Features you need
- How many users
The more advanced you need it to be the more your telephone system will cost. Prices can start from as little as £7.99 per month.
Business Phone System Providers
There are many business phone system providers in the UK so choosing one depends on what features and requirements are important to you. Fill out the form above and our team will be more than happy to help, we can offer bespoke solutions for any type of business, big or small.
Why should I compare business phone systems and providers?
As with most of the business services nowadays, it can pay off to shop around and check costs from multiple providers. However, it can be time-consuming and frustrating. However, we are here to help in case you want to save some time and money. Why should you use a comparison site for choosing the best business phone line?
- You can save money – This is the main reason people will use price comparison websites. BT used to own the entire monopoly for phones. Now the market is flooded with many providers with different types of systems. Comparing prices through a specialised website can often save yourself a small fortune.
- It’s convenient – Let’s face facts, who wants to spend hours speaking to multiple companies or re-entering the business details just to get some telephone systems quotes? Just enter your details once and get your quotes.
- You get a better choice and variety – By allowing businesses to quote may end up getting a better tailored deal to your business requirmements. This can include services or perks that individuals might not be made aware of just by looking at providers’ websites.
VoIP Business Phone Systems
What is VoIP?
VoIP simply stands for Voice over IP, there is hosted VoIP services & non-hosted. IP phone systems is another phrase you may here. Some of you might be thinking “What on earth does IP mean?” All it stands for is Internet protocol. Internet protocol is just a media transport system that commonly runs over normal IP address. This means you can run a telephone service over an internet connection. To receive and make VoIP calls you’ll have to have a VoIP modem at each end. A VoIP modem converts an analog signal to digital signal and back again. Once a phone call is made the analogue signal gets sent to the VoIP modem, the VoIP modem then turns these analogue signals into digital packets that get send over the internet to the receiving VoIP modem. Finally, the receiving VoIP modem turns these digital packets back into analog signals and the analog signals get sent to the receiving phone. It does sound long and tedious, but it is done so quickly and seamlessly that you won’t even notice what is happening.
VoIP features and benefits
VoIP provides cheap and easy to use business phone services. One of the reasons for being so much cheaper is that call charges are bypassed, as it’s run over your internet. With VoIP you usually pay a small set up cost and then a monthly amount for your number. The fact that there are no call charges involved can make a huge difference if your business operates internationally. In general, VoIP will dramatically reduce your usual telecoms costs and can give you a superior service comparatively with traditional business phone systems.
You usually have two options with business VoIP packages:
- Hosted VoIP – This is particularly good for small businesses, because it means your provider will maintain all equipment in their data centre. In this way, you don’t have to pay for any expensive hardware. This will have not negative effects on your business’ security.
- Physical VoIP Switchboard – This type of VoIP service involves installing a switchboard into your premises and planning your own disaster recovery and security. Physical switchboards cost money to buy and maintain, so will usually mean an increased upfront cost.
Whatever package you decide is right for you, the other key benefits of VoIP are the added extras you can get. Some examples of the extras are the ability to block withheld numbers, transfer calls straight to your voicemail, video conferencing, ring back, three-way calls and much more. VoIP can form an important part of your disaster recovery plan. Because you can redirect calls at will, you can keep on using the same numbers, even if there’s a disaster which puts your company HQ out of action. All you need is an alternative location with an internet connection.
How much does VoIP cost?
VoIP can start as low as £10 per channel per calendar month. This obviously varies from provider to provider and depends on what features you need. Regardless of the required extras, it is still much cheaper than an ISDN line. In most packages, the amount you pay will also include a certain number of minutes. So if you go over the set number of minutes then it will only cost you a few pence per minute, but once again this does depend on the provider’s package terms. Some VoIP providers might charge 2p a minute and some might charge 5p, it just depends on the provider preference. One upside of VoIP is you can make free calls to other VoIP users all over the world. Whether you’re sending a call to India or Australia, it is free as long as they have a VoIP system on the other end. This would be extremely helpful if your company has offices in different countries.
Most VoIP providers will also offer free and impartial advice with regards to fixing your VoIP system. Most of them are 24/7 so whenever you need help they will always be there. So all you’d need to do is ring up, explain what is wrong and they should sort out your problem fairly quickly.
A self-hosted VoIP system can cost more than the traditional hosted system. This is because with the self-hosted system you’ll have to source all the equipment and keep up on maintenance yourself. This is one of the reasons most companies will opt in for the hosted service. Another reason is that it is easier to manage, as smaller companies won’t have a trained person to set up and maintain a self-hosted VoIP system. But if you do have the budget and resources to implement a self-hosted VoIP system then you shouldn’t have any problems.
Before getting your VoIP quotes you must make sure you have a stable internet connection. If you have an unstable internet connection then you must get it sorted before implementing your VoIP system. If you did get a VoIP system whilst having a poor internet connection then this might be a great time to reconsider your options. The main reason for this is that your calls will constantly cut out, which would obviously be negatively affecting your business communication. This could lead to unhappy clients as you’re unable to make/receive phone calls. So if you are thinking about getting a VoIP system but have unstable internet then there are a few things you can do. You can either speak to your current internet provider and see if they can do anything to make your internet better, or you could look elsewhere yourself. The best type of internet to run a VoIP system on is a leased line. Leased lines are uncontested fibre lines that go straight from the exchange to your premises. This means you’re the only person using the line and it won’t cut out as it is coming directly from the exchange point. It has a one-to-one contention, unlike broadband which can have anything from a 50/1 contention or 100/1 contention. With broadband, you’d be sharing the connection with other people in your area. You could also use a business grade internet, but a leased line would be ideal. So, after reading this if you’re thinking “a leased line would benefit my business” then look no further. We compare the top 15 leased line providers, so don’t hesitate to run a comparison if you’re considering it.
There are a few details you’ll need to give to ensure the comparison can be run. These are postcode and address, contact number, full name, company name, and email. The providers will need your postcode and address so they can give you the most accurate quotes possible. If you didn’t provide your postcode and address then you wouldn’t get the most accurate quotes possible. Lastly, they need your contact details (number, full name, company name, and email) so they can contact you to give you your quotes. Without these, obviously, they wouldn’t contact you.
Cloud based Phone Systems
Cloud telephony is a telephone system held in the cloud rather than physically in your office. Your employees or users then access the cloud telephony system through a standard IP handset or a soft phone, which is a screen-based virtual phone. Calls are made and received over a broadband or internet connection. From there they can be routed to the destinations and can call other users of cloud telephony, mobile phones and any other type of telephone line.
Cloud telephony means no costly PBX maintenance or upgrades. The provider would be responsible for the hardware and software, including system upgrades so it can offer a much cheaper alternative to your traditional phone lines.
As well as giving your organisation access to low-cost and free IP calling, a cloud telephony system puts various smart call management features at your fingertips. You can integrate mobiles too which is handy for any businesses that have employees working from home.
The key thing to have a stable system is ensuring you have a stable internet connection, if you are on a poor broadband connection you may have to upgrade before getting cloud telephony in place.
One of the most important facts about cloud telephony for many businesses is the level of control cloud telephony solutions gives you. Your organisation’s entire communication, across multiple sites and countries, can be managed easily, right down to the individual user level, through a simple interface.
We can run a free comparison to show you how affordable these solutions can be for your business. So to get your tailored business telephony quotes regardless of type, fill out our online form and one of our experts will get a quote sent over to you.