Every homeowner might have experienced setting up a phone service at their residence at least once, usually after having chosen from among the best phone deals they could find at the time. Doing this does not take nearly as much effort as it used to in the past days. Now, you only need to find out which phone companies service your neighborhood, research and compare the best phone deals, and call up the provider you decide to go with. Here, it is essential to first be clear on what your family’s phone needs are, as well as have a rough idea of the usage and budget that would work best for you. The best phone deals balance all aspects so that you get the finest service for your buck.
For small companies, especially startups, availing a business telephone service is about as easy as the procedure described above, except that it would cost more. For larger companies, however, the issue does not stop at the markup itself; the same holds true for organizations with clear goals of rapid growth. For such parties, it becomes imperative to figure out many things: the number of likely phone users, what calling features they would require, how many international and long-distance minutes would be used, etc. The most direct approach would be researching phone service providers and the best phone deals they offer. These days, there is also the option of getting a VoIP system instead. Following are the things to consider when getting a new business phone line.
- Cost: Business lines typically cost more than residential ones – often by over 75 percent – but the markup does bring a number of extra calling features. The monthly cost on a business telephone system can vary based on the system type, the provider, and the plan. You could get something on the low end, like a KSU-less system; an all-out PBX system, or another option in between. The best phone deals usually land somewhere in the middle. Degree of sophistication is what mainly drives pricing, and after that comes the number of users the system is intended for.
- Usage: Business telephone lines generally carry much higher traffic than residential ones, because there is a limit to how much the average homeowner would talk to people on a landline. The most use they would get out of it on a regular basis, is staying in touch with relatives and friends, ordering pizza, setting up doctor’s appointments, etc. Businesses, on the other hand, rely heavily on their phone systems to communicate with clients and customers, as well as collaborate with near and far-flung associates. International and long-distance calls are nigh-inevitable, and the need for these two needs to be considered carefully before syringing up with a service.
- Equipment: Telephones used in business offices are more refined than what home phone users are likely to avail for themselves. While the latter might carry an answering machine, caller-ID, and speakerphone, a business phone system needs to be equipped to handle several lines at the same time, as well as conference these if the need arises. A VoIP service provider would require you to pay for digital IP phones as part of their best phone deals, allowing you to exploit the total extent of the services being offered. Based on your needs, the service provider would advise you on the equipment model you should probably buy.
- Call features: While homeowners generally only need one or two lines with limited calling features, modern offices typically require access to a superior slew of features and options. You may be fully satisfied with call-waiting and voicemail on a home phone, and the same could even suffice for a home-based business. In contrast, a company looking to grow is almost sure to need multiple lines, automated call handling, call forwarding, conference calling, extension dialing, fax, dial-by-name directory, etc. To zone in on the best phone deals in this regard, you first need to have an idea of how many calls you would probably be handling at specific times of day. If multiple simultaneous calls are a given, then the setup should be able to accommodate that as well as other things.
- Phone numbers: Residential lines get dedicated phone numbers assigned to them, and the same goes for business lines, unless the company buys a toll-free number. These can be assigned randomly, but specific vanity numbers too are buyable for an extra charge. Businesses generally set up separate numbers on which customers and clients can get in touch, while being treated to the level of professionalism they expect and desire. Toll-free numbers can be bought from phone companies, or even from providers listed online.
- Tax deductions: For home-based businesses and individuals that work from home, the IRS allows tax deductions for those calls made for the business, which are placed from inside the residence. This could cover either itemized calls on the regular home line, or the entirety of calls connected from the second business line, assuming the latter are all business related.
Choosing Between VoIP and Landline
The modern business environment holds precious few similarities with what was common a couple of decades ago, mainly owing to technological advancements that allow for the best phone deals in the market. Companies these days can focus heavily on boosting productivity and efficiency, thanks to myriad useful introductions such as VoIP phone systems. The internet has made over how telephony is done – you no longer need a landline or a cellular service to be able to talk to people at a distance. Before choosing from the best phone deals for your business (VoIP vs. landline), you need to understand that this choice would majorly impact intra-office communications, costs, and the options available to employees and customers.
What are Landlines?
The commonly used term “landline” refers mostly to telephone using twisted pair wires made of copper which plug into a wall jack. This technology has remained pretty much the same since its invention in the 19th century. Landline phones use analog technology to send signals through switchboxes, and the latter connect the phones at each end of the conversation. The main downside to this is that new features are limited, and generally only include voicemail, caller ID, call waiting, and call blocking. Wiring is another source of concern, in that it is costly to maintain, and always takes up a lot of space. The redeeming quality of landlines is that they are highly reliable due to the use of physical wires, which are much more immune to shutdowns and interruptions.
What Is VoIP?
VoIP is short for Voice over Internet Protocol, which is a technology that facilitates calling people over the internet. These systems do not use copper wires; instead, phones are connected through the internet, which means the only setup you need is fast broadband. Calls get converted into digital signals right inside the phone, eliminating the need for physical exchanges, as well as the chaos that comes with wires.
Everything is digital, in that it all runs through the internet. Because of this, VoIP service providers can provide a plethora of useful features which allow businesses to ramp up productivity through efficient communication. In terms of reliability, VoIP works without a hitch as long as your internet connection stays uninterrupted and sufficiently fast. This is why your existing broadband weighs so heavily into the suitability of a VoIP phone system for your phone.
VoIP vs. Landline
The four main factors to compare the two by, are as follows.
- Features: Landline phones bring only the basics under features. VoIP phones, in contrast, carry the whole spectrum of options ever devised and included in telephones: voicemail-to-email, virtual receptionist, three digit dialing, automatic call forwarding, and lots more. Advanced features that can be accessed at several office locations are always a plus, especially when they integrate well with the cloud. In current times, VoIP phones are uniquely capable of making these available to you, as well as plenty more if you choose among the best phone deals.
- Technology: Landline phone systems work through copper wire infrastructure that is already in place in most parts of the country, and they will continue to be in use for some time. At the end of the day though, they are a legacy system which are a hassle to upgrade. Digital communication setups are quickly replacing them as the standard, and the infrastructure for these are being rapidly laid.
- Reliability: This is one area where VoIP phones lose out to landlines, at least at present. High-speed internet can bridge most of that gap. If you are particular about this aspect of a VoIP service you are considering signing up for, talk to your ISP and find out what ways there are to ensure better connection stability.
- Cost: One of the main reasons VoIP phones appeal so much to businesses is that they cost a lot less – to the tune of 40-80% – than traditional landline services. Having more than one of the latter set up in the office can run up costs considerably, and would further require a private branch exchange or PBX. This is hardware that needs to be maintained on-premises, which of itself can cost upwards of thousands of dollars. VoIP not only bumps off that initial outlay, but also does away with the need for expensive maintenance and service. VoIP phones are a no-brainer, especially For SMBs and startups.
- In with the new: This just clumps the above four points, but adopting new technology into the daily operations of your business brings many benefits, much the same way as the move from cassettes and CDs to iPods did. Since digitization is inevitable, shrewd business owners may as well make us of the best that VoIP offers in relation to traditional landlines. The technology is bound to improve with time, and early transitions can often net the best advantages.
Things That Signal the Need for a New Phone System for your Business
You may have a phone system in your office that was top-of-the-line when you bought it a decade back, and which has since served you well in streamlining operations within the organization. Now, however, with VoIP reigning as the preferred choice among more and more companies, you may want to switch over if the following things are already happening.
- The business phone guy is hard to get hold of: The company that installed and maintained your phone system has become hard to contact when you need them, and is also impossible to replace. This narrows your options as long as you still use a landline.
- Compatible phones and cards are harder to find: The phone models you use are no longer being serviced, and compatible expansion cards are no longer easily available.
- The voice mail card has crashed, and you are unable to find another one to replace it with: There were actually companies which were rendered incapable of taking voice mail from customers and clients, all because the dedicated component in their phone system would no longer work properly. In such an instance, it is a gamble to try and repair it by yourself, because there is no telling that stored messages will not get deleted.
- Your telephone numbers are too costly: First generation landlines coming in may cause confusion where business numbers are concerned. Many straggling businesses even end up overpaying telephone companies for this service because they cannot keep track.
- It is not possible to install business extensions at other locations: In today’s business environment, you simply cannot do without the option to call up employees at other offices using simple three-digit Without this, you could not even tell whether an employee outside the building was on the phone.
- You are moving office to a building, which precludes voice cabling: Traditional telephone cables used to be the norm, or at least the option to lay them did. Some places pose exceptions in that only data cabling is available. This means getting a new VoIP system installed would cost a lot less than getting infrastructure for your existing landline. Moreover, doing the latter does not guarantee the old system would power up and function correctly afterwards.
- Your salespeople require their business line forwarded to their mobile phones: The pros of this usually far outweigh the cons, making it much more sensible to get a system installed that allows call forwarding. This way, you can rest assured that your sales team would not miss customer calls if they were off-premises.
- The phone system needs to be programmed with a dial pad: Making widespread programming changes on a traditional phone’s keypad is tedium incarnate, so the sooner you switch to a digital option, the more quickly this side of things becomes remarkably easier to handle.