Business phone technology has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. What used to happen with copper wires, now happens much quicker, and cheaper, through the cloud. Though you still have a choice.
In this article, we outline the three main ways you can provide phone service to your business and the pros and cons of each.
Virtual Phone System
A virtual phone system is a term used to describe Business Phone Systems where a computer system used is used to divert calls made to a virtual number, through to a whole range of actual mobile and landline phones.
The most typical use case for this would be a business where staff works remotely, from home, and they can receive work calls to their personal phone, via the virtual phone system, eliminating the need for them to be in the office.
A virtual phone system is a popular solution for small businesses trying to operate their business remotely, thus saving their employees the need to travel to the office, and also saving the business a more expensive phone bill.
There are some downsides to a small business virtual phone system. For this system to work the employees will need to have a landline or mobile phone and be willing to use it for work purposes. Depending on the nature of their phone billing agreements these forwarded calls may come at a cost to them, which might need to be reimbursed by the business.
There is also very little ability to monitor the calls once they are forwarded. Depending on the nature of the virtual phone system you use, there may be some basic statistics available such as the number of calls and how long they went for, but you will not have the same oversight and control as you would if you had a landline phone system.
Land Line Phone System
Landline phone systems are operated using analog cables and wiring, through a local or regional telephone service provider. These were the dominant form of phone service until the internet revolutionized what was possible over the internet.
Landline phone services are great due to their reliability, and not being dependent on an internet connection.
Though a landline is a simple service when considered in a residential setting, it is a lot more complex for a business environment with multiple phone numbers and multiple extensions per phone number.
All the phone numbers the business premises needs have to be hard-wired with the different phone lines for each number so that when a phone is plugged into each port, it can connect to a phone number and be operational.
The skills and infrastructure to set up and maintain a landline business phone center are significant, so it is best suited to large corporations with appropriate support departments and resources.
It is also a solution for businesses unable to access high-speed internet, typically required for VOIP and Virtual phone services.
VOIP Phone System
VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) has become a very popular way to meet the telecommunications needs of many businesses, since the advent of high-speed internet.
Instead of connecting to the copper wires that support the landline phone services, VOIP phones use the same internet connection that a company already uses for their other online needs.
VOIP systems are popular because the setup is done with apps and software, not cables and phone outlets, so you can configure complex systems, quicker and easier and cheaper than you can with a landline system.
VOIP systems can also be set up to support remote staff, minimizing the need for people to be commuting to an office.
There are two different types of VOIP, ‘on-premise’ and cloud.
With on-premise VOIP all the hardware and technology required to configure and run the VOIP is housed at the business premises, including servers, PBX hardware, and other equipment. This is popular with some companies as it gives them full control over their system, and they are not reliant on any third party for support or assistance.
However, for many small businesses, the cost to establish and maintain a network in this way is prohibitive and they are better served by a cloud solution.
A cloud VOIP solution is hosted and maintained using cloud servers, operated by a third party and you just pay to access what you need.
This is the most common form of business phone system to date. Due to its cost-effectiveness (both in establishment and maintenance) many businesses prefer it, even though it does make them dependent on the VOIP service provider.
VOIP has changed the way telephone services are provided and almost ruled out the need for business landline services completely.
Though there is still an argument for landline telecommunications in some cases, many businesses, both large and small would benefit from adopting a VOIP system due to the upfront and ongoing cost savings, as long as all users have access to high-speed internet technology.