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A landline, also referred to as a dedicated line, is essentially a phone that transmits signals which are converted from audio data via physical media such as wires or optic cables. A landline is a permanent connection between 2 locations.
There are essentially 2 types of landlines – corded and cordless. A corded landline connects via a wall jack to the provider’s cable. The phone base and handset are connected by a cord. A cordless landline, on the other hand, has the phone base which is connected to the cabling via a jack; however, the handset is connected wirelessly. The range of the cordless phone is quite short and it can be used on the premises. Also, the cordless phone must be plugged into the electrical socket, which means that when there is a power outage, your cordless phone will not work.
Today, while landlines are becoming outdated, there are still several businesses across the world that make use of landline phones for their day-to-day operations. Some of the pros and cons of using a landline for your business are:
- A landline, unlike a VoIP phone system, will not be affected if you don’t have an internet connection.
- Landlines are extremely reliable, which makes them ideal for business use.
- The voice quality of a landline is extremely high and it will be very clear even if the service in your area is very poor.
- Unlike mobile phones, your landline phone will not experience call drops because of poor service.
- The main disadvantage of a landline phone system is the cost. It is more expensive compared to VoIP services. You need to buy handsets and also get a professional to install the phone system, all of which incurs a cost and finally, to keep the service going, you need to pay the monthly charges or subscriptions.
- Another drawback is that landline phones do not offer mobility, which you can get with VoIP and mobile phone services. The landline handset is usually placed on a desk and you will need to wait at your desk to make and receive your calls and will not be able to move around.
If you’re looking for high and clear voice quality and a dependable service, then opting for a landline phone for your business is a good idea. However, the lack of flexibility and high cost are the main deterrents for landline use.
Voice over IP or VoIP allows you to make phone calls over the internet or local area networks (LANs). VoIP technology converts analog voice signals into digital signals and transmits them over the internet, letting conversations take place across the world where there is an internet connection available. Here are some of the pros and cons of VoIP phone services.
- Usually, the setup costs and ongoing costs are lesser for a VoIP-based phone system when compared to the traditional phone. PC-to-PC calls over the internet are free; however, call from a PC to a landline incurs a cost, which is significantly lower than a phone line.
- The location or the distance does not have any impact on the VoIP phone system, whether you’re making a local call or calling across the world, as long as you have an internet connection, it is possible to make calls.
- The VoIP network is extremely flexible and you can add as many connections you want. And, the only limitation is the bandwidth.
- A VoIP system is scalable and can grow along with your business.
- If your internet connection is stable and the bandwidth is good, then you can experience good voice quality.
- VoIP offers a wide range of extra features such as call waiting, call forwarding, caller ID, voicemail, 3-D calling, etc. It also allows you to send pictures and documents while you are on a call. VoIP allows you to exchange and access data files, have video conferences, etc.
- If you do not have a stable and reliable internet connection with sufficient bandwidth, then your VoIP phone system will not work.
- In case of a power outage, your VoIP phone system will not work.
- You cannot make emergency calls via VoIP phone systems and emergency services may find it quite difficult to trace the calls to the VoIP phone system.
- If the bandwidth is not sufficient, you may have “latency” issues which may cause the calls to lag, delay or completely drop. Latency is because the “data packets” require time to assemble for an effective call to be made.
There are several phone systems for businesses and cost is an important aspect when choosing a phone system. Here, we will be looking at some of the cheapest business phone systems.
This is a cloud-based VoIP phone system that does not require the installation of expensive PBX hardware. Grasshopper has over 350,000 customers and is a very popular phone system for startups and small- and medium-sized businesses.
Grasshopper allows you to get a local, toll-free and vanity numbers and all of the plans include unlimited minutes and a 30-day money back guarantee. Grasshopper offers several features such as custom greetings, call forwarding, text messages, music on hold, virtual fax, auto-attendant, WiFi calling and 24x7 customer support.
Grasshopper has 3 pricing plans – Solo: $29 / month, Partner: $49/ month and Small Business: $89/ month.
RingCentral is a feature-rich VoIP phone system suitable for small businesses. Apart for calls, RingCentral offers several other features such as call diverting, call forwarding, call back, music on hold, unlimited texts, local, vanity and toll-free numbers, auto-receptionist, call monitoring, etc. All of RingCentral’s features make it a truly all-inclusive small business phone system.
RingCentral offers 4 pricing tiers depending on the number of users and for 1 user: $39.99 - $69.99/ month, 2-99 users: $29.99 - $59.99/ month, 1000-9999 users: $32.99 - $52.99/ month and 2-99 users: $29.99 - $49.99/ month. RingCentral offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
8x8 provides reliable and secure business phone systems and has been offering its services to over 50,000 businesses across 150 countries. The phone services of 8x8 allow you to cut your monthly phone bills by half and save a lot. Apart from calls, 8x8 offers various other features including auto-attendant, web conferencing, music on hold, video meetings, web faxing, call forwarding, voicemail to email, etc. 8x8 offers plans for small businesses that start as low as $25 per month.
So, when compared to a traditional PBX phone system, a virtual phone system such as Grasshopper, RingCentral or 8x8 are pretty inexpensive, as you save on the cost of the hardware, installation, setup and maintenance costs.
When you’re deciding on the right phone system for your business, there are few factors you must consider such as:
- The phone system must be extremely easy to install with very minimal downtime and the phone system should be customizable according to the needs of your business.
- The phone system should be very easy to manage and you should not be spending a lot of time on maintaining the phone system.
- There are many types of business phone systems in the market, right from basic solutions that are low cost to enterprise-level ones that are fairly expensive. Beware of the cheap phone systems offered by companies that don’t have a lot of experience, but at the same time, you may not have the budget to spend on a high-end communications platform. So, it’s a good idea to do your research and get a phone system that meets your business requirements without being overly expensive.
- Consider a phone system that is reliable and flexible. The phone system should be agile and scalable and adapt to the growing needs of your business.
- Apart from just enabling you to make and receive phone calls, your phone system must offer various features designed to help your business such as voicemail, voicemail to text or email, call queues, call forwarding, call recording, call transferring, local, toll-free and vanity numbers, auto-attendants, conference calling, extension dialing, directory assistance, call reporting, video conferencing, CRM, etc.
- Look for subscription plans which allow you to upgrade your software when newer versions become available in order to simplify the adding capacity. Also, check that you can make use of the same IP phones if you upgrade to a larger system since handsets are a major and an expensive investment.
- Your phone system is a long-term investment and is also the face of your business. So, make sure that you partner with a company that is reputable and has sufficient experience in providing reliable telecommunications and support.
As you already know, there are many phone systems and several pricing plans that the choice of the right one for you may be a difficult choice. Most often businesses opt for phone plans with unlimited minutes. However, the question is, do you really need unlimited minutes?
- It is always a good idea to look at the communication requirements of your business, the number of employees and telephone usage, before deciding on the plan. You can choose a plan that includes only the features that you will use most for your business so that you pay only for the services you use.
- Write down your exact requirements, the number of minutes required monthly, the service area details and the extra features required and compile the requirements of all your employees.
- Evaluate the various service providers and see what they are charging for low-minute plans vs unlimited minute plans.
- Determine the flexibility of the plans. Some plans may charge exorbitantly for the number of minutes required, while others may be quite reasonable. Find out the flexibility of switching plans.
Once you determine your business requirements, the telephone usage, the various plans available and the costs, then you can decide on whether you would like to go in for a phone plan with limited minutes if your phone usage is very limited or go in for a cheap plan that offers unlimited minutes.
The type of phone system and plan you choose for your business really depends on your location. For example, if you have an office job or a home-based job that does not require you to move from your desk, then you could consider installing a landline for your business operations. This essentially means that you’re tied down to your desk the entire day waiting to receive calls or make calls to your customers, suppliers or colleagues.
On the other hand, if your job involves you being mobile, where you spend most of your day on the move, a landline can become extremely inconvenient, not to mention impractical. In such a case, it’s a good idea to go in for a mobile phone or a VoIP-based phone system that enables you to receive your calls no matter where you are.
Also, in today’s work scenario, almost 43% of employees work remotely at some point or the other. You need a phone system that connects your remote workforce effectively and ensuring that they do not miss any business calls, messages, etc. So, you need a phone system that ensures that you are connected with your employees and they are connected to each other by a centralized single device.
Communication is the lifeline of any business and the process of deciding on the best phone systems and plans for a business is quite a difficult process. It is a good idea to understand and evaluate the communication requirements of your business vis-à-vis the various business phone options available (landline phones, VoIP or mobile phones) along with their pros and cons before arriving at an informed decision of what is the best phone system for your organization.