Types of Business Phone Systems
Businesses in need of a multiline phone system have several options. The choices vary based on where equipment is housed, how connections are made and the cost structure, among other things.
The equipment that provides the functionality to make and receive calls is a private branch exchange. PBX technology, whether it is housed on-site at a business or in the cloud, is what gives businesses all of the features and tools unified communications systems offer, like automated attendants, call queues, and ring groups.
Landline phone systems use traditional phone system connections and wiring provided by local and regional phone companies. These systems require onsite PBX equipment that your in-house IT team maintains and upgrades. These systems require a large upfront capital expenditure for all of the PBX equipment. Landline systems are falling by the wayside, as more and more phone system providers are no longer making equipment to support this type of business phone system.
Instead of using traditional copper wiring connections like landline systems do, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems rely on internet connections to facilitate calls. This allows you to run your phone system from the same internet connection your company uses to go online. There are two different types of VoIP systems:
Cloud-hosted VoIP: Cloud-hosted systems house their PBX equipment in the cloud. This means that the phone system provider is responsible for maintaining and upgrading it. To use a cloud-hosted system, all you have to do is plug your business's configured IP phones into your local area network. These systems don't typically have any upfront costs. Instead, businesses pay a monthly per-user fee. Costs usually range from $15 to $60 per user, per month.
On-premises VoIP: These systems are similar to landline systems in that the PBX equipment is housed inside your business. You are required to handle all of the maintenance. The difference is that these systems still facilitate calls via internet connection rather than landline. This gives your business more control over how the phone system operates and allows you to install any security measures you want. On-premises VoIP systems require large upfront capital investment, as well as smaller monthly fees to cover the required connections for making and receiving calls.
Virtual Phone System
Another option businesses have is a virtual phone system. These systems don't require any equipment, not even phones. A virtual system works as an extensive call-forwarding tree. You set these systems up so that all of the calls to your main business number are automatically routed to your employees' mobile phones. You have total control over where calls are routed to and in what order. These systems only charge monthly fees.