This article is part of a larger series on VoIP.
A business landline phone service lets you make and receive calls, even if your power goes out. It provides one or more lines and standard features, such as caller ID, call waiting, and call forwarding. Although voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) services receive plenty of attention, business landlines still play a vital role in communications due to their reliability regardless of weather conditions and internet access.
Learn more about the leading landline service providers, typical features, and the benefits of conventional services compared to alternatives.
Business Landline Phone System Service Providers
Unlike voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) or mobile phone service providers, landline systems require fixed metal cabling to transmit calls. As a result, businesses have far fewer traditional phone providers to choose from compared to other services. For example, in many geographic regions, businesses are limited to less than three local vendors. If you have multiple branches in different locations, you may need to sign up with a separate phone company for each site.
Here are a few business phone service providers and the ball park costs to use them:
- AT&T: The provider offers packages with unlimited local and nationwide calling, call waiting, and voicemail. Prices start at $40 per line, per month, depending on your location.
- Verizon: Verizon’s Preferred Voice service starts at $59 per month for a primary line. You can add up to five lines for $20 each.
- Spectrum: Spectrum offers bundled plans starting at $14.99 per line, per month that include readable voicemail and call forwarding. The plans also support unmetered nationwide calling and calls to Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa.
- CenturyLink: CenturyLink’s plans vary by region, so you’ll need to contact CenturyLink for an estimate, but they do have customizable plans for small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) and enterprises.
- Cox Communications: Select voice packages start at $19 per line, per month. Cox Communications offers various add-on features, such as unmetered long-distance calling and voicemail-to-email.
If your area has limited landline options, you may want to consider VoIP services. Doing so can lower your costs and provide more call management features. Explore the differences and decide which system is best for your company in our VoIP vs landline guide.
Key Business Landline Phone Service Features
Along with a small business phone number or toll-free number, most vendors offer additional essential features with their telephone service. The options vary by provider and pricing plan and may include four-line systems and on-premise public branch exchange (PBX) services. In most cases, business phone lines offer call waiting, forwarding, and a bridge for audio conferencing.
Here are the most important landline features that small businesses should look into:
Call Waiting & Call Waiting ID
Call waiting lets you answer a second incoming call to a business phone number without dropping your first caller. You’ll hear a sound when a second call comes in and can simultaneously put one caller on hold and pick up the other line.
Also, many carriers include call waiting IDs. It shows the inbound caller’s phone number and name, if available. Certain providers also have spam-blocking technology on landlines.
Activate call forwarding redirects inbound calls to a different phone number. Selective call forwarding can transfer voice communications to landlines, mobile phones, and VoIP devices. This feature is a must-have for solopreneurs and hybrid employees who work a few days a week remotely. You can answer calls to your landline number at your friend’s house or on your cell phone.
Connect with up to two external people by pressing a button on your conference phone or dialing two or three digits on a standard device. You can call people using any 10-digit phone number and chat on a single phone line. Most services let you hang up with one person and continue your conversation with another.
Send callers to your voicemail if you’re on another line or out of the office. You can record a personal message and check messages from your workplace or an external phone. Carriers may also offer a do-not-disturb (DND) feature, routing inbound calls directly to voicemail or a different phone number.
Reasons Businesses Still Need Landlines
Landline systems deliver vital services to businesses across the United States, including areas with poor or nonexistent internet and mobile coverage. They’re part of the public switched telephone network (PSTN) regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and public utility commissions. Therefore, telecommunications providers must report changes to landline offerings to regulators and seek approval before ending coverage in your area.
Other advantages of using a landline phone system include:
Unlike VoIP or cellular options, which rely on local internet infrastructure or cell towers, the underground network of copper cables extends everywhere. Wireline products, including business and residential phone systems, also known as plain old telephone service (POTS), are available in all cities, including remote and rural areas with limited internet connectivity.
The service provider extends telephone wiring to your facility, typically at no cost to your company. This makes it a great fit for factories and warehouses located in remote areas.
Ease of Setup
Basic one- to four-line systems are easy to install. If your building was previously wired for landline service, you could simply plug existing devices into the phone jack. If not, the business phone service provider is responsible for handling the wiring outside of your building and installing phone jacks inside.
Since landlines services are pretty basic and not based on individual users, there are fewer setup steps compared to VoIP. However, installation becomes more complex if you need additional phone numbers and lines. This requires on-site infrastructure and maintenance, and configuration is more time-consuming than a one- or four-line service. Learn more in our guide to setting up a landline phone.
Landlines are stable connections unaffected by the weather, and dropped calls are rare. If you lose power, your traditional phone system will work. You can still receive phone calls, access emergency services, and make outbound calls.
In addition, voice quality is unchanged even if the phone lines are busy or it’s storming. This makes landlines a more trusted option for point-of-sale (POS), alarms, or elevator communication systems. However, it’s important to note that PSTN networks use narrowband technology, meaning the voice quality range is lower than many VoIP business phone systems.
Legacy phone services are tied to an exact location and work during natural disasters affecting cellular towers, internet infrastructure, and electric utilities. The FCC requires all telephone services to use 911 as a universal emergency number, and telecommunication carriers route calls to public safety answering point (PSAP) dispatchers.
Although enhanced 911 (E911) rules improve emergency access for VoIP and mobile users, they’re dependent on your internet connection. Wireless providers have leeway when they roll out enhanced 911 services, so if you use alternative systems, it’s imperative to confirm the availability of E911.
The best business phone services keep your company connected to customers, vendors, and remote employees. Landline business phone systems work independently of your internet and electrical services, making them an excellent choice for companies in rural areas. However, many vendors want to phase out landline services in favor of digital VoIP. Therefore, it’s vital to speak with your local providers to determine the types of plans offered and service availability.