This article is part of a larger series on VoIP.
While landline phone systems aren’t as popular as more modern voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) or virtual phone systems, they often provide a more reliable calling solution for areas that lack a reliable high-speed internet connection. Their less robust feature set also has the added benefit of making setting up a system as simple as picking a provider and plugging in components per the following steps:
1. Evaluate Your Business Needs
Start by asking yourself why you need a business landline phone system versus taking advantage of a less expensive, more feature-rich option like a VoIP-based solution. If you are in an area with poor cellular coverage or otherwise lack a high-speed connection, then the decision to use a landline phone system is easy. Otherwise, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you want to use a landline because it doesn’t require you to pay to upgrade existing desk phones? If so, there are a number of low-cost adapters that can reduce this expense. Alternatively, some VoIP services offer hardware leasing options, which can save you the hassle of purchasing equipment that will be out-of-date in a few short years.
- If it is because you prefer to use a fax machine to transmit documents? Some VoIP service providers offer built-in fax capability. This can save you the expense of maintaining a separate fax machine.
- Are you concerned about what would happen when the office loses power or there is another form of emergency? The best small business VoIP services can be configured to automatically ring on designated smartphones or to a specific voicemail when power is interrupted, using a lesser-known feature known as fail over. Many services also offer a feature called E911, which saves first responders time by displaying the physical location of the caller.
- Are you hesitant to make the change because you are concerned your internet speed isn’t fast enough? Ultimately, many landline users select a conventional system because they don’t feel their internet connection is stable enough for VoIP service. The best way to be certain is to take our online speed test at your office. This quick test will measure your connection and let you know if you have enough bandwidth to support a VoIP system.
If you are still uncertain about which type of business phone system is right for you, check out our guide to VoIP versus landline services.
2. Develop a Budget for Your Phone System
A standard business landline system with one phone line can cost $40 to $75 per month. But, when budgeting for a landline system, you will need to keep in mind additional factors that can affect your system’s cost and usability. For example, most companies need more than one to prevent callers from getting a busy signal.
Additional factors that could increase the overall system cost include:
- Additional charges for connecting teams in the field or working from home
- The number of voicemail boxes and accessibility for staff
- Conferencing and intercom capabilities
- On-hold music or messaging
- A dial-by-name or department directory
- Call recording functions
- The types and quantity of desk phones
- Per-minute costs for international or long-distance calls
Added functionality and multiple line support can quickly add up to hundreds of dollars per month. To put this into perspective, popular VoIP providers like RingCentral start at $19.99 per user, per month, whereas virtual phone service from Grasshopper begins at $26 per month, and you can set up extensions for employees. This is why it is so important to consider all types of business phone systems before signing a long-term contract with any provider.
3. Research & Contact Local Providers
Landline services run on copper lines, and only a few providers may service your area. In contrast, small business VoIP systems work anywhere across the United States and many countries worldwide. With limited landline providers, you may only have access to one or two options in your area.
To find local providers, type “business landline service” into Google or your preferred search engine. Web browsers use your location data to deliver relevant results, so you should get a few options on the search engine results page. Look for a few providers, click through to their website, and enter your address to check for service availability.
4. Determine If You Need to Set Up Your Service
Landline providers have different processes and fees for setting up services. Before signing on the dotted line, it’s important to ask about equipment requirements and charges for new or updated wiring. You’ll want to provide details about the total number of phones required and if you need voicemail boxes.
Typically, vendors will bring the wiring to the outside of your business, but they may charge for internal wiring. Newer office buildings may not have any internal wiring whatsoever.
If your chosen vendor doesn’t cover the expense, then it can cost you thousands of dollars. For multiple phone lines, you may opt for a private branch exchange (PBX). A PBX consists of a physical hardware box that’s hard-wired via a main line, and all office phones plug into your PBX console.
Some provider plans and add-on packages offer technical support for PBX systems, whereas others require your business to handle upkeep and upgrades. Providers can schedule an appointment to look over your building and give you service and maintenance plan options.
5. Connect Your PBX Box & Desk Phones
Once the installation team completes the wiring, you’ll have one or more wall outlets that fit a modular plug from a phone. For standard landline service, simply plug the telephone cable into the phone jack and insert the power adapter into an electrical outlet. If you have a PBX console, you’ll plug each desk phone cable into the PBX port labeled “telephone line.” From there, connect the PBX box into the wall jack. Once completed, your PBX system will light up.
Test out your system by picking up a phone receiver and dialing an office extension. In addition, use a cell phone or ask a team member to dial your line to make sure it works. As long as your phones light up and you can send and receive calls, you’re good to go.
Business landlines and desk phones are a reliable way to connect your teams and clients. However, the best VoIP phones and services give you the same and, in most cases, even better options. If you’re still on the fence, try out a free phone service like Google Voice in your office or sign up for a free trial of RingCentral. That’ll help you decide what steps to take next.