In the last few decades, many small businesses have left traditional landline-based phone services in favor of internet-based, voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) or virtual phone services. However, landline services still have their benefits, especially for users in rural areas that do not have access to stable high-speed internet. Setting up a landline will consist of evaluating your needs, looking at service providers in your area, and setting up any necessary wiring in your office.
1. Evaluate Your Needs as a Business
First and foremost, you should ask yourself why you are considering a business landline phone system. The copper landline network has been in place for more than 100 years, but it is quickly being replaced because the infrastructure is expensive to maintain. These systems also lack advanced features offered by internet-based phone systems, such as HD video calling and the use of mobile apps on iOS and Android devices.
Despite this sea change in VoIP adoption, landlines still have their place in the modern workplace. This is especially true for businesses in rural areas that have poor internet connections and power reliability.
Landlines make sense as a business phone system in the following environments:
- Poor internet connection: In many parts of the United States, internet packages capable of supporting a VoIP system simply aren’t available. Despite the higher cost and lack of features, landlines run independently of one’s network connection.
- Unreliable power grid access: Your office might be in a location with a poor connection to the power grid. Fortunately, landlines run independently of your power supply, so you could still make calls and carry on with work during an outage. That is not an option with a VoIP or virtual phone service.
All told, the only reason you’d want to consider a landline is if you absolutely need one. Even if you are in a rural area, we recommend researching what high-speed network packages are available to you, as the long-term savings of a VoIP service would surely outweigh the benefits of a landline setup. In fact, you might already have a fast enough connection. Check out our VoIP speed test today. You can also check out our VoIP speed test guide for more information.
2. Consider a VoIP or Virtual Phone System
If you are located in a reasonably populated area with access to fast internet, you will almost definitely want to look at either a VoIP or virtual phone service before committing to a landline service. Not only are they less expensive, but their internet-based nature allows them to offer features like video calling, mobile apps, file sharing, and virtual faxing. All told, they are better than landline systems by nearly any objective measure.
A virtual phone system is a less expensive type of internet-based phone service. The trade-off is that you need an existing line (such as your personal cell line) because they work by forwarding calls. Popular services include the free Google Voice app and paid systems like Grasshopper that start at $26 per month. On the other hand, leading VoIP systems like RingCentral start at around $19.99 per user, per month. Each phone system carries its own advantages and disadvantages.
If you have decided that a landline service is still the best option for you, then you should continue on with the rest of our steps. However, we urge you to do the proper research for the sake of your bottom line and happiness with your service. If it helps at all, check out our comparison on VoIP and landline systems for more detailed information.
3. Research & Contact Local Providers
With a VoIP service, you can choose from dozens of vendors regardless of where you are within the United States (or, in some cases, the entire world). However, with a landline system, you are limited to using whatever service providers operate in your local area. In fact, many providers enjoy a monopoly in the markets they serve, which severely limits your options.
For example, I am based in Jersey City, New Jersey. Even in a highly populated area, I only have two major service providers available to me. The choices are likely to be even more limited in suburban and rural areas.
The best way to find your local service providers is an inelegant solution: Simply type in “business landline service” in Google. The search engine will take your location into account and offer a few choices that it thinks are most relevant. From there, you should enter your address into different vendor websites to check for service availability.
4. Determine If You Need to Set Up Your Service
Different service providers have different setup procedures. Therefore, it will vary in terms of whether it is up to you to set up all of your necessary equipment or if a service provider will do it for you. Be sure to get this information confirmed before putting any money down for service.
If your company works out of a newer building, you also need to worry about wiring. Every building is different, but some offices constructed within the last decade may not have any landline wiring whatsoever. If this is the case, check with your prospective new provider whether they will take on the cost of wiring your office or if you will need to pay for that yourself. In some cases, wiring alone can cost thousands of dollars.
5. Connect Your PBX Box & Desk Phones
Depending on your service, you may have a private branch exchange (PBX) box that needs setting up in your office. In basic terms, a PBX is a physical piece of hardware that automatically picks up all of your incoming calls and then routes them to their desired extension without any human intervention needed. You can think of it as an automated receptionist.
Depending on your service, you may be asked to install and maintain this device yourself. Setting up the service will consist of wiring a main line into the PBX box and then connecting each individual desk phone in your office to the box.
It’s worth mentioning that, in the case of many VoIP systems, you can simply use your laptop or mobile phone to make calls via an app. Additionally, most VoIP desk phones on the market offer Wi-Fi connectivity, saving you the need to use wires. Compare this to the excessive amount of wiring the average office landline setup takes. VoIP services provide an added convenience over their older counterparts.
Landlines are, by most objective standards, inferior to internet-based alternatives on the market. They are costlier, less convenient, and do not come with any internet-based features like a VoIP or virtual phone solution does. With that said, they still serve a purpose due to their reliability, even when internet speeds are slow.