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This is chapter one of The Ultimate Guide to Small Business Phone Systems. This guide will help you determine what telephone system is best for your company. The three other chapters in this guide are VoIP phone systems, PBX phone systems, and Cloud phone systems.
Multi-line phone systems improve office communication and productivity by allowing ease of communication with colleagues and customers. Standard telephone systems are designed to carry audio data packets between two parties—one on either end of the line. Multi-line telephone systems, including 2-line business phone systems and 4-line phone systems, are designed to permit multiple people to be on the phone at the same time.
These multiple lines can be external or internal. External lines let you communicate with your customers, while internal lines enable you to communicate with your employees and colleagues. These lines become a “system” because they need to connect to talk with each other.
Consider getting a multi-line telephone system for your business in the following situations:
Private branch exchange PBX is a type of multiline phone system that centralizes the phone system components for many users. This is a scaled down version of a Key System for businesses with 10-50 users. A key system uses a central control device called the key system unit (KSU) to provide more features than traditional lines.
With PBX, phones don’t have a 1:1 connection to physical phone lines. Instead, several phone lines feed into a PBX system, typically housed on premises at a business. From there, the PBX system connects to many handsets and the systems handles the task of switching phone lines and routing calls within an organization and assigns calls to lines automatically. IP PBX. Sometimes called VOIP PBX, is another version of PBX that uses the internet, not standard phone lines, to send voice signals.
What will you learn about multi-line phone systems in this chapter?
This chapter will provide guidance on how many lines your small business needs, features you should consider when choosing a telephone system, and leading brands and telephone models to consider. There is also a frequently asked questions section at the end of the chapter.
Use this easy formula to calculate how many lines your small business telephone system needs:
1 line per employee who needs constant access to a private line
1 line per set of employees who can share a phone for infrequent calls that don’t happen at the same time
1 line per non-human function (like a fax number, a toll-free number, etc.)
Total lines needed
Here are a few examples to help you determine how many lines your small business needs:
2-Line Phone System
Example: Solopreneur who works from home. Has no employees but wants a separate line for business use.
1 line for home
1 line for business
= 2 total lines
4-Line Phone System
Example: Insurance brokerage with two full-time employees and five part-time data entry specialists.
2 lines for brokers
1 line for data entry team
1 line for toll-free number
= 4 total lines
5+ Line Phone System
Example: Realtor office with one owner and three employees.
1 line for owner
3 lines for realtors
1 line for fax
Consider this list of features when shopping for a business phone system. The basic features in this list are typically included with a multi-line phone system. The advanced features aren’t typically included in the base price, but they may be beneficial for your company.
Frontier Business multi-line telephone system brand partners are Mitel, Cisco/Meraki, Avaya, and Adtran.
#1 top-selling model: Mitel MiVoice Office
#2 top-selling model: Frontier AnyWare
How much do multi-line phones cost?
Depending on the telephone and the handset features, 2-line phones usually cost $50–$200, while 4-line phones usually cost $100–$400. You can typically purchase the phone equipment from your local office supply store, phone company or business phone provider.
How much does business phone service cost?
Business phone service costs range quite a bit depending on setup and complexity. They generally start between $50 and $100 a month. You can get Frontier Business phone service starts at a reasonable price, starting at around $30 a month.
What is the range of the phones running wireless?
Many desk phones have cordless phone options that allow you to pick up a dial tone from 40 feet away. This range gives you the freedom to move while communicating with your team and your customers.
What happens if the power goes out?
Depending on the model, your phone system won’t be affected by the power outage if you have at least one handset plugged into a phone jack. You can use that telephone to receive and make calls regardless of the power outage.
Can I call emergency response?
In case of emergency, dial 911. With today’s advanced features, E911 systems automatically track a 911 caller's call back number and, in most cases, location information. This automatic number identification and location is sent to emergency service personnel, even if you cannot speak this important information. You will receive an automatic callback.
This safety feature happens automatically on standard phone lines and multiline phone systems. If you have a VoIP line, things can get tricky since these types of calls can originate from virtually any internet connection. It can be difficult to get an automatic location identification, if you don’t provide a physical address to your interconnected VoIP service provider. If you do, your physical address will be shared with emergency services just like any other type of phone system and help can be dispatched to your location.
Can I keep my current phone number?
Yes, many providers allow you to transfer, or “port” your existing phone numbers.
Can I hook up a VoIP phone to my standard phone line?
VoIP is different. It uses the internet to handle voice calls. If you have slow internet, it may not be the best option for your business. On the other hand, if you need portability and flexibility, VoIP may be the best option for your business. It’s a flexible phone system that helps small businesses grow and access modern, enhanced calling features they can’t get with standard phone lines. Plans like Ooma office or Frontier AnyWare let you access some features from your computer, as well as your handset or mobile phone. Head on to the next chapter to learn more about VoIP.