Business Telephone Systems Explained
Developments in telephony technology mean that your business can now choose from a wide range of business telephone systems – including ISDN, SIP and hosted. All of these systems are equally consistent, provided that they are used correctly; therefore, which of these systems you should opt for entirely depends on what your own company needs. Here, we will detail the structure and features of various types of corporate telephone system that are available to you when you turn to our comparison services in your search for the right set-up for your business.
ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network)
ISDN refers to an array of communication standards allowing voice, video, data and further network services to be digitally transmitted simultaneously over the public switched telephone network (PSTN)’s traditional circuits. It differs from the pre-ISDN classic telephone system, which was used primarily for transporting voice, with data use limited to particular special services.
Utilised for a business telephone system, ISDN means that, over standard telephone copper wires, a voice can be digitally transmitted in better quality than would be possible over analogue phone lines. Many people consider ISDN more stable than the alternative corporate telephony technologies of SIP, VoIP and hosted. However, there are limitations of ISDN that you should take into careful consideration before you choose this kind of service for your company’s telephone system.
There is, for example, evidence that ISDN is nearing the end of its natural lifespan. BT, one of the many telecoms companies the services of which we compare, has revealed that it will switch off its ISDN provision in 2025. Furthermore, over the next five years, BT might increase the pricing of its ISDN services to encourage switching. You could also consider various other technologies to be better value and more flexible than ISDN.
SIP (Session Initiation Protocol)
SIP allows a voice to be digitally transmitted through an Internet line or LAN extension – and, throughout all of this, the telephone system’s hardware, or PBX, stays on-site. Compared to ISDN, SIP can enable businesses to achieve savings of 30-40% on their charges for line rental and calls.
If your company’s current telephone system is enabled for IP connectivity, staying with – or, indeed, initially taking up – ISDN is of dubious viability as long as SIP is available. SIP can be easy for many businesses to switch to, as most existing PBX can typically support the technology. Therefore, to switch, your company might only require a new configuration set-up.
SMEs could be especially attracted to SIP; in comparison to ISDN, SIP is more modern and can save businesses a significant amount of money in both installation and ongoing maintenance costs. SIP allows data to be transported across networks more efficiently and cost-effectively than with ISDN, while cheaper line rental and long distance and international call rates are also possible.
SIP is also wonderfully flexible; several numbers can be allocated a single SIP trunk, while the technology can be scaled to cater for any corporate need. This means that, as your business changes and grows, a telephone system using SIP can more easily adapt. And, should disaster hit your business, SIP’s greater security and resilience could help your company to better cope and recover.
A hosted system can be defined in a rather straightforward manner: it is a system where the voice is digitally transmitted over an Internet connection or LAN extension, but without a physical telephone system on the premises. Instead, that hardware is on the network provider’s core network; you simply buy the physical phones and pay per seat.
This lowers the initial financial outlay for a business telephone system, and you simply make monthly payments. Furthermore, in comparison to ISDN, a hosted system can enable you to save 30-40% on call charges. A hosted set-up also frees you from challenges that can typically be posed with the ongoing maintenance or support of a business telephone system.
Through drawing upon a hosted business telephone service, you could get access to a broad variety of both simple and sophisticated corporate features provided through a data network connection. Users of the system could also get the option to manage many features personally – and home and remote workers could benefit from all of the features that come with this phone system, as those features will be delivered over a data network connection.
Various Merits of Internet Protocol (IP) telephony
It’s worth keeping in mind the unique advantages of Internet Protocol telephony, or IP telephony – broad terms referring to technologies using IP for exchanging telephony data such as voice data, fax data, and other data that would traditionally be sent and received across the PSTN’s dedicated circuit-switched connections. The largest advantage for your business is the financial savings that can be made by avoiding the PSTN-assigned tolls.
You might occasionally be confused by the terms IP telephony and Voice over IP (VoIP), which can often be used interchangeably. While it wouldn’t be unsuitable to use these terms in reference to the same general system, today, VoIP is often used to refer to the services available, while IP telephony commonly refers to the technology allowing for VoIP services.
IP telephony services compete not only with standard telephone services but also mobile phone services, due to the free or relatively inexpensive connections that IP telephony can offer through Wi-Fi hotspots. Your business could also opt to use VoIP on private networks which may or may not have a connection to the global telephone network.
Choosing the Best Phone System for Your Business
There are lots of different types of business telephone systems out there, so which one is the best? It’s a simple question, but it’s one that’s very difficult to answer. That’s because ‘best’, in this instance, really is subjective, and what’s right for one organisation may not be right for the next. However, depending on your business’ needs, there are some key features that you should be keeping an eye open for:
If you operate a call centre, support team, or any other type of business that needs to direct customers at the first line to the correct department, then look for a business telephone system that offers multiple call queue options. Also worth considering are phone systems that enable automatic call recording for training purposes, and the ability to listen in to agent calls for ongoing monitoring and management.
If your organisation permits flexible or remote working patterns, or if employees are frequently required to work from a hot desk, from an alternative office location, or from a client site, then look for a service dedicated to connecting remote workers with their main office line. Business telephone systems that come with a compatible smartphone app are useful, as well as ‘softphone’ capabilities and features.
If your organisation employees fewer than 20 members of staff, then a standard business telephone system is simply going to be too complex and costly to really have a positive effect. Instead, seek out systems that are dedicated to very small businesses, which are simple and easy to use but include a wide range of ‘professional’ features, such as auto-receptionist, ring groups, and voicemail to email.
As well as these features, all companies, from all sectors, should consider the following:
– Call tools
– Customer service
Comparing Business Telephone Systems
If you need more help in selecting the right business telephone system for your organisation, comparing business telephone systems can help. We put ourselves in the mindset of our customers, providing you with all the information you need to make an informed decision that matches your needs and your budget. We partner with only the very best telephone providers in the UK, giving you complete peace of mind. Check out our handy online price comparison tools today to find the right system for you, and enjoy all the benefits of a business telephone system, like improved communications and productivity.