Home Telephones Business Telephone Systems

Image of Staff member on Phones
Are you up-to-date with business telephone systems?

Is your telephone system outdated?

Unable to handle new tech requirements?

Getting headaches managing old equipment costs?

Losing ground on your competitors?

It's clear your company needs a better way to communicate.

Fortunately, today we're going to show you everything about business phone systems, and more!

And business phone systems are really important: 65% of customers still prefer to contact a business by phone.

We'll guide you through how modern business phone systems can work for you, and what you're going to need to get there.

Chapter 1

How Do Telephone Systems Work?

Image of Digital Cables
Telephone systems can get confusing...

Trading in your plethora of single-line phones for a telephone system is always a good move.

It improves office communication, and gives productivity a definite boost.

But to start with, it can all get a little confusing.

The set-up, the terminology, and the phone itself can be a world away from what you are used to.

And that's why every phone system is tailor-made and therefore different for each company.

The system size, provider, phone type and features vary hugely, and you'll discover that having a flexible system for your business is massively advantageous.

It isn't all about the differences though.

The ‘nuts and bolts' of office phone systems share many characteristics, so I've decided to compile the ultimate guide about business phone systems.

This means you can better understand how they work and why certain types are better for you.

Image of a traditional phone alongside a modern IP phone
Which phone type will suit your business best?

Before learning about the inner workings of an office phone system, it's important to distinguish between the 3 main types:

1. KSU Phone System

2. PBX Phone System

3. VoIP Phone System

Each of these have both hosted (cloud) and non-hosted versions.

Let's take a closer look at the differences between each.

The Key System Unit

The most basic phone system model - the Key System Unit - is suited for smaller businesses with a limited number of operators.

It's name derives from the ‘key' switching device, which is used manually to differentiate the selected phone lines.

Simple-to-use, it compares to a home phone network and has all the standard features that start-up or small businesses will need.

What it lacks is any real sense of portability.

It's wireless, automatic big brother is called the KSU-Less and is a more flexible upgrade.

However, it too has some drawbacks:

A maximum of 10 phone operators stifles it's scalability - meaning it is only an option for micro-small businesses that do not foresee any growth in the future

Private Branch Exchange

A Private Branch Exchange system (known as PBX) is a step up in terms of technology, and is suited to a business of 40+ employees.

More advanced than both KSU and KSU-Less systems, it contains a serious amount of features for a business to access:

- Automated features

- Programmable switching devices

- Automatic routing of incoming calls

- Uninterruptible power supply (UPS)

Your PBX system can also be hosted.

This means that the programmable switching devices won't need to be fitted inside your office premises. Instead, the entire service will be hosted by your telephone provider and maintain all the features from the standard package.

This comes with the added benefit of avoiding installation and maintenance costs that you'd expect with a standard PBX system.

Voice Over Internet Protocol

VoIP offers the greatest advances in office telephone innovation.

The sky's the limit with this system. Using the portability of the internet, you can speak with a client in HD quality audio, even if you are in different parts of the world.

The most expensive of the three types, VoIP is also the most impressive.

Being based on your computer, the biggest advantage of VoIP is that you have control of all its functions at your fingertips.

You can also choose to have a hosted VoIP system , which offers similar benefits as the standard version, only with less emphasis on installation and maintenance.

Your service provider simply hosts the telephone system in the ‘cloud', making your office more streamlined and less prone to disruption.

Daniel Cooper

Daniel Cooper

Did You Know?

Humans type at an average of 38 words a minute.

Humans can speak at an average of 125 words a minute!

You need a business telephone system so you can communicate with your customers effectively!

Chapter 2

How Much Do They Cost?

Making the right choice of business telephone system isn't an easy task.

The closer you look into each system, the sheer number of factors involved begin to add up.

Cost is one such factor to consider and for many, it is the most important.

Type No. of Employees Price Range her Extension (£)


||$||24.57||$|| - ||$||452.54||$||


||$||257.30||$|| - ||$||1034.38||$||



||$||774.50||$|| - ||$||1292.98||$||



||$||128.01||$|| -||$||3878.94||$||

Knowing the amount you're going to have to pay can be difficult, due to the number of variables for each business.

Thus, to get a broad picture of the overall cost, you need to know what type of system you are considering for your business.

On-Premises System Considerations

What is an on-premise phone system?

- Often referred to as a PBX, or just a phone system

- It is when your phone system is a physical device owned or leased by the user

- These systems can be on-premise VoIP or digital

If you are considering an on-premise system, the costs will include all the pieces of hardware you need to set-up and maintain the network.

This can start to build up:

- PBX central

- Gateway

- Server

- Lines

- Phones

- Installation and maintenance costs

This equipment can be rented or bought outright, depending on your choice.

Hosted System Considerations

- This is a service that is installed, hosted and accessed from a remote location

- It is often managed by the software provider

- Hosted through the internet

If you choose to go with a hosted phone system, then the costs are primarily made up of a flat monthly fee.

As with mobile phone contracts, if you go over your agreed amount of usage, then you will pay extra.

Fortunately, there are many flexible packages out there to suit any sized business.

Graphic of busy office
Which telephone will suit your business?

At this stage of enquiry, it is important to ask yourself if you wish to keep your existing desk phones or rather make the switch to VoIP phones.

The first option can still work, even if you want a PBX system, but you'll have to purchase adapters for them to work successfully.

So, what's the estimated cost of each system?

- A typical, standard on-premise PBX system can be priced upwards of ||$||5171.92||$||

- A hosted ‘cloud-based' system plan can cost as low as ||$||25.86||$|| per month, including setup fees.

Before you decide to take the leap into either of these options, it's useful to note that lots of providers offer free trials of their products.

This is an ideal way to see if your business is a good fit for that particular system.

Bear in mind, that the more advanced, modern systems are actually far cheaper than traditional analogue set-ups.

This is due to the lack of physical hardware VoIP requires.

It's often easy to think that the opposite is true.

Chapter 3

What Features Do Telephone Systems Have?

It's always important to really get the most out of your phone system.

Also, the amount of features available nowadays can be overwhelming.

Many come as standard, but you can also pay for extra ‘add-on' features that allow your business to operate even more efficiently.

We'll categorise the main features you'll find on any phone system - be it KSU-Less, PBX or VoIP.

You can then use this as a checklist for your own requirements.

Automated Features

Auto Attendant

Automated Directory

Dial by Extension

Dial by Name

Personal Attendant

Music on Hold

Call Features


Caller ID

Caller ID with Name

Internal Caller Name Display

Put Calls on Hold

Classes of Service

Intercom One-to-One

Intercom Groups

Phone Alerts

Remote Phone Use

Speed Dial


Voicemail and Messaging

Voicemail Messaging

Voicemail Keep on Phone Control

Voicemail to Email Group Notification

Voicemail Distribution To All Users

On-Screen Voicemail

IVR (Interactive Voice Response)

Multiple Voice Mailbox Access

Voicemail to Email WAV File Forwarding


Reply by Calling

Message Envelope Information

Conferencing Floor Moderator

Call Coverage

Conditional Call Forwarding

Call Screening

Do Not Disturb

Permanent Call Forwarding

Call Pickup

Directed Call Pickup

On-Screen Pickup

Call Park

Ring Hunt Groups

On-Phone Presence Monitoring

Extension Assignment

Shared Line Appearances

Phonebook, Directories & Call Logs

Company Phonebook

Employee Directory

On Phone Call Logs

Instant Messaging, Video Conferencing & File Sharing


Desktop Sharing

File Transfer

Instant Messaging

Peer-to-Peer Video Chat

1:1, Group Chat or Chat Room

Integration with PCs and other systems

Business App Integration

Auto Dialer Software

Door Entry Buzzer Integration


Phone Assistant

Vendor's Portal

Personal Phonebook

Billing Codes

View/Add Service Requests

Administration and Portability

Non-Emergency Number

On-demand conferencing


Toll Free Numbers

Password Administration

Voicemail to email transcription

Directory Assistance Listing

Enhanced Emergency Service

Hardware Reassignment

Detail Reports

Alternate Outbound Dial Digit

Nationwide Telephone Number Availability

Outbound Caller ID

Authorisation Codes

Line Management

Outbound Caller ID Blocking

Fraud Monitoring

Privacy Settings

Chapter 4

What Are the Types of Telephone Systems You Can Get?

By now, you've probably learnt that phone systems involve a lot of decisions.

And these decisions determine which direction your business is headed.

(No pressure.)

Graphic of man thinking with multiple thought bubbles
There really are just so many choices - but is that a bad thing?

Do you still want desk phones? Or can you branch into a mobile-only, virtual telephone network?

The biggest choice is between opting for a traditional ‘fixed' phone system, or one that is run across the internet.

With the latter, would you want to locally host the service , or have your provider host it themselves in the cloud?

Virtual telephone systems

A virtual telephone system is a great call forwarding solution.

Suited for businesses with remote employees, there'll be no need for desk phones, receptionists and operators anymore.

Graphic of a hand holding a mobile phone, with many features shooting out of it
There are some seriously fantastic features out there today - thanks, technology!

Instead, you'll be embracing features like auto-attendant, call detection, forwarding and smart voice mail.

This system provides the definitive professional image that you need, and offers flexible options for smaller businesses.

However, it should be noted that your calls are still charged per minute via your mobile or landline.

Nevertheless, some providers allow calls to be made through their online apps.

We recommend enquiring about this facility to get the best-value service your business deserves.

Traditional Landline Systems

The traditional option - public switched telephone networks - now fall in line with many of the more modern systems.

To have one running efficiently, it'll need to be using a hardware from a local PBX.

Without this, it cannot draw upon the extensions and functions required for most businesses, like call directories and transfers.

They are still a dependable and safe solution for lots of businesses, but the reality is that many providers of phone systems are beginning to phase them out of their packages.

This will inevitably lead to repairs and maintenance being harder (and more costly) to achieve.

Therefore, only larger companies with an experienced IT team should commit to this option.

VoIP phone systems

Imagine a phone system that runs entirely off the power of your business's existing internet connection.

And it's called VoIP.

Graph showing upward trend of VoIP systems in the last 10 years
This graph shows the upward trend of VoIP systems in the last 10 years.

What was once only possible for the largest organisations is now available for anyone.

You too can feel the benefits of a raft of features and functions with full computer integration;

It's great for remote workers, up and coming businesses or established companies that want to modify and cut costs.

VoIP certainly ticks a lot of boxes.

So, if you decide on a VoIP for your business, then the next question to consider is whether you want: an on-premise ‘fixed line' system, or to have it hosted for you in the cloud.

On-Premises VoIP Cloud-based VoIP systems

What does it mean?

Choosing to have the system on-premises means that the PBX hardware (which is what keeps the whole network alive) is kept on the site of your business.

When you are based in the cloud, you won't have to deal with hardware or maintenance.

What is the cost

This kind of localised system is expensive to begin with - due to the equipment needed beforehand.

Other costs involved are fees for the PRI circuit and SIP trunk (the pieces of tech that make all your calls possible).

Not only this, but this option is by far the cheapest option , as well as the most advanced and efficient.

Who has the control and maintenance of the system?

You do.

An on-premises system mean that you are firmly in control of the network.

You will be in charge of repairs and maintenance, but also have the freedom to configure the system in a way that suits your business.

Your provider will take care of all the hosting, updates and maintenance , so you don't need to worry.

Any brand new function or feature will be accessed immediately through your computer. ext here

Who does this work for the best?

This is a solid option for businesses with an experienced IT team, plenty of capital for system set-up and who are reluctant to integrate fully with the cloud.

All for a monthly fee per user base, the VoIP cloud-based phone system is ideal if:

- You don't have IT support on-site

- Your business has remote workers

- You want a central communication platform that is easy to use

- You want to move with the times and enjoy all of those exciting features

Graphic of an open air office with blue sky and a cloud above it
Nearly everything we do - including work - belongs to 'The Cloud'.

There is one drawback for the cloud-based VoIP systems, however.

(Isn't there always...)

You are at the mercy of your provider.

If the system faces any disruption, you must rely on them to sort the problem ASAP!

Clearly, you really need to delve into the best providers with the fastest response times, and the best reviews.

Chapter 5

What is VoIP?

If you aren't down with us tech-obsessives, you might not be up to scratch with those all-important acronyms.

But worry not!

VoIP is an acronym for Voice Over Internet Protocol (sometimes known as Voice over IP).

You might have also heard its other alter-egos: ‘IP telephony', ‘Internet telephony' or ‘Internet calls'.

What it does specifically refer to is the communication services that take place through the internet.

VoIP transmits sounds (calls) and images (video calls) through the standard internet infrastructure, using its protocol TCP / IP.

This technology has been on the market for many years (since the late 1990s).

However, it's only more recently that it has become widespread, thanks mainly to the improvement and standardisation of voice quality control systems (QoS) and the universalisation of the internet.

One of these pioneering services that brought VoIP to the masses was that of Skype.

What it did was allow people to share messages and video calls instantaneously from and to anywhere in the world...and all for free!

It's this incredible ease of use is what excites so many business owners.

Ease of use

Local calls can be automatically routed to a VoIP phone.

This means that any user can then carry a VoIP phone with them on a trip, and receive their calls anywhere that has an internet connection.

Through this, amazing new possibilities can open up in the way of working.

For example: you can have call centre agents working remotely, by using the VoIP telephony service.

Incredible, right?

And guess what?

The installation and operation of a VoIP phone is simple!

This is because the system uses all your existing network cabling.

This means it can be rapidly deployed and integrated into your business's entire computer network.

Data packets

The real magic works through data packets.

When we speak through the phone microphone, VoIP takes these analogue audio signals and converts them into a digital signal in the form of "data packets".

It then sends them over the internet to the receiver of the call.

Once it reaches the receiver, this data packet is converted back into an analogue signal that can be heard.

This is how you can communicate without paying anything more than your monthly internet bill or even free, if you connect to a Wi-Fi network.

VoIP Elements

To understand the operation of VoIP telephony, it is necessary to know how what constitutes one.

The basic elements of a VoIP system include the following:

- Terminals capable of receiving and issuing IP telephone calls.

- IP phones: devices specifically developed to make calls through the VoIP network.

- Software (softphone): Applications that run on devices such as laptops, tablets or smartphones.

- IP network: the data traffic (voice) will pass through it.

- Gateways: These are devices used to transmit and receive voice communications (VoIP).

Chapter 6

What are The Benefits?

One thing is for sure: VoIP telephone systems are here to stay.

However, there are companies that still do not fully accept the advantages of VoIP technology.

You don't want to own one of the businesses that's skipping out on improving their processes and increasing their performance, do you?

For many companies making the switch requires something of a leap of faith.

As with any decision, there is an element of the unknown - this worries many business owners.

So to ease your concerns, we'll outline the 5 major benefits for you shifting to VoIP.

1. Optimisation of resources

One of the main reasons behind the success of VoIP technologies is the long term savings.

It is a fact that VoIP is much cheaper than analogue telephones.

By consuming only bandwidth, your costs decrease considerably.

Graphic outlining the amount saved by using VoIP

Plus, being managed from The Cloud by an external company brings its own advantages, too.

It allows for greater scalability when you need it, without having to acquire or update equipment, nor pay for technical staff.

2. Adaptability with the business

An advantage of VoIP technology is the possibility of making and receiving calls from work computers.

When receiving a call, the computer automatically opens the file of the person making the call.

This makes it possible to provide a personalised service to customers.

Image of satisfied customers shaking hands
Ready to streamline your customer service?

You can gain further advantage with the option of adapting an extension in smartphones through a softphone. This allows portability of work functions from anywhere with internet access.

3. Use of existing resources

The flexibility of VoIP phone systems makes it possible to use the existing resources in the company.

This means that your current analogue telephones can be integrated into the VoIP network (however - they won't have the same capabilities as IP devices.)

It also allows hybridisation between analogue and digital centres, making the transition of technologies easier.

4. Improve customer relations

It's no surprise that companies who have a poor or outdated telephone service tend to lose a startling amount of customers.

Are you still apart of that crowd?

Who wants to be:

- Put on hold indefinitely?

- Cut off by mistake?

- Taken to the wrong department?

- Stuck with a low quality, crackly line?

This inconvenience automatically taints the image of the company.

However: the opposite is true of those who harness the full power of a modern system.

But how?

With VoIP software, it's possible to configure direct solutions so your customer has the chance to hang up, and be called again when the operator is available.

By eliminating human error, the software handles the queue of calls, and sends an alert to the relevant member of staff.

They can then return the call.

Now that's what I call customer service.

This is a super effective system, and it works for thousands of successful businesses around the world.

Setting up such a comprehensive telephone support system is one of the top ways to avoid clients jumping ship to competitors.

5. Increase productivity and collaboration

When these new-fangled phone systems started introducing options and features, they were deemed inaccessible to most businesses.

Especially for the start-ups and smaller enterprises among us.

Not anymore though.

Nowadays, it is even possible to use specialised video-collaboration equipment, which allows video calls and video-conferences from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

Collaboration between staff has never been so efficient.

Distance and time are no longer barriers.

Additionally, these systems allow you to measure everything that happens in the VoIP network.

This means you can establish a strategy for improving customer service and ways of collaborating among your workforce.

Chapter 7

Landline to VoIP Price Comparison

Often the deciding factor between landlines and VoIP lay in the cost.

Take a look at your recent phone bills - were they cheap?

I'm guessing they probably weren't.

As a business owner, you want to save on costs.

If that's the case, then landlines won't be of much help to you.

Let's start by taking a breaking down the setup fee:

This alone can be around the ||$||103.44||$|| mark. Add to this the monthly fee - which can be as much as another ||$||103.44||$|| per line!

You see how this starts to add up?

But what if your business need 10 lines? Every line is considered unique, so, you're looking at spending up to ||$||1034.38||$|| every month.

Image of £10 notes floating down a drain
Do you really want to waste this much money?

Oh, and it doesn't stop there.

(I wish it did.)

If you want to utilise the feature-rich canvas of your phone system, then you'd need to have a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) installed.

And that'll cost you several thousand pounds.

Oh, and don't forget that IT expert you'll have to hire to maintain it, too.

Who wants to pay these kind of prices?

This is why so many companies opt for VoIP alternatives.

Daniel Cooper Author

Daniel Cooper
Telephone Expert

Did You Know?

Making the switch to VoIP from a landline could save your business up to 60% every month.

So, how much could it save you?

The bottom line is simple.

If you want to save on costs, then go with VoIP.

Let's look at the price of the initial set-up:

- No set-up fee

- Monthly fee of around ||$||19.39||$|| (which includes all the fancy features)

- Free cloud PBX thrown in as part of your plan

The verdict is, that when it comes to cost, VoIP wins emphatically.

Moving to VoIP gives your company an immediate edge over other competitors using traditional phone systems.

Moreover, the massive savings you make here can be reinvested elsewhere in the business.

Sounds like a win-win scenario to me.

Chapter 8

Small Business Telephone Systems

When it comes to identifying the definitive phone solution for a small business, unfortunately there isn't one simple answer.

No two companies are alike: their positions, their budgets, and their needs are different.

Fortunately, there are 3 key pointers that can help find you the answer you need.

Number of Employees

The number of workers using your phone system will play a huge part in determining it's cost-effectiveness.

For example, if there are 30+ workers using the network, then an on-premises network may be the best solution.

If there are less than 30, then you might want to look into a Cloud-based VoIP system instead.

Finding suitability based upon the scale of your business (employees), what you can afford (budget) and predicted expansion (growth) is key to this decision.

Remote Workers

If you employ a significant proportion of remote workers , then a hosted-VoIP network would be more suitable.

This is because adding a remote workforce to a fixed, on-premises system is often a costly venture.

Maintenance and Flexibility

Any traditional, on-premises system will develop the odd fault over time.

Does your small business have the resources to fund a fast-response maintenance team?

Can you afford to lose any downtime?

Also, upgrading a fixed system is not always straightforward...

And it's certainly not as quick as updating any VoIP software.

Another question you need to ask yourself is this:

How much flexibility do you want, and how fast do you want to move with the times?

Ultimately, there's no such thing as a holy grail phone system for small businesses.

Hosted systems are a great start for many, due to their low costs and ease of use - as well as being ideal for remote work.

However, take the time to research the packages of each provider.

Analysing and comparing these will give you a clearer idea of what is most suitable for your business.

Chapter 9

Installation of Telephone Systems

Hopefully, there's a good chance that you now know what kind of system you want to install for your business.

Cloud-based or On-premises?

- Cloud-Based:

A cloud-based system is very simple to install and requires no technical experience.

Your brand new IP phones will be ready to make and receive calls on arrival - straight out the box.

The software is as easy as ‘plug-and-play', and as such, the installation is completely free!

You won't need any technicians to descend upon your offices.

Don't worry though - you won't be left completely in the cold.

Your provider should have a 24/7 support centre available for round-the-clock queries.

You may even be able to have your existing phones configured with the new phone system.

It's always worth checking, if you would rather not buy new ones straight away.

Daniel Cooper Author

Daniel Cooper
Telephone Expert

Did You Know?

Making a phone call without a phone is possible!

Cloud-hosted solutions mean you can make and receive calls from any device.

- On-premises:

With an on-premises set-up, you have a choice of a further two options.

1. Are you feeling brave enough to install it yourself?

2. Or do you want your provider to come and do it all for you?

We'll cover the DIY option later, but most commonly, number 2 is the preferred choice.

Image of closeup of server switches
Can you handle installing it yourself?

Each provider will have a slightly different installation process, so be sure to look into this carefully on their websites.

They should all have a dedicated support team to help answer all your set-up questions.

Be sure they keep you informed throughout!

The very first step is to install and merge your new phone system with your current one.

This can take a couple of weeks, but this time won't be wasted.

On the contrary, the installation team can guide your staff through each step and test out the equipment.

Image of engineers helping office staff
Most providers have the support staff to install and answer your queries.

This on-site ‘training' can be an invaluable resource in how quickly your business phone system hits the ground running. Here, you can ask any questions you have regarding the phones or software.

The next step is one that your provider will carry out the ‘behind the scenes' you can't do with your limited tech-knowledge.

This typically includes them transferring the lines over to their side and enabling any extra services or features that you have requested.

This ensures that your new network is in good shape their end.

Lo and behold, the transfer has been a success!

After this, the support team may come and visit your offices again, to conduct any further tests and make sure everything is in order.

They can even give more training at this point, should you want it.)

The installation process for your on-premises system will commence just a couple of days after you place the order.

You'll even have your phones delivered and training provided on-site,for your own peace of mind.

All installations vary.

Some are huge operations on multiple sites, and can be extremely complex.

Others are much, much more straightforward.

Some can be set-up and fully operational (including training) within 1 month, whilst others may take 3 months.

One thing is sure: your provider will be able to offer support throughout your time with them.

Image, happy business owner
Set-up can be quick and easy!

Fancy installing your on-premises system yourself?

It's possible.

And guess what?

You needn't be a computer whizz to achieve it.

You'll always have your provider's 24 hour online or phone support, should you need it.

Here's a breakdown of the DIY installation process:

1. Locate the best area to mount your KSU. Bear in mind, it will need to be connected to all your phones and lines.

2. Mount the KSU to the wall, using the manufacturers kit and an electric drill.

3. Plug circuit cards into the KSU. Each card should have a dedicated labelled slot which are marked.

4. Connect your phone lines into the KSU.

5. Run a phone line straight from the KSU to each of your desired office phones.

6. Check the KSU is working correctly by plugging it into the mains and switching it on.

7. Next, switch on all your connected office phones, and check that the appropriate KSU signal is displayed.

8. Read the set-up guide very carefully to code your KSU in the correct way.

9. Once you have programmed the KSU, test the phones by making and receiving calls.


When it comes to business phone systems in the modern world, we always recommend moving forward.

Your business is happening right now.

So, why are you looking back?

Soon, traditional switchboard units will become redundant. In fact, many are already being phased out by many providers.

The future is based in the Cloud…

So, why choose hosted PBX?


The costs of local and (especially) international calls are much lower compared to the use of a PSTN (traditional) line.

Also, calls between offices within the company - and even from remote offices - are free.

Basically, the only costs are the hardware and the low monthly fees charged by the VoIP service provider.


The flexibility of a hosted, cloud system makes business expansion and relocation of offices possible.

It also offers opportunities to personalise,

For example, (in addition to numerous functions) it offers the possibility of having a telephone number with, any area code in the world.


A VoIP telephone system uses your existing data infrastructure.

It is easy to install, deploy and use... no technical expertise is required.


As long as there is internet access, a hosted system can be used anywhere…

In the office, in a cafe, at a hotel, at home or even on the road... and all that with keeping the same extension number too.

The mobility of VoIP phones increases business efficiency and employee productivity.


Your Cloud-based VoIP can be fully integrated with other communication programs , such as call centre software and CRM systems.

This means that companies can communicate effortlessly.