The phone system you choose can be a make-or-break decision for your business. There are many things to consider when deciding between a landline and a VoIP system, including cost, reliability and functionality. While you may be inclined to write off a landline as an antiquated system compared to modern VoIP systems, there are many benefits to a traditional system that may work better for your business. Read on to see which telephony solution is right for you.
Today's business environment looks a lot different than it did a few decades ago. The advances of communications technology enabled by the internet have introduced a variety of new ways for companies to do business and employees to get work done.
One aspect of communications that the internet has transformed is telephone services. When comparing VoIP vs landline telephone service, it's important to know that they are two very different technologies.
Choosing which one is right for your business will have a significant impact on how your office communicates, how much you pay for phone service, and what kind of services your customers and employees can take advantage of.
Frequently Asked Questions
VoIP phone services can cost 68 percent less than traditional phone services, eliminating cost concerns over local, long-distance and international calls. Additionally, toll-free numbers typically have lower per minute charges with a cloud phone system than traditional telecom carriers.
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. ... A VoIP system works by taking your analogue voice signals, converting them into digital signals, then sending them as data over your broadband line. It's a very useful way of making calls - for a start, once it's set up it's a lot cheaper than using normal phone lines.
VoIP phones use voice over internet protocol (VoIP) technology to deliver an internet based telephone service. Calls are delivered over the internet rather than the traditional legacy technology of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) or Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN).
What Is A Landline?
When people say "landline", they are most often referring to a telephone that uses solid core, twisted-pair copper wire and plugs into a two or four-pin wall jack.
Generally speaking, copper wire phone technology hasn't changed much since it was invented in the late 19th century. Landline phones are based on an analog technology that sends signals through a series of exchanges — physical switch boxes — that connect calls between two phones.
Landline telephone wiring can become chaotic and maintenance heavy. It can also take up valuable space. Legacy phone rooms and phone closets such as the one pictured to the right can still be found in many office buildings.
Ironically, landlines are known to be relatively reliable despite wiring messes like this. Because landline phones use physical wire connections to make and receive calls, they aren't as susceptible to the service interruptions and slowdowns of other services.
What Is VoIP?
VoIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol. This is a business communications technology that allows for making and receiving calls over the internet.
VoIP phones do not use traditional twisted-pair copper wire. The phone is connected using the same broadband internet connection that plugs into a computer or router. VoIP phones convert calls into digital signals within the phone itself. They don't rely on the physical exchanges that landlines do.
The chaos of traditional phone closets goes away.
Because everything is digital and is using an internet connection, VoIP service providers are able to offer a wider and more useful set of features that enable businesses and their employees to be more productive and efficient with their day-to-day communications.
In terms of reliability, great VoIP service depends on having a fast, secure internet connection. Before switching to VoIP, businesses will want to ensure their internet connection meets the requirements for VoIP service. Any bandwidth concerns should be discussed with their VoIP provider. It's a plus if the VoIP provider also offers IT services.
VoIP costs vs landline phones cost
One of the main deciding factors for most businesses when deciding between a VoIP or landline telephone system is cost. Here is where VoIP takes the lead.
VoIP costs are considerably cheaper than a traditional landline set up, thanks to smaller set up fees, smaller maintenance costs, lower call charges- almost every facet of your traditional landline bill can be slashed considerably with a VoIP setup. Not only that, but as your business grows, it's easier and more cost-effective to add more VoIP lines for new staff than it ever would be for a landline system.
See how much you could save with VoIP using our price comparison form.
There is a wide range of potential costs and charges associated with setting up any office phone system though. This is why getting a quote for your business is a vital first step. Costs to consider are:
- Cost of IP-PBX central unit and network converters
- Cost of installation
- Cost of handsets, headsets and associated peripherals
- Cost of maintenance
- Cost of employee training
- Cost of additional features and service options: international call support etc.
You'll need a PBX if you choose a traditional phone system, or to host your VoIP system on-site (with an IP-PBX). The cost of this and the related hardware can vary greatly, from as little as $80 up to several thousand for fully-fledged units with support for SIP trunking and advanced features.
Desk handsets- which you may choose for either a VoIP or traditional system, also vary greatly in price, from as little as $20 for basic models to around $100 for mid-range business IP phones, to over $500 for more advanced units with video capabilities and other features. Quite often businesses will invest in one or two more advanced models for senior managers and the person who will be administering the phone system for things like conference calls, and buy cheaper standard models for the majority of desks.
Service providers will also often bundle preferred models of handsets with their solutions, in which case you may be able to save by purchasing or renting such equipment as part of an overall package. It's still a good idea to be aware of the regular price of the equipment you're looking at though, so you know if you're getting a good deal on a bundled solution.
All costs you may or may not incur when choosing a VoIP or traditional landline phone system will depend on your existing network infrastructure and phone equipment.
What's the Difference Between VoIP & Landline Technology
The term "landline" is used to describe traditional telephone networks that use copper wire to connect calls. Voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) is a technology also used to connect callers; however, it does so by converting voice data into a digital signal which then can be transmitted over the internet.
When to Use VoIP
If you can take advantage of VoIP services, then we strongly recommend that you do so. Not only are you saving money by paying one fixed monthly rate, but you are also given access to many different call handling options and business features that landlines are lacking.
There are a number of VoIP providers to choose from. While service cost should be a consideration, you should also keep in mind other factors like what features you want, reliability, and more. We've evaluated the best small business VoIP systems on the market.
When to Use a Landline
There are some locations that do not have stable internet connectivity or are prone to frequent power outages thanks to storms or other natural disasters. In these cases, it's a better idea to opt for a landline so that your phone system is not impacted by poor internet service. This is because landlines provide a constantly stable phone connection thanks to their hardwiring.
Like VoIP services, your plan will vary in price based on your provider. However, the catch with landline systems is that you probably only have one or two different providers in your local area. This is because landline service is dependent on expensive copper wire infrastructure.
While there are many landline providers available, you will probably only have access to one or two services based on where you live. Many vendors operate in their region as utility providers and have somewhat of a monopoly on their markets.
Reliability of VoIP vs landline
Traditional landlines have proven to be dependable over the years and can continue to operate in situations such as power outages. While they are not infallible, they are notoriously stable most of the time. Modern VoIP connections are also very reliable, with some providers boasting a 99% uptime, but they don't quite match up.
VoIP's key weakness is also its main strength – the internet. Every facet of VoIP is entirely dependent on being able to get online. If your internet goes down, so does VoIP. Ditto your power connection. This shouldn't be a major cause for concern, but if you are looking at a VoIP network, it's essential that you have an excellent and dependable internet provider, as this will form the backbone of the service.
Features of VoIP vs landline
If you're looking for a feature-rich service that can offer more than just standard phone calls, then VoIP is the clear winner over landline phones. As it's a digital service, it's a lot more versatile and able to interface with a myriad of existing services, giving you more control over your communications at the touch of a button.
Employees don't need to be tied to their desks anymore, with a VoIP line accessible from any cell or a VoIP phone, or even a computer. Useful for those with remote workers, but also a boon for employers who want their staff to work more flexibly.
Then there are other handy features, like automatic redirection, auto attendants, even speech to email. Not to mention video calling and straightforward conferencing capabilities without the need for dedicated equipment.
Put, a VoIP service is a 21st-century solution to the humble landline that has served us for so long. Add to this the fact that VoIP is often a cheaper alternative to a traditional landline, and it's hard not to be swayed.
VoIP sound quality vs landline
Traditional landlines hold the ace when it comes to sound quality. While they may not offer the large suite of features available with VoIP, the technology has been honed over decades to ensure that voice calls are as clear as possible, rarely suffering from interference, dropped calls or poor quality.
Unlike landlines, the internet isn't a system that was designed solely with vocal communication in mind. Instead, it was intended to carry data, and as such, the road to getting voice calls to be a viable means of connecting hasn't always been smooth, as anyone who used VoIP in the early days will be able to attest to. The good news is that in recent years the technology has come on in leaps and bounds. The aim has always been that the caller shouldn't even be aware that the call is taking place over VoIP, and in a vast majority of cases this is true. While there may be the occasional blip here and there, VoIP sound quality has been highly polished. If you opt for a reliable VoIP provider, it should be indistinguishable from an actual landline.
Just remember, the quality and speed of your internet connection will have a large impact on VoIP call quality, and it is, therefore, essential that you have faith in your provider's ability to deliver a robust and speedy connection.
What equipment do you need for a VoIP system?
The equipment you need for a VoIP system depends on which type of VoIP you use. First and foremost, you need a strong, reliable and secure internet connection. Call quality and reliability depend on the strength of your internet connection, so it's crucial that you can count on it not to drop service or be susceptible to hacking.
Next, if you are using an adapter, you will need a compatible landline phone. If your adapter plugs into a wireless router rather than a phone outlet, you will need to have a router.
To get VoIP over a computer, you will need a laptop or desktop computer with an internet connection, the proper software or program, and speakers and a microphone. Many people opt for a headset that plugs into the computer for better sound quality and ease of use.
If you are using a smartphone, you will need a smartphone, a Wi-Fi connection and a VoIP app. Most apps (Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger) offer free calls to other users with the same app, and other apps allow you to call a regular landline or mobile number, though this usually costs money.
There are also providers that offer a hybrid option where you can make VoIP calls using minutes included in your home phone plan.
The business benefits of VoIP
- Easy to set up: a VoIP system only needs a calling device, internet connection, and the VoIP software to work. The setup of this system is straightforward, with little to zero downtime on the company network.
- Mobility: VoIP services are not fixed to a specific location, allowing you to use your mobile phone as an extension of your office phone. This is a major benefit for companies with employees who work remotely.
- Advanced functionality: VoIP offers more than just voice, with a wide selection of additional features, such as video conferencing.
- Cheaper: VoIP calls are significantly cheaper than landline services and offer free international calls. The installation and maintenance of the hardware and software also come at a lower cost than that of traditional systems. Substantial savings can be enjoyed by SME business owners – with at least 40% cost reductions on local calls, and up to 90% cost reductions on international calls.
- Scalability: VoIP systems only rely on an internet connection, allowing for an unlimited number of lines.
- Streamlined solution: a fixed monthly cost makes financial management easier, and having one supplier for both data and voice provides greater efficiency and linking of technologies.
VoIP's potential pitfalls
- Security: the security of the line is reliant on the level of security of the internet connection. For this reason, VoIP connections are easier to hack remotely than landlines, especially if the network security is not set up to be resilient as it can be.
- Internet-dependent: VoIP calling relies on the level of quality and stability of your internet connection. Businesses with high call and internet traffic volumes may experience network issues if their Internet connection is not fast enough or if the power is out.
- Software issues: if an unstable operating system or VoIP is used to host calls, quality and reliability can be compromised.
- Low-speed connections: businesses without a high-speed connection or those in more remote areas may not have a suitable connection speed for high-quality VoIP.
As we've learned, the difference between VoIP and landline systems is that VoIP is a flexible communications system that can utilises the internet to deliver a cheap, effective way for businesses to communicate with customers and internally. The landline, on the other hand, is the traditional telecom solution that is tried and tested but limited in features and struggling to keep up with the demands of modern business.
VoIP is an excellent and inexpensive way to grow your business and ensure that you are responding to your customer's needs effectively. The benefits over a traditional landline are many, as the thousands of companies that have already made the switch to VoIP will attest.