Phones for Small Business

By Neil Zawacki
Updated: March 28, 2011

Phones for Small Business

The phone market has grown to include many different types of business phones. They each have their own benefits, and choosing the right one can help to improve the quality of phone service and productivity within the office.

Here are the four most common styles of phone handsets:



Receptionist Style Phone

These are the classic phones that have been used by small businesses for years. They are connected to a telephone network through a fixed line and generally have twenty or more programmable buttons available. They also tend to provide consistent audio quality during phone calls and will continue to operate if an emergency should occur.

Most receptionist style phones have a lot special features built in to their design. They can have a message waiting indicator, caller identification, and the ability to join in on calls that are already progress. Many of them can store names in a personal directory and support conference calls between a large number of people. The phone is directly hardwired to the base station, though, so the employee has to stay in one place when they make a phone call.

Cordless Phone

This type of phone has a portable handset and base station that is connected to a fixed line. The employee can thus talk on the handset and move about the room without being disconnected from a call. They generally have the same features as a receptionist style phone, but the sound quality may not be as good due to occasional voice echoes and frequency response time.

Cordless phones also require a constant source of electricity. The handsets tend to use a rechargeable battery for power, but the base station will stop functioning if the building experiences a sudden power outage. This can be potentially remedied by purchasing a portable generator for the office.

Executive Style Phone

Executive style phones offer a great deal of flexibility for small businesses. The phone can be plugged into a standard telephone network and experience the superior audio quality and reliability inherent within. They also tend to support Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), a telephony method that allows users to make phone calls over the internet.

These phones support complete hands-free operation, so the user can type on their computer while talking on the phone. Most of them are wideband audio enabled and have a full duplex speakerphone included in the design. Other common benefits of executive style phones include a large number of fixed function and programmable keys and one-wire connectivity to the computer.

Wireless Phone

This type of phone requires a wireless network in order to function. The phone transmits a data signal to nearby Wi-Fi radio waves and is then compressed and sent across the internet to a phone on the other end. This can potentially save the company a great deal of money on long distance phone calls since it completely bypasses the normal telephone network.

Wireless phones also offer a great deal of mobility for small businesses. Employees can walk around the office while they talk on the phone and find information that might not be available at a fixed location. The main constraint is that the person has to stay within range of the wireless signal (this tends to be about 300 feet for each access point that has been set up, but varies depending on the equipment).

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