Phone Systems SMBs Should Consider Besides VoIP

By Harvey Barkin
Updated: January 27, 2011

If it increases productivity, you’ll want it for your business and you’ll certainly want it on your business phone system. But withVoIP rampant, what else is out there for the Small to Medium Business (SMB) owner seeking to a telephone system for his needs?

Obviously, cost will be a primary factor and features another. But setting up a business phone doesn’t just mean getting a multi-line telephone system. An efficient business phone system needs to have stations that can be accessed by a number of phones and a system that can manage calls.

If the number of employees were the base factor, these would be your options:

Up to 10 employees

The good old fashioned Key telephone or analog modernized. Usually with buttons, instead of the rotary dial, they’re still the same phone you have at home but with a few added functions for office use such as call handling and voicemail for multiple users.

Up to 40 employees

IC or Electronic or Keyless telephones can meet modest business needs. The basic units work like commercial phone system. They are stand-alone units that can be plugged and unplugged anywhere in the office. They are mostly available in retail stores and you may have to maintain it yourself. These usually feature speed dialing, caller ID, remote and auto answering functions. Easily customized, using LEDs.

More than 40 employees

The PBX or Private Branch Exchange is cheaper than having external phone lines connecting individual lines to everybody in the company. Internally, you can dial a three or four number extension to call someone within the company. When a PBX’s switching happens at the telephone company instead of in the company, it is called a Centrex.

These are the three basic telephone systems you can get for your business if VoIP does not work for your business needs. Recently, PBXs have been categorized into On-premise or Hosted. Some manufacturers have unveiled hosted PBX solutions even to SMBs with fewer than 50 employees. Some include VoIP even for companies with a smaller number of employees. What ever a business decides, there are so may options a business is bound to find a solution that fits their needs.

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