Business owners or IT specialists are often confused when they need to choose and install a small business phone system.
The good news is that there aren’t as many components to purchase or lease as they would think, and that pricing grids are more transparent and straightforward than they used to be. However, they should know that the basic choice between hosted systems and cloud-based systems will make a big difference in many regards.
Small business phone system vendors
There are over 20 major vendors in the UK producing complete phone systems these days.
They can be grouped in three categories depending on the features needed and the total price of the package.
• Budget vendors
Budget vendors offering full packages at affordable prices include:
- Asterisk, which is basically open-source,
- BT Quantum which is exclusive to BT,
• Mid-range vendors
Mid-range brands providing all the necessary features for all businesses making non-intensive use of phone lines, and therefore represent the most obvious choice for small business phone systems. These brands include:
• Premium vendors
Premium brands are phone system specialists or network equipment specialists. They offer the most customisable products to cope with heavy load, and the most advanced cloud systems. These include:
Installing small business phone systems
Installing the systems requires a few additional components - and lots of wiring, unless you opt for cloud-based systems.
Typical phone systems will only require few components:
- A PBX server,
- A phone system processor box,
However, some wiring will need to be done.
Depending on the systems chosen, installation will therefore require:
- Category 3 voice cabling or category 5 data cabling,
- A punch-down tool,
- Connector plugs (like Amphenol connector plugs)
• Cloud-based phone systems
With cloud-based phone systems, no hardware is required apart from a compatible phone, which is usually preconfigured and shipped by the provider.
All that needs to be done is to plug the phones into a high-speed internet connection, as the system is in the cloud.
This is an interesting alternative for small-business phone systems.
Small business phone system prices include the price of the system itself, but also the price of the phone and installation fees - without counting communication fees.
• Phone and phone systems
Prices of phone systems usually depend on the number of lines supported (typically 2, 3, 4 or more, respectively allowing up to 6, 8, 16 or more extensions).
- A 2 line analogue PBX will cost around £120, and a 16 line system around £600,
- A small VOIP system supporting a dozen users will cost around £500,
- The phones themselves can cost between £70 and £200,
- Including all necessary equipment and fees, a rule of thumb is to expect to pay around £250 per user.
• Installation fees
If you don’t have skilled resources in your company to do the wiring and installation, specialised engineers can be hired. But the prices are quite hefty and £500 per day is a commonly found figure.