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May 7, 2014
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If you’re looking for a new business phone system, there are several questions you need to answer first.

1. Do you need a full phone system that includes physical office telephones, or could your business get by with a virtual phone service that relies solely on mobile devices instead of traditional office phones?

2. If you do need office telephones, what kind of service do you want? You need to choose between a traditional landline telephone service, which is  provided by a local or regional phone company, and a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system, which runs over the internet and is offered by a multitude of providers.

3. If you choose a VoIP, do you want to house the system at your business (on-premises) or have it hosted by your service provider (cloud-based)?

We will help you answer those questions, but if you already know what you need and just want to see our recommendations for the best business phone systems, visit our best picks page.

Editor’s Note: Looking for information on business phone systems? Use the questionnaire below and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need:

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If you’re not sure yet, read on. We’ll fill you in on the pros and cons of each of the following types of phone systems:

  • Virtual phone systems
  • Landlines
  • Cloud and on-premises VoIP systems
  • Virtual phone systems work by connecting a business phone line to remote workers on their mobile or home phones.
  • These types of systems work as an extensive call-forwarding solution, wherein calls are transferred to each employee’s designated phone (cell or home) when a customer or client calls the main business number.
  • These systems include a variety of features, such as automated receptionists, voicemail, call forwarding, call screening and online faxing.

Pros and cons: This type of service allows businesses with employees working from locations other than the company’s office to present a professional face at all times. It also gives remote workers access to a variety of phone system features that mobile and home phones don’t offer. The downside is that virtual systems aren’t a full-fledged phone system. Your calls are still processed on your mobile or home phone network. This means you are charged for the call on the virtual system and use up your mobile- or home-phone minutes.

Best for: Businesses with a large group of remote workers, or sole-proprietor businesses.

  • Landlines in this instance are traditional phone systems, typically supported by a local or regional phone company.
  • Landlines, also known as public switched telephone networks (PSTNs), are analog systems that run via the telephone company’s traditional copper wiring.
  • To run a landline service, you need on-premises PBX hardware. This is the hardware that’s used to create multiple extensions and allow for phone system features, such as call transferring and call directories.
  • There are landline systems today that are considered a hybrid with VoIP systems. There is a traditional phone line that comes into the business that connects to a business’s data network. The data network within the businesses is then used to connect each individual phone.

Pros and cons: Landline systems are a reliable, time-tested solution that many companies are comfortable using. The biggest negative of these systems is that most phone system providers are moving away from landlines, making them more difficult not only to purchase, but to repair should something break.

Best for: Large corporations that have the budget to pay for them and an in-house IT staff to run and maintain them. Also necessary for businesses without high-speed internet access.

– See more at: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/7149-business-phone-system-guide.html#sthash.qu0EWC4L.dpuf

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