What is the best phone line for your business? Discover all you need to know.
Which phone line do you need for your business?
Firstly, think about the type of phone system you require. There are three types of business phone system – key phone, PBX, and VoIP.
We’ve matched the type of phone system solution to the phone line it requires in the table below.
Secondly, think about the type of internet connection you require. This is because your internet connection works off of your telephone line. Here are some general pointers.
A PTSN phone line isn’t capable of supporting the kind of internet speed that businesses require. This is because it only supports a DSL connection (remember the dial up modems from the naughties) – you may as well rule it out.
An ISDN phone line supports your phone line and your internet connection. You can plug your router into it, and it’s capable of producing an operable internet speed.
But what about speedy fibre? Fibre is part of the broadband network, not the telephone network. This means if you’re planning on investing in an internet telephone system (VoIP), it’s worth investing in fibre broadband to benefit from the highest quality phone calls.
Most fibre connections don't run all the way from your provider to your business premises – it stops at your local exchange, then carries on to your premises through the ISDN phone line.
The best business telephone providers
There are lots of telephone line providers out there, so choosing the right one for your business is never the easiest task. Thankfully, Expert Market has conducted research into a variety of different phone line providers, and picked out the best.
So, who are the best business telephone providers?
To make things even easier for you, we’ve outlined the type of phone line each supplier provides in the table.
|Supplier||PTSN||ISDN||Fibre internet||Star rating||Best for|
|BT Business||✔||✔||✔||Growing businesses|
|TalkTalk Business||✔||✔||✔||Cheap line rental|
|Chess Telecom||✗||✔||✔||Hospitality comms|
1. BT Business
Best for growing businesses
BT is one of the biggest names in British telecoms, so if you’re looking for a fail-safe solution, BT probably has it. It owns the lines, it has the engineers, and it certainly has some of the best hardware available.
It’s not necessarily the quickest telecoms company when it comes to service, but it is the leading expert in its field. It has plenty of packages to choose from, in addition to a variety of services.
- Cut out the middleman
- Small to large business solutions
- Plenty of phone line package options
- Not the quickest at customer service
- Two day wait time for basic phone line package faults
|Basic line||From £19.70/month||24 month contract|
|Standard line||From £26.10/month||24 month contract|
|Feature line||From £25/month||60 month contract|
Best for small businesses
XLN is one of the leading small business suppliers – just take a look at its TrustPilot reviews. With only two phone line options to choose from, bear in mind that package options are limited. Having said that, you can select which call features you’d like to add to your package, and you can choose to add on long distance call packages for individual countries as and when you need. This means you won’t ever pay for a phone system service that you don’t require.
- Cheap phone line rental
- Build your own package
- Great customer service record
- Only suitable for small businesses
|PAYG (Pay As You Go)||From £18.95/month|
|Calls included||From £28.95/month|
3. TalkTalk Business
Best for cheap line rental
TalkTalk provides phone system packages for small, medium, and large businesses, so you know that you’re putting your faith into a company that can offer you the right advice, no matter the scale of your business.
It also prides itself on offering low cost calls and flexibility, so you won’t feel like you’re tied into a never-ending contract. Out of all the big name suppliers on our list, it’s TalkTalk that does customer service best.
- Cheap packages
- Build your own package
- Great customer reviews
- Packages aimed at SMBs
|Business Line||From £16.95/month|
|ISDN Complete||From £39/month|
4. Chess Telecom
Best for hospitality comms
Chess Telecom is a specialist telephone system supplier for the hospitality and retail sectors. It offers a range of voice and PBX telephone solutions, so it doesn’t matter whether you run a small hotel or a chain of local restaurants, you’ll find Chess Telecom will come up with the right solution. With tailored solutions designed to reduce phone line costs, Chess Telecom is a good provider to go for if you’re looking for a solid product and solid service.
- Tailored packages
- Industry-specific expertise
- Range of services offered
- No transparent pricing
Chess Telecom doesn't display its pricing because each solution is tailored to the needs of your business.
Best for VoIP solutions
Vonage isn’t strictly a business telephone provider, so why is it on our list? A Vonage VoIP system uses the internet to make and receive phone calls, rather than a phone line. However, after BT phase out PSTN and ISDN telephone lines, a VoIP phone system will be one of the main communication solutions available. Vonage has a number of packages available, all offering varying levels of VoIP features.
- Modern technology
- Flexible packages
- Internet reliant
- Lots of features a small business may not need
|Select||£9 per user/per month|
|Professional||£12 per user/per month|
|Ultimate||£16 per user/per month|
What’s the difference between PSTN (analogue) and ISDN (digital) phone lines?
A PSTN phone line, or analogue phone line, is suitable for those requiring a simple phone system. This is because it supports just one call at a time. If you want to receive more than one call at the same time, you’ll need multiple PSTN lines, and this will mean having multiple phone numbers.
An ISDN phone line, or a digital phone line, is capable of doing far more. Firstly, it carries up to eight calls at the same time – this means there’s no need to invest in more than one phone line. Secondly, it can carry internet, voice, video, and fax data, and it even prioritises the voice data to ensure you benefit from the highest call quality.
What is VoIP?
VoIP is a phone solution that uses an internet connection to make and receive calls. It offers a huge range of handy tools to help you manage your calls better. They include:
- Call forwarding
- Auto attendant
- Hold music
- Advanced voicemail functionality
- Call data analytics
What’s the difference between a hosted and self-hosted phone system?
A hosted phone system is the same as a cloud phone system. It means that your phone system is hosted offsite on a remote server, which is usually owned by your provider. These phone systems are cheaper to install and easier to maintain.
A self-hosted system is hosted by you, usually on a server inside your office. This type of system is usually costly to set up, and requires a dedicated IT person to maintain it. Despite this, you can tailor self-hosted systems to your exact requirements, and choose when to update your system.
When it BT going to phase out PSTN and ISDN telephone lines?
BT will start phasing out PSTN and ISDN telephone lines in 2025. You won’t be able to purchase PSTN or ISDN lines after 2020.