Multi line phone systems, also sometimes referred to as telephone switchboard systems, have been a go-to solution for many years for small and medium-sized businesses communication needs.
A multi line system can range from a simple key system - the traditional small alternative to a larger PBX system, which would be the next step up in terms of flexibility and the number of available lines; to, hybrid phone systems that feature a mix of analogue and Internet-based telephony (known as VoIP, or "Voice over Internet Protocol").
These are designed to bridge the gap for companies who want to make use of their existing analogue telephony infrastructure but also take advantage of the additional flexibility and low running costs of VoIP systems .
Each of these systems varies in their capabilities and it is important that companies choose the system that suits them and meets their specific needs. This article will look closely at each system and examine their main features, benefits and limitations.
Different Types of Multi Line Phone Systems
With a range of multi line phone systems available it is important that you choose the right on for your business. Certain types suit smaller to medium-sized businesses while others are designed with large organisations in mind.
To ensure you choose the right system for your business there are a number of factors you need to consider, including current size of your business, your growth strategy and the actual number lines needed. Below we look at a number of multi line systems so you can find the best option for your business
Key Telephone SystemThe Key telephone system is the oldest multi line phone system that is still used today, albeit mainly by small businesses. The system allows the user to select either an outgoing or incoming line with the touch of a button. The system has one telephone number as it does not incorporate extensions. One incoming call can be transferred to several different employees. The system has standard features expected such as call holding and intercom facilities. The system, however, works best in small companies and is limited to one building. Key telephone systems generally cannot be updated or adapted which has led to many dismissing the system as archaic and impractical in today's fast changing business world.
Private Branch Exchange (PBX) SystemsPBX systems are the successor to the key telephone system and incorporate other telecommunication devices such as modems and fax machines. The multi line system for these phones is generally used by larger companies, as the branch part of the system allows for multiple extension numbers. PBX systems can also be used in more than one location. In this system a computer automatically selects the lines that a user will make a call on. For an external call the user must press 9. Having extension number allows for each employee to have their own direct telephone number without having to install a separate line. Many companies nowadays choose a PBX system because of their adaptability even though they are more expensive than key phone systems.
Multi Line Hybrid Phone SystemsHybrid telephone systems are a mixture between traditional phone systems and internet protocol technology, known as VoIP. Calls can still be made over local phone lines but the system transmits long distance phone calls over the internet. Internet calls are charged at a much cheaper rate which obviously saves money on telephone bills. However, many question the reliability and quality of calls over the internet. Many companies may, therefore, be reluctant to install this relatively new technology. Businesses have several options when choosing a telephone system. The oldest system is a key phone system and whilst this remains the cheapest option it is limited to small businesses. The fact that the system cannot be used in more than one building may deter larger businesses or businesses looking to expand. Private branch exchange systems allow for extension numbers and can incorporate other media such as fax machines. Whilst more expensive the system can be adapted as businesses grow. Hybrid systems use the internet in an effort to reduce costs of calls. This technology is relatively new but as it develops and its reliability improves it is likely to be the system of choice in the future.
Best 3 & 4 Line Phone SystemsBelow we've rounded up a selection of some of the most popular multi line solutions for small businesses.
The NEC SV8100 multi line phone system is designed for small businesses who still want all the capabilities and features of an advanced communications system. The SV8100 allows for lines to be easily scaled and for new users to be added as your business grows.
- Supports up to 512 VoIP, traditional and soft phone handsets that can be upgraded as your enterprise grows and your communication needs develop.
- Perfect for small to mid-sized businesses with feature-rich capabilities
- Colour-screen digital and VoIP handsets that can be fully integrated with email and Microsoft Outlook.
Panasonic KX-TES824 Multi Line Phone System
The Panasonic KX-TES 824 allows up to 8 CO lines with 24 extensions making it a great fit for many SMEs with forward thinking growth strategies. The phone system is also packed with a number of other useful benefits for business which are covered below.
- Comes with built in Direct Inward System Access (allows callers to access extensions directly without going through a switchboard); message on busy; extension caller ID; remote modem and USB Port for PC programming.
- Specifically designed for small and medium sized businesses.
- Configured to 3 exchange lines and 8 extensions – but can be expanded to 8 exchange lines and 24 extensions.
- Additional features include call barring, diversion, management, waiting, caller line ID, paging, and voicemail.
Orchid PBX 308+
Orchid PBX 308+
The Orchid PBX 308+ is a best selling phone system pack with features that make it suitable for types and sizes of businesses. The system has output for up to 8 extensions with simple and easy installation making the process for anyone to carry out.
- Preconfigured with easy programming features and come with kits that include all cables and connecters for easy installation on standard BT line sockets.
- 3 line, 8 user extension package.
- Comes with 4 x business desk phones.
- Small business telephone system.
- Auto attendant with 12 second OGM.
- Additional features include: Call forwarding, transfer, call, and pick up; as well as flexible ring assignment; programmable call restrictions; and power failure transfer.
Orchid PBX KS-416
Orchid PBX KS-416
The Orchid PBX KS-416 allows up to 4 lines and 16 extensions, making it ideal for small businesses on a budget and offering a low cost way to future-proof telecoms installation.
- Comes with 6 office phones and all the cabling needed for installation.
- Can be connected to broadband, and used alongside existing phones (e.g. DECT phones or other analogue handsets).
- Key features include: call forwarding, waiting, and transfer; conference calling; 7 levels of programmable restrictions; caller ID; flexible ringing assignment; power failure transfer; and 'extension in use' LED's.
- Designed for use with analogue lines.
Other Multi Line Phone Systems
Industry Dynamic Skype VoiceGear Connect Expression Edition (4 concurrent lines) Gateway
- Revolutionary Skype Gateway that allows for complete integration of existing PBX systems with Skype network.
- Free calls to over 300 million Skype users worldwide.
- Advanced features: IVR; three way conferencing; call forwarding; call transferring.
- Reduces telephone infrastructure costs.
- VoiceGear Connect Skype connects existing infrastructure to the Skype VoIP network, enabling users to receive up to 8 concurrent calls.
- Specifically designed to meet the needs of small businesses.
- Enables businesses to use existing office PBX system to support Skype calls regardless of whether it's analogue, digital, VoIP, or Hybrid.
BT Versatility Telephone System
- Hospitality Software makes this system ideal for hotels and guesthouses: Checks guests in/out; prepares final bill for checkout.
- Option to add Broadband Module for use with VoIP phones and additional IP extensions.
- Features: Speed dials; call transfer to outer extensions or voicemail; night service; group diverts; hunt groups; auto answer; and background music.