Your small business’ phone system is a crucial decision – it affects your connectivity to customers, your bottom line, and your workflow. Once upon a time, before the internet and cell phones, you’d simply open a business and hook up your landline without much thought. Nowadays, you have more options to consider. You may be asking yourself which is best for my business – landline vs mobile phone vs VoIP?
A combo of VoIP services and smartphones is a fantastic setup for businesses of nearly any size. VoIP phones are packed with features, and forwarding calls from your VoIP to your cell phone when you’re out of the office allows you to stay responsive on the go.
The rest of this post will break down landline, mobile phone, and VoIP service and capabilities for you, as well as the pros and cons of each one. Also, we’ll take a look at how you can integrate mobile phones and VoIP into your business’ tech stack.
Calling Methods : What’s The Difference?
The Classic Landline
Landline telephones were developed in the late 1800s. The basic technology, though it’s changed over time, has remained roughly the same since.
Landlines function by converting sound waves picked up on the microphone of one handset to electrical signals. These signals are conducted through copper wires from one phone to another (usually through boxes, which are also sometimes called entrance bridges). They then are converted back into sound-waves by the speaker of the other handset.
Landlines are generally the most reliable option if being reached consistently in one location is your goal.
In the debate between landline vs mobile phone vs VoIP, landlines were the winner for decades. Here’s why.
Pros and Cons of Landlines
The pros of landlines come down to two things: reliability and quality. With the wired telephone system, you know your calls will sound clear and not drop unexpectedly since you’re physically wired-in. Assuming you are based out of a single location, your customer base can consistently reach you and your employees at that location.
The cons come down to three main points:
- Spam calls
Landlines are on average more expensive than VoIP phones. They also offer less add-ons than VoIP systems. You are paying for a connection to a system of copper wires…and not much else. That makes VoIP and mobile phones more cost effective when you compare features.
Additionally, while there is legislation to protect against telemarketers, it’s incredibly hard to enforce. And without the technology of other options (like VoIP and mobile phones), you can’t download an app or sign up for services that limit spam.
You also can’t text customers with a landline – and in today’s increasingly text-heavy world, that can be a dealbreaker for some companies.
Landline usage is shrinking year by year, which in turn is impacting how the phone system is maintained. Only 36.7% of US homes have a landline as of 2020, according to Statista.
It’s worth noting that as you decide whether or not to run landlines to every desk in your small office.
Mobile Phone: The Right Choice For Your Business?
Like landlines, cell phones also have microphones and speakers. The microphone converts sound waves into radio signals. These then get picked up by the nearest cell tower and directed to the cell tower nearest the recipient of the call.
The tower then beams the radio signals to the cell phone of the recipient. Or it sends the signals along the wires connected to the tower all the way to the landline of the recipient. The receiving phone then converts the signals back into sound for you.
The cell phone grid relies entirely on proximity to these towers. This means there are still large areas of the US with service issues due to the distance from the nearest tower (though it’s improving over time). But as long as you’re in service you’re in touch!
When you’re considering landline vs mobile phone vs VoIP, it may seem like smartphones are the obvious answer. Read on to find out why they aren’t.
Pros of Mobile Phones
The pros of using mobile phones as business phones are the connectivity and multiple forms of communication they provide.
Being able to reach your employees whether they’re in the office or not is a huge benefit. Offering customers and clients that same level of access is even better. If something urgent happens outside of business hours, you’ll have a chance to address it right then.
Similarly, smartphones and their versatility make it possible to answer emails, reply to social media inquiries, pay invoices, and text customers on the go. Landlines and VoIP phones are incredibly useful, but not to that degree.
Cons of Mobile Phones
The cons of using mobile phones as business phones are the inaccuracy of location for emergency services, the high cost, and, ironically, how connected they allow you to be.
According to Dennis Peng at Ooma.com, the ability to locate emergency calls made from cell phones can be as low as 10% in some parts of the United States.
That means in an emergency at the office, your call might be routed incorrectly. You don’t want to waste valuable seconds as the paramedics and firefighters figure out where to render aid.
Smartphones have a lot of powerful apps that make the expense tempting, but the bottom line is that they are the most expensive solution here.
You might think you can get around some of this expense by asking your employees to use their personal mobile phone for business, but beware. With that approach, you’re entrusting any business data they use on their phone to their personal online security habits.
Lastly, the connectivity cell phones provide can be a negative. Being accessible anytime anywhere blurs the line between work life and personal life, and can lead to burnout due to overwork.
VoIP: Voice over Internet Protocol, Explained
VoIP phones connect to your network modem or router rather than a phone jack. The VoIP handset microphone converts your audio into a digital signal. That signal transmits over the internet to the recipient of your call.
That’s not the only way you can use VoIP though – you can buy adapters that turn regular landline phones into VoIP phones, rather than having to replace all your old landline handsets. You can even download softphone apps, which can enable you to use your work computer as a VoIP phone.
VoIP systems take advantage of their internet connectivity to give you a wide range of extra features. These can include an automated attendant, video conferencing, voice and video chat, call queue dashboards, voicemail, call forwarding, and Do Not Disturb, to name a few.
VoIP systems can be hosted in two ways. Either hosted on the cloud via your service provider or hosted on premises, if your company has servers. The costs vary depending on which configuration you choose.
When you’re choosing between landline vs mobile phone vs VoIP, I urge you to consider VoIP.
Pros of VoIP
VoIP’s most important pros are its relatively low cost of implementation, its features and flexibility, and its high call quality. It’s worth mentioning that international calling on VoIP is also significantly cheaper than that of landline or mobile service.
Setting up VoIP for your employees typically costs 76% less than the average landline system, according to Ooma.com. Monthly service can cost around $20 per user, miles ahead of the cost of landlines and mobile phones.
The equipment itself can be quite inexpensive depending on what you choose. If you already have work computers, you can go the softphone route and have a VoIP app downloaded on each employee’s computer! Cordless VoIP phones can run as cheap as $29.99 apiece. On premises setup is much more expensive, but worth it if you have the funds available.
The various features that you can add along with your VoIP service can automate some of your basic processes. Which leaves you more time to focus on growing your business.
Additionally, these features are perfect for the new digital work environment of recent years. They’ll allow your staff to maintain business phones while working remotely.
The audio on VoIP calls with strong internet connections is typically of HD quality. So you’re more likely to nail remote sales pitches or customer service calls because you can clearly hear one another.
Cons of VoIP
The cons of VoIP phone systems are their dependence on a solid internet connection and the fact that being online makes them slightly vulnerable to cyber attacks.
If you’re working remotely, or traveling, you may not be on strong wifi. This could affect the quality of your VoIP calls. There are ways around this however, because you can link VoIP service to your mobile data, strengthening your signal temporarily.
While it’s true that it is possible for hackers to exploit your business’s VoIP system to intercept calls, spoof caller IDs, and carry out DoS (Denial of Service) attacks, the likelihood of this occurring is low. Your VoIP service provider should provide encryption, firewalls, and authentication measures.
Additionally, if you cultivate a culture of good cyber hygiene, you won’t be an easy target for cyberattack. Educating yourself and your employees about how to spot phishing emails or texts is crucial to any business’s cybersecurity plan, including one using VoIP services.
The Powerful Combination of VoIP and Smartphones
VoIP services are truly powerful for businesses large and small, with their superior sound quality, flexible integration, valuable features, and secure calling network. However, they simply aren’t as portable as a mobile phone, which also has a ton of valuable apps and features.
Savvy business owners choose both VoIP services and smartphones. They utilize the VoIP service’s call-forwarding feature. This way they can get the best of both worlds, and work wherever they need to, which is key in the modern work environment.
If you have employees, they can choose whether or not to forward business calls when they’re away from their phones. Having the choice between using call forwarding or voicemail is a huge perk for you and your staff.
Additionally, this approach can keep costs low, as VoIP services are generally the most affordable. Employees who opt in to the call-forwarding setup can do so on their personal phones – without giving out their personal number to clients.
Calls to the VoIP number will still go through your automated menu if you have one set up, which can prevent a number of calls making it through to call-forwarding. You can’t say the same for a mobile or landline only business phone setup.
In a world where flexibility and mobility in the workforce are increasingly becoming the norm, having a phone system that fosters flexibility and mobility just makes sense. Set your business up for success with VoIP and mobile phone services. Let us help you!