- Features Required: Even the most basic office phone systems contain features such as call transferring, programmable extensions, built-in voicemail, and an auto-attendant, while more advanced systems incorporate video conferencing, presence sensing technology, integration with web applications, and much, much more.
- Number of Employees: How many employees will be using the phone system, and what kind of growth is planned? Use these questions to determine how many actual phones, lines, and extensions you need and eliminate systems that are not suitable for your business.
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Small Business Phone System Options
Next, take a moment to learn about the most common phone system set-ups for small businesses:
- KSU-Less Phone Systems: These familiar desktop multi-line phones equip the smallest offices (two to 10 employees) with basic professional features, such as customized messages, call forwarding, extension dialing, and more. KSU-less systems are self-contained, and the phone itself may be programmed to perform preferred tasks.
- Key System Units (KSU’s): KSUs are the bridge between KSU-less and PBX phone systems, making them perfect for small- to medium-sized businesses (five to 45 employees). Most key systems provide advanced call handling and routing features but require a central routing device.
- Private Branch Exchange Phone Systems (PBX): While more cost effective for larger companies (50+ employees), a PBX system is great for handling large call volumes, streamlined workflows, and less equipment thanks to the use of a central routing device.
- Voice Over IP Phone Systems(VoIP): The sleekest small business phone systems today run on Internet Protocol (IP) networks, which come with significant cost savings, a simple wiring solution, and lightweight hardware. However, because VoIP systems run over Internet lines and calls are routed over a data network, any outages or limited network bandwidth may impair these services. VoIP systems may act as a digital PBX or as a hybrid option, which uses a combination of analog and Internet-based connections.
How Much Does a Small Business Phone System Cost?
The two largest phone system expenditures are the hardware and the cost of the service plan. However, phone system quotes should also include a breakdown of any charges for installation, maintenance, and repairs. For those with space constraints, one option is a hosted system where the equipment is stored and managed offsite by a third party vendor. Note that the following prices are based on new, out-of-the-box equipment.
- KSU-less office phone systems range from approximately $125 to $250 per phone, plus a one-time setup and installation fee.
- AKey System Unit that supports six lines and 16 extensions typically costs between $400 and $500. For a system that supports eight lines and 24 extensions, costs typically range from $500 to $1,000 depending on added features.
- A complete PBX telephone system costs around $850 to $1,000 per employee. The cabinet is the most expensive part of the system, which usually ranges in price from $1,500 to $10,500. Companies with 50 or more employees see the cost per employee reduced dramatically.
- VoIP handsets typically cost around $125 to $275 each, plus a monthly service fee ($20 to $90 per month for unlimited data plans). If purchasing outright, a new business-class router costs around $200 to $500. For example, a WAN (wide area network) router with 16 Ethernet ports costs around $450.