Phone Systems for Business

When it’s time to buy a new phone system the first thing to consider is the type of phone lines that you have to connect your phone system to.

Phone Lines

There are several types of phone lines the first being the traditional old analogue phone line of the type that most people have at home, others are ISDN2e lines, ISDN30 lines and VOIP lines. It is also possible to make calls via the mobile networks. For more information about lines click here.


The next thing to consider is the number and type of extensions that you require, you will need a system with an extension ports for each phone that you require, don't forget about things like answering machines, credit card machines, fax machines, outside bells etc.

There are several types of extension on phone systems, the first is an ordinary analogue extension sometimes known as a POTs extension or an SLT extension. This type of extension supports the type of telephone device that would work on an ordinary analogue telephone line. Any phone or device that you would expect to work at home will work on this type of extension. Examples are fax machines, answering machines, credit card machines, outside bells or loud ringers, ordinary phones, most cordless phones, franking machines and some gate/door phones.

The second type of extension I'll refer to as a system phone extension also often referred to as a digital extension or a proprietary phone extension. This type of extension is used to support phones that have been designed to work only with the type of phone system in question. If it's a Panasonic phone system then a system phone extension will support only Panasonic phones and then only ones of a type that are designed to work with that model of phone system. (there are exceptions to this rule but it's a good place to start) In short most makes of phone system have a range of phones that are designed to work specifically with that phone system. The advantage of a system phone is that it makes the features of the phone system easier to access and in general the phone will be easier to operate. These phones usually have buttons that are used to select particular lines and lamps that provide visual indication of call or extension status. whilst this may at first sound complicated it actually makes operating the phone much easier. If you put a call on hold you have a flashing lamp to indicate that it is still there. Once you have more that one line on a phone system you will inevitably occasionally be in a position where you are on one call and another call is ringing on the other line, having buttons and lamps on your phone makes it easy to put one call on hold whilst you answer the other one.

Next we have hybrid extensions. Some phone systems have extensions that can support either a system phone or an ordinary phone.

Voip extensions, some phone systems support a connection to your computer network. This allows IP phones to be connected to your phone system via the computer network. It has been common practice for a long time to install computer network cabling in premises that could support either phones or computers, this type of cabling could support either analogue devices, system phones or IP phones but where IP phones become really useful is on larger or split sites. If the main offices are at one location and there are more offices half a mile across a field then you would need some kind of link for the computers so that all the computers are on the same network. since IP phones sit on the computer network they can share this link. Maybe the offices are in a different county but if a private circuit or a connection via the internet (VPN virtual private network) links the two sites then IP phones will be able to communicate via this link.

Auto Attendants and voicemail

Auto Attendants and voicemail are usually combined into the same unit or card. Most modern phone systems will either come with a basic unit or it will be possible to add one as an option card or an external unit connected to some of the extension ports. It is also possible to buy a general unit that can be programmed to work with most phone systems and that is connected via analogue extension ports. The phone system would have some special settings that enable the grater integration between the voicemail unit and the phone system. It is important that you consider the maximum number of simultaneous calls that you will want your unit to be able to handle. If you use the unit for both auto attendant and voice mail then it will need to be big enough to handle the rush of calls as people retrieve their messages after lunch and any incoming calls as well.

Special features and things to consider

If there are any special features that you want your phone system to be able to do make sure you tell us about them before you order it. Don't ring us and ask for a basic phone system to be installed on the analogue lines that you already have and then once it is installed mention that you want it to queue the calls for one person to answer and play a message to callers whilst they are waiting and you need to be able to transfer calls to the boss on his mobile phone when he is not in the office. The basic phone system that you asked for probably wont be able to do this. Phone systems are very hard to compare side by side, the one that is least expensive if you want only three lines and 8 extensions may well cost more if you take on a couple of extra people and need to add a couple of phones. Always consider possible expansion and what you would have to do if you need more lines or phones.