Communication plays a pivotal role in every business, as the ability to communicate effectively can hugely impact your dealings for better or for worse. With this in mind, you want to ensure that you’ve chosen the best route for your company to converse with colleagues and clients. Many businesses turn to 4-line phone systems to optimize and streamline their communications, but is this really the best option out there? After all, we are living in the age of technology – surely there must be a phone system that doesn’t have the limitations of analog lines.
There is, of course, the VoIP technology that you see sweeping the communications industry. But is it really better than your tried and true multi-line phones? Here we’ll go over some of the basics of 4-line phone systems, as well as pros and cons of a VoIP system, so you can see how the two measure up.
What is a 4-Line Phone System?
A 4-line phone system uses 4 traditional landlines, each wired to the office handsets. This allows users to answer multiple calls at once and forward them to personalized extensions or voicemails. 4-line systems also give you other functions that every office needs to thrive: call waiting, caller ID, and conference calling. These are all great functions, but unfortunately, even these assets leave something to be desired.
Much like the old-school string telephones you used to make with your friends, landlines use wires to transfer sound from one point to the next. This system works fairly well… but in an age where most everything is switching over to digital, there are definite drawbacks. Think about your string telephone, and the limitations that it possessed: your cup “receiver” had to be attached to your friend’s cup via the string, you could only be a certain distance away, etc. Then think back to your trusty walkie-talkies that you and your friends could use blocks away, through walls, completely unattached from each other. Though this isn’t a perfect analogy, it illustrates in a micro-cosmic way the contrast between landlines and VoIP.
Let’s zone in on what this looks like in reality. Though 4-line systems can support multiple callers at once and even be routed to personalized extensions or voicemails, there can only be a maximum of four lines in use at one time. For companies that do much of their business over the phone, this can be a frustrating drawback. Clients become irate at the fact that they’re never able to reach a real person when they need to, and employees bemoan the fact that they can’t call out when all lines are in use. This doesn’t even mention the much higher costs associated with installing and maintaining landlines.
The Pros and Cons of VoIP
Now that some of the drawbacks of 4-line systems have been clearly illustrated, it’s time to examine VoIP a little more closely.
There are plenty of advantages to VoIP, and some of them have already been touched on. For instance, the flexibility offered by VoIP is simply unmatched in the communications world. Not only can you support far more calls at once, but you can make these calls from anywhere. Your personal smartphone can become an extension of your office phone, as calls route directly to whatever device you select. And you don’t even have to use a phone – a computer with a headset will work just fine for VoIP. All you really need is an internet connection and a device to connect, and you’re ready to make or take calls of any kind: voice, video, or conference.
A VoIP system also has the advantage of being much cheaper to install and operate. From the service itself to the hardware and installation, most businesses save anywhere from 50 to 75% on their communications costs by ditching traditional landlines in favor of a VoIP setup.
No system is perfect, however. VoIP’s main drawback is that the quality of your phone calls will only be as good as your internet connection. A cable broadband internet setup will support over a hundred high quality calls at once, whereas an average DSL connection can only serve six. This means that in order to have a high-functioning VoIP system, you need to ensure your internet connection is fast and consistent.
Additionally, while traditional landlines still function during a power outage, VoIP phones cannot. This leaves you at a serious disadvantage if you lose power during a storm. And, as with all internet technology, VoIP is susceptible to viruses and hacking. Most VoIP providers have advanced security measures to prevent breaches, but it is still a risk of the VoIP setup.
Making the Switch
Overall, the versatility and cost benefits of VoIP give it a huge advantage over the outdated landline setups that are quickly falling by the wayside. With VoIP you can save yourself thousands of dollars a year in communication costs and funnel those savings into other areas of your business. And by making the switch to VoIP, you gain the ability to call from anywhere and never miss out on a call due to busy lines, giving you a much-needed edge in a highly competitive market.