Looking for the very best business phone line deals?
Do you run the type of firm where you and your colleagues will be using the phone nearly all of the time:
- to contact each other,
- to stay in touch with existing customers, and
- to pitch for new customers?
If that is the case, you and your colleagues can now call UK 01 and 02 numbers as much as they want for as little as £9 a month. Telecoms prices have dropped significantly in recent years because of increased competition and because of the emergence of a new technology – VOIP.
In this article, we’ll share with you:
- a complete business phone line comparison showing you the cheapest unlimited UK call services (including line rental or user fee) from a selection of Britain’s biggest telecoms providers,
- what the difference is between a standard phone line and VOIP – and why you might want to consider VOIP more,
- the factors you need to consider when finding the best business phone line deals for your company,
- the most helpful features a phone system or VOIP system can offer you, and
- the best ways to evaluate the telecoms companies which you may be considering to provide you with phone lines or VOIP.
You can fill out the form at the top of the page and our telecommunications consultants will find you the 3-4 most competitive deals from our panel of providers – business phone line deals which deliver value for money and the additional functionality you need. Our service is free of charge and you’re not obliged to accept any quote we find for you.
Business phone line comparison
For this comparison, we’re considering the current top standard and VOIP telephone deals offered by some of the UK’s biggest, longest-established, and most respected providers.
In this article, we’re comparing the best line rental and unlimited UK calls bundles. We’ve also included two or three extra tariffs in our list from suppliers offering a competitive deal on connections with a bundle deal providing thousands of minutes of talk time a month for just a few pounds more.
|Type||Provider||Package||Contract length||Lowest monthly rental||Unlimited UK calls premium||Notes|
|VOIP||Alpha Telecom||Hosted VOIP||30 days, 12, 24, 36 months||£4.99||No package available||£9.99 tariff includes unlimited UK calls|
|VOIP||Acefone||Hosted VOIP||12, 24, 36 months||£12.99||No package available||£14.99 tariff includes unlimited UK calls|
|VOIP||bOnline||VoIP Talk (promo offer)||12, 18, or 24 months||£5.00||No package available||£9.99 tariff includes unlimited UK calls|
|VOIP||CircleLoop||VoIP||None||£13.00||No package available||£15.00 tariff includes unlimited UK calls|
|VOIP||BT||VoIP Phone||12-36 months||£13.00||£3 unlimited UK calls add-on||£16.00 total cost|
|VOIP||Mitel||Business VoIP||12 months||£13.59||Inclusive||£13.59 total cost|
|Standard||Telecoms World plc||Voice Plus||36 months||£16.99||No package available||£22.99 tariff includes unlimited UK calls|
|VOIP||8×8||Small Business Plan||12 months||£8.00||No package available||£19.00 tariff includes unlimited UK calls|
|VOIP||Voipfone||Office||30 days rolling||£1.00 (PAYG)||Inclusive||£20.00 tariff includes unlimited UK calls|
|Standard||Zen||Business Phone Line||1 month||£17.00||£6.50||£23.50 total cost|
|Standard||TalkTalk Business||Business Line||12 months||£16.95||£7.00||£23.95 total cost|
|VOIP||RingCentral||Office||24 months||£7.99||Inclusive||£24.99 tariff includes 4,000 inclusive minutes|
|Standard||Virgin||Standard analogue line||12 months||£27.50||Inclusive||£27.50 total cost|
|Standard||XLN||Phone line + unlimited UK calls (£18.95pm Months 1-12)||24 months||£28.95||Inclusive||£28.95 total cost|
|Standard||BT||Featureline 60||60 months||£27.20||£12.90||£40.10|
|Standard||BT||Standard phone line 24||24 months||£27.70||£12.90||£40.60|
|Standard||BT||Featureline 36||36 months||£28.70||£12.90||£41.60|
|Standard||BT||Standard phone line 12||12 months||£29.20||£12.90||£42.10|
|Standard||BT||Featureline 12||12 months||£30.20||£12.90||£43.10|
|VOIP||Sipgate||Team||30 days rolling||£14.95||£30.00||£44.95|
What you need to know about what’s on this table –
- Type – this indicates whether the deal is for standard PSTN business lines or VOIP. Please note that, for the VOIP deals, you will have to add in the cost of your broadband provision for a fair reflection of what the actual price you’ll pay will be.
It’s important to remember that you can fit dozens, if not hundreds, of individual VOIP lines on a broadband connection whereas you have to pay rental on every connected individual line with a PSTN set-up.
For example, BT phone line rental with unlimited calls starts for £40.10 a month – three lines at that rate would cost £120.30. Three lines from our cheapest supplier, bOnline, would cost £9 each, equivalent to £27.00. In addition to this £27.00, you would have to pay another party for your broadband connection. So, always factor in the broadband price when you’re doing your comparison.
- Provider – this is the name of the company delivering the service
- Package – this is the name of the provider’s tariff. Additional information about a deal (for example, the number of inclusive minutes in a bundle) may be shown.
- Contract length – this is how long you have to sign a contract to obtain these rates with that supplier.
- Monthly rental – for standard networks, this is the charge per line per month. For VOIP connections, this is the cost per user per month
- Unlimited UK calls premium – how much it costs to include unlimited UK call minutes (or a very generous bundle thereof) on top of your monthly rental charge per line (PSTN) or per user (VOIP).
- Total – the sum of the monthly rental and the unlimited UK calls premium.
What’s the difference between a standard phone line and VOIP?
The standard phone lines we use at work are not fundamentally different from the landlines we use at home. The technology behind standard phone lines, sometimes referred to as PSTN (public switched telephone network) (sometimes called fixed telephone services), also bears a close resemblance to the system invented by Alexander Graham Bell in the 19th century.
The PSTN network consists of millions of miles of copper wire, some fibre, and a series of switches located up and down the country which connect people’s calls. Very clever minds have been able to make the ageing copper wires on the network do impressive things that many thought would be impossible – like the delivery of broadband services.
Ultimately though, no matter how technologically impressive recent amendments have been to the PSTN network, it is an outdated system upon which sticking plaster after sticking plaster is being attached to keep it.
In recent years as fibre has developed, some telecoms companies have built separate fibre networks which operate in parallel with their legacy PSTN and ISDN networks. Other companies have retired their PSTN and ISDN networks completely – BT will be doing so as they phase out their legacy networks from 2025.
VOIP is an internet-based technology which works on both PSTN and fibre. The question for companies which have traditionally required a large private branch exchange (that is their own switchboard) is whether they should invest in one because the technology on which it depends (PSTN and ISDN) is being withdrawn completely from service?
4 things to consider when finding the best phone line deals
The number of phone lines and the type of system you need for your business depends on how you and your colleagues will be using the phone, the types of calls you’ll be making, and the number of handsets you need.
1. How will you be using the phone?
Both PSTN and VOIP systems allow users to make or receive the following types of call:
- conference calls – calls on which you and multiple colleagues can speak with each other at the same time. Most conference calls are audio however, if video is important (especially if you need to make presentations to colleagues), VOIP may be better.
- credit card terminals – if you have a traditional credit card terminal which fits into a standard phone socket, you may need to speak with your merchant services provider about an upgrade.
- inbound – traditional PSTN systems will require one wired connection per handset whereas a VOIP system can handle dozens or hundreds of dial-in numbers and handsets via one broadband connection. Per user VOIP monthly charges tend to be cheaper than monthly line rental charges on PSTN systems.
2. What types of call will you be making?
If you intend to use the phone a lot to make outbound calls, the following two factors should be considered when choosing a supplier:
- destination – calls made to local, mobile, national, and international numbers attract different charges. To secure the best deal for your company, you may wish to profile the types of calls you make the most and select a telecoms provider which can offer the cheapest rates on those destinations or, better still, all-inclusive bundles.
- time of day and day of week – less important than it used to be but, if your company makes large volumes of calls outside office hours, some providers may offer those calls at a cheaper rate.
As you can see from the table at the top of the page, an increasing number of suppliers are offering unlimited 01 and 02 calls to customers.
As landlines fall out of general use however, it may offer you better value to seek out companies offering monthly unlimited or high-limit bundles on mobile phone calls. You may also benefit from finding out about international calling bundles particularly if you expect to be frequently calling out to colleagues and contractors and overseas.
3. How many handsets will you actually need?
Not everyone needs a handset – your reception, customer services, management team, and sales staff will almost certainly need continuous access to the phone to communicate with customers, suppliers, each other, and the outside world.
What about your retail staff, warehouse staff, or factory floor staff though? Do they need individual phone lines or can you designate someone within each department or branch to have responsibility for picking up calls? If so, do you need to buy them inclusive calling minutes or would their likely level of outbound calls not justify such a purchase?
4. What features do you need your phone lines to have?
Both PSTN lines (through key feature services like BT FeatureLine) and VOIP offer a number of additional features on employees’ lines including hunt groups, call diversion, call transfer, automated attendant, and so on.
With PSTN, you press a series of keys to access these services. However, the number of services available are limited and there is next to no ability to use any information gathered during colleagues’ phone usage to monitor performance or to feed into a customer relationship management system. For that functionality, you’ll need to install a private branch exchange if you don’t select VOIP.
The number of services available with a VOIP connection are much greater and you can control which services individuals have access to via a control panel on an app or on a website portal.
If having a flexible, multi-functional phone system which integrates with your internal company programs and apps is important, VOIP may be the better choice.
Please bear in mind that, while with all PSTN and VOIP services a certain number of features will be bundled and part of the monthly price, you will likely pay a premium for any additional services you require per line or per user.
Evaluating potential suppliers of business phone lines
Businesses grow and contract. Sometimes, turnover rises quickly without any apparent reasons and falls without any apparent reason. With each development, good or bad, a business scales up to be able to service its customer or scales down to preserve cash flow until sales return.
Some of the suppliers on our list require no notice period at all – others want you to sign up for up to five years to their service. When getting quotes for your business phone lines, you should make sure that scaling your network up or down is as quick and penalty-free as possible so that you can make your telephone system fit your company’s needs on an ongoing basis.
Customer reviews online
Constant availability of a telephone service is essential for the smooth and predictable running of any business. While it makes a lot of sense to judge a company on the quality and value of its offer, it’s also important to know how a company will react if things go wrong.
That’s because things always do go wrong as even the most reliable technology will develop intermittent faults. You’ll discover more about how quickly a provider will understand your problem and resolve it by customers who have left reviews online about their own experiences.
Do they offer a free trial?
Most PSTN providers do not offer a free trial – once you have joined their service, you will be committed to the length of time you agreed to. If you try to withdraw from using their service, you will likely be financially penalised for leaving.
A handful of VOIP providers do offer a free trial ranging from 5 minutes testing out their system to 30 days’ full service.
Finding the best business phone line deals for your company
Companies pay much less for their fixed line telephony than they did twenty years ago and the coming disappearance of the PSTN and ISDN networks is likely to intensify competition for business clients because of the lower cost of entry into the market for VOIP providers.
Would you like to work with our telecommunications consultants to select the right provider and right tariff for your business? Tariffs with companies which understand what you need as a business and which will stay within your allocated telephony budget?
Fill out the form at the top of the page and we’ll come back to 3-4 bespoke quotes for you from our panel of established providers. We don’t charge for our service and there’s no obligation on you to accept any offer we find you.