Did you know that you can rent a standard business phone line deals from as little as £11.50 a month? Although this particular landline package is exclusive to O2 customers and there are no inclusive minutes, the fact that the monthly rental is so low indicates just how much prices have fallen in corporate communications in the last few years.
There are dozens of reputable business telecommunications providers in the UK installing both lines and exchanges into their customers’ premises. In addition, there are hundreds of brokers offering bespoke deals to clients based upon the wholesale rates they pay to their telephone line and equipment suppliers.
Business telephony, mobile telephony, internet, and postal services are governed in the UK by OFCOM. As technology has improved in the last decade, the number of errors and outages in businesses’ telecoms services and systems has reduced dramatically however, in the case of a serious dispute with a provider, you may approach OFCOM for advice or the Communications Ombudsman.
An abundance of choice makes it difficult however to really know if you’re with the right supplier on the best tariff being provided with the additional services you actually need.
In this article, we cover:
- twenty-seven deals from eight of the country’s leading suppliers,
- what you need to know about business phone lines before you commit to a supplier,
- more information on the tariffs currently on the market, and
- should you invest in ISDN instead of a business phone line?
If you want to receive 3-4 quotes from business phone line providers to bring down the cost of your company’s voice and data communications, please fill in the form at the top of the page. Our service is free and you don’t have to take up any deal we find for you.
Business phone line deals
Please check the list below for information on the twenty-seven current offers being made by eight of the largest direct suppliers of data and voice communication to businesses:
|Telecom provider name||Package name||Contract length||Monthly rental||Unlimited UK calls pm||International call package pm||Note|
|O2||Business Landline Single Analogue (O2 Mobile Customers)||24 months||£11.50||No||No||Additional £3 for 500 O2 mobiles a month|
|O2||Business Landline Multiline Analogue (O2 Mobile Customers)||24 months||£12.75||No||No||Additional £3 for 500 O2 mobiles a month|
|O2||Business Landline Single Analogue (non-O2 Mobile Customers)||24 months||£14.50||No||No||Additional £3 for 500 O2 mobiles a month|
|O2||Business Landline Multiline Analogue (non-O2 Mobile Customers)||24 months||£14.50||No||No||Additional £3 for 500 O2 mobiles a month|
|Telecoms World plc||Voice||36 months||£15.99||No||No||–|
|TalkTalk Business||Business Line||12 months||£16.95||Yes (£7.00 charge)||No||Unlimited UK landline and mobile calls for £7|
|Zen||Business Phone Line||1 month||£17.00||Yes (chargeable)||Yes (chargeable)||5,000 inclusive minds to landlines £6.50, calls-to-mobile bundles from £5, international call bundles from £6|
|Telecoms World plc||Voice Plus||36 months||£17.99||Yes (600 01/02 mins)||No||–|
|TalkTalk Business||Simply Business||12 months||£18.00||No||Yes (£5 supplement)||500 mins a month to “top rated” international destinations|
|XLN||Phone line only||24 months||£18.95||No||Yes (500 mins – £5pm 36 countries, £10pm 72 countries)||–|
|Telecoms World plc||Voice Extra||36 months||£19.99||Yes (Unlimited 01/02 mins, 300 mobile mins)||No||–|
|KCOM||Basic tariff||12 months||£20.00||No||No||–|
|BT||Value phone line 24||24 months||£20.90||No||No||2,500 mins a month when subscribed|
|TalkTalk Business||Simply Business||24 months||£21.95||No||Yes (£5 supplement)||500 mins a month to “top rated” international destinations|
|BT||Value phone line 12||12 months||£23.70||No||No||–|
|KCOM||Basic Plus tariff||12 months||£24.00||No||No||Cheaper national calls|
|TalkTalk Business||Complete Business||12 months||£24.50||No||Yes (£5 supplement)||500 mins a month to “top rated” international destinations|
|TalkTalk Business||Complete Business Fibre||24 months||£24.00||No||Yes (£5 supplement)||500 mins a month to “top rated” international destinations|
|Telecoms World plc||Voice Max||36 months||£24.99||Yes (unlimited UK calls)||No||–|
|KCOM||Essential bolt-on||12 months||£25.00||No||No||Free local, national, and mobile calls|
|BT||Featureline 60||60 months||£27.20||Yes (£12.90 charge)||£10||–|
|Virgin||Standard analogue line||12 months||£17.50||Yes (inclusive)||No||–|
|BT||Standard phone line 24||24 months||£27.70||Yes (£12.90 charge)||£10||2,500 mins a month when subscribed|
|BT||Featureline 36||36 months||£28.70||Yes (£12.90 charge)||£10||–|
|XLN||Phone line + unlimited UK calls (£18.95pm Months 1-12)||24 months||£28.95||Yes (inclusive)||Yes (inclusive)||–|
|BT||Standard phone line 12||12 months||£29.20||Yes (£12.90 charge)||£10||–|
|BT||Featureline 12||12 months||£30.20||Yes (£12.90 charge)||£10||–|
The prices shown above are for standard PSTN telephone lines. Unless integral to a supplier’s offer, we have not provided information on the cost of a broadband connection supplied through either a copper wire or a fibre digital line. Many of the telecoms companies above offer voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services – we have not included VoIP deals on the table above.
What you need to know about business lines
Because the telecoms providers expect companies to use your phone much more than a homeowner, they have traditionally charged businesses clients a lot less than they charge their domestic customers.
On your standard telephone bill, there will normally be three types of charge shown:
- monthly rental – a fixed amount you pay for each phone line terminating at your business premises
- call charges – metered charges based upon which numbers you and your colleagues have called (call charges vary according to whether a call is made to a landline (local or non-local), mobile, or international number, how long the phone call lasts, and the time of day at which the phone call was made)
- bolt-ons (additional services (many of which are listed below) or bundled call packages (bulk buying an unlimited number of minutes or an unlimited number of minutes per month per telephone line)).
On your initial bill, there may also be installation or switching charges and, on your final bill, there may be termination charges if you are leaving the contract earlier than initially agreed.
You may be getting more than you bargained for
Over the years, the landline phone system has been modified to give both businesses and homeowners a set of additional useful features. At home, if you still use your landline, the services you’re most likely to use are voicemail and last number identification.
For businesses, there are many more additional features to choose from meaning that the phones in your office behave more like they’re connected to a private exchange.
This means that you can:
- divert and transfer calls,
- restrict numbers from either being called or calling you,
- set up hunt groups, and more.
Some of the services are given free of charge as part of your monthly subscriptions and others you have to pay for. Which ones you get free and which ones you have to pay for depend on your supplier and on the tariff you choose.
What are business phone line special services?
1471/last number identification
When you dial 1471, an automated announcer will tell you the last number to call that particular line unless the caller withheld their number.
1571 is a digital voicemail service which answers the phone on your behalf if you’re not there to pick it up, if you can’t pick it up in time, or if you’re already on another call.
To find out if you have any new messages, pick up your handset and, if there is a stuttering dial tone, there are new voicemails for you to listen to. When you dial into 1571, you can choose to store, delete, or listen again to any messages left for you.
If you have a compatible phone or the necessary equipment, the number of the person ringing will be shown before you pick the handset up (as long as the caller does not withhold their number).
With the BT version of call diversion, you can divert all calls, calls which are not answered within 15 seconds, and calls made when the line is engaged. The Virgin version of call diversion works differently but it is essentially the same.
With call barring, you can stop certain types of incoming and outgoing calls – specifically, all calls starting with a 9, national calls, local calls, premium rate calls, international calls, and operator calls.
With a call sign, you’re provided with an additional phone number which, when someone is trying to get in touch, has a different ringing tone to the standard version. For many people working a lot from home, this allows them to know in advance whether an incoming call is business or personal.
Anonymous call rejection
If a person or company has withheld their number when trying to contact you, anonymous call rejection will block the call completely.
In a hunt group, you assign certain members of staff the responsibility to answer incoming calls – whether callers from outside your company or colleagues making internal calls. A hunt group allows you to allocate which of the members of your staff are going to be in that group and in what order the phones ring if certain members of the group are on a call.
Multi-party calling is an audio-conferencing facility in which a number of colleagues can be invited to take part. Once the first two people are connected, then the original caller can bring other people onto the call. Calls can be open (in which all interactions are heard) or separate (you can speak to one or more people while others are put on hold waiting to be invited back in).
For Virgin, the maximum number of participants is 10. For BT and suppliers using BT Openreach, the maximum is three.
If you don’t have an alarm clock or mobile phone with you, you can program your phone to ring you at a time you choose.
Some providers allow you to program a certain number of short codes into your phone for the people you speak to the most. Quick dial saves you from having to dial their full number.
On the BT network, this is called “code calling” – you can store up to 20 short codes. On the Virgin network, this is called “quick dial” and it allows 90 short codes to be programmed onto the network.
If you are using the phone and somebody else is trying to call you, you will hear a beep on the phone line to alert you to it. You can then switch between the two calls – when you’re speaking with one person, the other will be on hold.
The “howler” is the increasingly loud and high-pitched sound that a landline makes if it is left off the hook for a short length of time. It is there to remind you to place the handset back on the receiver because, if it is not on the receiver, you can’t receive any inbound calls.
Last number redial
Either by using a button on your handset or by using the keypad to enter a short code, your phone redials the last number called. This service is sometimes referred to as “repeat last call”.
Ring back when free
Press “5” when you hear the engaged tone and your telecoms provider will try for up to 45 minutes to call that number again for you. When the person or company you’re trying to contact has put the phone down and your provider has successfully connected you, your phone will alert you by using a ringing tone which is different to the standard incoming call tone.
When you use 1471 to find out which was the last number that called, press “3” to call that person back without having to put the number in.
Ring back when next used
Used on BT’s FeatureLine system, ring back when free attempts to:
- connect to an internal or external number when it is engaged or
- call an internal or external number which was not answered after it was next used
A feature of the Virgin network, the “hot line” service automatically and immediately dials a number you set every time that particular phone is picked up.
The warm line is the same as the hotline except that it will wait five seconds before dialing the number you’ve programmed it to dial. These five seconds allow you the time to call another number instead.
Business phone lines comparison
With the exception of Virgin, all of the other landline providers listed below rent the equipment they need from BT Openreach so that they can provide you with their both telephone and broadband services.
Therefore, the standard BT FeatureLine products – 1571, 1471, caller display, call diversion, call barring, call sign, 3 way calling, reminder call, call waiting, and “ring back when free” – are available through these suppliers.
BT business phone line
|BT package||Contract length||Monthly rental||Unlimited UK calls pm||International call package pm|
|Value phone line 24||24 months||£20.90||No||No|
|Standard phone line 24||24 months||£27.70||Yes (£12.90 charge)||£10|
|Featureline 60||60 months||£27.20||Yes (£12.90 charge)||£10|
|Value phone line 12||12 months||£23.70||No||No|
|Standard phone line 12||12 months||£29.20||Yes (£12.90 charge)||£10|
|Featureline 36||36 months||£28.70||Yes (£12.90 charge)||£10|
|Featureline 12||12 months||£30.20||Yes (£12.90 charge)||£10|
BT offers seven standard business phone line packages to new companies or to companies wanting to switch from their current supplier. Contract periods last from one year to five years – the major benefit of committing to a longer contract is a reduction in the monthly line rental.
The two packages they promote the most to new customers and to switchers at the moment are the Value 24 and Standard 24 tariffs both of which require a two-year contract. Both tariffs include 1571, 1471, and Caller Display as standard.
If you’d prefer a shorter contract length, BT only require a year’s commitment on their Value 12 and Standard 12 tariff although you’ll pay more on monthly line rental.
With all of the Value and Standard tariffs, you can pick and choose additional FeatureLine services – 1 extra service costs £4.20, between 2-4 services £7.80, and between 5-7 services £10.90.
BT offer three FeatureLine packages of 12 months, 36 months, and 60 months all of which supply your business with the full suite of FeatureLine service.
If you intend to use the phone a lot, BT are offering unlimited UK calls for £12.90 a month and an international calling package (with 2,500 inclusive minutes) for £10 a month on all of the Standard and FeatureLine tariffs – selecting one or both of these could significantly reduce your standard call charges.
Please be aware though that, if you have five phones for which you’d like the unlimited calling, you’ll have to pay the fee on each of the lines you subscribe to.
Unfortunately, customers choosing either of the Value 12 tariffs are currently not offered the chance to subscribe to either the unlimited UK or international call bundles.
BT are one of the world’s largest communications companies offering services from a network of offices stretching across 40 countries. They provide telephony services to over 900,000 UK firm and they are the ultimate owner of the EE mobile phone network.
Click for more information on BT business phone lines.
Virgin business phone line
|Virgin Business package||Contract length||Monthly rental||Unlimited UK calls pm||International call package pm|
|Standard analogue line||12 months||£27.50||Yes (inclusive)||No|
In comparison with BT’s selection of tariffs, Virgin Media Business offers just one. However, you can bolt on additional features for a premium to your service.
There are no unlimited or bundled calling packages available with Virgin – in theory, every call that you and your colleagues make is chargeable.
However, there is an important caveat. The first 60 minutes of any call you make to a UK landline or to selected countries (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Russia and USA) is free. You’ll only charged for the call after that point (although for the full duration of the call) – Virgin Media suggests that you simply hang up and dial the person you were speaking to again.
Likewise, the first 10 minutes of calls to UK mobiles are free of charge.
The following services are included in the Virgin Media tariff – number presentation, call hold, last number announcement, call display, and the howler.
The additional phone feature packages you can add onto your tariff are:
- The Right Place package (£2.50pm) – hunt group and call divert to a different number
- Incoming Call Management Package (£2.50pm) – call waiting and anonymous caller rejection
- Outgoing Call Management Package (£2.50pm) – multi-party calling, outgoing call barring, number restrict permanent, last number redial
- Additional Services Package (£2.50pm) – quick dial, reminder call, warm line, hot line.
Each business client is provided with 24/7 support and Virgin promises to work to a comprehensive service level agreement for each client.
Virgin Media own and operate the UK’s largest private fibre-optic network and, should you decide to move your business over to them, set-up and installation will be dealt by a dedicated Order Manager.
Click for more information on Virgin business phone lines.
XLN business phone line
|XLN package||Contract length||Monthly rental||Unlimited UK calls pm||International call package pm|
|Phone line only||24 months||£18.95||No||Yes (500 mins – £5pm 36 countries, £10pm 72 countries)|
|Phone line + unlimited UK calls (£18.95pm Months 1-12)||24 months||£28.95||Yes (inclusive)||Yes (inclusive)|
XLN, as with most business communications providers, are very keen to promote both their telephony and broadband services to new businesses and companies considering switching suppliers.
The XLN proposition is straightforward – 2 phone line only packages at £18.95 with a 24-month contract. The £18.95 package offers calls “93% cheaper than BT” while the £28.95 package includes unlimited calls to UK landlines and mobile phones. The company often runs an offer on its unlimited call package with a substantial price reduction on the monthly charge for the first 12 months – it is worth keeping an eye out for that.
The company works with 500,000 businesses in the UK and it won the Gold Award for customer service brilliance at the 2018 CXAs. Their customers score them very highly on TrustPilot and other review sites and, when you need to speak with them, you’ll be dealt with by UK customer service case handlers.
Click for more information on XLN business phone lines.
TalkTalk Business business phone line
|TalkTalk Business package||Contract length||Monthly rental||Unlimited UK calls pm||International call package pm|
|Business Line||12 months||£16.95||Yes (£7.00 charge)||No|
|Simply Business||12 months||£18.00||No||Yes (£5 supplement)|
|Simply Business Fibre||24 months||£21.95||No||Yes (£5 supplement)|
|Complete Business||12 months||£24.50||No||Yes (£5 supplement)|
|Complete Business Fibre||24 months||£24.00||No||Yes (£5 supplement)|
TalkTalk’s basic business telephony package costs £16.95 a month (12-month minimum contract) with either pay-as-you-go call pricing or you can pay an extra £7.00 a month for unlimited calls to UK landlines and mobile phones.
There are four broadband-linked landline offers – two for companies situated in non-fibre areas and two for companies in fibre areas.
The Simply Business package costs £18.00 a month and includes line rental, pay-as-you-go calling, and broadband with speeds up to 17Mbps. The Complete Business tariff is £6.50 a month more and substitutes the pay-as-you-go pricing for unlimited UK landline and mobile calls instead. Both packages require you to commit to a 12-month minimum contract.
The Simply Broadband Fibre package is £21.95 a month with speeds of up to 76Mbps with the Complete Broadband Fibre package costing £24.00 a month including unlimited UK landline and mobile calls. Both of these options require a 24-month commitment.
TalkTalk Business, acquired by the Carphone Warehouse in 2002, provides services to 200,000 clients in the business and private sectors focusing on unified communication through mobile, voice, data, and internet.
Click for more information on TalkTalk Business business phone lines.
O2 business phone line
|O2 package||Contract length||Monthly rental||Unlimited UK calls pm||International call package pm|
|Business Landline Single Analogue (O2 Mobile Customers)||24 months||£11.50||No||No|
|Business Landline Multiline Analogue (O2 Mobile Customers)||24 months||£12.75||No||No|
|Business Landline Single Analogue (non-O2 Mobile Customers)||24 months||£14.50||No||No|
|Business Landline Multiline Analogue (non-O2 Mobile Customers)||24 months||£14.50||No||No|
O2’s four tariffs, two for its mobile phone customers and two for non-subscribers, occupy the top four positions in our chart at the top of the article because of their very competitive monthly line rental charges.
There are no unlimited national or international call bundling options on O2. Instead, they allow customers to pre-buy monthly bundles of between 200 and 100,000 minutes either to all standard UK landlines and mobiles, to landlines only, or to other O2 handsets.
O2 is part of Spanish telecom giants Telefonica owns and operates one of the UK’s largest mobile phone networks. It has been a leading supplier of fixed and mobile communication services to British businesses since 1985.
Click for more information on O2 business phone lines.
Zen business phone line
|Zen package||Contract length||Monthly rental||Unlimited UK calls pm||International call package pm|
|Business Phone Line||1 month||£17.00||Yes (chargeable)||Yes (chargeable)|
Zen is the only company on our list to offer a contract period of as little as a month.
Their basic service costs £17.00 per month and, to save on calling costs, you can purchase:
- 5,000 landline minutes for £6.50 a month,
- bundles of between 250-2,000 minutes to mobile phones, and
- bundles of between 250-2,000 minutes to international destinations.
Last number called, number withheld, ex-directory, and caller line identification services are free of charge. Ring backs, 3-way calling, and reminder calls are charged at 15p per time and each of the following services will cost you £1.50 a month each – call screening, call barring, and 1571. Call waiting and diversion costs £2.00 a month.
If your organisation is in construction, private healthcare, charities & social care, retail, automotive, or leisure & hospitality, Zen have specialist account managers available to work with you who understand the challenges and the opportunities of the sector you operate in.
Click for more information on Zen business phone lines.
KCOM business phone line
|KCOM package||Contract length||Monthly rental||Unlimited UK calls pm||International call package pm|
|Basic tariff||12 months||£20.00||No||No|
|Basic Plus tariff||12 months||£24.00||No||No|
|Essential bolt-on||12 months||£25.00||No||No|
KCOM offers three different tariffs – the Basic and the Basic Plus are essentially identical except that national calls are much cheaper on the Basic Plus offer. For £1.00 a month more than the Basic Plus tariff however, customers can benefit from unlimited local calls, national calls, and mobile calls.
KCOM are heavily promoting both their call recording and audio-conferencing services to clients at the moment. With audio conferencing, you and other participants dial into a special room and the pricing is pay-as-you-go – at 4pm per minute per person.
They also run occasional sales promotions on NTS numbers – in additional to freephone numbers, you can hire a local number in an area you wish to be seen to serve better even if you have no office location in that dialling code area.
Click for more information on KCOM business phone lines.
Telecoms World plc business phone line
|BT package||Contract length||Monthly rental||Unlimited UK calls pm||International call package pm|
|Voice Plus||36 months||£17.99||Yes (600 01/02 mins)||No|
|Voice Extra||36 months||£19.99||Yes (Unlimited 01/02 mins, 300 mobile mins)||No|
|Voice Max||36 months||£24.99||Yes (unlimited UK calls)||No|
Telecom World’s landline packages are very competitively priced however the major disadvantage to selecting them is that they ask for a much longer commitment than most of their competing suppliers.
However, it’s because of the guaranteed revenues this commitment will generate that they offer free line installations on their plans – a service for which most others in our article make a charge.
The company prides itself on its quality of service and the amount of money it saves for its customers. Its sales and support teams are based in London and they’re available to make sure that both switching to them and your account management once connected to them goes as smoothly as possible.
Click for more information on Telecoms World plc business phone lines.
ISDN phone line deals
So far, the deals we’ve shown you have been for PSTN business lines. PSTN stands for “public switched telephone network” and, with a few modifications aside, it’s still pretty much the same copper-wire-powered technology that the earliest telephone systems used.
ISDN (integrated services digital network) lines are a newer form of technology piggybacked to an extent on the PSTN network. Unlike PSTN lines though which were originally analogue, ISDN lines have always been digital.
Advantages of ISDN
ISDN lines first launched in 1986 primarily to help businesses that needed to receive and transmit a lot of data – for example, a design studio sending artwork to a printing company. Although ISDN speeds were impressive at the time, other technology has essentially replaced it since – particularly broadband, leased lines, and SIP.
ISDN lines provide better voice quality on calls than PSTN lines. They’re also often connected to switches or private branch exchanges allowing companies to much better manage their voice and data communications. A switch-connected ISDN connection can do so much more than Featureline services.
ISDN’s advantages include:
- value for money – ISDN is significantly cheaper voice and data charges than PSTN
- flexibility – it’s much easier to scale a system up or down depending on your company’s communications needs
- a 30-channel ISDN connection can handle thousands of different telephone extensions
- the same upstream speed as downstream speed for data transmissions
- a proven resilience meaning fewer or no technical problems which may cause disruption to your business
- an easily configurable connection to other offices and to your remote workers on a local area network providing impressive data transfer speeds
Difference between ISDN2 and ISDN30
ISDN is generally provided as ISDN2 or ISDN30. They have exactly the same functionality as each other but ISDN30 is more scalable because it requires a minimum installation of 8 channels as opposed to ISDN2’s maximum capacity of 8 channels.
If you believe that you will never need more than 8 lines, you should choose ISDN2. However please exercise caution because, if you do end up needing more than 8 lines, then you will have to upgrade at potentially significant cost in time, money, and business disruption in the future.
Current ISDN offers
|ISDN provider name||Package name||Channels (min)||Line rental (min)||Installation (max)|
Comparing business phone line deals
When deciding on business phone lines for your company, try to set yourself the following five targets:
- you will save money overall when you switch
- you only pay for the additional Featureline services that you need and that you & your staff will actually use
- you’re comfortable with the length of time you’re committing to a supplier
- if you aim to grow your business in the coming years, your telecoms supplier will be able to help you with the lines and equipment you need
- you’re happy with the feedback you’ve read from other users on review websites and you think you can trust them with your business
Should you spend a lot of time investigating this? The answer is yes. Although a lot of selling and marketing has moved online, people like the reassurance of knowing that, if something goes wrong, it’s easy for them to get in touch with you.
Likewise, if you sell to other businesses, personal contact is still important particularly if you’re selling something that’s expensive, complicated, and where the buyer needs to do a lot of due diligence.
There may not quite be the stigma there was any more about a company advertising with a mobile phone number only but, as a consumer and a business buyer, you know that people still instinctively trust companies which have landline numbers more.
If you want help finding the most flexible and cost-effective business phone line package which provides you with the features and the functionality you need, please leave your details with us by filling out the form at the top of the page.
After finding out more about you, your business, and what you want for your company in the next 5 years, we’ll contact the telephone providers on your behalf. Let us get the most competitive 3-4 quotes for you so that you have all the information you need to make the right decision. Our service is free of charge and there’s no obligation on you to accept any offer we provide you with.