Although almost every business owned a landline 20 years ago, numbers continue dropping in favour of modern alternatives. In fact, research by Blueface found that a staggering 61% of businesses switch to VoIP at the end of their landline contract.
It seems clear that VoIP is the way of the future.
However, VoIP is not always a good fit for every small to medium-sized business (SMB). There are still some benefits to having a landline, and those may be more appealing depending on your requirements.
In this article, we take a quick look at VoIP and landline telephony. We overview their pros and cons when it comes to factors of reliability, cybersecurity, pricing, advanced features, and audio quality.
What is VoIP?
VoIP, which stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, is a modern telecommunication system provided via an internet connection, such as through Wi-Fi or cell phone data.
Because VoIP operates via the internet, businesses aren’t limited to just the telephones in the office. An employee with a smartphone, laptop or tablet with an internet connection can make and receive VoIP calls under your business number anywhere in the world.
What is a Landline?
Landline phone systems are the traditional home or business telephone we are all familiar with since childhood. A landline device is physically connected to a wall socket, which then transmits voice over copper cables from one phone to another.
In a business, the landline is usually complemented with a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) system, which provides extra features like extension numbers and call forwarding.
Key Differences Between VoIP and Landline Telephony for Small Business:
Both VoIP and landlines offer reliability in their own ways:
VoIP is almost entirely dependent on a fast and stable internet connection. If your business premises has poor internet or the connection is lost, then your VoIP line will be affected.
Fortunately, this is not a problem for many South African SMBs in urban areas thanks to high-speed fiber optic cables. Nonetheless, it’s always worth having a VoIP provider test your internet speeds early on in the deciding process.
On the other hand, landlines are connected via traditional telephone lines and are not affected by the internet. It’s thus the better choice for businesses with very slow internet speeds.
Landline outages are usually due to inclement weather or cable theft. According to Openserve, South Africa has more than 800 cable theft hotspots, with more than 6 000 incidents reported by Telkom in 2015. Incidents like these can leave your business without phone communications until the problem is fixed.
VoIP systems are susceptible to cyber-attacks, just like any network with a connection to the web. It’s thus essential to only consider VoIP service providers that use modern methods in their cybersecurity arsenal.
iSite Computers, for example, is an official partner of 3CX, which boasts 12 million-plus users on their VoIP solution across 190 countries. Established vendors deliver progressive cybersecurity safeguards, such as Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol (SRTP) encryption, as opposed to lesser-known companies and startups. For businesses that choose an established VoIP vendor, security risks with VoIP are thus minimal.
Landline telephony is theoretically more secure than VoIP. This is mainly because landline operates via telephone cable; A hacker would need to physically intercept the copper wire or hardware. Landlines can’t fall victim to remote attacks as easily as VoIP.
That said, investing in modern cybersecurity monitoring, prevention, and mitigation methods for landlines is a costly endeavor. And likely cost-prohibitive for most SMBs Holistically, this makes VoIP the better choice for cybersecurity.
On average, businesses see a cost saving of 30-50% after switching to a VoIP phone system. Here are a few reasons why VoIP is generally cheaper than landlines:
- VoIP has a minimal capital outlay. Unlike a business landline which requires infrastructure and installation, VoIP eliminates the most costly hardware requirements.
- Landline rates are often charged by the minute, with costs even higher for calls to cell phones and international numbers. With VoIP, you pay on a tiered pricing model, allowing your business to choose a level that suits your needs and budget.
- Many business features that would cost extra for a landline are included with VoIP at no extra cost. We discuss this more in the next section.
Advanced Business Features & Functionality
Popular VoIP features include call recordings, call analytics, virtual switchboards, voicemail to email, voicemail to SMS, call queuing, auto-forwarding, CRM integration, website integration, and virtual conferencing.
Some of these features are possible on landline systems, but it is not the norm and usually comes at a heavy added cost. Of course, if your small business just needs to make and receive occasional calls at a single location – and absolutely nothing else – then most VoIP features are overkill; A landline is sufficient for very simple requirements.
With strong internet, VoIP delivers the best in stable, crisp, and clear sound quality. It makes a great choice for businesses that depend heavily on phones for virtual conferencing, customer service, sales, and international calls.
But as mentioned above, VoIP is affected by internet connection. This can lead to choppy audio, echoes, and dropped calls during periods of slow internet. If the internet connection is not a problem at your business premises, then VoIP undoubtedly offers superior audio compared to landlines.
The Unified Communications Experts are Here to Help
The final verdict?
Whilst VoIP is the clear winner for business communication, there are some rare cases where a landline is the better choice.
Whether you’re unsure or ready to make the move to VoIP for your business, speak to our experts at iSite Computers. As a managed IT services provider established in 2008, we offer free, no-obligation consults to SMBs about the pros and cons of VoIP and landlines in the context of your business requirements.