Landline vs VoIP Phone Service: How To Decide for Your Business
Updated: May 22
Every established organization has one or many telephone numbers. When dialed, they ring into a phone, a group of phones or a phone system whether that's an on-premise system, cloud-based phone system, or some hybrid of the two.
How those phone calls are delivered and the type of telephone service are ever-changing as the telecommunications industry advances.
Like every technology, we typically go from the 'jamming it in our ear' phase ^ to a more user friendly version of it.
In today's world, there are different types of voice service options which include VoIP and the traditional connectivity. Keep in mind, there are options to have a hybrid mix of VoIP phone service and traditional services depending on how your organization needs to communicate. Either way, your ear drum is safe.
First, we'll discuss what these two types of phone service technologies are and how they are designed.
What is VoIP phone service?
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) transmits voice in the form of data running over an internet connection. Or in simple terms, VoIP phone service is the ability to make phone calls 'virtually' over an internet connection versus traditional landline phone lines.
VoIP phone service requires the use of a hosted PBX or cloud-based phone system. It's also available with an on-premise PBX phone system. When using VoIP phone service with an on-premise phone system, this is called SIP Trunking.
To achieve optimal call quality and service uptime with VoIP, internet connectivity must be free from jitter, packet loss, and latency with at least 5Mbps download and upload dedicated for voice services at all times. Understanding if a network is capable of supporting quality VoIP phone service should be part of initial discussions with any telecom partner.
What is Landline phone service?
Landlines are physical, copper wires that terminate at your location. The 'service' is when the phone call is delivered over these landlines via the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network). This legacy technology has provided reliable communication to businesses and residential areas for well over 100 years. Below is a simple example of how the PSTN traditionally routed phone calls.
The originating caller initiates a phone call. It travels (warp speed) over the copper landline to the PSTN. The PSTN then routes the call to the appropriate destination based on the phone number entered. It then delivers the call over the receiving party's landline.
As needs changed and the ability to manipulate the technology became easier, so did the way telecom companies packaged the landline phone service. There are three types of delivery options when it comes to landline phone service.
1. POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service)
A POTS line is an analog voice transmission over copper twisted pair wires aka a landline. One POTS line is assigned one phone number and can handle one phone call at a time. The diagram above illustrates the one to one phone call.
2. PRI Circuit (Primary Rate Interface)
For simplicity purposes, a PRI is a group of POTS lines. These lines were taken by a telecom company and bundled together in order to provide a more cost effective way to purchase and deliver multiple lines to a business. A PRI includes 23 'lines' and can handle 23 simultaneous phone calls. Telecom companies have also been known to package the PRI as 8 or 16 lines, but typically it is 23.
3. T1 Line (Data Transmission Line)
A T1 line is similar to a PRI allowing for 23 channels or simultaneous phone calls. However, it also provides one dedicated channel solely for data transmission (email, web browsing, etc.). Organizations relied on T1's for their voice and data for many years. However, over the past 25 years, this technology has become less prevalent due to its lack of bandwidth. At only 1.5Mbps, T1 service could no longer compete with inexpensive high speed bandwidth we see today.
What are the differences between Landline and VoIP phone service?
Now that you are an expert on both landline and VoIP phone service ;) ;) we'll focus on the main differences in this technology and how to choose the right one for your business.
Prices for landline phone service will vary by provider. Based on our industry experience, we've seen landlines priced anywhere between $25/line to $50/line. If your landline service is in the form of a PRI, it may be even lower than $25/line. However, when you begin to add features like voicemail, call waiting or caller ID the price can increase 20-30%. Landlines can also be subject to additional taxes and fees that differ from VoIP phone service because they are increasingly difficult to manage and support, including the network behind it.
With VoIP phone service, we can't promise stacks of cash, but we can say that your business will realize significant savings by making the switch to VoIP. The amount of savings will depend on the size of your business and what your average usage (minutes) looks like.
However, the days where you need multiple, physical phone lines are over. With VoIP phone service your traditional phone lines are now switched to 'virtual' paths, which you can imagine are much easier to deploy and therefore less expensive.
The cost of making a phone call will decrease with VoIP phone service as well. Making a call over landline phone service, especially if it is an international call, can be very expensive. By using Voice over IP, you are using the internet to communicate call data which makes a long-distance call cheaper overall.
As telecom companies shift their focus to building and managing their digital networks, the reliability of landline phone service is changing. At one time, this was a service you could count on because telecom companies injected time and resources in to maintaining that network. It was their main source of revenue, so they were invested in protecting the network that supported it.
Now that many large telecom companies have transformed to ISPs (Internet Service Providers), they have shifted their resources to build, maintain and protect their new, main source of revenue; the internet.
As you can imagine, this major shift diminishes the reliability of landline phone service and increases the reliability of VoIP phone service. This, however, is an opinion. Because of the initial challenges that VoIP experienced when it first emerged, many people still deem landlines as more reliable.
What I described above is the reliability of the 'phone network'. The phone network is when the call leaves your premise. But what about the reliability at your place of business?
From a reliability perspective, one of the cons of VoIP phone service is that it relies on the internet connection. If your internet goes down, so do the phones and you've essentially lost all your business communication at the same time. Landlines, are on a different network than your internet, so in that scenario they would remain intact. However, many businesses utilize multiple internet connections for increased uptime.
One of the pros of VoIP phone service is that in the event of an office phone going down because of poor connection, calls can be forwarded to mobile phones, mobile apps, softphones on computers, etc. With this in mind, a power outage or a weather issue no longer presents the risk they once did in the past.
Technology & Features
From a technology standpoint, comparing landline phone service to VoIP phone service is not a fair fight. Landlines were built with limited functionality in mind. The infrastructure was built to make and take phone calls - thats about it.
Voice over Internet Protocol opened the door for voice to benefit from the endless possibilities the internet provides. Because 99% of the world's applications run over the internet, you can see how easy it is to pair VoIP phone service with those applications.
VoIP applications such as mobile apps on cell phones or PC based calling from your extension have really taken off over the past few years. However, it's becoming much more competitive as VoIP phone service is now the main way businesses are communicating. Providers are beginning to differentiate themselves through applications like CRM integration and collaboration software integrations such as Microsoft Teams.
How your business plans to utilize the phone lines can really depend on your selection between landline phone lines and VoIP phone service.
As discussed in a previous section, there are still people and organizations that believe landlines are more reliable. Therefore, many companies that offer services requiring a phone line to them, demand this to be a traditional copper landline. Some organizations that require this include emergency services, security systems, elevator systems, and HVAC companies that offer monitoring. If you need to connect any of these services, your best bet would be to stick with the landline phone service unless the organization allows for the use of your VoIP phone service.
Other uses for landline phone service include fax machines and credit card devices. Because of the signaling required to deliver faxes or credit card information, copper landlines tend to perform much better in these scenarios. Plus, copper lines offer a degree of privacy when sending sensitive information compared to VoIP phone service.
If your main desired use of the phones are for collaboration purposes, VoIP phone service is the way to go. However, many organizations have a mix of VoIP phone services and landlines in order to satisfy multiple applications the business requires.
Recent Communications has been providing high-quality, customized telecommunications solutions to businesses for over twenty years! If your business has VoIP phone service requirements or would like a quote, please call us at 484-998-4540 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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