Phone System Comparison: Build the Best Phone System for Your Office

Posted by Clay Ostlund on September 22, 2014

Telephones still play a major role in the day-to-day operations of any business, big or small. From facilitating inter-office communication to providing a connection to customers and clients alike, business phone systems are still a critical piece of infrastructure in your business.

As you look to upgrade your current phone system, or add a new one for your business, you may be wondering what the best business phone system is for your company. The terminology is ever changing, and it can feel intimidating trying to decide which business phone system components best suits your company. IP phones, Softphones, software Attendant consoles and more are some of the many options facing your company. Below you’ll find a helpful comparison of these various phone systems elements.

IP Phones

Today’s IP phones come in a variety of options that offer every company a solution for their requirements. Traditional IP phones, such as the base models offered by Cisco and Mitel, offer a cost-effective platform when upgrading your business phone system. The majority of traditional IP phones are two-line, dual-port IP phones with simple backlit displays that support 40-character messages to appear on the screen.

Standard features on traditional IP phones include incoming call visualizations, message waiting indicators, adjustable ringer volume with ringtone controls and a small footprint within the office. If your company requires a more sophisticated business phone system, but wants to remain in the IP phone range, IP application phones might be the solution.

IP application phones are full-feature devices that offer the affordability of traditional IP phones, with the applications your employees require to remain productive. The standard IP application phone comes with a number of fixed-function keys that give employees one-touch access to features they use on a daily basis. There are also contextual softkeys that make navigating telephone functions easier to do.

Embedded applications on the standard IP app phone are call history, call forwarding, call information and much more. Add-on applications available from providers like Cisco and Mitel include media applications such as Live Blogger, Flickr and Twitter.

Unified IP Phone Systems

Cisco, in particular, is known for its Unified IP phone systems that fully integrate voice and data networks in your office to enhance the productivity and connectivity of your employees. Unified phone systems include traditional IP phones, IP application phones with color LCD displays and conference phone systems that provide your company with all the right pieces to take communication to the next level.

A Unified IP phone system creates a total solution for your business phone needs. Your company gets the IP or IP application phones needed at each workstation, attendant phones and conference phone systems that provide your company with all the communication equipment it needs, in one connected system.

Conference Phones

In order to facilitate efficient communications in meetings and larger rooms, conference phone systems provide your company with the tools to connect. Sophisticated conference phones from Mitel and Cisco come with features including, but not limited to, 16 built-in microphones to pick up more voices, with better clarity. Speaker Phone Technology can isolate the voice and the main speaker from as far away as 12 feet, making it easier for your employees to relax in a meeting without having to huddle around the phone.

Add-on applications help integrate programs like WebEx, making collaboration with co-workers and clients through cloud-based services easy. There are even conference phones with embedded web browsers to provide access to Gmail, Exchange and other email systems for enhanced collaboration.

Softphones

Softphones combine the productivity of your employee’s PC with the communication of a traditional desk phone. These fully integrated solutions offer teleworkers and mobile employees the ability to access all of the communication features they expect in a business phone, without actually having a desk phone. Employees can record calls on their computer, customize ringtones and use an intuitive interface to easily navigate the options and stay in touch with co-workers and clients alike.

Attendant Consoles

Most attendant consoles provide any sized business with the call direction and incoming capacity needed to handle higher volumes of calls throughout the day. These are ideal for companies with administrative assistants or receptionists directing calls. Most Attendant Consoles are software based today on the PC, such as IQ Net Solutions Vista Point.

Modern attendant consoles operate on PCs, with touchscreen support. These business consoles offer quick call transfers, answer, full PC control over calls, automated transfer assistance and Busy Lamp Field to monitor as many as 5,000 extensions.


Choosing the right phone system components for your needs can be challenging, even with an understanding of the many different communication systems available. Working with a provider can make this process simple; request a phone system assessment to determine your needs and the system that can best support them.

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Topics: Office Technology, Communications Services, Phone Systems, Unified Communication, Knowing Which Option is Best, IP Phones, B2B