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How Much Does an Office Business Phone System Cost?

A business phone system is a major investment. You want the best price possible, but you also need a phone system that is user friendly, reliable and appropriately scaled to the size of your business.

The cost of office phone systems is mostly determined by the type of system you choose and the number of employees you have. Read on to learn about types of phone systems and the price differences between them.

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Types of Business Phone Systems

There are four types of business phone systems, and it’s crucial to understand the differences among them before you start shopping.

  • PBX systems are ideal for companies with more than 40 employees and/or those that need a flexible, 100 percent programmable phone system. PBX systems for large companies usually have big telephone cabinets, while smaller companies can get away with desktop versions. These systems rely on traditional telephone hardware and switches to route calls.
  • Key systems are more often used by companies with 10 to 40 employees. A control device called a key system unit (KSU) allows for advanced features such as transferring calls between extensions. Traditionally, key systems were less customizable than PBX systems, but the lines have blurred in recent years. Modern key systems can do almost as much.
  • KSU-less systems are best suited for very small businesses - those with 10 or fewer employees. As the name implies, these do not have a key system unit that centralizes the phone system, which makes the phones vulnerable to problems such as conversations from different lines bleeding together. Unlike PBX and KSU systems, these phones are not a permanent fixture in the office. If you move to a new location, they can go with you.
  • VoIP systems take advantage of the latest technology, using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to allow each employee to make and receive calls via the Internet using special IP-enabled phones. VoIP systems can be hardwired or hosted by an off-site company.

Cost of Office Phone Systems

Most business phone systems are priced on a per-user basis.

  • PBX systems usually cost about $750 to $1,000 per user. Dealers often offer volume discounts, so larger companies will pay on the lower end of that range, while smaller companies will pay on the higher end.
  • Key systems cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000, depending on features.
  • KSU-less system are much less expensive, priced at about $100 to $250 per user. But again, they are less sophisticated and not as reliable.
  • VoIP systems cost about $500 to $1,000 per user for small businesses and about $100 to $200 per user for large enterprises. However, you may have to pay extra for a router, installation and special VoIP phones.

Choosing a Phone System

Choosing a phone system can be difficult, even after you’ve decided which type is right for your business. There are many different brands and so many features to consider. Use these tips to help you through the selection process:

  • Talk to other businesses - Compare notes with similarly-sized companies to find out which phone system they purchased and why. How is the phone system working out? Would they recommend it to others?
  • Take it for a test drive - Never buy a phone system without doing a demo first. You’ll never know if the system is user-friendly if you don’t actually use it. Are the phones comfortable to hold? How easily can you transfer a call to another extension? Are speakerphone calls clear?
  • Plan for growth - A phone system is long-term investment, so think about where your company might be five or 10 years down the road. If you can afford it, have extra wiring run to accommodate future growth.
  • Shop around - Always shop multiple dealers to compare prices. But don’t base your decision on price alone. Consider each dealer’s experience, reputation and quality of service.

Buy at the right time - The best time to buy is at the end of the quarter, when sales teams are scrambling to meet their goals. You’re likely to get a better deal than if you bought at the beginning of the quarter.

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Author: Ashley Smith


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