A good, reliable phone system and internet access are crucial for all types of businesses – particularly in these days of remote working and ‘the cloud’. Here’s our guide to finding the right systems and solutions for your business.
Internet for businesses
Over the past decade or so, an internet connection has gone from being an optional extra for businesses to an absolute necessity. You need internet access to:
- send e-mail
- maintain your company website
- use social media
- access market research and trade data
- use cloud computing services
As most businesses rely on their internet access day-to-day, you need a reliable and fast connection.
Broadband is the choice for most businesses. The most common type uses a standard telephone line and is known as ADSL. For larger businesses you could consider fibre-optic broadband, if it’s available in your area – this is more expensive, but much faster and even more reliable than ADSL.
If internet access is absolutely business-critical for you, you could consider a leased line – this is a permanent connection which doesn’t go through the usual telephone networks. This is extremely fast and reliable, but by far the most expensive option.
When you choose your internet service provider (ISP), look at the package each one offers and consider:
- Speed – how many employees are going to be using the connection? The more users, the faster the connection you need.
- Level of use – if you’re going to be transferring a lot of data each month, check the small print for monthly limits.
- Optional extras – some providers will also give you e-mail addresses or telephone calls as part of the package.
- Length of contract – some cheaper deals will tie you in for longer.
- Price – it’s easy to be taken in by a cheap offer price which only lasts for a couple of months, then becomes much more expensive. Average the price over the length of the whole contract to see if it’s still a good deal.
Your phone system
Most businesses will rely on office phones, and – for employees who are often out and about – mobile phones.
If you have a small office with only a few employees, you could use a separate telephone line for each desk. It’s more likely though that you’ll want a switchboard system, which connects all the internal phones (or ‘extensions’) and also offers other features like central voicemail and conference call facilities.
Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) is becoming more and more popular for business use. VoIP sends calls using your internet connection instead of using a dedicated phone line, which can be much more cost-effective – especially for international calls.
VoIP also lets you make calls to and from your office number wherever you are – useful for working on the go.
You could even consider a unified messaging system, which lets you bring together all the different ways of communicating – for example, transferring calls to your office number to a mobile number, or displaying text messages on a portable computer which can also make and receive calls.
To find out whether VoIP and unified messaging are right for you, talk to your IT supplier.
This article is provided only for general informational and educational purposes. It is not offered as and does not constitute legal or other professional advice on the subject matter in question. You should not act or rely on information contained in this website without first seeking professional advice on the subject matter in question.