6 best business telephone line providers in 2023 Discover the best provider for your business phone and internet service with our business phone line comparison. Written by Helena Young Updated on 8 November 2023 Our research To recommend the best phone systems for small businesses, our team of expert writers and researchers hone in on the most important factors. We rate providers on value for money – including initial setup costs, any equipment costs, and ongoing service fees; an ability to scale as your team grows; depth of features, plus the help and support options that are available. Written and reviewed by: Helena Young Lead Writer Robyn Summers-Emler Digital Growth Editor Our independent reviews are funded in part by affiliate commissions, at no extra cost to our readers. Based on our most recent round of independent research, the best business phone line provider for small businesses is GoTo. Our experienced team of researchers say that GoTo is an outstanding low-cost VoIP-powered virtual landline for SMEs that can automate complex business phone tasks to save you both time and money.You might be wondering why we're talking about virtual landlines, not phone landlines. That's because the days of traditional wired landlines are coming to a close. With the PSTN switch off due in December 2025, all businesses will need to move towards a VoIP ‘line' solution, and business telephone providers are offering some compelling deals as well as tech solutions that let you run your business communications more smartly. We've rounded up the best VoIP phone line service providers, below: Best Phone Line Providers at a glance GoTo – best overall choice for small businesses (top plan: GoTo Basic)8×8 – best for contact centre teams with complex needs (top plan: 8×8 X2)bOnline – best for broadband (top plan: bOnline Starter)RingCentral – best for business mobile (top plan: RingCentral Essentials)Dialpad – best for managing multiple lines (top plan: Dialpad Standard)Vonage – best for customer service teams (top plan: Vonage Express)Don't overspend – you can click any of the links above to begin comparing fees on business phone providers for your own business's size and needs. With inflation at eye-watering levels, many firms have adopted a hybrid or remote working model to keep overheads down. This has created a challenge for businesses that need a flexible phone line that employees can access from multiple locations.To help you find the right provider for your exact operational needs, we’ve designed a free cost comparison tool to give you personalised phone line pricing quotes. This service takes just minutes, and gives users access to a VoIP specialist who can answer any questions you might have about the switch from landline.Or, for a rundown of the top provider plans, and their average costs, view the below table: Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward BEST OVERALL Best value plan: GoTo Basic Best value plan: 8×8 X2 Best value plan: bOnline Starter Best value plan: Ring Central Essentials Best value plan: Dialpad Standard Best value plan: Vonage Express Best for Ambitious growth-oriented startups, such as ecommerce firms Best for Firms with complex needs and requiring customer support Best for Those looking to bundle their broadband and VoIP phone bill Best for Businesses that communicate largely through mobile Best for Agencies with a strict hierarchy requiring lots of management features Best for Customer relationship management, such as service desks Pricing from £10 per user, per month (billed annually) Pricing from Not shared publicly Pricing from £7 per user, per month (billed annually) Pricing from £12.99 per user, per month (billed annually) Pricing from £12 per user, per month (billed annually) Pricing from £10 per user, per month (billed annually) User limit Unlimited User limit Unlimited User limit Unlimited User limit 20 User limit Unlimited User limit Unlimited Free trial Free trial Free trial Free trial Free trial Free trial Get direct phone line provider quotes with our free comparison tool. Compare Find the Best Phone Line Provider for Your Requirements Do you already have a phone line? Yes No This guide will cover: GoTo 8x8 bOnline RingCentral Dialpad Vonage What type of businesses are VoIP phone lines suitable for? How does a VoIP phone line work? How did we compare the best business phone line providers for small business? Buying guide: how to choose the best phone line provider Our verdict FAQs What is a phone line provider?A phone line provider, also known as a telecommunications or phone service provider, is a company that offers telephone services to individuals, businesses, and organisations. They provide the infrastructure and technology necessary for making and receiving phone calls and offer a range of services, including mobile phone services.To prepare for the change, every phone line provider is currently switching over Internet Protocol (IP) to host their solutions. That means, rather than outdated copper wiring, you're calls will be hosted via a fibre optic network for speedier, more reliable connections with HD audio quality.So, when looking to set up a phone line to superpower your business communications, search for a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) provider. Hosted over broadband, these providers offer various packages to suit different needs and budgets, making them a much cheaper option than traditional landlines like BT. GoTo 4.7 out of 5 Pricing 3.8 External Connections 3.4 Features 4.1 Our top-scoring phone line provider is GoTo. Despite being a budget-friendly provider, it still boasts an exceptional number of communication features at its lowest-priced tier, GoTo Basic. That makes it a perfect choice for SMEs starting out with an affordable phone provider they can add new lines and users to as their operations grow.Best value plan: GoTo BasicCost: £10 per user, per month (billed annually)Included minutes: Unlimited domestic and international calls to 50+ countriesAt £10, GoTo Basic is a very cheap phone line plan. However, in the context of its huge feature list and excellent scalability, the tier offers a lot more than equivalent rival plans (including four more inbound comms features than second-place 8×8), to improves its overall value for money score.GoTo only has one other paid-for plan (GoTo Standard costs £21 per user, per month) but GoTo Basic will be more than enough for most SMEs. It demonstrates a huge range of collaboration tools, gains a high security score of 4 out of 5.It also has the most extensive list of inbound communication features of all the brands we reviewed. Even if your team is away from the desk, your phone line will be fully managed thanks to:Voicemail-to-text functionalityVirtual receptionist featuresSpam preventionCustomisable hold musicCall queues and ring groupsCompany hoursLocalised and toll-free numbersIn terms of quality, GoTo Basic promises HD video and audio during every phone or video conferencing call. Users' virtual GoTo business line is also protected by a 99.996% uptime agreement, which means it is committed to being offline only 0.004% of the time in a given period (as confirmed in your contract).What makes GoTo different?GoTo Basic should be the go-to pick for SMEs as a top-rated phone provider that can accommodate customer queries, sales calls, and plenty of third-party software and hardware integrations.Even at the lower tier, GoTo Basic it offers every inbound communication feature that we analysed. GoTo easily surpassed second-place 8×8, making it a fully-managed phone line that will save on resources for time-poor SMEs. 8×8 4.4 out of 5 Pricing 2.9 External Connections 2.9 Features 4.3 Easily 8×8's best area is its customer support, which gets full marks. Users who encounter an issue with the phone line face minimal business disruption, as they can instantly contact the 8×8 online knowledge base, live chat, and email support team. There is even 24/7 live support available (not available with our top provider, GoTo).Best value plan: 8×8 X2Cost: Not shared publiclyIncluded minutes: Unlimited domestic and international calls (to 14 countries)8×8 no longer shares its pricing publicly but we know from prior research that the X2 plan used to cost £19 per user, per month. While not as cheap as GoTo Basic, this does give users access to outstanding customer support and an outstanding feature list for contact centres.8×8 X2 achieves a very respectable 4.3 out of 5 for features in our analysis, owed to its large arsenal of client-friendly outbound tools like external video calling, making it ideal for sales teams. Users with international customers will also like that the X2 plan lets them place free calls to 14 countries (including the US and Australia).Thanks to a wide range of support channels, and a 99.999% uptime guarantee, 8×8 ensures its customers can rely on their phone line without the need for lots of tech expertise and training. Those with a lot of newbie agents can also ask for onboarding help from 8x8s' Customer Success Managers (available for an additional charge).8×8 X2 also boasts an extensive list of external connections, turning its phone line from a communication port, into an integral part of your entire tech ecosystem. With 8×8 X2, you can link your phone line to:12 CRM software brands (including HubSpot and Zoho)4 helpdesk software brands (including Salesforce)Microsoft Teams for web conferencingOutlook, Google Workspace, and Office 36510 live chat integrations (including Slack)What makes 8×8 different?As discussed, the biggest pull of 8×8 is its generous customer support package. Compared to brands like Dialpad, which has no uptime guarantee, 8×8 is committed to supplying a high quality phone line with HD audio and premium support to customers. bOnline 4.2 out of 5 Pricing 4 External Connections 3.5 Features 2.8 Searching for an affordable business phone provider is a smart decision for today's SMEs – particularly new firms facing big startup bills. bOnline is a cost-effective way to pay for both phone and broadband connections, instantly, thanks to its Super Saver broadband bundle which costs just under £30 for the first 12 months.Best value plan: bOnline StarterCost: £7 per user, per month (billed annually)Included minutes: Unlimited inbound, 100 minutes outboundUndoubtedly the cheapest plan on this list, bOnline has a price tag of £7 per user, per month. Nonetheless, as we have alluded to, this low-cost does sacrifice a lot of useful features, including management tools (of which bOnline boasts a grand total of none).The bOnline Starter plan costs just £7 per user, per month and brings with it a pretty impressive array of features for that price. Users can set up customisable hold music, company hours, and get a complementary localised number. As a result, we like it for side hustles and sellers wanting to service customers whilst working full-time.Of course, cheaper options do bring fewer benefits. bOnline achieves a dismal score for security in our research of just one out of five (in comparison, GoTo gets four out of five).bOnline also has no compliance certificates, meaning agents sharing sensitive information over the phone, such as bank cards, will risk their customers' data and trust.bOnline does come with a few hidden fees as well. Most integrations (such as CRM and helpdesk) come with an added fee of £5 per month. Still, an above-par customer satisfaction score of 4.5 out of five (beating GoTo) tells us that bOnline might not do a lot, but it clearly does it well.What makes bOnline different?bOnline is the only option in our list to offer broadband as a service. That means users can bundle their VoIP phone and internet connection together through the bOnline Super Saver package.Costing £29.95+VAT for the first 12 months (£32.95+VAT thereafter), this deal is a cost-efficient way to access both without sourcing them separately. Bundling is also convenient, as you'll only have to deal with one company for multiple services, rather than holding contracts with two providers. RingCentral 3.8 out of 5 Pricing 2.4 External connections 2 Features 3.9 In-person sectors, such as estate agents or construction companies where employees are often based away from the desk, often struggle to find a phone line that caters to their needs. Our experts rank Ring Central as the top virtual landline for business mobile thanks to its full-featured mobile app that makes it easy to conduct your business on-the-move.Best value plan: RingCentral EssentialsCost: £12.99 per user, per month (billed annually)Included minutes: 0 inbound minutes, 100 outbound minutesRing Central Essentials is our top RingCentral phone line plan for SMEs. Priced at £12.99 per user, per month, it is the third-most affordable option on our list behind bOnline and GoTo, and means it won't break the bank if you're looking for a phone line to complement, rather than run, your operations.Essentials gives you access to the provider's exceptional mobile app. Able to integrate with 200+ business apps such as Google Workspace, Salesforce, and Microsoft 365 and link to your IP desk phone or softphone, RingCentral ensures employees will be able to oversee every aspect of their communications (including video) all from their pockets.Call quality is another strong area for RingCentral. Wherever and whenever you're taking a call, the provider promises HD audio with a 99.999% SLA. You can also check to see how well it works on your connection with Interactive Voice Response (IVR), call recording, and voicemail features (all available on-demand).Sales or customer-focused departments won't be as enamoured with Ring Central, however. Outbound communication features are virtually null (you can't use any power dialling or predictive dialling). You'll also have zero inbound minutes included in your plan which is very limiting compared to 8×8, Vonage, and Dialpad.What makes Ring Central different?Ring Central's USP is its mobile app, which is incredibly easy-to-use and designed to cater for brick-and-mortar businesses based away from the traditional office, such as a shop or cafe.Handily, there is also the option to be billed monthly, instead of annually, if your cash flow isn't strong enough to commit to a yearly contract. That's something that neither Dialpad, Vonage, 8×8, bOnline or GoTo offers. Dialpad 3.6 out of 5 Pricing 2 External connections 2.7 Features 4.8 Proper, effective management is fundamental when you're a large team with multiple business phone lines. Dialpad is one of the few low-cost phone providers to boast a premier management package for SMEs. This, combined with an affordable range of pricing plans, makes the Dialpad business phone line offering a good option for SMEs.Best value plan: Dialpad StandardCost: £12 per user, per month (billed annually)Included minutes: Unlimited domestic, 0 internationalAmongst the Dialpad Standard plan is a vast library of manager-friendly features which includes the abilities to transcribe and record calls for training and monitoring purposes (something not offered by any other brand in our list). This makes it a great option for larger teams requiring top-tier management tools.Alongside this, Dialpad allows users to set up teams or departments to match your unique hierarchy. Similarly, Dialpad boasts a range of collaborative tools like internal messaging, task management, and video conferencing – all of which are excellent for managing more junior members of the team.We also like that Dialpad has introduced some innovative updates to its Standard plan this year. Users can access the platform's AI AI-powered call and voicemail transcriptions, and its meeting assistant, for automated note taking and recording.For audio quality, Dialpad promises HD calling for top service reliability. It also has a special System Test function for you to check your line connection is running smoothly. However, a significant flaw in the Dialpad Standard plan is it does not offer any uptime guarantee to users. That means, in the event of an outage, you won't be due any refunds and may face business disruption.What makes Dialpad different?The Dialpad package is one of the best for management – but its inbound and outbound communication features are also excellent. Plus, unlike brands like Vonage, which charges hidden fees for features like voicemail to text, almost all available for no additional cost. Vonage 3.5 out of 5 Pricing 1.5 External connections 3.8 Features 3.6 We recommend Vonage as our top phone line for service-based industries. That's because Vonage is one of the best providers on the market for third-party apps. External connections dramatically increase efficiency for agents, who can access information across multiple platforms instantly. This makes them a smarter way to organise customer data, and improve productivity.Best value plan: Vonage ExpressCost: £10 per user, per month (billed annually)Included minutes: Unlimited domestic, 0 internationalWe think Vonage Express is Vonage's best plan for small business users. It shares the title for most affordable plan with GoTo Basic. Plus, given the huge number of brands that don't offer any CRM connections (such as 8×8, Ring Central, and Dialpad) its nine CRM integrations are worth the small additional fee of £5 per month.Despite its low-cost, Vonage also scores decently for features. In particular, outbound communication. As a result, we think Vonage is the best option for outbound contact centres, such as market researchers, where agents are focused on driving awareness and conversions. Users get:Customisable call listsExternal video callingCustomisable caller IDCall forwarding (allows users to transfer a caller to another user)Call flip (allows managers to switch devices mid-call)Audio quality is a big consideration when choosing a phone line. Vonage uses tier 1 network providers all over the globe to circuit its audio streams, eliminating the number of hops needed to deliver calls and improving the overall voice experience for your end-users. Plus, it has an uptime guarantee of 99.999%.The Vonage payment plans are a bit sneakier than other brands on our list. The platform charges a lot of hidden fees that can add up to make this phone provider one of the more expensive options on the market. For example, you'll have to pay extra for features like call queue and voicemail to text, while Dialpad has these for free.What makes Vonage different?Combined with full-set of conversation features, we rate Vonage highly as an excellent phone provider for helpdesks. Businesses like IT service firms will find its package perfect for assisting customer queries or complaints. What type of businesses are VoIP phone lines suitable for?VoIP phone lines are suitable for a wide range of businesses. Largely, this is due to their flexibility. Because they can be used from anywhere in the world, firms with employees who are not always in the office can still benefit from the same features and functionality as traditional office phone systems.By moving away from the outdated copper landline network, VoIP phone lines can also handle a high volume of calls without dropping them. That means businesses that make or receive a lot of calls (like sales teams or market researchers) can benefit from VoIP's reliability and scalability.VoIP phone lines are an especially good choice for budget-conscious startups and small businesses. Because they're sold as a software product, you'll get the features and functionality of a traditional office phone system without the high upfront costs of installation and setup.Another reason to switch to VoIP is to build out your current business communications system. Many VoIP providers also offer video conferencing tools, for example. Others include a business mobile, so you can effortlessly switch between a desk phone, softphone, or smartphone. How does a VoIP phone line work?VoIP is a technology that allows you to make phone calls over the internet (it is also known as internet calling or web calling). It works by converting your voice into digital signals that are sent over a broadband connection to a VoIP service provider.The provider then routes the call to the destination phone number, where the digital signals are converted back into analogue voice signals that can be heard by the caller. This tends to ensure better audio quality for both caller and handler, as well as better connectivity for more productive working.As you'd expect, a VoIP line is compatible with any device that uses the internet. That includes mobile, desktop, and – don't panic – the traditional corded desk phone.Because it's hosted via the web, you might be at a disadvantage if you buy a VoIP phone line but don't invest in a fast broadband speed. That's why it's important to consider your internet provider when you're purchasing a VoIP line (more on this below). How did we compare the VoIP phone line providers for small business?With over twenty years' of experience writing for small business owners, we have a lot of knowledge under our belt when it comes to company phone lines. But even this isn't enough – we want to be the most trustworthy source of information that SMEs can find online.That's why, during our most recent round of research, we collaborated with an independent researcher to pick out the provider plans we know are the eight smartest options for today's small businesses and the specific challenges they face.Once we had our exceptional eight, we narrowed them down based on criteria that entrepreneurs told us they are currently prioritising with their business phone needs.Pricing due to the economic difficulties currently facing the UK; inbound communications to cope with large numbers of incoming calls and respond in a professional and timely manner; and external communication to judge which providers offer the largest library of integrations to easily transfer customer data across platforms.Finally, we spoke to real-life business users of each platform to hear what they had to say about each brand – both the pros and the cons. The result of this thorough research project is the above guide, outlining the best providers based on unbiased and up-to-date information. Want to find the right business phone line provider? Answer a few questions so we know the kind of phone service you’re looking for and receive a list of providers that suit your needs. Don't worry – our quotes are zero-obligation and completely free to get. Buying guide: how to choose the best phone line providerUpdating to a VoIP-based phone line is a necessary task for today's SMEs, as a way to simplify your business communications by bringing everything into one, web-based platform. That doesn't make it any less confusing than choosing a landline, however.With lots of new VoIP brands promising to talk you through the process, it's important for business owners to master these IP phone line basics so you can spot what to look for, and where you might be being missold:1. Measure the provider's audio qualityVoice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls are made over the internet. This means they tend to ensure improved audio quality for users than traditional copper landlines. But it's not a guarantee. Users can investigate for themselves if a VoIP line provider is really as good as it sounds:Uptime agreement: If a provider has a service level agreement, or SLA, then they are committed to delivering a certain standard of connection. 8×8 has an uptime agreement of 99.999%, for example, compared to Dialpad which offers noneHD functionality: HD voice is a premium type of audio technology. If your provider offers it, you'll be able to access clearer sound and diminish background noise on callsCall transcripts: In the case that employees might struggle to hear customers, such as if they're working on-site, call transcripts can be a life saver by providing a written version of conversations for agents to work fromCall quality monitoring: Some providers also offer quality monitoring to track certain audio metrics like MOS (Mean Opinion Score), phone jitters, and delays. These are usually featured in more expensive tiers (Vonage offers MOS in its Core plan, but not the budget Express option).2. Inclusive minutesMost phone line providers offer an inclusive package of calls to reduce the amount you'll spend on data charges and network fees. Depending on your call usage, this can make an expensive plan look much better value (and vice versa). Examine each provider for allowances on:Domestic calls: This is a real perk for any small business based in the UK. 8×8 X2, Dialpad Standard, and Vonage Express are three plans that permit unlimited domestic calls.International calls: Firms that have clients or customers in multiple territories should choose a phone line plan like GoTo Basic which offers free international calls to 50+ countriesInbound minutes: An absolute must for customer service teams, this allows you to accept a set number of calls for zero chargeOutbound minutes: An absolute must for sales teams, this allows you to accept a set number of calls for zero chargeToll-free numbers: Some providers (including every brand on this list) allow users to set up toll-free numbers so that callers aren't charged when they ring your business number3. Check your current broadband connectionVoIP phone lines are hosted over the internet, which means they'll use your existing broadband provider to transmit audio. Because of this, it's a good idea to test your connection beforehand to check you are happy with the speeds provided – especially if you'll be making video calls.The average business requires at least 25 Mbps of download speed and 3 Mbps of upload speed to function with multiple lines connected. The bigger your workforce, the faster your speed should be to accommodate the added pressure on the network.Some providers, like bOnline, offer both broadband and VoIP as a service. This might be the best option if you're looking for a cost-effective route to settle your broadband and phone bills. Our verdictWe've ranked the top six telephones for business available in the UK to make it easier for firms to locate the brand that will bring the most value to you and your customers.GoTo is our number one choice, as a low-cost, scalable option that can handle all incoming customer calls while you prioritise other areas of your business. We recommend it for service desks.Still, our above guide highlights the huge range of alternative software that might fit better with your organisation's requirements. For example, more sophisticated telesales businesses should use 8×8, while those that want to bundle broadband and VoIP bills should pick bOnline.With so many providers and plans to choose from, it's important to thoroughly research each product before making any decisions. We've condensed the results of our research into a custom-built comparison tool to help pair you with the most suitable providers.Simply fill out the form, and we'll deliver direct quotes from the brands we think best-serve your business needs. Small business phone line FAQs What is VoIP? VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It means that your voice data is turned into digital data and is sent over the internet, rather than the traditional telephone line. Because VoIP is a digital telephone service, businesses can invest in software that gives you greater control over your calls, including call recording, call forwarding, and the option to record an auto-attendant. What is a virtual phone number? A virtual number isn’t directly associated with a phone line. Instead, it’s a cloud-based number that acts as a getaway to a forwarding network. When a person calls the number, it forwards the call to a pre-set phone number, and from that point, uses either the digital or traditional phone line to manage the call. What is a leased line? A leased line is a private line that can exist between two offices or an office and a data server. Because a leased line is private, it means the bandwidth can only be used by your business, which means you benefit from faster download speeds, upload speeds, and a more reliable connection. Businesses can use a leased line to connect to the internet, link servers, and carry phone calls. What type of phone system is GoTo? GoTo is a VoIP system. It is cloud-based, can be used on both mobile and desktop, and comes with a comprehensive range of communication features. What is the cheapest business phone provider? bOnline Pay As You Go is the cheapest business phone system on our list, costing just £6 per month per user. It comes with a decent range of basic features, such as hold-music, company hours, and localised phone numbers. However, it may not be the best option if you have complex needs or are looking to scale. If that’s the case, we’d recommend 8x8 or GoTo, which both cost only marginally higher than bOnline, at £10 per month, per user. Do business phone providers supply hardware? It depends on the provider, and it’s always best to ask them before you make an investment. Some providers offer hardware as part of the package, and others, especially VoIP providers offer you the option to lease or buy hardware from them. If your provider does not supply hardware and you need to purchase it separately, make sure it is compatible with the software your phone provider uses. What is the best business phone system for remote work? If you or your staff are working remotely, or are on the move, a Cloud-based and virtual communication solution is the best option for you. If your customers are concentrated in a specific region but you are not, you might also want to choose a provider that can give you a localised number, such as bOnline. Get started with GoTo Use our online comparison tool to see whether GoTo is the right choice for your firm: Compare costs It's 100% free and takes just one minute. Startups.co.uk is reader-supported. If you make a purchase through the links on our site, we may earn a commission from the retailers of the products we have reviewed. This helps Startups.co.uk to provide free reviews for our readers. It has no additional cost to you, and never affects the editorial independence of our reviews. Share this post facebook twitter linkedin Written by: Helena Young Lead Writer Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.