The Best Business Phone Line Providers 2020
Discover the best provider for your phone system and internet service with our business phone line comparison
We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality.This article was co-authored by:
Whether you’re working from home or the office, you’ll need to make sure your business has a phone line installed and set up. A business phone line isn’t just necessary for your telephone system – it’s also necessary for your internet connection.
If you don’t have a business phone line already installed, your new provider will be able to put one in for a small upfront cost – usually around £50 to £150. You can then choose whether you want a calls-only contract or whether you want to add broadband, too.
That means that the on-going cost for your business phone line will depend on what you want from your phone and – if you choose an internet package – broadband service contract. For example, your inclusive call minutes, internet speed, and download limit.
The phone service providers that we have chosen in our comparison offer businesses both telephone and internet services, which means you can choose to have everything you need in one package. Using one provider for both usually works out more cost-effective.
If you’d like to invest in an internet-based phone system for your business, you’ll still need a phone line. While some providers offer digital or virtual landline numbers, specialist VoIP providers offer more sophisticated call management software packages.
We’ve provided you with the essential comparison points in the table below, but you should always make sure that you carry out thorough research before signing on the dotted line.
Why not use our tool to help you find the best provider for your business? It’ll ask you a couple of simple questions, then match you with the best provider for your needs. Easy!
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Our Top Business telephone providers: what do you need to know?
Let’s take a look at our pick of the best business phone providers in more detail.
Offering wholesale call prices and using Tier 1 call carriers, 4Com is a great for any business looking for reasonably priced reliable phone and broadband. In addition to its phone and broadband, 4Com offers sophisticated VoIP software and a selection of touchscreen phones, desk phones, and portable DECT phones. So if you’re looking for a business phone line provider to take care of everything, 4Com is certainly worth considering.
As the UK’s biggest telephone provider, you know exactly what you’re getting with BT. Offering a range of contracts with various lengths and prices, you should be able to find the right option for your business. And, because BT operates its own phone line infrastructure, you don’t have to wait too long to have any faults fixed. If you’re looking for more call control without investing in full on VoIP software, BT offers some lines with call management features.
Claiming to be 92% cheaper than BT and with a solid 4.4 star TrustPilot rating, XLN is a great option for businesses looking for a reasonably priced, reliable phone service provider. In fact, XLN’s products are designed with small businesses in mind, and include internet speeds of up to 76Mb (the recommended minimum for small businesses) and pay as you go VoIP packages. Retail businesses may also want to take note of XLN Payments!
TalkTalk is known for its reliable, fairly priced domestic phone service and it extends the same service to its business customers. TalkTalk has lots of ISDN phone line packages available, with up to 6,000 inclusive minutes on offer for its packages for medium businesses. With the option to add additional lines and features as your business grows, TalkTalk is ideal for ambitious businesses.
5. Lily Comms
Like XLN, Lily Comms offers more than just phone and broadband, meaning businesses can purchase all of their essentials through one supplier. When it comes to business phone lines, Lily Comms offers plenty of options, including traditional phone systems, VoIP phone systems, and SIP trunking to turn your traditional line into a digital line. With a TrustPilot rating of 4.8 and heaps of five star customer service reviews across the web, it’s to no surprise that Lily Comms appears in our list.
In addition to offering a range of telecommunication services, KCOM provides specialist solutions for a wide variety of sectors, including healthcare, retail, and charity. It promises fast download and upload speeds, and with a 4.5 TrustPilot rating, great customer service, too. Anyone looking for a phone line for a VoIP phone system will be pleased to know that KCOM partners with a huge range of software providers.
Business phone service provider round-up
According to our research the best small business phone service providers are:
- Lily Comms
All of the providers on our list offer businesses the option to choose between a phone-only contract or phone and broadband. For a reliable service at a great price, 4Com and XLN are great contenders, while for broadband and phone packages TalkTalk usually comes up trumps.
While more expensive, BT offers businesses advanced features on their phone lines without the need to upgrade to a potentially pricey VoIP software package. If you’re looking for more from your phone line provider, 4Com, Lily Comms, and KCom offer a variety of VoIP and SIP trunk options.
What to consider when comparing phone line providers
Firstly, think about the inclusive minutes that you need. Phone line providers offer different amounts for different monthly costs, so it’s important to conduct a business phone line comparison before you commit to a contract.
If you're looking to include internet, check available internet speeds, too. According to business.org, a small business will need at least a 75Mb internet connection if it's looking to do things like stream videos, file share and even take numerous point of sale transactions. Luckily, 90% of the UK has access to super-fast broadband.
Secondly, you’ll need to decide on whether you’re sticking with a traditional phone service or investing in a VoIP phone service. Similarly to mobile phone contracts, business phone line providers offer inclusive minutes and the option to add-on things like calls abroad.
If you decide that VoIP is the best option for your business, make sure your business phone line speed supports web conferencing and server hosting. For small businesses with 30+ employees, take a look at packages that offer download speeds of 145Mb to 300Mb.
Bear in mind that BT is going to start switching off the traditional telephone network in 2025, so VoIP is the best way to future-proof your business. There are also a whole host of benefits to choosing VoIP which you can read about on our What is VoIP page.
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’s the difference between fibre and ADSL?
While fibre broadband is delivered through fibre optic cable, ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, is delivered through the standard copper phone line. Fibre is faster and more reliable than ADSL, and is now the preferred choice for households and businesses despite being more expensive than ADSL.
Generally, with ADSL the further away you live from the telephone exchange, the slower and less reliable your connection. However, with fibre, fibre-optic cable delivers data from the telephone exchange to a local cabinet. The data journey then finishes along a copper phone line from the cabinet to your premise, so it has less far to travel at a slower speed.
What’s the difference between FTTC and FTTP?
FTTC stands for Fibre to the Cabinet, while FTTP stands for Fibre to the Premises. FTTC means data is delivered from the telephone exchange to the local cabinet, where it then continues its journey along a standard copper line. FTTP means the fibre connection continues straight to your business premises from the exchange, which means you benefit from much faster download and upload speeds.
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 PBX?
PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange. It’s a piece of technology that allows you to direct calls to a specific phone or department phone network. A PBX can either be cloud-based or on-premise. A cloud-based PBX manages your calls on an off-site server, while an on-premise PBX directs your calls once the call has reached your on-site server.
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.
A virtual number enables a business to appear in a specific location. For example, a business can appear to have a London number. When a person calls the number, the call is then automatically forwarded to the business’ fixed number. You can find out more about how virtual landlines work on our dedicated virtual landlines page.