The Six Best Business Phone Line Providers for Small Businesses 2021

Discover the best provider for your phone system and internet service with our business phone line comparison.

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When considering the requirements of small businesses, we've identified 4Com as the best phone line provider, owing to the fact it offers wholesale call prices for Tier 1 call carriers that ensure reliably excellent call quality. But figuring out if this is the best choice for your business will require a little more research.

The importance of a reliable business phone line provider has never been more prominent. The fallout from the COVID pandemic has resulted in the majority of businesses adopting a hybrid approach to working, whilst others have ditched the office entirely to work from their homes, which comes with its own challenges (such as attending a group meeting to discuss the team’s next big project, only for your internet to cut out as you begin presenting).

Business phone lines aren’t just necessary for your telephone system; they are also necessary for your internet connection. And 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.

So there's a lot to consider when making a choice for your business – which is where we can help.  We've created a custom-built phone system comparison tool that can match you with providers and even bespoke cost quotes to help you make the right decision with confidence in just a couple of minutes.

Or, you can read on. 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.

Find the Best Phone Line Provider for Your Requirements Do you already have a phone line?
Phone line providerFibre broadband option?Digital phone line/VoIP option?SIP Trunk option?Phone only prices fromPhone and broadband packages from
4ComYes Yes Yes On request On request
BTYes Yes Yes £22.20/month£28.95/month
XLNYes Yes No£20.95/month£27.95/month
TalkTalkYes NoYes £16.95/month£23.95/month
Lily CommsYes Yes Yes On request On request
KCOMYes Yes Yes £12/month£46.25/month
You can compare leading UK phone line providers using our custom built comparison tool

Pricing Correct as of July 28th 2021 

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.

1. 4Com

4com_logo

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.

Pricing

Available on request.

Top features and benefits:

Single lines and multi-lines available

Uses Tier 1 carriers for top quality calls

Wholesale call rates

Employee training and UK support

Add business mobiles to your monthly package

2. BT

bt_logo

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.

Pricing

Phone only prices from – £22.20 per month
Phone and broadband packages from – £28.95 per month

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Top features and benefits:

Unlimited UK and international call packages

Add additional call features, including call-barring and 3-way calling

24/7 help and support

Have faults fixed within 24 hours with Total Care package

Option to install a PBX system

3. XLN

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!

Pricing

Phone only prices from – £20.95 per month
Phone and broadband packages from – £27.95 per month

Top features and benefits:

Keep the same number

Option included broadband, fibre, and VoIP

Reliable phone connection

Award-winning customer service

30 day contracts available

4. TalkTalk

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.

Pricing

Phone only prices from – £16.95 per month
Phone and broadband packages from – £23.95 per month

Top features and benefits:

Standard lines and ISDN packages available

Option to add additional lines and features

Plenty of inclusive minutes

Fixed monthly costs

UK-based customer service

5. Lily Comms

lily_logo

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 on our list.

Pricing

Available on request.

Top features and benefits:

Competitive phone and broadband packages

Great customer service

Range of business phone numbers available

Can include business energy and merchant services

Offers services for multi-site businesses

6. KCOM
k_com logo

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.

Pricing

Phone only prices from – £12 per month
Phone and broadband packages from – £46.25 per month

Top features and benefits:

Sector-specific solutions

Phone, internet, and VoIP services available

Great customer service

Range of business numbers available

All-inclusive packages available

Business phone service provider round-up

According to our research, the best small business phone service providers are:

  1. 4Com
  2. BT
  3. XLN
  4. TalkTalk
  5. Lily Comms
  6. KCOM

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.


Want to find the right business phone line provider?

If you want to be sure that you’re investing in the right phone line for your business simply:

  1. Answer a few questions so we know the kind of phone service you’re looking for
  2. Receive a list of providers that suit your needs
  3. Compare zero obligation quotes

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.

Phone line provider sorted? What about your office phone system?

Office phone systems are integral to the smooth running of your business, check out our best office phone systems guide to learn more.

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.

Considering phone line provider service levels

And finally, what about service levels?

Terry Martin, CEO of Hertfordshire-based Telecoms Company Just2Connect says:

“An important, but often overlooked factor to consider when selecting a provider for your phone line is what Service Maintenance Level is included in your line package. The Service Maintenance Level dictates how quickly a line fault can be fixed – there are 4 levels.

Should you have a fault, Openreach can take up to 3 days to fix a line with Level 1 Maintenance, but will fix the fault within 6 hours for a line with Level 4 Maintenance. Typically, most providers only include Level 1 in their monthly charge. In some cases, this may be suitable, however if your line is connected to your alarm system, then you will likely require a more responsive Service Level”.

Conclusion: Key Takeaways

With many providers to choose from, it's important you thoroughly research each product before making any decisions.

Think about how a specific product and its features will be beneficial to your business needs. Be sure to factor in pricing, as costs can soon add up.

Consider your employees and the technology required for them to work as efficiently as possible.

It is difficult to make a clear decision, particularly when several competitors offer similar products. Which is why we've created a custom-built comparison tool to help pair you with providers most suitable to the needs of your business. Simply fill out the form, and we will do the rest.

FAQs

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 the best virtual landlines and how they work on our dedicated virtual landlines page.

Complete our quick quiz!

If you want to be sure that you’re investing in the right phone line for your business…

  1. Answer a few questions so we know the kind of phone service you’re looking for
  2. Receive a list of providers that suit your needs
  3. Compare zero obligation quotes

Ross has been writing for Startups since May 2021, specialising in sustainable business and telephone systems. He also runs the successful entrepreneur's section of the website.

He's previously written for Conde Nast Traveller and the NME and is passionate about music, sustainability, and travelling. Follow him on his Twitter - @startupsross for helpful business tips.

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