The Top 5 Small Business Phone Systems in Australia

Business phone systems

The best telephone systems for small businesses are 8×8 and GoToConnect.

In many industries, remote work has become the norm. So maintaining streamlined communications is more important than ever. We'd recommend using a strong and reliable VoIP system for your small business to ensure seamless operations.

We underwent a rigorous research process testing VoIP systems based on budget, software integrations, and scalability. This guide will walk you through the providers that came out top following our analysis.

For personalised guidance, use our free quote-finding tool to receive tailored quotes from the phone systems best matched to your small businesses.

Top 5 Small Business Phone Systems

These are the providers we recommend based on our research. Use our comparison tool to find the best service for your business.

  1. 8×8 Best phone system for small businesses
  2. GoToConnect Best for startups
  3. Vonage Best value for money
  4. Dialpad  Best for conversational AI
  5. RingCentral  Best for customer service teams

What is a Small Business Phone System?

A company phone system for small businesses is made up of features and solutions that provide phone, video, and messaging services on one platform. We recommend a VoIP phone system for small businesses because it's affordable, flexible, and easily scalable.

Handy features offered by VoIP systems include call queues, a virtual receptionist, and call forwarding.

What is a VoIP phone system for small businesses?

A Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system will allow small businesses to make and receive voice calls via an internet connection, which can help cut costs by eliminating the need for a phone line and hardware. It can also improve scalability, flexibility, and includes advanced features such as voice mail, call forwarding, and virtual attendants.

How can I switch phone system providers?

If your current phone system is not ticking all of your boxes, you may want to consider switching to a new provider. There are a few key considerations you should be aware of during the switching process:

  1. Will I have downtime? Your business phone system is a critical point of contact between you and your customers. So you want to ensure minimal downtime during the switching process to ensure that your customers can contact you.
  2. Can I use the VoIP on a mobile? As long as you have a smartphone, you will be able to use your new VoIP system on your existing phone as most are made with compatible apps.
  3. Are there any hidden costs that come with switching? As mentioned above, potential downtime during the switching process could incur indirect costs due to lost business from your customers not being able to reach you. There are also the direct costs which may be a potential increase in subscription costs, or set-up and onboarding fees.
  4. Will I have to train my whole team? Yes, there may be a learning curve when your staff are getting to grips with the new software that you should take into consideration.
  5. Does it integrate with my current hardware/software? You'll need to check on a case by case basis whether your chosen new provider is compatible with your existing office phones and software (such as CRM system), otherwise you may need to switch this later down the line too.

Looking to switch phone systems? No problem. Use our free comparison tool to compare quotes and switch your business phone system plan – it's quick and simple.

Just answer a few questions about the needs of your business it only takes a minute. We’ll match you with the best providers, and they'll contact you with obligation-free quotes.

Our top small business phone systems picks

We've tested and rated 11 different VoIP providers to find the best small business phone system. We scored each provider against a range of factors that includes price, features, and scalability.

Below are the providers our research has found to be the best suited for small business phone systems:

Swipe right to see more
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Small Business Plan

X2

Small Business Plan

Standard

Small Business Plan

Smart Plan

Small Business Plan
Small Business Plan

Premium

Expert Rating
4.7
Expert Rating
4.6
Expert Rating
4.6
Expert Rating
4.3
Expert Rating
4.0
Price

$45 – $56 per user, per month

Price

$44 per user, per month

Price

$30 per user, per month

Price

$35 – $45 per user, per month

Price

$53.99 – $63.99

Key Features for Small Businesses
  • Onboarding support
  • Call queue
  • Ring groups
  • Analytics
  • Customizable call routing
  • Call recording
Key Features for Small Businesses
  • Onboarding support
  • Ring group
  • Call queue
  • Analytics
  • Call recording
  • Customisable call routing
  • Wide range of integrations on limited platforms
Key Features for Small Businesses
  • Onboarding support
  • Call queue
  • Ring groups
  • Call recording
  • Call monitoring
  • Analytics
  • Web conferencing*
Key Features for Small Businesses
  • Onboarding support
  • Call queue
  • Ring groups
  • Call recording
  • Analytics
  • Call transcripts
Key Features for Small Businesses
  • Onboarding support
  • 90+ platforms to integrate with
  • Call queue
  • Ring groups
  • Web conferencing
  • Internal live chat
Compare quotes Compare quotes Compare quotes Compare quotes Compare quotes

Prices correct as of January 2024

1. 8×8 – X2 plan

Best phone system for small businesses

8x8 logo
8x8 – X2 plan
4.7
Pricing $45 – $56
Quick overview

Chosen by over 2.5 million users, 8x8 has a proven track record of success – according to Forrester Consulting, clients that opted for 8x8 reported a 158% ROI! Known for its customisable drag-and-drop dashboards and intelligent coaching and collaboration tools, 8x8 offers a wide menu of subscription options that will allow you to gradually – or rapidly – scale up your small business.

The scalable building blocks that 8x8 offers are robust and diverse. With features like ring groups and call queue offered at its X2 subscription plan, your small business will easily be able to deal with large volumes of callers. What’s more, with web conferencing and internal live chat integrations with a wide range of platforms including Telegram and Slack, your team will be able to work remotely, giving you more flexibility and reduced costs.

Strengths

Boasts some of the most generous customer support in the VoIP-verse

Unlimited inbound and outbound minutes to 14 countries

Offers real-time dashboards and wide range of seamless integrations

Weaknesses

Niftiest features not available for X2 subscribers

Unclear if Customer Success Managers (onboarding support) come at an extra cost

8x8 X2 plan pricing
PlanPaying annually Per user, per monthPaying monthly Per user, per month
X2 $45 $56

8×8 is no longer publicly advertising its pricing, so the above prices may no longer be accurate. If you're interested in 8×8, you'll need to request a quote from the provider directly.

What kind of small business features does 8×8 X2 offer?

  • Software integrations: It is integrable with CRM, helpdesk, web conferencing (which is ideal for businesses with lots of remote workers, or employees working from home), external and internal live chats, and email. We found that 8×8 allowed us to personalise our customers' experiences and work quickly by avoiding hopping back and forth between different communication channels.
  • Onboarding support: This is provided through 8×8’s Customer Success Managers, although it’s unclear whether this comes at an additional cost.
  • Scalability: 8×8's X2 plan allowed us to sync your internal communications because it’s compatible with Slack, Telegram, and Teams, so our team could work remotely. It’s also equipped with a call queue, ring groups, analytics, customisable call routing, and call recording, all of which allow us to handle large numbers of callers, and gather data to make informed business decisions.

How does 8×8 X2 compare with other VoIP providers for small businesses?

Awarded an overall score of 4.7/5 by our independent researchers, who put the X2 plan's features, pricing, and customer support to the test, it stands out due to its flexibility of choice. Whether your small business needs a comprehensive, savvy system or you just want the essentials, 8×8 can tick off the boxes on your small business phone system checklist.

Although 8×8 only scores 2.5 for its pricing, placing it far behind GoToConnect, Vonage, and Dialpad's score of 4/5 in this category, the extra dollars you’re putting down are a worthy investment thanks to its broad range of features. Please note, that 8×8's pricing score was based on its previous transparent cost. Nevertheless, we awarded 8×8 a stellar 5/5 for its generous customer support and security features, which are unrivalled by all other providers featured here. The security features include several compliance certifications, multi-factor authentication, and user permissions.

Roughly, how many employees will use the phone system?

Find The Right Phone System
What's New for 8x8? January 2024

  • 8×8 Phone App for Microsoft Teams – 8×8 has now made it possible for call agents to make and receive calls from within the Teams app, without the need for additional Teams Phone licenses, software or desktop plugins. 

2. GoToConnect

Standard plan: Best phone system for startups

GoTo logo
GoTo – Standard plan
4.6
Pricing $44
Quick overview

Promising a seamless onboarding process using which you can get your cloud phone system working within a day, GoToConnect is a great option if you’re looking to get lots of bang for your buck. Featuring a streamlined admin portal, you can easily configure call flows with a drag-and-drop dial plan editor, and comb through call analytics to identify which team or agent needs improvement.

On top of this, for just $44 per user, per month, you’ll be able to wield all the inbound communication features you might need as a small business, including call queue and ring groups – an offer that no other system provides at a more competitive price point.

Strengths

Access to all the inbound communication features your small business might need

Free international calling to 50+ countries and unlimited domestic minutes

Video conferencing and internal live chat included

Weaknesses

No ready-made integrations with analytics or workspace software

Limited number of compatible external platforms compared to other providers

Not the most comprehensive customer support

GoToConnect Standard plan pricing
PlanPrice Per user, per month
Standard $44

What kind of small business features does GoToConnect Standard offer?

  • Software integrations: On its Standard plan, GoToConnect is compatible with CRM, helpdesk, web conferencing, internal live chat, email, and SSO platforms, and has an open API. But we weren't able to sync GoToConnect with Office 365, Hubspot, and Bullhorn.
  • Onboarding support: This is available on GoToConnect's Standard plan.
  • Scalability: With an unlimited user limit, ring group, call queue, analytics, call recording, and customisable call routing, we like that the Standard plan provides the features that will help start-ups upscale. What’s more, GoToConnect also gives access to internal live chat and web conferencing, which can help keep your business working remotely and cost-effectively.

How does GoToConnect Standard compare with other VoIP providers for small businesses?

We've given GoToConnect an overall rating of 4.6 out of 5. Although its customer support score of 3.4/5 lags a bit behind that of 8×8, RingCentral, and Dialpad, the features you can access for the cost of a Standard subscription offer a far greater value for your money. These features include spam prevention and free international calling to 50+ countries.

Read our GoToConnect review for a deeper dive into this VoIP provider.

What's New for GoToConnect? January 2024

  • Any new conversations can be automatically linked to an existing contact if the number or email address is a perfect match.
  • GoToConnect has two new ring strategies: Longest Call Wait and Longest Inbound Wait, which help you offer more efficient service.
  • AI sentiment analysis features, which allow you to gauge how a call went and gain further insight into customer experience.

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3. Vonage

Smart Plan: Best phone system for value for money

Vonage logo
Vonage – Smart Plan
4.6
Pricing $30
Quick overview

Boasting a set of shiny features like dynamic call routing and post-call analysis, Vonage’s embrace of AI in its Smart Plan subscription gives your small business the flexibility it needs to keep customers happy. Its provision of tools, metrics, and data gives you a 360-degree view of the interactions between your customers and agents, enabling you to turn insights into actionable items that heighten your ROI. These features explain why over 700 customer centre customers have turned to Vonage internationally.

Vonage's Smart Plan offers a wide range of customer support features and low monthly costs, which is a recipe for scaling up your operation. Although these come at an additional cost, Vonage also lets you tap into its wide set of ready-made integrations, as it’s compatible with systems like Hubspot, Salesforce, Zendesk, Slack, and Office 365. This allows you to unify all your business communications in one spot, giving your agents all the necessary tools to provide the best customer service possible.

Strengths

Customisable dashboards and wallboards give you real-time visibility of KPI progress

Displays a local number when reaching out to customers, improving response rate

Solid customer support service

Weaknesses

Security is not as robust compared to other phone system providers

Some useful training and management features not available on the Smart Plan

Call recording costs an extra $5 per user, per month for Australian customers

Vonage Smart Plan pricing
PlanPrice Per user, per month
Smart Plan $30

What kind of small business features does Vonage Professional offer?

  • Software integrations: Although it comes at an additional cost, we could integrate Vonage’s phone system with a wide range of software platforms, including Hubspot, Slack, Office 365, Salesforce, and Zendesk. If you want to access web conferencing, you’ll need to integrate with Unytalk, which will also cost extra.
  • Onboarding support: This is only available at an additional cost.
  • Scalability: Vonage's Smart Plan gave us access to call queue, ring groups, an unlimited number of users, and analytics, which are the foundations needed to upscale a business. It also integrates seamlessly with Slack, which allowed us to set up a remote operation that can slash costs. However, it's worth being aware that helpful management features like call recording and call monitoring come at an extra cost in Australia (call recording costs $5 per user, per month).

How does Vonage Professional compare with other VoIP providers for small businesses?

Backed by our thorough research, which considered software integrations, onboarding support, and the scalability of each small business phone system, Vonage scored an overall 4.6/5 for small businesses. Its highest scores are for features and scalability, offering users a large amount of features like spam prevention, ring groups, and a large number of software integrations.

Vonage earns a top score of 4/5 for price – along with GoToConnect and Dialpad. Vonage offers fantastic value for money and its prices are cheaper than that of the aforementioned competitors.

All that said, we gave Vonage a rating of just 3/5 for security because it’s missing multi-factor authentication and password rules – features provided by competitors like RingCentral and 8×8.

Dive into our longer review of Vonage for more information.

What's new for Vonage in January 2024?

  • Conversation Analyser: Vonage has made improvements to its existing conversation analysis feature, which through integration with your CRM tool helps manage the quality of your call handling and can be beneficial for training purposes. Now, you can also view a transcript of the call, control the speed of the call playback and benefit from support in additional languages.

4. Dialpad

Pro plan: Best phone system for conversational AI

Dialpad – Pro plan
4.3
Pricing $35 – $45
Quick overview

With one foot in the present and another in the future, Dialpad is known for its innovative use of conversational AI. Known as Dialpad Ai, this function accurately transcribes your phone calls in real-time, flags whether or not the conversation features happy or frustrated customers, automates post-call summaries, and enables you to create notes with tips and advice that appear on screen when certain keywords or phrases are spoken on call. You can also choose to turn off this feature for more confidential conversations.

Strengths

Great customer support, including a user forum, knowledge base, and live chat

Superb reputation among customers, with an average review score of 4.4

Offers the best range of features, right after 8x8

Weaknesses

Not very easy to scale, scoring 3.3 in our scalability analysis

No uptime guarantee at the Pro subscription level

Dialpad Pro plan pricing
PlanPaying annually Per user, per monthPaying monthly Per user, per month
Pro $35 $45

What kind of small business features does Dialpad Pro offer?

  • Software integrations: Dialpad is ready to be synced with CRM, helpdesk, web conferencing, email, workspace, internal live chat, and SSO platforms, which gave us access to systems like Salesforce, Zendesk, Hubspot, G Suite, and Slack. However, it does miss out on external live chat and analytics integrations, and its own API. Overall, it does have a pretty limited offering of integrable platforms, particularly on the CRM front, with only three possible CRM platforms.
  • Onboarding support: This is available to Dialpad Pro subscribers.
  • Scalability: With access to call queue, ring groups, and a variety of management features like call recording, analytics, and call transcripts, Dialpad Pro offers a good range of tools you can rely on to build up your business. Plus, we liked using internal live chat and web conferencing to slash costs and keep operations remote. However, its security measures do miss out on multi-factor authentication and password rules, making it less secure than other providers like 8×8.

How does Dialpad Pro compare to other VoIP providers for small businesses?

Our researchers looked closely at how suitable Dialpad is for small businesses and awarded it an overall score of 4.3/5. The lower score is mostly because it’s pricier than other providers, and because it could have a larger offering of external connections. Despite this, we found that Dialpad's Pro plan is nifty and modern thanks to its conversational AI, giving you hands-free access so you can focus your attention on other tasks. Despite its faults, we awarded Dialpad a great score of 4.5/5 for its customer support because it offers users 24/7 support and live chat, ranking above other providers in this category, like GoToConnect and Vonage.

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What's New for Dialpad? January 2024

  • Custom Ai Playbooks: An improvement to its AI capabilities, the ‘custom' element of these features recognises that different teams follow their unique protocols. With Dialpad's help, teams can benefit from scorecards and playbooks which rate customer interactions and provide automated notes and suggestions throughout calls to assist agents.

5. RingCentral

Premium plan: Best phone system for customer service teams

RingCentral logo
RingCentral – Premium plan
4
Pricing $53.99-$63.99
Quick overview

If you’re a business that values compatibility with your software anatomy above all else, RingCentral is a great option thanks to all the external connections it can adapt to. Trusted by giants including Orange, BMJ, Ray White, and TechnologyOne, RingCentral has carved itself a reputable spot as a leading VoIP provider. With nearly 20 years in the cloud telephone services sector, RingCentral is a robust option for your small business thanks to its rich menu of management features, integrability, and onboarding support.

With personalised, data-backed routing, you’ll be able to deepen relationships with your customers. What’s more, with RingCentral’s reports and intuitive dashboards, you’ll gain valuable insights that will guide business-critical decisions.

Strengths

Tightly integrated IVR and automatic call distribution (ACD), allowing you to leverage customer data

Rich menu of management features

Weaknesses

Pricier than other providers

Needs RingCentral Engage to use power and auto dialer, predictive dialling, and custom call lists

RingCentral Premium plan pricing
PlanPaying annually Per user, per monthPaying monthly Per user, per month
Premium $53.99 $63.99

What kind of small business features does RingCentral Premium offer?

  • Software integrations: With the Premium subscription, you can sync your RingCentral phone system with over 90 CRM platforms, with key helpdesk integrations like Salesforce and Zendesk, analytics, and other platforms like Slack, WhatsApp, and Facebook. We found this makes your customer service arm stronger and allows you to instantly draw on customer-specific data to provide a frustration-free experience.
  • Onboarding support: This is available to RingCentral Premium subscribers.
  • Scalability: We were impressed by RingCentral's scalability, equipping you with all the right tools – call queue, ring groups, web conferencing tools, internal live chat, and pretty much all the management features you could ever need as a small business. It also includes multi-factor authentication, compliance certifications, and encryption, which will help shield your operation as you continue to scale – but password rule settings are only available with the RingCentral Engage add-on.

How does RingCentral Premium compare with other VoIP providers for small businesses?

Factoring in price, integrability, features, and customer support, our in-depth research has awarded RingCentral an overall score of 4/5 a system for small businesses. With access to key features like call queue and ring groups, you can easily take on a large volume of calls. Because of this, we’ve awarded RingCentral a score of 4/5 for features, putting it just behind 8×8 and Dialpad.

What’s more, when compared with competitors like Vonage, GoToConnect, and Dialpad, RingCentral races ahead for customer service features in our research, scoring a perfect 5/5 in this category. It offers 24/7 live support, email, phone, and live chat. So, you can be confident you’ll have the support you need when growing your small business.

For more on RingCentral, read our dedicated review.

What's New for RingCentral? January 2024

  • RingCentral has reduced the risk of customer calls suffering from poor call quality by offering the possibility to test audio without having to place a ‘test' call to colleagues.
  • Like 8×8, RingCentral also now integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Teams, providing an in-built telephony solution without having to subscribe to an extra Teams license or leave the Teams app.

How to choose a small business VoIP telephone system

When choosing a VoIP telephone system for your small business, there are a few key elements that you can focus on to help you make your decision. You can consider:

Which provider suits your budget?

As is the case for many things in business, money can be an inevitable pain point.

Therefore, it’s important to prioritise options that:

  • Charge low up-front monthly fees,
  • Offer inclusive domestic minutes,
  • Provide multiple communication channels (so you don’t have to pay extra to get these from other providers),
  • Provide solid customer support so that you won't lose money during any potential phone downtime.

Which provider is compatible with your software?

When you’re entering the VoIP-verse, the last thing you want to do is spend valuable time switching between various software platforms. Therefore, choosing a provider that offers numerous integrations is key.

Look out for ready-made integrations with things like CRM, workspace, email, web conferencing, internal messaging, and external messaging platforms.

Which provider can grow with your business?

Outgrowing your telephone system can be a burden and incur extra costs. Choosing a VoIP telephone system that can grow as fast as your business is best.

Key green flags when it comes to scalability :

  • Providers that let you onboard an unlimited number of users,
  • Systems that include call queues, ring groups, a good array of management features,
  • Features that allow you to run your operation remotely, like internal messaging and video conferencing,
  • Security will also be key here as this shields your business from risks during expansion.
Did You Know?

The VoIP market is expected to reach USD $354.7 billion by 2032.

What are the key features of a small business phone system?

Phone systems for small businesses typically include features like call conferencing, call forwarding, and extension dialling.

  • Call conferencing is a call which can be joined by multiple people.
  • Call forwarding allows calls to be redirected or forwarded to another number and extension dialling allows calls to be sent to an extension with your phone network.

We recommend opting for a VoIP system that offers a virtual receptionist as this will make it easy to provide a great experience for your customers without using much manpower. All of the providers on this page and in our guide to the best office phones offer a virtual receptionist.

Great reporting and analytics are important tools as they allow you to make informed decisions about your business. Some of the data you can access include talk time, total number of calls, and calls in queue.  You might not have the resources to carry out these data dives, so a built-in reporting tool will help you out a ton.

Another key feature to look out for is software integrations. VoIP systems that can integrate with software such as a CRM system or accounting software will streamline your day-to-day operations. Having various software systems speak to each other will mean less manual work for you or your employees and use up less manual labour.

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Verdict

Even though you’re spoilt for choice with five great VoIP telephone systems for small businesses, our top-rated recommendations are 8×8's X2 plan and GoToConnect's Standard plan. They're both affordable, they come with modern and unified communications features, and they’re more flexible and easy to use remotely and in the office – all points to consider when running a small business!

However, you’re not alone in trying to decrypt all the options and jargon in the VoIP-verse. We want to help you cut through the noise and find the right small business phone system for you easily and quickly.

You can fill in our quick and free quote-comparison tool so that you are partnered with a new small business phone system that meets your needs. Simply answer a few questions about your team’s needs, and we’ll match you up with the phone system providers you should know about. They’ll be in touch with free, tailored, obligation-free quotes.

How We Test VoIP Phone Systems and Services for Businesses

We tested 10 market-leading VoIP products and services to evaluate them in terms of functionality, usability, cost, security options, and more so we can make the most useful recommendations to Australian businesses.

Our rigorous testing process means these products have been scored and rated in seven main categories of investigation and 16 subcategories – in fact, we covered 78 areas of investigation in total. We then gave each category score a ‘relevance weighting' to ensure the product's final score perfectly reflects the needs and requirements of Expert Market readers – and that's our product testing algorithm in a nutshell!

Our main testing categories for VoIP products and services are:

Customer Score: external customer opinion; the feedback and ratings given by customers who have used a particular VoIP product – the market position and reputation a VoIP software holds.

Cost: the pricing structure associated with the VoIP service, such as monthly subscription fees, call rates, setup fees, hardware costs, and any additional charges for add-on features or services.

Features: the functionalities and capabilities offered by the VoIP service, including basic features such as call forwarding and voicemail, as well as advanced features like auto-attendant and conference calling.

External Connections: the VoIP service's ability to connect and integrate with external systems or devices, such as compatibility with existing phone systems or integration with mobile devices.

Customer Support: the assistance and resources provided by the VoIP service provider to customers, including technical support, online resources, and access to customer support representatives.

Security Options: the measures and features implemented by the VoIP service to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and protection of voice communications and data.

Scalability: the ability of the VoIP service to accommodate the growth and changing needs of an organization, e.g. capacity to handle a growing number of users or support multiple locations.

 

FAQs

How do I set up a small business phone system?
To set up a phone system for your small business, there are four steps that you need to follow:

  1. Choose a provider that works for you and suits the needs of your small business. Then activate your account based on the specific set of instructions you’re given.
  2. Set up IP phones: If you choose to use IP desk phones, you’ll next need to set these up. It’s as easy as attaching your handset to the base of your IP phone using the cord provided. Plug your ethernet cable into your phone’s WAN port, and the other end into your router. As a side note, keep in mind you don’t need a desk phone if you are installing a VoIP system – you can still access and use it on devices that include smartphones, tablets, and computers.
  3. Transfer your existing toll-free number: If you have an existing toll-free phone number, you can port this over onto your new business phone system.
  4. Customise your phone system: every business is different, so there will be features that you’ll prioritise. As an administrator, you can change and set up business phone system settings and assign users and extensions based on their job descriptions.
Traditional PBX vs. VoIP: what’s the difference?
The long and the short of it is this: a traditional PBX system uses a landline to make and receive calls, while a VoIP system uses the internet.

Both phone systems allow you to receive multiple calls at the same time. While a PBX uses a digital on-premise switchboard to branch calls off to different handsets, a VoIP system uses an online server. Let's take a closer look:

VoIP systemsVoIP phone systems

VoIP phone systems work by transmitting phone audio over the internet. They come in two varieties: on-premise VoIP, and hosted VoIP (also known as cloud-based VoIP).

With on-premise VoIP, the system is hosted on your own servers. You'll need all the right hardware for this, and you'll need to pay someone with the right expertise to build and maintain the system.

By contrast, a hosted VoIP system lives on your system supplier's servers, and is managed and maintained by your supplier, not you. Over and above all other kinds of phone systems, we recommend hosted VoIP to small businesses. This is because it's affordable, it's easy to install, and it tends to come with sophisticated call and UC features for your team to benefit from. This is why most of the systems we review on this page are cloud-based VoIP systems.

Another benefit of a VoIP system is that it can be accessed from anywhere. Most come with an app that your team can download onto a device of their choice. These can be used to make calls and access the system features – meaning you don't even need to buy desk phones if you're on a budget. If you do choose to, you should look for IP phones, which are VoIP-compatible desk phones.

Traditional PBX systemsTraditional phone systems

If you're not ready to upgrade to a VoIP system, a traditional landline phone system may be suitable for very small businesses with a handful of employees. All you need is one line in and a couple of phones, so that more than one employee can pick up the phone if it rings.

If you tend to receive lots of calls, having one phone line could be holding you back. This is where a PBX system comes in.

A PBX phone system turns your traditional phone system into a multi-line system by giving you the option of adding extensions that lead to each phone. Once a call comes in, the PBX auto attendant directs the caller to the right extension number, freeing up the phone line for another call to come in.

The features of a landline PBX phone system are basic when compared to those available with VoIP – which is one of the reasons why we recommend VoIP instead. However, you'll still be able to coordinate incoming and outgoing calls, make call transfers, and manage voicemail.

Of course, PBX is flexible in the sense that it can be used with VoIP as well as the landline. In fact, many suppliers give you the option to create an IP PBX system. This uses SIP trunking to connect a traditional phone system to the internet, meaning you can make calls over the internet and benefit from VoIP functionality, in addition to making calls using a traditional landline.

Can I use my phone as a VoIP phone?
Yes, as long as you have a smartphone, VoIP software is designed to be used on any compatible device.
How do I switch from my old system to a VoIP system?
Once you've decided that you're ready to trade your old telephone system in for a new and shiny VoIP system, or perhaps from one VoIP provider to another, there are a few considerations to make so you can hit the ground running.

  1. Check if you need new phones. VoIP requires phones or softphone apps that are compatible with internet calling. Your provider will likely sell phones or have recommendations, but you may be able to get away with simply using your smartphone if it's compatible.
  2. Make sure your internet connection is VoIP-ready. VoIP requires a broadband (at least 10-15 Mbps upload/download) internet connection to avoid call quality issues.
  3. Port your phone numbers. Contact your new VoIP provider to transfer your existing business phone numbers to their service.
  4. Install any new phones and test call quality by making test calls. Make adjustments as needed to router QoS settings or WiFi to optimize quality.
  5. Transition users and configure features. Set up voicemail, auto attendants, call groups, call forwarding rules, and other features on the new system and train employees on using the new phones.
  6. Cancel your old phone service only after the new VoIP system is fully functional and tested. This avoids any downtime between systems.
Are VoIP calls free?

No, VoIP calls are technically not free. However, in some cases, they may seem “free” or very low-cost compared to traditional phone services since they work over Wi-Fi.

VoIP providers charge a monthly fee for using their phone service over the Internet. This allows you to make and receive VoIP calls. Calls made between users on the same VoIP network are often free or very cheap. For example, VoIP calls within a company's office locations may have no per-minute charges.

Some VoIP services offer unlimited domestic calling plans for a flat monthly fee. So calls to other Australian numbers don't have per-minute charges up to a very high volume. In terms of international calling, it's usually much cheaper than with traditional phone services. However per-minute international charges still apply with most VoIP providers and rates depends on the country.

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Written by:
Fernanda is a Mexican-born Expert Market writer, specialising in providing in-depth insights about business software to help businesses of all shapes and sizes thrive. From VoIP systems to project management software, she’s passionate about helping businesses find the tools and methods that will help give them an edge over their competitors. Fernanda has ample journalistic experience, having written for a multitude of online magazines about topics ranging from Latin American politics to cryptocurrency.
Reviewed by:
James thinks all businesses can improve if they use the right technology. At Expert Market, he utilises his 4+ years experience as a researcher to offer specialised advice on a wide range of categories from CRM to Fleet Management.