small business phone systems

Guide to Small Business Phone System Brands

small business phone systemsThere are many phone system brands and companies out there. In fact, there are no fewer than 50 different companies out there that provide business phone systems. Of course, there are the big, well-known brands like Panasonic, Cisco, Samsung, and Toshiba. Surely, they are good brands and can provide you with a good business phone system. But, are these systems really the best ones for small business? What do some of the smaller brands have to offer? This is a short guide to five business phone system brands that are recommended for small businesses. All of them are smaller than the big guys previously mentioned, but that doesn’t mean that their product or service is small on utility.


Formerly known as Packet8, 8x8 offers a hosted phone service solution, using the latest VoIP technology. All services are delivered directly over the Internet, so features can be accessed by employees who are in the office, traveling, or working remotely. So, 8x8 would be a good vendor for small business that has traveling or work-from-home employees, rather than one where employees need to be at the office regularly. With all hosted solutions, you’ll need a fast and reliable Internet connection to ensure that business demands are met for phone usage as well as other activities such as Web and email usage. The good thing about an 8x8 business phone system is that you aren’t sacrificing some of the features of a traditional phone system, like personalized voicemail, call forwarding, and three-way calling.


As with 8x8, Nextiva offers a hosted solution using VoIP technology. A Nextiva business phone system is better for a small business that would like a hosted phone service, but might not use the system all that much. Nextiva offers some very low rates – but for limited calling each month. Nextiva is also a good choice for microbusinesses, companies with fewer than 10 employees, as the three plans Nextiva offers are for one, four, and eight users. Features include holiday and after-hours greetings, voicemail to email, and number portability.


Vocalocity also offers a hosted solution, but is also one of the most customizable business phone system vendors on this list. You’re cost will depend on how many features, and which features, you would like. Small businesses can choose to incorporate mobile phones into the Vocalocity business phone system as well. Optional features include call conferencing, call recording, and paging groups (where you can broadcast messages to your employees through the business phone system). Another good feature is that each phone comes with its own phone number, instead of just an extension.


If you have a broadband connection, you can take advantage of Aptela's VoIP service and get big business productivity and mobility solutions—without the big business price tag. If you’re considering Aptela, the company offers a 30-minute test drive of their business phone system. Two great features about the Aptela business phone system include the support of green initiatives and administrative functions such as loudspeaker paging, password management, and call history. Payment starts at $25 a month per person, but a minimum of $50 per month is needed before your business can sign up for a calling plan.


Offering both hosted and server-based solutions, Fonality has competitive pricing for the value. If you have over 20 employees, it’s recommended to go with Fonality’s server-based solution, although this solution requires more up-front costs and ongoing maintenance by your own employees, which can take attention away from core business needs (unless you already have a robust IT staff). Besides that, Fonality’s business phone system options are very flexible and have a per-person monthly payment that’s better suited for smaller businesses. A nice feature about Fonality is that the company provides detailed reporting for all extensions and search filters, in case you’re suspicious about your employees making personal calls while on the job.

Take Away

Purchasing that small business phone system can be a difficult process, especially since there are so many aspects of which to keep track. The number of users, the different features, hosted versus server, all of that makes a difference in pricing and in which vendor would be the best fit for your small business. Certainly, this guide isn’t meant to be an exhaustive one to what’s out there. But, it’s a start in navigating these complicated lines.