The year was 1876 when landlines first came to be. It was a time when light bulbs didn’t exist, barbed wire was still new, and plastic just became last decade’s news. 💡 It’s no wonder why landline phone systems would soon become a mind-blowing business tool. But what once revolutionized business communications may be holding you back now — a fact that may become clear when you compare VoIP vs. landline phones.

To landlines’ credit, they’ve come a long way since their earliest days. They’ve gotten a lot more feature-rich over time. However, with the rise of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, the need to be tied down by wires — or even a desk phone — is quickly fading away. ☎️

To help you decide whether you should stick with landlines or opt for a VoIP phone service, here’s our comparison of how VoIP vs. landline phones work. We’ll also compare the pros and cons of each with small business and startup needs in mind.

What Is a VoIP Phone System?

A VoIP system is a type of phone service that allows you to manage phone calls using just your internet service. When you make a call through a VoIP phone, all you need is a reliable internet connection for your service provider to offer crisp, clear calls. No need to wait for your cell signal to reach all the bars. 📶

Using VoIP technology, your team members can turn just about any smart device — from cellphones and tablets to computers and IP desk phones — into their primary communication tool. Small business owners don’t have to invest in hardware unless desired (hence why VoIP phones are nicknamed “softphones”), making it easier to scale your team.

Since VoIP services are run on the internet, they’re also able to offer an abundance of features that traditional landline phones can’t. VoIP phones are often far more than business phones — they’re comprehensive communication tools.

What Is a Landline Phone System?

VoIP vs landline: Phone ringing GIF

Landline systems, on the other hand, transmit your voice as sound waves over copper wires. All of your team’s phone lines connect to on-premise private branch exchange (PBX) equipment, which is a bunch of bulky hardware that’s often stored in a dedicated phone closet. 🚪

In order to use landline phones for business, you must set your team members up with desk phones that are physically connected to this greater phone system.

All this hardware means that there’s no way for distributed teams to effectively use landlines as a remote work tool.

VoIP vs. Landline Comparison

Landline services are quickly becoming a thing of the past for the average consumer, and they’re on their way out for businesses, too. VoIP providers tend to provide far more benefits at a fraction of the cost.

With this comparison of VoIP vs. landline services, you can see how these two business communication options stack up against each other.

Mobility

VoIP vs landline: Pulling The Goldbergs GIF

Mobility is one of the most obvious perks of VoIP phones. Since you can make VoIP calls on any mobile device or computer — usually just by downloading an app or jumping on your browser — your team members have the choice of taking calls from their desk or taking them on the go.

This mobility is critical for remote teams. With more small businesses hiring from around the world than ever, being able to connect with coworkers and clients from anywhere is a big lifesaver. And since there’s very little setup required with VoIP phones like OpenPhone, your new hires can easily get started from anywhere just by using their mobile phone.

On the flip side, team members can only use landlines when they’re at their desks. Even if the desk phone is cordless, this means none of your team members can answer calls if they’re off-site, much less thousands of miles away. ✈️

Functionality

Have you ever dreamed of having a phone system that can do more than help you manage calls? VoIP phones make it a reality. ✨

Whereas most landline phones are pretty simplistic — you can manage calls, transfer to team members, and use voicemail — VoIP systems are capable of far more. Because they’re internet-based, it’s fairly common for providers to offer features like:

  • Text messaging
  • Call recording
  • Call forwarding
  • Voicemail transcriptions
  • CRM integrations

Plus, VoIP phone functions are more intuitive to use. For example, dialing is as simple as tapping a coworker or client’s name. And if you need help, many providers offer customer service, so you don’t need to invest in an in-house IT team as a startup or small business. Landline phones require some learning, with most call functions requiring unique codes and shortcuts.

However, keep in mind that some VoIP providers do lock advanced (and sometimes necessary) features behind high-tier pricing plans, whereas landlines usually offer all their features for one price. This can be a big downside to be aware of when shopping. 

Seek out providers like OpenPhone that offer the features your small business needs — like SMS, MMS, shared phone numbers, call recording and forwarding, and integrations — standard with every plan.

Reliability

Confused Can't Hear You GIF

A reliable phone system is a must for every business. No one wants to jump on an important call only to get cut off or hear static from the other side.

VoIP phones can deliver strong call quality with consistent uptime. (OpenPhone has a history of nearly 100% uptime! 🙌) As long as you have stable internet connectivity — such as through Wi-Fi or cellphone data — you’re all set to have reliable calls.

Landline telephones, on the other hand, are susceptible to sound quality issues, whether it’s due to bad wiring (which can be costly to fix) or bad weather (which you can’t do much about). And if you have cordless desk phones, you’re susceptible to power outages.

Though landlines are great if you’re located in a place with poor Wi-Fi, they’re generally lacking in the reliability department compared to VoIP phones.

Pricing

When you’re running a small business or startup, your budget may be pretty limited. Startup costs for landline phones can be prohibitive.

Landlines require a lot of hardware, which can cost several hundred or even thousands of dollars just to purchase and set up (not to mention, a lot of time). And each time you add a team member, you have to buy new equipment, too. 

With VoIP service providers like OpenPhone, each of your team members can get started within minutes, and pricing starts at just $10 per user per month.

Though it might seem like landlines could be more cost effective in the long run, bear in mind that landline phones aren’t just one-time costs. You’ll usually have to keep wiring maintained and pay for a monthly insurance package if you don’t have techy team members to fix any issues for you. Long-distance call costs tend to be higher than what VoIP services charge too, so landlines aren’t the best fit for international calls.

Plus, whereas VoIP phone updates occur for free — just like how your favorite social media app updates on its own — a landline phone update means replacing all of your hardware, which is incredibly expensive, especially as you grow.

Scalability

Loop People GIF

If you’re a startup, there’s a good chance you’re growing fast. And if you’re a small business, you ideally won’t stay small for long. Seeking a phone system that can easily grow with you is essential when comparing VoIP vs. landline phones.

With VoIP phones, all you need to do to add on a team member is pay a small additional cost and invite them to your dashboard. They’ll instantly have access to the phone numbers you want to assign to them, as well as all the key features of your VoIP system. You can also easily share contacts with your team.

With landlines, you’ll need to buy hardware and handle the comparatively difficult installation process before new hires can join you on your system. It’s not as scalable, and you may need to provide a bit of training, too.

OpenPhone: The Ideal VoIP Phone For Your Business

VoIP vs landline: Screenshot of the OpenPhone desktop and mobile apps

By now, it’s probably clear that choosing a VoIP phone company is the best option for growing teams — especially if you want to save yourself a lot of headache and costs. Internet phones provide a lot more flexibility and features than a traditional phone, too.

OpenPhone is the ideal VoIP service for small businesses and startups. It’s one of the most affordable providers on the market — though it doesn’t skimp on functionality. You can get highly advanced features like the following with just the standard plan:

  • Share phone numbers: Collaborate on calls and texts, while uniquely seeing when your team members are on the phone or typing in real-time. No more embarrassing double texts!
  • Snippets and auto-replies: Save time by creating canned messages that you can send in a snap, or by setting up auto-replies to missed calls, voicemails, and texts.
  • Auto-attendant (IVR): Reduce your need for a secretary by allowing your callers to transfer themselves to the right extension by using a menu at the start of the call.
  • Integrations: Connect your phone with essential business tools like HubSpot, Slack, and email.
  • Business hour settings: Create work-life balance with a separate business phone number, and set business hours that ensure you don’t get ringed when you’re out of office.

If you’re ready for the modern features of VoIP at an affordable price, give OpenPhone a try. Sign up for a free trial in under a minute.

Author

Emily is a freelance business and marketing writer based in the desert, though her writing is anything but dry. Her passion is writing compelling, human-friendly content that helps growing businesses perform better.

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