Just as you might periodically compare personal mobile phone plans looking for a better deal, as a business owner you should also look at business phone plans. Not only because there might be a better deal, but also because the needs of your business change. If your business is growing, the phone plan you signed up for when it was just you and two other employees won’t necessarily be suitable now that you have 10 or even 20 employees. But looking for the best business phone plan isn’t about simply looking at what somebody else has rated as the best business phone plans in Australia. It’s about knowing what your business needs are, and then looking at phone plans that cater to those needs.
Why Do I Need a New Business Phone Plan?
A big reason for now being the perfect time for business owners to look at new business phone plans is the nbn™. The nbn™ is not only about faster and more reliable internet access, but it also means a change to how we make and receive phone calls. Once nbn™ access becomes available in a new location, business owners and residential customers in that location have about 18 months in which to switch from any services using the old copper line network to the nbn™–or other fibre provider–and VoIP, or to only using mobile. This is because the copper line network is–except for limited special services–being retired.
As this happens, the current provider of your phone plan will contact you about their available options for you. But this is also the perfect time to look at business phone plans from other providers.
What is VoIP?
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol and is a way for you to make and receive voice calls using a standard internet connection. It isn’t a recent technology, and it works on any internet connection, not just the nbn™. The reason it is being implemented on a wide scale with the nbn™ is that a faster internet speed is needed for managing many concurrent calls.
What Should I Look for in a Business Phone Plan?
Even though your needs–and the needs of your business–might differ slightly from your business neighbour, there are basic elements of a business phone plan you should always look at.
Handsets and Other Hardware
Moving over to a VoIP phone plan doesn’t always require new handsets, but at the very least it will require a business-grade modem with VoIP support, and the addition of some Analogue Telephone Adapters (ATAs) if you have more than a couple of lines. However, with the nbn™ and VoIP, a newer phone system has become more widely available. If you have always put off upgrading your business phone system to a PBX system due to the cost, a hosted PBX system offers all the features and benefits of a traditional PBX system, at a much lower cost. So, when looking at new business phone plans, look at what handsets and phone systems are also available with each plan.
Cost is obviously a big consideration with any new phone plan, but be sure to always look at the Critical Information Summary for each phone plan to get a truer reflection of what is included and excluded, and what other costs there might be. Many times the costs reflected under a plan’s basic summary are either dependent on a bundle deal, or signing up for a long-term contract. Lower upfront costs don’t always mean lower long-term costs, and bundled plans are only worth it if what is included is needed or of benefit to you and your business.
It is not uncommon for VoIP business phone plans to include unlimited calls, but you should still pay close attention to any terms attached to this. Are the unlimited calls only local, or does it include unlimited calls to national and mobile numbers? Additionally, if your business must make calls to international numbers, what are the rates for the countries you usually call.
Not all support is the same, and you need to know that the phone plans you are considering include access to business-grade support. This means not having to rely on an online knowledge base of frequently asked support related questions, but actually being able to contact a support centre, including over weekends. Business support differs from regular support in that it must take into account that any interruption to a business internet or VoIP service is also an interruption to the business.
Depending on the type of phone system you have, each VoIP phone plan is equivalent to a line on a traditional phone system. So, adding or removing lines from service means adding or cancelling phone plans. How long after signing up for a new phone does it become active and how much notice do you need to give to cancel one or more plans? Another thing to consider is whether the plans offered by a provider would meet the needs of your business as it grows. This counts not only for the plans available, but also the types of phone system and handsets available.
What Phone Systems Are Available with Business Phone Plans?
There are three types of phone systems usually supported by or available with business phone plans in Australia. These are:
|Basic Voice System||Hosted PBX System||SIP Phone|
A basic business phone line that uses the nbn™ for making and receiving phone calls and faxes, and can also be used for EFTPOS devices. Analogue handsets and devices must be connected to a business modem or an Analogue Telephone Adapter (ATA).
Features may include1:
• Caller ID
One basic voice plan is equivalent to one active phone line in your business. The number of concurrent calls–incoming and outgoing–you need to support decides how many plans you sign up for.
Similar features and benefits as a regular PBX system, with lower upfront and ongoing costs. The PBX system is hosted and maintained off-site by your VoIP provider. Calls can be made and received using VoIP handsets, computers (softphone feature), and mobile phones.
Features may include2:
• Line Hunt Groups
One phone plan is equivalent to one active phone line in your business. The number of concurrent calls–incoming and outgoing–you need to support decides how many plans you sign up for. Minimum is one, with no upper limit.
Basic VoIP lines for an IP-enabled on-premise PBX. The features you have access to are those already supported by your current PBX.
One channel on the SIP system is equivalent to one phone line, and you need a minimum of two channels. You can add and remove channels as needed, and numbers for extensions are available in 10, 50, and 100 number ranges.
|Learn more about the Commander Business One Voice Plan||Learn more about the Business One Commander Phone Plan||Learn more about the Commander Business One SIP Plan|
1 Available features depend on what is supported by your desk and cordless handsets.
2 Some features not included as standard but are available as optional extras.
All are great business phone systems, and all that sets them apart are the features or requirements for each. It is for you to establish which features your business needs.
Build your own business phone plan with Commander online and get an immediate quote or speak to our VoIP phone plan experts to learn more about Commander phone plans and which one would meet your business needs best.