Business Phone Service

Business Phone Service

Business Phone Service 101

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Considering the rapid development of technology over the years, the telephone may seem like a throwback. Still, it remains one of the most powerful communication tools in any business environment. It's therefore essential for the success of your company - as well as your pocketbook - to have reliable, affordable business telephone service.

A business telephone service vendor can connect your company with local, long distance, and toll-free capabilities with a variety of calling solutions. They can provide service for offices of 1-2 people or hundreds of employees with different phone lines and extensions.

Many calling plans offer bundled services. These packages may include voicemail, outbound voice options, call waiting, caller ID, call blocking (preventing others from seeing where you're calling from), and rollover (callers will never receive a busy signal).

Business telephone service basics

You first need to assess what type of calls you will make more often: local or national. If you are a local company dealing with neighboring customers, you may not need anything more than an unlimited local calling plan that provides a fixed number of long distance minutes per month with a nominal fee for each additional minute. If you work with clients from across the United States, find a business telephone service package that provides unlimited local and long distance calling for one monthly fee.

Business telephone service vendors can also supply you with a toll-free phone number allowing clients to reach you from anywhere in the country at no cost to them. Domestic toll-free service can connect directly to your existing local phone numbers and can support 12 - 24 toll-free calls at the same time. International toll-free service lets you keep the same phone number for both domestic and international callers, allowing anyone to reach you at a single number from anywhere in the world.

With business telephone service, always keep in mind the additional fees you will need to pay. These are often referred to as "common charges" and include state and local taxes, FCC charges, connection fees, and placement and removal in directory listings. Also note that service plans that offer a low per-minute rate may require you to make a certain number of calls to preserve that price. Otherwise, monthly maintenance fees may apply.

Don't overlook VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), an emerging technology for transmitting ordinary telephone calls over the Internet. VoIP service can drastically slash your phone bills, especially if you make a lot of long-distance calls.

Sales channels

When it comes time to select phone service for your business you can go to a national provider or a discount carrier.

With a national provider, you get a company that has been around for a while and can deliver all the services you need. The actual technology the national providers use is very similar - you're essentially shopping for the best deals and customer service. Their services often come at a premium because they have marketing costs to consider.

Discount carriers work out deals with national providers and then pass the savings onto you. They use their own customer service and account maintenance teams, and have few overhead costs. You need to proceed with caution when working with a discount carrier - make sure you know how long they have been in business, what customer support they can offer, and what service levels they can guarantee.

Business telephone service buying checklist

Here are some key things to keep in mind before making your purchase:

Business telephone service pricing

You can get a bundled package for business phone service that includes all the standard features for about $60 per month per phone line. You can find plans with a fixed number of long distance minutes for $40 to $50 plus $0.04-$0.06 for every minute over that amount. There may be volume discounts available depending on the number of lines you need. Some companies may require an activation fee of $30-$40, but they may be willing to waive that charge.

Pricing on toll-free numbers vary. You may pay a monthly service fee of $50-$80 plus per call charges. Setting up a toll-free number may also require a setup fee of $50 or more.

Make sure to factor in network access surcharges, carrier-access charges, and state & local taxes, which will vary. Federal taxes on business phone service run about 3% and you will be responsible for paying 6% to 12% of the costs of your calls for Universal Service Fund fees. You may also be responsible for a PICC (presubscribed interexchange carrier charge) of $3 to $5 per phone line.


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