Why start ups need a digital phone service - urgently


Date: 26 September 2023

A customer service operative speaks to a customer via VoIP.

The time has come for small businesses up and down the UK to go digital or go bust. Landlines are being switched off permanently, making it the perfect time for your business to jump to digital VoIP phone systems.

Are landlines really being axed?

Yes. There are lots of urban myths doing the rounds too, like only BT customers are affected (wrong) or that it only applies to households, not businesses, or vice-versa (wrong again). But the fact of the matter is that all UK businesses and residential households are affected. In fact, since 5 September 2023 no more new landlines have been sold as "The Big Switch Off" takes place.

It also doesn't matter which phone provider you're with - it affects everyone including start ups, micro businesses and freelancers.

Why are landlines going?

Traditional copper landlines are old technology. With modern communications moving on at pace, they're no longer fit for purpose, plus they're difficult and expensive to maintain.

The landline switch off was first unveiled by Ofcom and Openreach back in 2015. It is due to be completed by December 2025. That might seem like a long way off, but it's not just your phone line that will be affected. Any other systems like card payment devices and CCTV will also need to be upgraded if they use a landline. Leave it to the last minute and you could end up scrabbling around for a digital phone provider at the same time as everyone else, and prices may well have risen by then too. So we can't emphasise this enough: start doing your homework and make the switch now!

What is VoIP?

VoIP (which stands for Voice over Internet Protocol) is a digital alternative to the traditional phone system. When you make or receive a call, it sends the sound digitally across the internet in 'packets', rather than using traditional copper phone lines. It's incredibly secure and the sound quality is much higher too. Not only that, but you don't need to worry about losing signal or being cut off, as can often happen with mobile phones.

Bear in mind that you need a strong, stable internet connection to use your VoIP phone system. Fibre is best, especially if you plan to make video calls.

"Running a small business is very challenging. Small business owners have to wear ten hats and juggle ten balls at the same time .

"Now with the landline switch off just around the corner, there's one more thing to think about. The natural response is inertia, to do nothing until it's probably too late. But there is help out there." Anthony Karibian, founder and CEO of digital telecoms provider bOnline

How else do VoIP digital phone services benefit start ups?

There are loads of different ways in which a VoIP digital phone system can be a huge advantage to your start up business. Not only will you not be affected by the landline switch off, it's likely you will save yourself money too. That's because as your business grows and you take on more staff or move premises, you don't need to pay out for additional phone lines or hardware. Additionally, most VoIP providers offer various fixed-price packages with unlimited calls included which can help keep your spending in check. You can often even add international calling bolt-ons which can save you a fortune in call and roaming charges.

Here are some more benefits of VoIP:

  • You can keep your existing number (or change it if you want to - it's up to you)
  • You can get a specific area code - even if your business isn't based in that geographical area. For example, an 020 London code.
  • VoIP phone systems come with a whole range of handy, business-friendly features to give your business a more professional look. These include call divert, hold music, access to call analytics, voicemail, video calling and much more.
  • You can set up your own call flow and business hours, so you never have to miss a call even if it's out of hours or you're on holiday.
  • You don't need to be tied to a fixed location like you do with a landline. In fact, you don't need a VoIP handset at all if you don't want one. VoIP phone systems are cloud-based, which means they can be accessed from anywhere using your smartphone, tablet or PC. This is great for working remotely, or from your car or work van! All you need is a decent internet signal.

How do I get a VoIP digital phone system for my start up?

The key here is to really do your homework, and check that your broadband speed can cope with VoIP. We recommend a minimum internet speed of 90 to 100 kbps (kilobits per second), and you should multiply this per user. So for instance, if you have ten VoIP handsets in use, you'll need about 1Mbps of bandwidth. As we've already mentioned, high-speed fibre is best.

Once you've got that sorted, you'll need to start looking at VoIP providers. There are all sorts of VoIP providers out there, offering different packages with a range of features. Some of them specialise in providing VoIP to residential households or larger companies for example, whereas others (like bOnline) only focus on small and micro businesses and start ups.

Working with a VoIP provider can be particularly useful because they do all the set up and connection work for you remotely. You don't need to worry about having any 'techie' knowledge yourself, and remote set up means you won't have engineers turning up at your home or workplace. It's also good to have an expert customer service team easily contactable on the phone and over web chat.

Next, make sure the package you choose has the right features your business needs at the right price point. Furthermore, how long is the contract length? If you're looking for maximum flexibility, it's worth opting for a 12-month contract rather than an 18 or 24-month contract.

Top tip: Look out for providers that offer a free VoIP trial so you can test out everything they offer without the commitment. This is a great way to see how you get on, and to decide if you want to proceed to a monthly package (you can often do this quickly and simply by logging into your online dashboard).

Anthony Karibian of bOnline continues: "There are a few companies that understand small business owners and have come up with a simple two-minute set up on a free trial basis. That means small businesses can set up and learn to use VoIP without any commitment or payment."

When you're building your fledgling start up business, choosing things like a new VoIP digital phone system can be more than a little daunting. But with a bit of time and research, you'll help to future-proof your start up as it grows and you won't need to worry about missing customer phone calls. After all, every call is potential new business.

Copyright 2023. Article was made possible by site supporter Emma Lewis of bOnline.

What does the * mean?

If a link has a * this means it is an affiliate link. To find out more, see our FAQs.