Misconceptions About Phone Systems

5 Misconceptions About Phone Systems, Debunked

Business phone systems are becoming increasingly advanced and complex thanks to constantly evolving communication technology. These new systems provide excellent alternatives to the traditional phone systems that have been in place for decades. As with most new technologies, however, misconceptions, myths, and legends have cropped up around these new communication systems, and consequently, some companies are growing wary of investing in the latest phone system technology.

Many professionals seem to think that their old phone system worked just fine. They think the company should call in the repair team one more time to keep it alive instead of buying something new for the office. Is this the right approach to corporate communication technology, though? Can virtual phone systems really stand up to the old-school, traditional systems that we know?

The answer is not as easy as saying “yes” to every new technological innovation that a major telecom brings to market. In some ways, it was easier to make a call in the days when you picked up a receiver, asked the town operator to connect you, and then heard your neighbors pick up on the party line.

Today, a smart phone may do amazing things, but it’s ability to connect a local call probably isn’t much better than that old system was–maybe not as good. Choosing the right technology, then, means being aware of the truths–and the misconceptions–surrounding virtual phone systems, not just adopting what’s new for the sake of novelty.

Let’s look at the five most common misconceptions about business phone systems, old and new, and then consider the right approach to selecting your company’s next voice communication technology.

There is only one type of professional phone system

1. There is only one type of professional phone system.

In fact, there are at least three major types of professional phone systems–Key System Units (KSU), Private Branch Exchange (PBX), and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP). An article in business.com articulates the differences in more detail.


Key System Units (KSU)


  • How they work – A KSU is a multi-line phone system that serves up to 40-50 users. Drawing the term “key” from the original name of the Bell System’s manually operated switch, these units rely on an external line to function. A variation of the KSU called the KSU-less system offers a similar but less expensive alternative for businesses with fewer than 10 phones.

  • Who they’re for – These systems work well for small businesses that have few lines and do not plan to grow in the future. Larger businesses or those with an aggressive growth strategy will want to look for something more conduicive to their needs.

  • What they can’t do – You cannot purchase KSUs without going through a phone service provider, which puts you in a less independent role.

    Private Branch Exchanges (PBX)


  • How they work – A PBX is a private telephone network that originally used analog technology to allow users to switch calls on local lines while sharing external lines. The enterprise and not the phone company owns a PBX, and these devices feature an uninterruptable power supply. This system is the old standby for many businesses.

  • Who they’re for – Businesses with more than 40 employees often use a PBX.

  • What they can’t do – A PBX lacks customer-care enhancing features and may result in more complications and downtime than other systems.

    Voice Over Internet Protocols (VoIP)


  • How they work – VoIP is the latest, most advanced phone system technology. It allows two users to communicate with phone lines using the internet, which makes international calling much easier and less expensive that it was in the past.

  • Who they’re for – Any size company can use VoIP since the price is determined by the number of actual users.

  • What they can’t do – You have to have a reliable internet connection with solid cables and a strong router. Otherwise, you’ll get jittery audio and a lot of dropped calls.

    Some business owners have not yet heard about the most recent advancements in phone systems and still believe their outdated-but-traditional integrated PBX systems are the only option.

    The fact is that new technology has afforded some significant developments in business telecom provided by numerous VoIP services, as well as a variety of fully virtual services such as TalkRoute. Many of these alternatives have turned out to be just as efficient and reliable as their traditional predecessors, and some even surpass them.

    You have to spend a lot of money

    2. You have to spend a lot of money.

    Several factors go into determining the price of a business phone system, including the number of sites, the number of users, any add-on services, redundancies, training, and required maintenance. All that variation means you could spend anywhere from $200 to $1,000 per system. So if you are serving 25 employees who each need a phone, your costs could run between $5,000 and $25,000. Whether you think that’s a lot of money or not probably depends on your budget. And of course, any phone system requires some investment from the purchaser–in this case, you or your company.

    How much are you going to spend? Traditional on-premises PBX services will always outfit your office with a privately contained, wired network to connect your office phones. While a durable and dependable business phone solution, that traditional approach is the kind of system that will cost you a pretty penny.

    Working with a phone systems provider that specifically serves small businesses and entrepreneurs can be one great way to save money. You will still have to pay for all brand new phones, wires, adapters, and the labor cost to install it, of course, which the many new businesses and struggling startups simply cannot afford.

    Another way to be more budget friendly is to upgrade to VoIP, which is often significantly cheaper than a traditional phone system. If you go with a virtual phone system, though, you completely eliminate the cost of all that equipment and labor because you can use your existing phones and set it up yourself.

    No business wants to break the bank to buy a phone system when you have payroll to meet, marketing to do, and products to build. But clear and fast communication is key to professional success, so getting a high-value, low-cost phone system is worth digging deep for.

    Virtual phone systems are not professional grade

    3. Virtual phone systems are not professional grade.

    Unlike traditional phone systems, which are run in house with lots and lots of wires, virtual phone systems operate out of an off-site, wireless server. While a business usually maintains a traditional phone system themselves or pays someone to do it, a provider takes care of a virtual phone system for you. These systems use cloud-based technology instead of a physical server located somewhere on site.

    Occasionally, you run into a business owner who believes that virtual phone systems are the stuff of small-time enterprises and not suited for serious businesses. It’s an understandable misconception because virtual providers have only emerged in the past decade or so, and some have even marketed their product to consumers rather than small businesses.

    There are now virtual providers, however, who have built phone systems that are not only sufficient for any size business, but also versatile and easily customizable. Thanks to these technological advances, freelancers, remote teams, and virtual business owners have a great opportunity to get a professional phone system that’s sized for their business of one or two employees.

    Today’s virtual phone systems include the full range of professional features such as voicemail, voicemail transcription, text messaging, call menu options, team extensions, team extensions, business contacts, directory, greetings, customized call routing, and customer service notes. There’s nothing shabby about modern virtual phones.

    VoIP service is the only alternative

    4. VoIP service is the only alternative to traditional systems.

    There is a notable distinction to make when shopping for a new phone system, and that is the difference between a VoIP phone system, and one that connects calls over the PSTN (traditional wired network).

    VoIP technology was a game-changer when it made its debut because it made it possible to put together a phone system using an internet connection rather than relying on the more expensive service from the phone company. VoIP isn’t the only alternative to traditional systems, though. Cloud-hosted PBX systems were the next installment, which follows other current technology by making the phone system completely virtual.

    A virtual PBX system could be the right option to save your business a lot of money and help you take advantage of cloud technology while enjoying reliable service and support.

    The point is that there are a lot of options for your business’ new phone system. You don’t have necessarily have to pick something you don’t think will be the best choice for your enterprise. Keep searching until you find that just-right fit.

    You need a VoIP connection for good quality

    5. You need a VoIP connection for good quality.

    Many cloud-based PBX providers rely on a VoIP connection, but a few providers such as Talkroute have found a way to combine the reliability of a traditional office phone system with the lean setup of a cloud-hosted PBX . This approach does not depend on the quality of your internet connection but instead employs the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) to connect calls using the networks of your existing phones.

    The catch 22 with VoIP service is that if you have dedicated bandwidth and supplemental equipment, the sound quality will be clear as a bell, but if you just use whatever internet connection you already have, you could end up with poor sound quality and dropped calls. You don’t want that. No matter how innovative and up-to-date your phone technology seems, if it makes communication harder, it’s a bad choice for you.

    That’s why it can be a good idea to start talking with a phone systems expert, finding out the options, and learning which one could benefit your business before you sink money into something that sounds good but might not work for you.

    Whatever virtual provider you end up using, be sure to do your research. Your business deserves a provider that’s concerned about reliability and quality call management.

    Virtual phone systems such as Talkroute are no longer on the fringe of telecom solutions. They are moving to the forefront because they can manage calls efficiently for businesses of all sizes and do so at a much lower cost than traditional systems.

    As you dig deeper into new voice communication technology, you’ll see how quickly this field is advancing and changing. Don’t be swayed by what seems edgy, and don’t stick with something just because it’s traditional. Make the right choice for yourself, your team, and your customers. You’ll appreciate your careful selection every time you pick up the phone.




    Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.

    Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.

    Stephanie5 Misconceptions About Phone Systems, Debunked