Is the landline really that outdated? In short – yes. VoIP phone systems were first introduced to the market way back in 1995, and since then they have gone from treading on the tail of traditional landlines to completely outrunning it.
According to WisdomPlexus, there will be around 3 billion VoIP users by 2021. So should you be using it, too? We uncover the six reasons why you should say goodbye to your landline.
1. The landline won’t exist in five year’s time
The landline has many chapters in its long history – from its nationalization in 1911, to its privatization in the 1980s. But sadly, in 2025, BT will be writing the landline’s closing chapter. The storyline will include switching off the ISDN lines for good and moving the UK’s entire telephone network to the internet.
In other words, when it comes to saying goodbye to your landline, you don’t actually have a choice.
So what does that mean for households and UK businesses? Well, in the next five years, all-analog systems will be replaced with digital ones.
But there’s no reason to panic, because digital phone systems – otherwise known as VoIP (voice over internet protocol) phone systems – come with a whole load of benefits, and you’ll find out more about these benefits in the sections below.
2. Landlines only offer very basic call functionality
A landline phone doesn’t offer much in the way of features – the typical house phone generally allows you to mute a call, forward a call, and block rogue numbers.
But with a digital phone system, the possibilities are so much more. For example, a digital house phone will allow you to set up call forwarding to your mobile, so you’ll receive house calls even when you’re out with the dog.
Digital phones are also particularly good news for UK businesses. Thanks to their extensive call functionality, they have been proven to help teams improve customer service.
According to a study by Spectrum VoIP, 67% of small businesses say VoIP phone systems have helped them to improve their call handling. This is largely down to the me/follow me feature, which filters a call through a priority system from phone to phone until someone picks up.
Other great features offered by VoIP phone systems include:
- An auto-attendant
- Call forwarding
- Hold music
- Voicemail to email (receive voicemails to your email inbox)
- Call holding
3. Landlines can get expensive, especially when calling abroad
We all know what it’s like to receive your phone bill at the end of the month, knowing full well you spent an hour on the phone to your sister in Australia the previous week. The costs soon rack up.
However, swapping your landline for VoIP can help you slash those phone bills. This is generally down to the fact that it’s cheaper to transfer a call via the internet than the landline.
Calling abroad is even more problematic for businesses that operate across multiple countries. But if they say goodbye to their business landline, they could save up to 90% on international calls.
The majority of VoIP contracts work in the same way as a mobile phone contract, in that you pay a set amount each month for a set amount of calls. If you regularly make international calls, you can ensure your phone contract includes unlimited calls to the countries you contact the most. This means you’ll know exactly how much you’ll be paying at the end of each month.
4. Landlines are a pain to expand, and you can’t move them
Adding an additional landline to a property usually incurs a £130 charge or thereabouts, plus the time it takes for a BT engineer to install it. You’d need to add an additional landline if you wanted another phone that used a different number.
VoIP phones, however, allow you to use different numbers on the same line. To add another phone number, just phone up your provider and they’ll set it up. The same goes if you want to add an additional handset. They’ll configure another handset for you, send it, and then all you’ll need to do is connect it to your internet or local access network.
In fact, hosted VoIP makes it easy for you to go that one step further. Say you outgrow your office or you want to move house – all you would need to do is contact your VoIP provider.
Because your VoIP phone number is hosted in the cloud, your entire phone system can be picked up and plugged in anywhere, whether it’s a new office or a new home.
And the biggest advantage of this? You don’t have to call every client or friend in your directory with a new number.
5. With a landline, you’re stuck to your desk… or your sofa
Because landlines are analog, the infrastructure requires you to be within the vicinity of a handset docking station to take the call. However digital phone systems don’t require the same physical infrastructure, and therefore you can pretty much make and receive calls anywhere.
Much of the infrastructure of VoIP phone systems is cloud-based, so all you need is the software to access it. This software can be hosted on your regular phone, and it can also be hosted on your computer or mobile phone, thanks to an application called a softphone.
A softphone app facilitates remote working, with 57% of small businesses stating that remote working is one of the top reasons why they’ve ditched their landline for VoIP.
So how does a softphone app work?
A softphone app is usually provided by your VoIP supplier. It works in conjunction with your phone system, which means you can access exactly the same data, contacts, and call history. It also means you’ll be able to receive calls to your work number on your mobile, and make calls using your work number, too.
6. Because VoIP is the future
Gone are the days where calling family and friends consists of a bad quality call that keeps cutting out every time the signal is lost. Thankfully, calling via the internet solves the problem of living in a valley, bad weather, or living too far away from the nearest phone mast.
Not only that, internet phone systems make it possible to transfer video data, as well as voice data, hence why applications such as FaceTime and Whatsapp video calling have become so popular.
And for businesses? Conference calls now consist of video and voice, and fancy VoIP desk phones even allow members of staff to have a face to face conversation from across the office.
So what’s next?
Firstly, do some research to find out more about VoIP phone systems and what they can offer you. Secondly, search around for prices – don’t go with the first provider that gives you a quote, as there may be another supplier that can offer you a better deal.
You could even go to your current landline or internet provider, and see what VoIP deals they may be able to offer you.
And don’t worry – there’s no need to panic. You’ll still be able to use your landline for at least another four years. Just bear in mind what you’re missing out on by not saying goodbye to your landline.
Writer and researcher
Aimee is Expert Market’s resident telephone systems, point of sale, and field service software go-to. If she’s not writing about business products, you’ll find her daydreaming about Dorset beaches.