Breaking Down Different Phone System Options

Business phone systems come in different shapes and sizes, but there are only four real options for your business’ needs.

KSU-less telephone systems

KSU-less systems are suitable for businesses with ten employees or less. These small business phone systems do offer some advanced features, they are programmable and portable, much like key and PBX systems. However, KSU-less systems are not well suited for companies that plan on future growth.

Unlike other telephone systems, KSU-less systems do not require a cabinet, or KSU, to route calls–all of the routing software is contained within the telephone itself. Because of this, this type of phone system is generally inexpensive while offering most of the features that a small business might need in their phone system.

There are two potential downsides to this system, the first being that you must handle the installation and setup of this phone system on your own. KSU-less systems are not supported by telecoms or phone system vendors, meaning that maintenance, installation and the like are left in your hands. The other potential downside is unanticipated growth of your company. Because KSU-less telephones are not compatible with key or PBX phone systems, you will incur a great deal of expense if you need to upgrade your system.

Key systems

Key telephone systems are suitable for businesses with ten to forty employees. These small business phone systems offer features in line with what small businesses commonly need while keeping your overall costs within a manageable level if you are working with a smaller budget.

While key telephone systems do offer a wide range of features, key systems are not as customizable as PBX phone systems. Moreover, while upgrading these types of phone systems is generally simple nowadays, many small business owners have opt to choose PBX systems over key systems because when future expansions are considered, PBX systems offer a better long-term value.

One thing that we should mention here is that Hybrid options, such as are offered with Panasonic phone systems, for example, can give you the cost-effectiveness of a key telephone system while bundling the features of a PBX phone system at a lower rate.

PBX Phone Systems

PBX phone systems are suitable for businesses with forty or more employees or businesses that require features that key telephone systems cannot offer. While the overall costs of a PBX system are higher than other systems, due to scaling, the costs per employee actually decrease with the number of ports required. In other words, bigger businesses spend less money per employee with PBX systems than smaller businesses.

PBX phone systems offer much more in the way of flexibility and the possibility of customization than key systems, and while that flexibility leads to higher costs, PBX systems are often the first choice for small businesses, even those with less than forty employees at present, who are certain about their future growth.

Adding extensions and lines to a PBX telephone system is very simple and straightforward, making upgrades relatively simple and cost-efficient.


VOIP, or voice over internet protocol, is an internet phone system that uses the internet, rather than traditional phone lines, to send and receive telephone communications. Now, if your business uses DSL internet service, your phone service is technically running though your phone lines, but it is a completely different type of signal.

A VOIP phone system generally costs much less than other types of telephone systems, is oftentimes portable, and does not require the use of specialized telephones. While you can purchase specialized telephones that will connect directly to your DSL or cable connection, generally businesses opt to purchase a router that converts the internet signal for use with standard business telephones.