If you’re shopping for phone systems, you need to be able to comprehensively compare systems side by side in order to get an idea as to what you’re getting and how much you’re paying for it. An overall cost of a system might not give a clear indication as to the actual costs. An easier way to do this is to break the cost down into a per user comparison.
The range of cost per user can vary greatly when looking at phone systems. You can see prices as low as $6.50 per user, and as high as $100 per user. We’ll compare some different vendors here, looking at those on the low side as well as the high side, and talk about some of the feature differences each has.
Panasonic – Panasonic offers their TDE product. On a cost per user basis, this clicks in at $7. The product is a converged IP-PBX system with up to 256 extensions and 128 COs. It is recommended for small and medium sized businesses. It offers PC and Web based management, and integrates with Outlook. No auto-attendant is available. Voice-mail is available, but no messaging. Professional installation is required. Panasonic also offers other solutions that are in the $10 per user range.
Avaya – Avaya offers a product called Media Gateways, which has a cost of $6.50 per user. The product is on the simpler side, offering 5 incoming lines and 9 extensions with a maximum configuration of 21 lines and 44 extensions, or 31 lines and eight extensions. Options include Caller ID, Distinctive Ringing, Send All Calls, Speed Dialing, and 5 Party Conferencing. It has an auto-attendant, integrates with Outlook, and offers management that is both PC and Web based. Messaging and voice-mail are available. Professional installation is recommended for this product
Megapath – Megapath’s Duet falls in the mid-range in terms of cost, with a price tag of $50 per user. It is an all-inclusive product that offers unlimited local and long distance calling, high speed Internet access, and premium calling features in packages that are available for a flat monthly cost. It is a hosted solution recommended for small businesses. Up to 24 extensions are available. It does not have an auto-attendant, nor does it integrate with Outlook. Management is all web based. Voice mail is offered, but no messaging. Professional installation is recommended.
Star2Star – moving to the higher end of costs, Star2Star offers the End-to-End Solution that comes with a cost per user of $100. The product is a PBX that supports up to 500 extensions with unlimited voice-mail. No matter what type of Internet connection you have, the product offers many powerful and unique calling features. It is good for medium and large sized businesses. There is an auto-attendant, as well as Outlook integration. Management is done through a web interface. As with the other products, professional installation is recommended.
As you can see by reading through the paragraphs above, prices vary wildly as well as the features that you can get. It should be pointed out that it is important for you to know what you’re looking for in a phone system, what you’re looking to get out of it, before you begin shopping. Having your feature list ready and knowing what you’re looking for will help you to narrow your choices and, ultimately, make the best selection for your business.