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How much does a business phone system cost?

We take a look at the typical costs for installing and maintaining a business phone system.
April 9, 2021

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When looking for a new phone system for your business, the sheer volume of choices and options can be overwhelming. Often made harder by the fact that many vendors and providers keep their pricing behind the loathed “contact sales” wall.

This blog aims to give some information about the general cost range for typical phone systems and for the sake of simplicity, we have broken the costs into three categories.

1. VoIP Phone System

A typical VoIP Phone System

For the purposes of this blog, we refer to a VoIP Phone System as a hardware-based phone system that uses handsets connected to the internet.

At the simplest level, a VoIP phone system is a way of making and receiving calls through a deskphone connected to the internet rather than directly connected to the PSTN (see our blog on telephony jargon). Broadband advancements over the past couple of decades have made this type of system the typical means of communication for small to medium sized businesses.

VoIP phones or ‘IP phones’ can be installed, in the same way as traditional desk phones. In fact the phone will often look exactly the same as standard desk phones. Most are connected via an ethernet connection whilst some can be connected through Wi-Fi.

VoIP phones include much of the standard capability of traditional deskphones, including the ability to make and receive calls, use voicemail, call recording, caller ID, and other similar features. Some more advanced VoIP phone systems will provide analytics and configuration settings in a web application.

Given the lack of integrations and portability with these types of systems, they are most suitable for small businesses in physical offices who don’t have very high volumes of calling.


2. Softphone

VoiceIQ softphone
VoiceIQ is an example of Softphone system

As the name suggests, a Softphone is a completely software-based VoIP phone system. Instead of traditional phone handsets, a softphone is accessed through a native or web application meaning they are completely untethered from needing to be fixed in location.

Calls through a softphone work best with a headset to optimise audio quality but can equally be used with a computer’s/smartphone’s built-in microphone and speakers.

One of the many advantages of a softphone system is that their functionality can be expanded significantly with built-in software and integrations into third party applications.

Softphones also have the advantage of not requiring any hardware so can be set up very quickly without the need for specialist assistance from IT. In fact, softphones work perfectly well in conjunction with other hardware based phone systems a business may have.

The flexibility and feature richness of softphone systems make them ideal for companies of all sizes, from one person outfits to larger companies with high volumes of calls. A softphone is also a perfect solution for companies embracing remote or hybrid working.


Related: Top 10 benefits of softphones

3. Cloud Contact Centre



Most Contact Centre phone systems are now entirely cloud-based, meaning the best way to describe them is as softphones on steroids. Many of the factors are the same but are optimised for the vast volumes handled by larger companies with complex customer service or telesales operations.

Increasingly, cloud contact centre solutions are completely omnichannel, meaning they can include, phone, email, social media, video conferencing and messaging in one application.

They also often require complex integrations into various workplace management systems and custom programming for handling the wide range of complex inbound calls.


Cost of a VoIP phone system

VoIP Phone System costs can be broken down into two main costs. Firstly, since the system is mostly hardware based, there are upfront costs for the handset devices.

Low cost, simple VoIP phones can start at around £30 but can easily surpass £100 for devices with more functionality.

Secondly, the cost of calling minutes are typically provided on a per user per month subscription basis.

Cheaper subscriptions at around £10 to £20 per user, include basic functionality such as:

  • Unlimited VoIP calls, and limited landline calls
  • Voicemail
  • Call holding and forwarding


Subscriptions with more advanced features enter the £30 to £50 bracket and include functionality such as:

  • Voicemail-to-text or voicemail-to-email services
  • CRM integration
  • Unlimited international and landline calls
  • Automatic callbacks
  • Call data analytics


So for a 10 person business:

Upfront costs: £300 - £1000

Total recurring monthly costs: £100 - £500

Total for 24 month contract: £2,700 - £13,000

Cost of a Softphone application

Softphone systems are almost exclusively per user per month billing, the costs of which can vary greatly depending on licence types and the features required.  

Cheaper subscriptions at around £10 to £30 per user, include basic functionality such as:

  • Unlimited domestic calls
  • Voicemail
  • Call holding and forwarding
  • CRM integration
  • Basic inbound routing
  • Call analytics & dashboards


Subscriptions with more advanced features enter the £40 to £100 bracket and include functionality such as:

  • Call recording
  • Transcription
  • Omni-channel
  • Wider integrations
  • Voice analytics
  • Multiple teams
  • Campaign diallers
  • IVR


So for a 10 person business:

Upfront costs: £0

Total recurring monthly costs: £100 - £1000

Total for 24 month contract: £2,400 - £24,000

Cost of a Cloud Contact Centre

As we’ve alluded to, Contact Centre phone systems are typically very complex and can involve a degree of customisation and implementation. The core software licences are usually billed on a per user per month basis and can range anywhere from £100 - £300 per user per month.

In addition to subscription costs, there could be professional services required for more complex implementations. These usually range from anywhere between £5000 - £50,000 but can far exceed this in some circumstances.


With this range of costs it’s hard to give a good estimate. But for a 100 person contact centre, costs over 2 years could easily range between £250,000 to £1,000,000.

The future…?

Whilst PUPM (per user per month) billing is the most common for softphone systems, here at VoiceIQ we have taken a different approach. We believe that usual cost barriers to powerful software can be eliminated by offering usage based pricing. That’s why we offer options for pure PAYG (pay as you go) on all our licences. That’s no upfront cost and you only pay for what you and your teams use.

VoiceIQ payg pricing
VoiceIQ's PAYG pricing



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About the author

Sam Gillingham

Sam is a Co-Founder of VoiceIQ and currently serves as Marketing Director. Sam oversees the VoiceIQ marketing operation, manages strategic partner relationships and works with key enterprise accounts to ensure their success with the VoiceIQ platform.

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