VoIP vs. Landline Phones: What's the Difference?

Why all the talk about landline phones lately? VoIP phone systems offer better benefits, and are cost-effective and flexible for business needs.
voip phone and landline phone side by side

Leaving aside cellular technology for this conversation, there are two different types of technology that deliver our phone calls - one is traditionally called a ‘landline’ and the other is grouped under the VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) umbrella. Built on copper wires, landlines are the “OG” of person-to-person communication, while VoIP is Internet powered and has ushered in flexible, cloud-based communications since the mid-1990s.  

What are Landlines? A Long, Twisted Cord of History

Delivering voice to our homes and into the phone systems of businesses throughout the world, landlines were the mainstay phone service up until about 2010. This workhorse of telecommunications for the last half century served all of us, initially as heavy rotary phones permanently perched on the bedside table or affixed to the kitchen wall. 

Landlines are still in use in plenty of businesses today, typically as alarm lines, fax machines, and elevators—meanwhile, some businesses still employ these dinosaurs of communication as the carrier for an aging and near-obsolete phone system. 

Technical Talk

Landlines are made of copper and one aspect of these is referred to as POTS—not the kind you cook with, but rather just “plain old telephone service.” Landlines are also delivered as digital phone service over T1 Lines into business phone systems and called PRI (Primary Rate Interface). A PRI is a T1 circuit delivering up to 23 calls at a time, along with caller-ID and a block of DID (Direct Inward Dialing) numbers for employees to have their own direct lines. 

You might have also heard the term Private Branch eXchange (PBX) and are wondering how that fits into the landline discussion. Functioning as the call transmission system, this term was coined from operators physically “switching” phone lines to connect and disconnect calls.

As a hardware component, a PBX would streamline your call routing and switching between business and telephone networks. Landlines have traditionally been the way that a PBX would talk with the world. These analog (POTS) or digital (PRI) lines came through the PBX in the corporate closet or server room to deliver calls. As landlines are subsiding in popularity, so are these old PBXs.

Time marches on and market forces push forward. Not only that, but now the Federal Government has dictated it is time to officially retire this old and weary copper network, as we addressed in detail in a recent blog, No More Copper Lines: Everything You Need to Know.

So some of us are left scratching our heads trying to figure out where to go from here. This is where VoIP comes in. 

What is VoIP?

VoIP (Voice-over Internet Protocol, as we’ve defined many times) is the technology that delivers communications via an Internet connection. The VoIP we hear most about these days is what we all refer to as a hosted phone service, which lives “in the cloud.”

When your phone service is hosted, your actual phone system is typically in a data center (the cloud) that is protected by security and backed up by multiple sources of Internet and power. The phones in your office, your home, or literally any other location will connect to the phone system via the Internet. You may also choose to use a mobile app or desktop softphone app to connect to the phone system, again, via an Internet connection. So with VoIP, the Internet is king—there is no copper phone line involved.

Will I Miss my Landlines? 

It can be hard to say goodbye to old, reliable technology as it sunsets. This is why vinyl records have held on for so long! But when it comes to business communication, it’s best to change with the times.

While landlines historically generate fewer dropped calls than VoIP, over time those old copper lines develop plenty of their own problems. For starters, rainy days can wreak havoc on copper lines, often resulting in static on the line or worse. VoIP has also come a long way, and with a healthy office network and reliable Internet, dropped calls are far less frequent and getting better every day.  

On the plus side, landlines are typically more reliable during a power outage because these devices transmit just enough power (from the central office of the telephone provider) to remain live. You’ll also never have to worry about an Internet outage or spotty service sullying your call. 

Then there’s the question of what to do about your fax lines if you use a landline to power a fax machine. No need to panic, as there are countless options out there that are usually less expensive in the long run. There is electronic faxing to and from email (and multifunction printers, MFPs), as well as gateways to connect to your fax machine if you’re using VoIP phone service. While this technology is relatively new, it has gotten so much more advanced in the last few years. Ask us about these options, as we provide both. 

As for security, you may need to rethink your burglar and fire alarm systems that use landlines. Talk with your alarm company or reach out to us and we can recommend one to you. For a reasonable cost, you could upgrade your main alarm panel to add Internet connectivity as your primary alarm communication method. Cellular is also an option for alarms, often as a backup to the Internet. 

Along the lines of security, you may also worry about making 911 emergency calls without a landline. But don’t fret! VoIP systems have Enhanced 911 (E911)—which works the same as traditional 911—and can be used to call for immediate location information during emergencies. This is useful for a large building with many rooms and departments, such as schools, hotels, and corporate campuses. 

Unlike basic 911 where the caller must provide an exact location description with cumbersome directions, E911 reveals detailed information about the exact building location, as well as the specific floor and room number. We also offer a unique (and incredible) feature that will text a predetermined group of people that a 911 call has been made and gives them the option to listen in on the emergency call. Having this invaluable feature can be the difference between injuries, damages, and even possible fatalities.  

What Can I Expect from CCi Voice VoIP? 

System operations expenses, cost, and features are undoubtedly at the top of any pros and cons list. At CCi Voice we are many steps ahead of our competitors. We offer all features at one competitive price for all users. We’ll never tack on hidden costs, and you’ll always know how much you’re paying. We’re never about gimmicks or surprises! 

Because VoIP is Internet -based, as with any other online activity, there is always the concern about hacking, network breaches, and threats—especially as more organizations conduct hybrid and remote work environments. To combat this, we ensure call encryption and a host of other security measures to keep your communications safe. Flexibility and scalability are clear winners for VoIP. With cloud hosting, your phone system is accessible regardless of where you and your staff are based. And you can also scale up and down as your business needs dictate. Need to add an office for your staff in Ohio? No problem. Add an employee or two on the West Coast? Consider it done—all by local, U.S.-based technicians working remotely. 

CCi Voice: Always a Click or Phone Call Away!

If you still have questions regarding landline or VoIP phones, we can assist and make sure you have all of the information you need before making an informed decision. We’re always here to help our customers—both new and long-term—we’re just a click or phone call away

CCi Voice is completely transparent when it comes to pricing. View our pricing page to see how cost-effective we are, and all the features we include—at no extra charge—when compared to the competition!

CCi Voice Pricing & Competitive Analysis

Written by CCi Voice

CCi Voice is a leading provider of telephone and computer network equipment, software, and services in Southern New England, New York and New Jersey. For over four decades, we have been the go-to company for thousands of customers who need to install, maintain, repair or upgrade their critical communications infrastructure.

Leave a Comment