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How To Set Up A VoIP Phone System in the UK? (2024 Guide)

VoIP phone systems are becoming widely popular in the UK and around the world. According to a report by Techopedia, they not only slash international calling rates by 90% but save employees 32 calling minutes per day as well.

Not only that, with the rise of remote work culture after COVID-19, switching to VoIP is a smart decision for all types of businesses. But how to set up a VoIP phone in the UK and what is the necessary equipment? Let’s have a look.

Setup requirements of VoIP

What do you need to get started with VoIP? There are 8 pieces of equipment you would/might need as a business.

  • Internet connection: VoIP calls are made via the internet therefore you would require a stable and high-speed internet connection.

  • Router & switches: The router transfers data between your internet and the devices while the switches manage the VoIP traffic, ensuring optimal call quality.

  • VoIP software: These are necessary software or applications that allow you to manage calls on devices like computers, mobile phones and laptops.

  • VoIP phone adapters: The analogue telephone adapters (ATAs) convert traditional landline phones into VoIP phones.

  • SIP trunks: SIP trunking enables you to connect your VoIP phone system to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) for external calls (voice & video).

  • Power over Ethernet (PoE): PoE switches provide power to your VoIP phones without needing separate power adapters.

  • IP PBX: This telecommunication device will provide centralised voice connectivity to the VoIP phones present within the vicinity of your office.

  • VoIP service provider: A professional VoIP provider meets your business requirements and offers robust support.

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How to Set up VoIP for Business? 8 Steps

The process of setting up VoIP starts with accessing your business’s requirements and ends with testing the system. Let’s have a look at the steps in detail.

1. Test the internet

As a rule of thumb, VoIP calls take 85 – 100 Kbps of internet bandwidth per line. Considering that most internet providers in the UK now provide speed packages in gigabytes, your existing network connection will likely be sufficient for the VoIP phone system, but you have to consider the number of lines you want to operate with your internet network.

When testing your internet connection, you also have to consider issues like jitters, latency, low bandwidth and packet loss. These issues can lower the quality of VoIP calls and create customer service problems. To overcome them, choose a wired internet connection (fibre, DSL, twisted pair or cable) instead of Wi-fi or 5G.

It is also recommended to configure quality of service (QoS) settings on your router. By prioritising VoIP traffic, you ensure that internet calls are preferred over other types of data (like streaming and downloading), thus enabling better and uninterrupted call quality.

Talk to your VoIP provider if your existing internet connection is sufficient for your business needs and upgrade it, if needed.

2. Access your business needs

Before choosing the right type of VoIP provider and system, you have to analyse the requirements of your business. Some of the questions that you may ask yourself and your team are:

What are the cost implications?
Will switching to VoIP help us save costs when compared to the existing phone system? And can we afford the system?

What is the magnitude of our communication needs?
This includes information regarding the number of daily customer inquiries and client calls, the time wasted during call transfers, etc.

Can the VoIP system scale with my business?
Determine whether a VoIP system is suitable enough even when your business expands in the future.

Do we have the network infrastructure to accommodate the VoIP system?
Determine whether you have the space to add the IP PBX, SIP trunks, additional routers, VoIP phone sets, etc.

Will my employees easily understand the new phone system?
Analyse if your employees can be trained to handle the VoIP system quickly and efficiently. Since it’s a new technology, some of your employees might face difficulties in adhering to it.

Which package is suitable for my business?
This includes considerations like the cost, type, flexibility, scalability and features of the available VoIP packages.

3. Choose the right VoIP type

There are generally 2 distinctive types of VoIP systems – on-premise or hosted. On-premise system means the hardware and software are installed in-house and you’re responsible for its maintenance and handling.

Hosted systems mean the hardware is located on the premises of the VoIP provider and it’s linked to your business through the cloud. In that case, the provider is responsible for all the maintenance.

You have to decide which ones suit your needs.

Property In-house system Hosted system

Budget

 

The in-house system requires capital for the initial installation of the infrastructure.
The hosted system doesn’t incur the upfront installation costs of the infrastructure.

Scalability

 

Scaling can be complex and costly.
Easily scalable.

IT resources

 

Needs a dedicated IT professional in-house to handle the system.
No need for an IT professional as the VoIP provider will look after the technicalities.

Customisation

 

Gives you complete control over the customisation of features & integrations.
Limited to the features allowed by the package you choose.

Scope of control

 

Gives you complete control over the system.
The provider has control over the system.

4. Choose the VoIP provider

According to a report by Succurri, some of the major phone communication problems for businesses include static noise, choppy sounds, delay in transmission and no ring on forwarding calls.

If you choose a professional and reputable VoIP provider, your chances of fixing these problems increase which leads to better customer satisfaction and more revenue as a result. So how do you decide which VoIP provider is suitable for you?

  • One that provides cost-effective plans: Cost is a big consideration when choosing a VoIP provider. Consider choosing a provider that offers affordable, flexible, and customisable packages.

  • One that provides sufficient features: The features should align with your business needs. E.g. if you have remote teams, you might want to have the conferencing call feature necessarily. Or if you handle customer inquiries every day, an effective call forwarding and voicemail greeting message will be crucial.

  • One that offers software integrations: Choose a provider that allows you to integrate applications like customer relationship management (CRM), etc. with your VoIP system.

  • One that provides assistance in SIP trunking: The difference between SIP and VoIP is that SIP trunking enables the transfer of video alongside voice calls. If your VoIP provider supports this, it can help reduce costs and maintenance compared to maintaining two separate channels for each type of transfer.

  • One that has good customer support: Choose a VoIP company that provides 24/7 and quick customer support so issues can be resolved timely.

5. Buy the hardware

The next step in VoIP installation is purchasing the needed hardware. This will depend on your personal needs but generally, it includes VoIP phones, headsets, ATAs and softphones.

VoIP phones are available in the range of £40 – £300 depending on the manufacturer and the number of features (ethernet ports, LCD display, conferencing, noise cancellation, etc). Choose a high-quality VoIP phone that provides clear audio quality and is long-lasting.

VoIP headsets are a great support to your phones. With the headsets, your company’s agents can take customer calls on the go while looking up customer information, noting down details and chatting with the team members simultaneously.

ATAs allow you to convert your existing analogue phones into VoIP phones. These adapters not only save costs on buying new desk phones but give your employees peace of mind since they have to keep operating on the existing phones they’re competent with.

Softphones are another method of reducing hardware costs. These are applications you can install on devices like computers and smartphones to manage VoIP calls.
Although computers and smartphones have built-in microphones and speakers, it’s recommended that you attach external headsets with the softphones to improve the call quality.

6. Choose a VoIP number

How do I get a VoIP phone number in the UK? You can choose a new phone number from different types like local, vanity and toll-free or transfer your existing number on the VoIP phone system through the provider via number porting.

Let’s first see the types.

  • A local number is assigned to a specific location. If your business operates in a specific market, it could be a good option. Also, if your business is spread across multiple locations, you can choose multiple local numbers for each location. They are usually free.

  • A toll-free number is an 800 number and looks more professional. Your customers don’t have to pay for the long-distance charges when calling toll-free numbers and all the cost will fall upon the business (but don’t worry since VoIP calls are way cheaper than traditional landline calls).

  • A vanity number is customised to spell out a word or phrase related to your business, making it memorable. E.g. 1-800-FLOWERS. These numbers help with brand recognition but can come at a high cost.

You can use your existing phone number as a VoIP number as well. The process is called porting. It’s the process of transferring your existing number from one service provider to another.

The process involves submitting a porting request to the new provider, who coordinates with the current provider to transfer the number. The verification and authorisation steps are completed within 15-20 business days and the transition gets completed.

7. Connect the VoIP equipment

Now, you need to connect the hardware together i.e. VoIP desk phones and headsets.

To connect PoE-enabled VoIP phone:

  1. Use a CAT5e or CAT6e Ethernet cable and plug one end into the PoE-enabled port on the router or switch.

  2. Plug the other end into the Ethernet port on your VoIP desk phone. The phone will receive both network and power connectivity through this single ethernet cable.

To connect VoIP phones that are not PoE-enabled:

  1. Plug one end of the Ethernet cable into the port on your router.

  2. Plug the other end of the Ethernet cable into the Ethernet port on your VoIP desk phone.

  3. Plug the AC adapter into an electrical outlet and connect it to your desk phone. Complete the initialisation process.

To connect VoIP headsets with Electronic Hook Switches (EHS):

  1. Plug the EHS adapter into the EHS port on the VoIP phone.

  2. Connect the other end of the EHS adapter to the assigned port on your headset base station.

  3. Connect the base unit with the power outlet. Access the desk phone’s settings and enable EHS functionality before testing the EHS connectivity through a call. You should be able to answer, end and mute calls directly from your headset controls.

To connect headsets with phone jacks:

  1. Connect the jack from the headset to the headset port on the desk phone. If your headset has an RJ-9 connector, insert it into the corresponding RJ-9 port on the phone.

  2. Adjust the headset settings on the phone and make a test call to ensure the headset works correctly.

You might also need to connect your desk phones with the IP PBX and SIP trunks for which you’ll require professional help. After the connections are completed, the configuration of VoIP devices should be executed.

This will include assigning phone numbers to each VoIP phone, setting up IP addresses and gateways, activating voicemail boxes, connecting with the CRM system, implementing firewalls and security protocols and controlling features like hold, call forwarding, and transferring.

8. Test and train

Once the VoIP is set up for your business, test all components to ensure they work smoothly. It is crucial because only with effective testing can the probable issues be addressed and solved before the system goes live for business usage.

Make multiple calls from different devices at different times and analyse the clarity, consistency, stability and latency of the calls. Especially, look out for issues in case of high traffic.

After your technical staff is confident about the VoIP system, you also have to train your employees about the usage of this new technology. Hold sessions and demonstrate the functioning of different features like call forwarding, auto-attendant, video conferencing, ring groups, etc.

Additionally, teach them how to download apps, manage calls on softphones while on the go, and integrate third-party apps with the VoIP phone system.

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FAQs

There are 2 stages of converting your landline phone to VoIP. First is to port your number (through a VoIP provider) and get a VoIP number that matches your existing landline phone number. The second stage is to enable internet calling on your landline phone which will be enabled by an analogue telephone adapter (ATA).

Yes, you can choose your own VoIP number provided it is not already taken. Contact your VoIP provider and request the number of your choice. A VoIP number is available in either local, toll-free or vanity form.

VoIP numbers are assigned through the following process:

  1. The business signs up for a VoIP service and provides details.
  2. The VoIP provider offers a selection of available VoIP numbers. You can choose from a local, vanity or toll-free number.
  3. The VoIP provider assigns the chosen number to the user’s account.
  4. The number is configured in the user’s VoIP phone system.
  5. The number is activated.

Written by:

Isabella Robinson
Isabella Robinson
Isabella Robinson is a seasoned business content writer, leveraging several years of experience to craft impactful narratives that seamlessly blend business insights with engaging storytelling across diverse industries. Her expertise lies in delivering compelling content that resonates with audiences.

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