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The ultimate VoIP handset guide for business

In a previous article, I outlined 7 Things to Consider When Choosing a VoIP Telephony System (opens in new tab), analysing the benefits of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) versus traditional PSTN (public switched telephone networks).

Ultimately, in an increasingly digitised world, gaining increased flexibility and cost-efficiencies are the major draws that have seen the continued rise Internet Telephony.

However, there are important questions to ask when determining the most appropriate business telephone systems for your organisation (opens in new tab). Contrary to expectation, many decisions are often less to do with scale or type of business than with issues of functionality, specific to individual enterprises. The choice for either Hosted - or onsite VoIP – for example, may depend solely on possession of the technical expertise required to manage in-house systems.

Bespoke handset solutions

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to choice of handset for a specific type or scale of business; instead, there is a series of bespoke solutions to facilitate individual roles within the organisation. Providing the office intern with a top-of-the-range desk phone, when their remit is by definition limited, would be less than cost-effective.

Providing a senior executive with an entry-level model might (or might not) impact seriously upon their ability to effectively communicate, dependent on their relative technophobia/philia. Creating the right fit for your company means not only understanding the features of a particular model but how these features might be applied to facilitate a professional function (PA, Sales Person, CEO) within a specific scale and sector of business.

Amongst a wide range of models, two of the market leaders, Avaya (opens in new tab) and Mitel (opens in new tab), provide a range of handsets linked to their unified communications systems.

Here are some of the key features and uses at entry-level, mid-range and executive market points.

Entry-level handsets

Mitel 5304 IP Phone: this entry-level handset allows access to Mitel’s IP Communications platforms, supports both SIP and MiNet protocols and has a two-line facility. It has the advantages of being both simple to use and cost-effective; it is most appropriate for use by a small number of users/callers only, for example in a library or cashier retail setting.


Avaya 1403 Digital Deskphone: this basic model, compatible with Avaya IP Office only, features contemporary design and combines fixed and soft keys. As with the Mitel entry level model, it is suited to limited-call environments such as stock rooms and lobbies.


Mid-range solutions

Avaya 1608 IP Deskphone: this mid-range handset has fixed feature keys for functions including conference, transfer, drop, hold and mute and incorporates speakerphone and an 10/100 Ethernet port for laptop/PC. Suitable for a reception/ executive role within a small or midsize business.


Mitel 5340e IP Phone: this is a full-featured application phone with large graphics display and embedded gigabit support. It has thirteen fixed one-touch access keys and user settings which can be customised. Add-on applications include Mitel Intelligent Directory. It is similar in application to the Avaya mid-range handset.


Executive models

Mitel 8568 Digital Phone: this high-end handset has 16 programmable multi-function keys, is intuitive to use, with soft keys, multi-function keys and a six-line alphanumeric display. Perfect for heavy-volume phone use in mid-sized businesses.


Avaya 9608 and 9608G Deskphone: this incorporates eight lines, easy to administer graphic labels and a contact centre model, managing greetings and call monitoring. It is cost-effective, fully functional and suitable for medium to large businesses with heavy-volume phone use.


In conclusion

This is by no means a definitive list. It is worth exploring each company’s complete model range and those of competitor brands, such as Horizon’s Hosted Phone System (opens in new tab), for a more complete overview - because Internet Telephony is here to stay, and for the savvy business owner, it makes sense to invest now.

Matt Davis, Engineering Manager at Unified Communications Company, Solution IP (opens in new tab)

Image source: Shutterstock/Brian A Jackson