Best Phone Systems for 2019

What are the best telephone systems to buy in 2019? Let’s take a look at the main providers/ manufacturers and see what’s on offer for this year!

phone systems, small business telephone system, what to look for in a phone system

With the consolidation going on in the telephone system manufacturer and provider marketplace, it can become confusing to figure out even who is the best- heck who is even still in business! In just the last few years, Mitel has gobbled up Intertel (digital telephone systems), Aastra (VoIP phones), Toshiba’s telecom division (traditional premise based digital and VoIP), and ShoreTel (premise and cloud VoIP). So how do businesses decide on what type of new phone system or provider of VoIP service in 2019? We believe that it comes down to several key factors:

  • Reliability
  • Feature Set
  • Research & Development of Product Portfolio

Keeping those three ideas in mind will easily guide you to making the best purchase of a new telephone system for your business.


When considering a new phone system, reliability needs to be at the top of your list. It is surprising how many well branded products have scary stats on dependability. Often quoted is the “5, 9’s” or 99.999% up time. This stat is so important, we at CSM South really cannot overstate it. Below is a chart detailing how much losing just one “9” can add up to.

Availability %Downtime per yearDowntime per month
99.95% (“three nines five“)4.38 hours21.92 minutes
99.99% (“four nines”)52.60 minutes4.38 minutes
99.995% (“four nines five“)26.30 minutes2.19 minutes
99.999% (“five nines”)5.26 minutes26.30 seconds

Pay close attention! Dropping just from the 99.999% uptime to 99.99% goes from just over 5 minutes down, to nearly an hour! And what is even more frightening, is that a large percentage of manufacturers and provides openly brag about 99% availability- but by simple math, that equates to 14 minutes per day, or roughly 3.65 days per year! Clearly, that is an unacceptable figure for a telephone system.

So, which vendors are the most reliable? Well, in our opinion that would be:

  • PhoneSuite- for hospitality
  • NEC- for traditional digital premise systems
  • Mitel- primarily for premise or cloud VoIP
  • Avaya- usually deployed for mixed digital/ VoIP environments
  • Jive- installed in value oriented cloud VoIP engagements

We won’t hide it- these are the primary products that CSM South sells and installs. For good reason, we at CSM South have carefully curated our portfolio to represent the best in the industry. Rather than representing just one product, such as Star2Star or Samsung, which are both fine systems, we have chosen an array of equipment and vendors who are at the top of their field.

For instance, could we just work with Avaya? Sure we could- the Avaya IP Office scales from just a handful of telephones, all the way up to several thousand. Additionally, Avaya makes a solid cloud product. However, when in a pure VoIP environment, Mitel wins hands-down on features and pricing. But alternatively, Mitel Connect cannot use digital phones, which in some cases are still necessary (in many assisted living facilities, for instance). This is why we offer both product lines.

Feature Set

If reliability came as a surprise, then take heart, because the importance of what features are available probably doesn’t! So, when considering the best telecom provider for your business, really take a close look at the features required or desired and how that meshes with what is provided.

AS an example, when we are consulting with a client about a new telephone system, we often ask if PC integration or mobility with cell phones, or other advanced features are a “must have”. If so, then a Mitel is the way to go as those are included with the most common license, Essential, but are additional with most other vendors. However, if those are not desired, then we can open up the discussion to include NEC and Avaya.

Do not assume that whatever product you are considering will automatically do what your old phone system did! Many features are not available today as standard such as whisper page, recording, barge, etc. Some providers still offer them at a fee, others at a base license, and still others just will not be able to accomplish them.

As a general rule, the main providers in the industry such as Mitel, Jive, Avaya, NEC, Samsung, and Unify have migrated their traditional feature set along with them, so typically anything your legacy telephone system does, they can do too. However, many “created” or “developed” products from local providers are based off of the old Asterisk platform, which did not contain the typical feature set. A good vendor should be able to answer fairly simply what the new system can or cannot do compared to your old one.

Research & Development of Product Portfolio

Hand in hand with features, R&D is the literal lifeblood of a product line. Technology is never static, rather it should be dynamic, evolving, and innovating. Since telephone systems and data networks are more meshed than ever, it makes sense that providers and manufacturers MUST continue developing; if not for additional functionality than just to keep up with software updates from the data side of things!

Any vendor or provider should be including regular software updates on their products. Mitel, for instance, releases a major update about once a year, with incremental updates throughout the months. Releases address small bug fixes, but also ass functionality and new features. A healthy R&D program ensures that customers are always receiving the best possible service and support as well as engineers are up to date and knowledgeable.

The BEST Phone Systems for 2019

So, to sum it up, the top five list, in our opinion would be:

  • Mitel- Cloud or Premise
  • Avaya- Digital/ VoIP Hybrid
  • NEC- Value Oriented Premise
  • PhoenSuite- Purely Hospitality
  • Jive- Cloud VoIP

To discuss this topic in more depth, give us a call today! We have offices in Tampa and Austin, Tx, from where we sell, service, and install cloud and premise phone systems.

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