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PowerSwitch.com is an impartial UK business telephone tariff/price comparison service. We make it easy for you to swiftly compare business telephone and telecoms suppliers. Using our extensive experience in the UK telecoms & broadband market, we'll help you find and compare the best industrial and commercial line call and wi-fi prices by matching your requirements to our comprehensive and accurate list of business telephone rate suppliers and broadband plans.
Switch your business gas or business electricity today too and claim more cashback as a loyalty bonus. Take a minute or two to let us help you save the maximum amount of money on your business phone bills. Looking for home phone & broadband comparisons?
How PowerSwitch.com compares Business Telecoms prices
We use our comparison software, business users can effortlessly compare the results on a number of key price comparison factors, including price, and customer satisfaction rating. You can also look at reduced business phone line rental tariffs.
Due to our significant buying power we have leading business telecoms phone prices from a range of big brand power suppliers with a choice of no commitment deals, through to fixed-price business telecoms contracts for up to 5 years.
Once you decide which business telephone deal you want, you can sign up immediately and securely. We will guide you through the quick online telecom application, which takes only about five minutes. Then, after you have confirmed your commercial telecoms switch, you can sit back and let us take care of the rest for you. It won't be long till your saving on your business calls and line rental! It really couldn't be easier.
What happens after we've chosen a telecoms deal?
Your business telecoms phone application is passed on to your new supplier. They will let your old call, line and broadband supplier know that you are switching and set up your new telecoms account. You will receive confirmation from your new business phone supplier of your switch date, which is typically four to six weeks after you apply for the switch (or will match the end of your current business contract).
To swiftly switch your business telephone provider, all you then have to do then is:
· Pay your final bill to your old business telephone supplier
· Cancel any Direct Debits to them, if that's how you pay
· It's that simple!
Whether you're a commercial, industrial or small business telecoms user click on PowerSwitch and save money on your business phone supply.
The following is a list of questions, which should help you pick the right broadband supplier and the right package.
What is Broadband?
In simple terms Broadband ADSL is the new high-speed alternative to the normal and much slower dial up method of connecting to the Internet - it is also much cheaper.
A broadband ADSL connection is unmetered. This means that instead of paying every time you connect to the Internet your computer is connected all the time and you pay ONE fixed monthly subscription. The amount you pay will vary depending on the broadband service provider you choose and by the speed of your connection.
In order to use broadband you must first of all live an area in which broadband is available and the availability depends entirely on the type of telephone exchange which services your area - your local exchange must have been upgraded to enable your telephone line to carry digital signals instead of the 'old fashioned' analogue signals.
According to BT over 90% of the UK exchanges have now already been updated. The upgrading program is an ongoing process with the remaining exchanges being updated on a daily basis.
Do I have to have a BT line?
No. Broadband is available to both cable and British Telecom users. However, having a BT line will increase your options.
Is Broadband available in my area?
Use our broadband line checker to find out..click here.
What do you mean by different speeds?
Basically you can choose from a variety of different speeds for example..
512 kbps which is 10 times faster than a normal dial up connection.
1mb which is 20 times faster than a normal dial up connection
up to 8mb which is up to 160 times faster than a normal dial up connection
There are one or two companies that offer even faster speeds but these are usually more expensive and only recommended if you 'constantly' download very large files. Remember your speed is often affected by your distance from the telephone exchange, the quality of lines and the number of users online at peak times.
Which speed is best for me?
That depends on what you plan to use your Broadband connection for. The following will give you an idea of what speed is suited to your requirements.
512 kbps is recommended for those of you who only use the Internet for sending emails and browsing the Internet occasionally.
up to 8mbps is recommended for most users who surf the net, send emails and receive emails with large attachments, download files including music, videos etc.
8mbs plus is recommended for very high users, online gaming and business users.
Can you recommend a supplier?
The purpose of our site is to give you all the information you need in order to make an informed decision. What is right for one person may not be right for another, therefore we do not recommend one particular company.
There are over 100 companies offering broadband services however for your piece of mind we have only listed those companies that we have personally checked or used ourselves and that are approved by Oftel, the government industry watchdog.
Broadband & Jargon explained
Broadband in telecommunications refers to a signaling method that includes or handles a relatively wide range (or band) of frequencies , which may be divided into channels or frequency bins . Broadband is always a relative term , understood according to its context. The wider the bandwidth , the greater the information-carrying capacity. In radio , for example, a very narrow-band signal will carry Morse code ; a broader band will carry speech; a still broader band is required to carry music without losing the high audio frequencies required for realistic sound reproduction . A television antenna described as "broadband" may be capable of receiving a wide range of channels; while a single-frequency or Lo-VHF antenna is "narrowband" since it only receives 1 to 5 channels. In data communications a digital modem will transmit a datarate of 56 kilobits per seconds (kbit/s) over a 4 kilohertz wide telephone line (narrowband). However when that same line is converted to a standard twisted-pair wire (no telephone filters), it becomes hundreds of kilohertz wide (broadband) and can carry several megabits per second ( ADSL ).
In data communications
Broadband in data can refer to broadband networks or broadband Internet and may have the same meaning as above, so that data transmission over a fiber optic cable would be referred to as broadband as compared to a telephone modem operating at 56,000 bits per second . However, a worldwide standard for what level of bandwidth and network speeds actually constitute Broadband have not been determined.
However, broadband in data communications is frequently used in a more technical sense to refer to data transmission where multiple pieces of data are sent simultaneously to increase the effective rate of transmission, regardless of data signaling rate . In network engineering this term is used for methods where two or more signals share a medium. Broadband Internet access, often shortened to just broadband, is a high data rate Internet access-typically contrasted with dial-up access using a 56k modem.
Dial-up modems are limited to a bitrate of less than 56 kbit/ s (kilobits per second) and require the full use of a telephone line-whereas broadband technologies supply more than double this rate and generally without disrupting telephone use.
The various forms of digital subscriber line (DSL) services are broadband in the sense that digital information is sent over a high-bandwidth channel (located above the baseband voice channel on a single pair of wires).
A baseband transmission sends one type of signal using a medium's full bandwidth, as in 100BASE-T Ethernet . Ethernet, however, is the common interface to broadband modems such as DSL data links, and has a high data rate itself, so is sometimes referred to as broadband. Ethernet provided over cable modem is a common alternative to DSL.
In power-line communication
Power lines have also been used for various types of data communication. Although some systems for remote control are based on narrowband signaling, modern high-speed systems use broadband signaling to achieve very high data rates. One example is the ITU-T G.hn standard, which provides a way to create a high-speed (up to 1 Gigabit/s) Local area network using existing home wiring (including power lines, but also phone lines and coaxial cables ).
Broadband in analog video distribution is traditionally used to refer to systems such as cable television , where the individual channels are modulated on carriers at fixed frequencies. In this context, baseband is the term's antonym , referring to a single channel of analog video, typically in composite form with an audio subcarrier . The act of demodulating converts broadband video to baseband video.
However, broadband video in the context of streaming Internet video has come to mean video files that have bitrates high enough to require broadband Internet access in order to view them.
Broadband video is also sometimes used to describe IPTV Video on demand .
A Wi-Fi enabled device such as a personal computer, video game console, mobile phone, MP3 player or personal digital assistant can connect to the Internet when within range of a wireless network connected to the Internet. The coverage of one or more (interconnected) access points - called hotspots - can comprise an area as small as a few rooms or as large as many square miles. Coverage in the larger area may depend on a group of access points with overlapping coverage. Wi-Fi technology has been used in wireless mesh networks , for example, in London, UK.
In addition to private use in homes and offices, Wi-Fi can provide public access at Wi-Fi hotspots provided either free-of-charge or to subscribers to various commercial services. Organizations and businesses - such as those running airports, hotels and restaurants - often provide free-use hotspots to attract or assist clients. Enthusiasts or authorities who wish to provide services or even to promote business in selected areas sometimes provide free Wi-Fi access. As of 2008 more than 300 metropolitan-wide Wi-Fi (Muni-Fi) projects had started. As of May 2008 the Czech Republic had 879 Wi-Fi based Wireless Internet service providers.
Routers that incorporate a digital subscriber line modem or a cable modem and a Wi-Fi access point, often set up in homes and other premises, can provide Internet access and internetworking to all devices connected (wirelessly or by cable) to them. One can also connect Wi-Fi devices in ad-hoc mode for client-to-client connections without a router. Wi-Fi also connects places that would traditionally not have network access, for example bathrooms, kitchens and garden sheds.
Everyone seems to be talking about VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) these days. So what's it all about - could it help your business? We're going to tell you why businesses are getting to grips with internet-based telephony.
Talk is cheap so they say, but that doesn't mean it can't be a lot cheaper. And that's great news for any business which uses the phone to get things done.
VoIP, also known as IP telephony, Voice over Broadband or Internet telephony offers an alternative to traditional telephony providers. Want to know more? Well read on.
So what is VoIP?
VoIP uses the internet infrastructure to provide a low-cost way for businesses to route certain phone calls, complementing traditional phone systems. VoIP can only be used if you have broadband: it can operate in local office networks or across sites, and remote workers can use it, too.
How it works
A regular phone line transmits a speaker's voice as an analogue signal but to send it over the Internet, an extra step is needed. The sound is converted into a digital signal and then transmitted over the network. At the receiving end, the conversion process is done in reverse.
Why use it?
Two words: cost savings! Given the amount of time businesses spend on the phone to clients, suppliers etc, the savings are substantial, especially if you make regular long-distance calls.
If your business has broadband connection, any calls made using your VoIP connection will effectively be free. Your VoIP supplier may charge you a small amount for each call but this will be minimal.
Although the calls are low cost, or even no cost at all in a lot of cases, there are initial set-up costs such as the telephone sets and connection fees. In most cases these costs can be quickly offset by the amount you save on calls.
It is acknowledged that the quality of most VoIP services doesn't yet quite match that of a traditional phone line. There are challenges in sending a voice stream over the Internet but it is getting better all the time. Most people using a VOIP phone don't notice any difference.
Some VoIP providers require both caller and the receiver to be signed up to their service and have the same software installed. Shop around, though, and you can identify service providers that allow you to call anyone, including from your computer to a regular telephone, and even phone to phone.
The bigger picture
VoIP is part of a larger technology - IP telephony which itself is part of a larger trend towards the integration of computer, telephone, television, security monitoring, home automation, and related technologies.
As the cost of high speed internet connections continues to fall, VoIP is now within your reach. Some telecoms and internet service providers are offering packages specifically targeting smaller businesses.
It's worth taking a look at your future telephone and IT network needs. Making all your telephone calls over the Internet and avoiding high charges is an attractive proposition for any budget-conscious manager.
" Flexibility. Unlike traditional phone lines, with VoIP you can add telephones and increase call capacity on your computer network without running additional cabling.
" Reduced costs. Because the system runs on software rather than hardware, it costs less and is easier to manage and maintain. Typically, an international call costs no more than a local one with a traditional phone line.
" Enhanced customer service. By simply adding some software and linking up with your office PC, incoming calls can be set up to automatically trigger screen pop-ups with the caller's account information, notes and details of previous conversations.
" Talk 'n' go! VoIP allows you to make or take calls on the move no matter where you are in the world, if you have a mobile device such as a lap top, PDA or pocket PC.
" It's new! VoIP is fairly new, having only been around for a few years, and it will take time for adoption to take off. However, due to the advance in technology, especially high-speed internet connections, popularity is on the increase.
" Your number's up. At the moment, if you change to a VoIP system, you may not be able to keep your company's present telephone number, although some VoIP companies can arrange for your number to be ported to your VoIP system. Check with your VoIP provider.
" Quality. Sound quality was always an issue for VoIP users, but again, with advancement in technology, many users don't actually find any noticeable loss in sound quality.
" No 999. Presently, you can't make an emergency call using VoIP but this is set to change in the future.
Five VoIP facts
1. Industry estimates predicted that by 2007, three quarters of international calls would be carried over the Internet.
2. If you use a cheap, long distance telephone service, you're probably using IP telephony already without knowing it.
3. Internal calls to everyone connected to your network are free, even if they're at different locations or on the road.
4. You don't need an international dialing code if calling a number on the same VoIP network abroad.
5. There are no monthly fees with VoIP providers - only an annual payment which works out on average 85% cheaper than a traditional phone provider.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Do you need broadband to use VoIP
Q. Do you use a headset through your PC or a phone?
A. You can use either, or both. Your VoIP company can supply you with a phone which fits into one of your computer's USB ports.
Q. Does your PC need to be switched on to use VoIP?
A. No, but your high speed internet connection does.
Q. Can I use my PC while talking on the phone?
Q. Can I use VoIP with a laptop?
A. Yes, as long as it's plugged in to a high speed internet connection.
Q. If the power fails on my PC, will the VoIP phone still work?
A. Probably not, unless your modem is still on but this is unlikely if you have a power failure.
Q. Can I call any number using VoIP?
A. You can call most phone numbers but not emergency numbers or some directory services.
Q. Where can I find a VoIP phone provider?
A. See our Business Telephone section.
If you have any questions, please email us here or call us on 08448 8448 55
See our Jargon Buster
Do you know your ADSL from your SMTP? We've listed below the common terms used in the telecoms world. We hope you will find this to be a useful source of information.
- Stands for ‘Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line’. ADSL transforms the existing twisted copper pairs between the telephone exchange and the telephone socket into a high-speed digital line, allowing Broadband access. ADSL delivers fast download speeds but slow upload speed.
- Analogue Line
- See PSTN
- Auto Attendant
- An automated system designed to guide a caller through the options of a voice menu. Typically set to answer and route incoming calls.
- The capacity of a telecom line to carry signals. The necessary bandwidth is the amount of spectrum required to transmit the signal without distortion or loss of information. FCC rules require suppression of the signal outside the band to prevent interference.
- Stands for ‘Basic Rate Interface’ – see ISDN2e
- A term used to describe fast internet access. Wide bandwidth which can be either ADSL or SDSL. ADSL can suffer from vast bandwidth changes (see also Contention Ratio).
- Contention Ratio
- A term used to describe the number of individual broadband customers connecting to a single internet node at the local public exchange. High contentions ratios will cause vast speed differences depending on time of day and number local users on line. Beware of the ‘4pm school rush’!
- Historically, Voice & Data networks were kept entirely separate. However in recent years changes in technology have meant that many businesses can now run both voice and data over the same LAN, thereby causing them to ‘converge’. Cost savings are one benefit of Convergence but far more importantly there are significant productivity and efficiency gains to be achieved. VOIP, IP Telephony, Unified Messaging, Remote Working etc all come under the ‘Convergence’ umbrella.
- Stands for ‘Direct Dial Inbound’ – allows users to rent individual phone numbers without the need to rent individual lines. DDI’s are mapped onto specific ISDN lines and the PBX is then programmed to direct the incoming DDI call to the specific extension or hunt group as required. Customers can rent a large volume of DDI’s whilst benefiting from renting an optimum number of lines based on required usage.
- Stands for ‘Digitally Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications’. A technology used to link cordless mobile handsets to a wired telephone system.
- Stands for ‘Direct Exchange Line’ – see PSTN
- A very common method of networking computers in a LAN. An 'Ethernet' describes the physical network that carries data traffic.
- Exchange Line
- See PSTN
- A BT specific service running over the PSTN. Designed for small companies (typically max 3 users), it is a dated product that provides limited basic PBX functionality requiring one dedicated phone line per user. Featureline is not considered to be cost effective for 4 or more users.
- Fibre to the Cabinet uses fibre optic cabling which runs from the telephone exchange to the street cabinet and then connects to a traditional BT copper phone line from the street cabinet to the customer's premises. Fibre optic cables are more resilient and the signals travel much faster ( uo to 80Mbps) over longer distances allowing far greater broadband speeds than traditional ADSL services.
- Hosted Telephony
- What is Hosted Telephony? (aka Hosted IP Telephony).
An IP based phone system that is "Hosted" in a data centre. Customer sites connect to the hosted phone system via an internet connection** that is generally either ADSL or SDSL but can be a leased line. All the intelligence of the phone system is held within the data centre and the on site equipment is controlled by the central system. Customer communication profiles are configured via a simple web based browser and individual users can control their own phone profile from any internet connection, with ease. Hosted Telephony is particularly beneficial for companies with two or more sites and can be used internationally. All calls made between customer sites are FREE.
** The quality of the internet connection is critically important and it is recommended to keep the voice and data on separate internet connections.
- Hunt Group
- Multiple phones allocated to a single extension number thereby enabling a call to be answered by one person with a group. I.e. accounts or sales etc. Calls will generally ‘hunt’ from one phone to another until answered.
- Stands for ‘Information and Communication Technology’. Equipment such as computers, the Internet, CD-ROMS and other software.
- Stands for ‘Internet Protocol’. A standardised method of transporting information across the Internet in packets of data. It is often linked to Transmission Control Protocol, which assembles the packets once they have been delivered to the intended location.
- IP Telephony (also see Hosted Telephony)
- Using Internet Protocol as a method of carrying voice calls. With IP, voice communications (in the form of IP packets) are routed directly from the origin to destination devices.
- ISDN (provided in two formats as per below)
- Stands for ‘Integrated Services Digital Network’. Digital telephony service that gives better call quality, quicker connection times and DDI facilities. ISDN is generally provided to connect to a customers PBX. ISDN can also be used in Radio and was historically used for faster Internet connection before the advent of broadband.
- Provided in pairs i.e. 2 channels/lines per ISDN2e. The majority of customers would get a maximum of 4 pairs before moving up to ISDN30e. The e stands for the European standard.
- Provided over one large circuit (bearer/pipe) either as copper or in many cases fibre optic. The minimum number of channels/lines one can have is 8 moving up to 30. Larger organisations can rent multiple ISDN30e’s should they require more lines. The e stands for the European standard.
- Stands for ‘Local Area Network’ – Data network that connects computers, servers, printers etc together, generally within one physical location.
- Leased Line
- Dedicated private internet access circuit – provides secure, fast and uncontended internet access.
- Stands for ‘Multi Protocol Label Switching’ – A flexible and cost effective way of providing a WAN.
- PBX aka PABX
- Public (Automated) Branch Exchange aka Switchboard aka Phone System.
- Stands for ‘Plain Old Telephone Service’ – see PSTN
- Stands for ‘Primary Rate Interface’ – see ISDN30e
- Stands for ‘Public Switched Telephone Network’. This is the standard telephone service provided over basic analogue phone lines.
- A device (or, in some cases, software on a computer) that directs IP packets to the next point toward their destination.
- Stands for ‘Symetric Digital Subscriber Line’. The same as ASDL but provides the same speed/bandwidth in both directions. Useful for companies needing to upload high bandwith packets quickly. Common requirement with VOIP networks.
- Stands for ‘Simple Mail Transfer Protocol’. The standard Internet protocol for transferring electronic mail from one computer to another.
- Unified Messaging
- Enables you to access voice, fax, and text messages via one single email or telephone account.
- Stands for ‘Virtual Private Network’ – A way of creating a private communications network over a public network (mostly the internet) using secure protocols (passwords, authentication methods etc).
- VOIP (see Hosted Telephony)
- Stands for ‘Voice Over Internet Protocol’ - Voice translated into data packets and transmitted across an internet connection or network - just like any other file or email you might send. Upon reaching the other end data is transformed back into its original form and emerges like a regular phone call. (VOIP is critically dependent upon the speed of the packets across the internet and the correct assembly order once they arrive at their destination …for obvious reasons!)
- Stands for ‘Wide Area Network’ – Connects multiple LAN’s together, typically via VPN’s over broadband and/or Leased Lines – (The Internet is actually a WAN itself)
PSTN Select Services
- Anonymous Call Rejection
- Rejects calls where the caller withholds their number.
- Answer 1571
- Takes messages for you when you are unavailable or your line is engaged.
- Bar Use of Call Return
- Means callers to your number cannot use the Call Return option (i.e. pressing '5' if you are engaged so that it calls them back)
- Call Barring
- Stops certain calls being made from your phone.
- Call Diversion
- Allows you to divert calls to almost any phone - anywhere in the UK, most overseas destinations or a mobile phone!
- Call Minder
- Like Answer 1571, with the additional advantage of remote access and the option of having personalised messages.
- Call Return
- A service that will call your phone to let you know when an engaged number becomes free. Normally activated by pressing '5' when you reach an engaged number.
- Call Sign
- Allows you to distinguish between incoming calls on the same line.
- Call Waiting
- Tells you if someone is trying to call when you’re already on the phone.
- Caller Display
- Displays the number calling you
- Caller Redirect (CNI)
- A recorded announcement on a ceased line advising the caller of the new number to dial. This is a chargeable service.
- Choose to refuse
- Enables you to bar the telephone number of the last answered incoming call.
- Presentation Number
- Enables the option of "masking" the main outbound number of a telephone line with a different number. This option is seful for call centres or companies that are located in obscure locations and dont want end users to know their physical location or if they want to present a non-geographic number to the customers they are calling. For example, a company has a simple 0207 number but they want an 0845 number to be displayed to every end user that they call.
- Pulse Metering
- Sends 50Hz pulses to customers’ lines to indicate units of charge.
- Reminder Call
- Pre-programme alarm calls through your phone
- Remote Call Forwarding (RCF)
- A method for forwarding calls made to a ceased line to a new number, without the caller being aware that the call has been forwarded. There is normally a set up cost and monthly charge for this service. In addition the owner of the line has to pay the cost of the forwarded part of the call, as well as the exchange line rental for the ceased line (this is because the number of the ceased line cannot be reallocated to another user whilst RCF is in effect)
- Ring Back
- See 'Call Return'
- Smart Divert
- Call divert with remote access
- Three Way Calling
- Allows you talk to two people at the same time - even if one of them is abroad!
ISDN Select Services
- Call Barring
- Stops certain calls being made from your phone.
- Call Deflection
- Enables incoming calls to be identified and then forwarded to another destination before answering the call. Alternatively, incoming calls can be automatically forwarded to selected destinations dependent on their calling line identity.
- Call Forwarding
- Automatically transfers incoming calls to a different location, e.g. if moved to a different exchange area. Can either be admin provided or customer controlled.
- Call Line Identity Restriction (CLIR)
- This prevents your directory number from being released at any time. It is useful if you don't want people to call you back, i.e. if are running an outbound telemarketing campaign.
- Caller Line Identity Presentation (CLIP)
- Lets you see the number of the person calling before you pick up the phone, enabling you to greet the caller in an appropriate manner.
- Connected Line Identity Presentation (COLP)
- Allows you to see the number of the line that you have been connected to.
- Connected Line Identity Restriction (COLR)
- Restricts the access of incoming callers to your identity
- Presentation Number
- Enables the option of "masking" the main outbound number of a telephone line with a different number. This option is useful for call centres or companies that are located in obscure locations and dont want end users to know their physical location or if they want to present a non-geographic number to the customers they are calling. For example, a company has a simple 0207 number but they want an 0845 number to be displayed to every end user that they call.
- Sub Addressing (20 Octet)
- This service allows calling parties to send up to 20 alphanumeric characters (except #) with the digits of the number they are dialing. Different combinations of characters can then be allocated to each device connected to a called ISDN 30e line. The characters sent would depend which piece of equipment is accessed, i.e. the phone will ring, access will be gained to PC, etc. Note: Terminal equipment must have the capability to send and/or receive Sub Addresses to use this service
- Standard Care (Level 1)
- Operates during normal working hours (0800 – 1700 Mon to Fri exc. Public and Bank Holidays). The service level is to attend faults by the end of the working day following the day in which they are reported.
- Prompt Care (Level 2)
- Operates during normal working hours (0800 – 1700 Mon to Sat exc. Public and Bank Holidays). If the fault is reported during normal working hours or on a Saturday between 0800- 1700, BT will respond within 4 working hours of receipt of the report. If the report is received outside the specified hours then it will be treated as if it has been reported at the beginning of the next working day.
- Total Care (Level 3)
- Operates 24 hours a day 365 days a year. BT will respond within 4 hours of receipt of a fault report.
Phone Book Entries
- Ordinary (O)
- Directory entry held in the BT Phone Book and from Directory Enquiries (118 services)
- Ex Directory - No Calls Offered (XDNC)
- Not in the BT Phone Book or held on Directory Enquiries
- Directory Enquiries Only (DQR)
- Not in the BT Phone Book, but is held on Directory Enquiries (118 services)
- Ex Directory - Calls Offered (XDCO)
- Not in the BT Phone Book, and not disclosed by Directory Enquiries. The operator will offer to call the customer for persistent enquiries. Please note that this is a chargeable service
- No Directory Entry Required (NQR)
- No directory entry is made, this option is usually only available for lines connected to alarm systems, modems etc.
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