Find the Best Key Telephone Systems in the UK
Key systems are multi-line systems operated by a Key System Unit (KSU). KSU telephone systems are widely used by small and medium sized businesses with up to 50 employees and one single office location due to the simplicity and affordable prices.
The system is user-friendly, smaller and relatively cheaper than complex PBX systems or the innovative VoIP phone systems. Key systems are commercially sold and installation and maintenance is performed by technicians. The overall cost of KSU makes it a very cost-efficient choice of telephone systems for small offices.
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Overview of Key Telephone Systems in the UK
Key systems have evolved considerably over the years, offering more flexibility and advanced functionalities. These particular systems have adopted more features and higher capacity, as well as, internal phone extensions and support of various IP and analog devices, which are excellent for a business’ daily operations.
Key Systems are suited to businesses that require less than 50 extensions and are typically cheaper than other more advanced office phone systems, such as PBX and VoIP phone systems.Some of the most popular models from well known brands of key systems in the UK are: Panasonic Key telephone system and NEC Key telephone system.
We highlight some models such as the Panasonic KX-TE824 - that allows 24 overall extensions, the Panasonic KX-TG4500, that can have up to eight cordless 4-line phones and the model NEC SL1000 is highly flexible in terms of phone lines.
Different types of Key Telephone Systems
Basically, the two different types of key telephone systems are: KSU and KSU-less. Here is an overview about prices, advantages & disadvantages of each key telephone system:
Key Business Telephone System (KSU)
The regular KSU system is the most basic model of business telephone system available on the market. The Key System Unit makes users manually select phone lines. In addition, KSU is very user friendly and offers very basic features expected for any office phone use.
One disadvantage of KSU is that it might not be the most optimal business phone solution if your company requires user portability, as KSU lacks flexibility if compared to other phone systems. Given KSU’s basic features, prices of this system in the UK typically vary between £100- £200.
Another option is to purchase a hybrid telephone system, which incorporates some typical features from PBX systems to the key system. Some advanced hybrid key systems have functionalities that often can be customised, depending on the software that is implemented. Prices of the hybrid version can reach up to £400.
It is important to note that installation and maintenance costs of both types - Keys Systems and Hybrid Systems - will be added to the price of purchase and also vary according to suppliers, the number of extensions required for each business and the service provider.
A variation of the key telephone system (KSU) is the KSU-less, which is totally wireless and does not require a central switching unit. KSU-less systems have the technical parts built into cordless or wired phones. That means that KSU-less phones need a power cord for their chargers but do not need a KSU to operate.
KSU-less are affordable and very cost-effective systems since they do not require pre-existing infrastructure in order to be installed. KSU-less systems offer more flexibility than conventional key systems and are mobile, as the lack of a KSU enables the phones to be disconnected and moved to a new location. They are the cheapest available option of business telephone systems with prices starting below £100.
The drawbacks of KSU-Less concern the lower capacity and the limitations of extensions. Therefore, KSU-less systems are the most suitable solution phone systems for small business with less than ten extensions who don’t predict to grow drastically in the near future and don’t have advanced communication needs.
How Do Key Telephone Systems Work?
KSU systems are the ideal telephone systems for small business since it allows a maximum of 50 users. Key Telephone systems usually include phones, wire, jacks and other hardware, and a central control unit, which is a specialised computer often called a "KSU" (Key Service Unit). The operating unit - KSU - is a separate box that controls the lines that are manually selected by the employees. The KSU box is small enough that it can be stored anywhere in the office.
With key telephone systems, each employee has a dedicated phone line. Although, calls can still go simultaneously to more than one operator. Therefore, the number of phone lines the system has is equal to the number of users. A benefit of this system is that the office has only one contact number which is routed to the key system and then a user manually selects the phone line. Key system telephones have multiple buttons, for each line and indicator lights, which enable the line presence feature, which helps staff identify the status of the line (free or busy).
The key system lacks automation and, therefore, the selection of lines has to be done manually. Calls are not automatically routed to the recipient and the system doesn’t have a switching device, as opposite to PBX phone systems.
Benefits of Key Telephone Systems
Key systems are simple yet efficient telephone systems for any company that does not require very advanced communication and does not receive or make large volumes of calls. Here is a list of the top 4 benefits of a key telephone system:
KSU systems are smaller and easier to maintain than more complex systems such as PBX and VoIP.
Key phone systems (KSU and KSU-less) are a cheaper alternative for business seeking improved communication but have a tight budget.
Key telephone systems are reliable tools for communication due to the minimal maintenance required of them.
Customised with software upgrades
According to business phone needs, key systems features are easily changed.
Key telephone systems also come with some limitations, especially when it concerns the the growth restriction. As the number of lines are not scalable, key systems are inefficient for expanding organisations.
Features of Key Telephone Systems
As telecommunications have transformed our ways to communicate, key telephone systems have also become more reliable systems at providing better features for businesses. Generally, key systems support the following features:
Shared voice lines
Call hold and hold-music
Intercom and paging
Key Telephone Systems for Small Business
Since key systems were one of the first multi-line telecommunication system offering basic features, they are often perceived as outdated or insufficient for businesses. With the emergence of complex PBX and VoIP systems, more companies have resorted to digital as the advantages of IP phones and Internet telephony are greater.
As the two systems have major differences, companies can still choose a modern key system with all the sophisticated features of the PBX, but at a lower price. Naturally, the most advanced system so far is the VoIP, which provides mobility without any growth restrictions, as opposite to KSU systems.
Market Inspector can help you find the best key system for your business by providing up to four non-binding quotes! If you would like to receive further information and professional reviews about key telephone systems, just fill out the form on this page.This service is totally free!