Fixed versus mobile: What's more economical for business?

By Adam Turner | February 3, 2014

When you compare the convenience of a mobile phone with lower fixed-line costs, which choice one is better for business?

You most likely have a work phone sitting on your desk and a mobile in your pocket. How do you choose which one to pick up when you need to make a call?

How much does mobile and landline cost?

The beauty of a mobile phone is that you can easily stay in contact with the world. If you work on the road and are regularly on call then your mobile might be your most important business tool. It's always within arm's reach so it's tempting to use it for everything, but it tends to be more expensive than a landline.

Sometimes if you're on a cheap monthly plan your calls are more expensive, so your money doesn't go as far as it might with a landline. Offers like "$800 worth of calls" don't mean much until you know how much you're actually paying for each call.

Keep in mind that when you make a call from your mobile you might be paying a connection fee as soon as the call is answered, and then paying in 30 or 60-second increments. When you consider this, it's almost always going to be cheaper to make a local call from your landline desk phone rather than from your mobile.

Having a landline also lets you take advantage of toll-free numbers, which customers can call from anywhere in the country for the price of a local call. Just make sure you read the fine print so you know how much it's costing you to receive those calls.

As with your mobile plan, it's important to study the details of your landline plan so you know exactly what you're getting. If you're on a business-grade landline plan you might find that it includes unlimited local calls and perhaps even untimed or unlimited national calls. Even if you're paying by the minute for national and international calls it still probably works out cheaper to pick up your landline when you're at your desk.

How much have you already paid?

If you're watching your budget then it's tempting to favour your landline as much as possible. Of course if your mobile phone is on a plan, rather than prepaid, then you've already paid for calls in advance. You may as well use them.

This is where it becomes important to know exactly what you're paying for on your mobile bill. If you've paid for 100 minutes worth of calls from your mobile each month then you need to decide the smartest way to use them. If there's room left for calls - after you allow for calls when you're away from your desk - then it's perhaps best to use that extra allowance for making interstate or mobile calls from your desk. They're expensive to make from your landline phone.

What are you getting for free?

Just to make things more complicated, your telco might throw in some free calls on your landline and mobile plan. Once again make sure you read the fine print.

Many business-grade mobile plans offer free calls between staff members. If you're on this type of a plan then it's best to use your mobile to call a colleague while they're away from their desk, rather than picking up the phone on your desk. If your business is spread across several offices then you might be able to make free landline calls between offices, so it might make sense to call someone's desk before you try their mobile.

Whatever your situation, the most economical solution is probably to make a mix of landline and mobile calls rather than only ever using one or the other. Constantly calculating call costs might seem like a hassle, but once you've crunched the numbers you should be able to come up with a few rules of thumb to help keep your telecommunications bill down.


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