All About Multi-line Phone Systems

What Is a Multi-line Phone System?

While traditional telephone systems carry audio data packets between two parties, multi-line telephone systems, including 2-line business phone systems and 4-linne phone systems, are designed to allow multiple people to be on the line at the same time.

These multiple lines can be either external or internal. External lines lets you communicate with people outside your business, like customers, while internal lines allow you to talk with your employees and colleagues. These connecting lines that we use to talk to each other are called a “system”.

Does Your Business Require a Multi-line Phone System?

The following situations warrant getting a multi-line phone system for your business:

  1. You are a solopreneur who works from home and you want to separate phone numbers for business and personal use. These two lines would become a Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) phone system.

  2. Two or more people in your business need constant access to a telephone. You may want to have a multi-line phone system in situations like these:

    1. You have at least two customer service reps and each needs a dedicated telephone number.

    2. Two people need to use the phone at the same time (like a manager and a receptionist).

    3. Your receive an unusually large amount of calls during specific periods of time.

  3. You are interested in a larger system (like PBX), but don’t want to pay the high initial costs.

Private branch exchange PBX is a type of multiline phone system that centralizes the phone system components for many users. This is a scaled down version of a Key System for businesses with 10-50 users. A key system uses a central control device called the key system unit (KSU) to provide more features than traditional lines.

With PBX, phones aren’t connected 1 on 1 to physical phone lines; instead, multiple phones are lined into one PBX system. This allows the PBX system to handle transfers and routing call, enabling a much more user-friendly customer experience. VOIP PBX is an alternate version of this system, one that relies on internet instead of traditional phone lines to work.

Different Types of Multi-Line Phone Systems

How to Calculate How Many Lines You Need

Use the following formula to determine your small business phone needs.

1 line / employee who needs constant phone access to a private line


1 line / multiple employees who can afford to use the same line because they don’t receive calls as frequently


1 line / non-human function such as fax number, voicemail, etc


Total number of lines you need


2-Line Phone System

Example: Fresh entrepreneur who only needs one line, but wants to separate their                         personal and business numbers.

1 line for home


1 line for work

= 2 lines

4-Line Phone System

Example: Growing business with 2 full-timers and 4 part-time employees.

2 lines for full-time employees


1 line for part-time employee on duty


1 line for voicemail

= 4 total lines

5-Line Phone System

Example: Insurance agency with 1 owner and 3 employees.

1 line for owner


3 lines for employees


1 line for fax

= 5 lines

Features to Look For in a Multi-Line Phone System

Basic Features:

  • Speakerphone

  • Caller ID

  • Mute and volume Control

  • Voicemail

  • Fax machine integration

  • Message waiting indicator

  • Hold functionality

  • Personal directory

  • Speed-dial directory

  • Internal (within your business) and external (outside your business) transferring

  • Do not disturb mode

  • Call waiting

  • Intercom (speak through all phones at the same time)

Advanced Features:

  • Auto attendant

  • Conferencing

  • Wireless adaptors

  • Texting

  • Customer support

  • Installation

  • Warranty


How much does a multi-line phone system cost?

It depends on the size and features included. 2-line phone systems usually go for around $50-$200, while 4-line systems are in the $100-400 range. You can purchase all the necessary equipment from companies like Vistanet.

How much does the business phone service cost?

Once again, it depends on the size and complexity. They usually start at $50 or $100 a month (however, Vistanet is more affordable).

What is the wireless range of the phones?

Usually around 40 feet, if the phone has a built-in cordless option.

What happens if the power goes out?

Depends on the model, but usually your phone system won’t be affected by the power outage.

Can I call emergency response?

In case of emergency, dial 911. Nowadays, in most cases, when you make an emergency call your phone number and location is tracked, to assure safety and good response, regardless of calling condition. You can even receive an automatic call back.

Can I keep the phone I currently use?

Yes, if it is compatible with the system.


Gregory RobelVistanet