Landline Phones vs. Cellphones

By Jill Harness

Updated July 29, 2019

A young woman talking on a cell phone.
i Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images

While everyone understands the basic difference between landline and mobile phones, the issue of which one is better for business purposes is a more complicated matter. Whether a company will be better off giving employees a cellphone or a landline number or one of each will vary based on a number of factors, including a company's size, the type of business and its budget.

Cellphone or Landline: Costs

A major factor to consider when deciding whether to use cellphones or landlines is the cost of each option. While basic landlines for homes are inexpensive, setting up a traditional office phone system can be pretty pricey due to the costs of complicated installations and specialized hardware.

On the other hand, paying for a cellphone for each employee will get more and more costly the more you grow. For those who want a landline option without the major investment, there are always VoIP systems, but these can sometimes have call quality issues, especially if you operate in an area without reliable broadband internet service.

When deciding whether a cellphone or landline will be more expensive in the long run, it is important to consider scalability. Having a cellphone plan that covers less than five employees might be beneficial if you are never going to have more employees, but if you are planning on growing your company and hope to one day have 20 or more employees, then cellphones might be too costly.

Having a Centralized Phone Number

Similarly, if you have a small business where employees have very unique roles and their own list of business contacts, it might not be a problem for each employee to have his own phone number. However, once you grow to a certain size, you will want a centralized phone number where anyone can get a hold of your company.

You will also want to have employees be able to transfer customers from one employee to another. Just imagine how unprofessional it would be if you called a company with a technical issue and a billing issue, and you had to call the main company phone number just to get the phone numbers for those two departments.

It is worth noting that some phone companies offer call forwarding services that allow you to forward calls from an employee's office number to her cellphone if she is out of the office. This setup can give you the benefit of a centralized phone number along with the portability of a cellphone. These services may be prohibitively expensive for many small businesses, though.

Contacting Emergency Services

One of the biggest benefits of a landline over a cellphone is that when you have an emergency, landline calls to 911 are automatically linked with your address. For the time being, cellphone users must be able to provide their location in emergencies. Aside from location issues, landlines can usually be used with no power and do not rely on easily overloaded cellphone towers, meaning they will be more likely to work in an emergency.

Use on the Go

Obviously, one of the greatest advantages of mobile phones over landlines is that cellphones can be used anywhere there is a signal, whereas landlines can only be used in one place. If your employees do business outside of the office, they will need cellphones, and it is not always beneficial or economical to have an office landline available for them as well.

On the other hand, while some businesses give office workers cellphones because they want employees to be available 24/7, other companies find it beneficial to allow their workers to leave their work at the office at the end of the day by only providing the employees with a landline. This can reduce employee stress by encouraging a healthy work-life balance.

Benefits of Texting

Most companies use email, but many prefer to use instant messaging or texting for quick, immediate conversations that do not need to occur over the phone. While instant messaging can be used on a computer, both of these options can be used on cellphones, and employees can even use them on the go.