Use Multiple Phone Providers to Create a Reliable Business Phone Setup

The vast majority of businesses are dependent upon reliable phone service, meaning that an outage can be quite expensive in terms of lost revenue and upset customers.  The good news is that modern technology makes it possible for even the smallest business to easily and inexpensively have multiple phone providers, such that the failure of one does not result in a telephone outage.  This article provide suggestions on how to setup such a system.

The goal

The goal of the phone setup we are building is to have a combination of reliability/redundancy and also cost-effectiveness.  Put another way, we want to create a phone system that will remain functional even if one phone provider goes down, while not spending a ton of money in the process.  Thanks to modern technology, we can accomplish this goal.

The tools

  1. business phone service (or a similar service of your choosing).  I recommend simply because I have used it for about 5 years and find it to be well suited to the task.
  2. One or more phone providers (e.g. a local phone company, a cell phone, a Voice over IP (VoIP) line, etc.).  These will be the actual phone lines that you will use.

Using such a setup is quite cost effective, adding only a few dozen dollars per month to the costs of phone service.

How to setup

  1. Signup for, and get either a local or toll-free phone number for your business.
  2. Configure to route calls that are placed to your local or toll-free number to actually ring at the phone line(s) you have setup at your business.

For example, may have assigned you the phone number (800)555-5555.  Your local phone company gave you the number (563)555-5551 for a landline, and you also have a cell phone number of (563)555-5552.  You will give out (800)555-5555 to your customers, who will call that number to reach your business. will forward calls to the (563)555-5551 and (563)555-5552 phone numbers, with your clients (and even the employees who answer those phones) not noticing anything special happening. The real magic happens when one of the phone lines fails (such as the landline going down during a storm).  Calls will continue to ring to the functional cell phone.  In the event of a longer-term disaster, such as a fire at the building, you can easily change the call routing through to go to new phone number(s).

This setup will scale well regardless of business size.  Some businesses may only use two lines, while others can use 20.  Since the call routing allows calls to be forwarded to any phone number of your choosing, businesses with multiple offices can easily have calls ring to both offices (or use even more complex routing in whatever way is best for that particular business).

A final layer of redundancy

The above setup is good, but it can be made even better.  By using a virtual reception service to answer calls if the phones are not answered in the office, you can ensure that there is always someone available to answer the phone even if a problem in the office prevents either phone from being answered.  This can be especially useful during a disaster (e.g. a flood, fire, or power outage) that makes it impossible or impracticable to answer calls in-house.  As an added bonus, the virtual reception service can answer calls after normal business hours too.

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