It is a competitive market with established players as well as new entrants jostling or space and the customer’s attention and offering a wide range of services and packages. It is a good idea to compare the offerings before making a choice.
We give you information on ten top providers. Hopefully, this will enable you to make an informed choice.
Whether you are looking at taking the first steps towards moving on from the traditional wired phones to VOIP telephony, or you are looking at reviewing and renewing your already installed VOIP telephony, this article will give you an overview of what VOIP telephony is, how it could be of benefit to your business, and who are the credible providers.
Offers great value, with almost 40% off standard pricing currently available. In addition, if you pay annually, you can
save upto an additional 33%. And that is not all, for a committed billing of 100 plus, the price gets even better.
With over 400,000 customers and partners, an established provider, RingCental offers a well-rounded work-from-home solution that includes integrated messaging, unlimited videoconferencing, and cloud-hosted VoIP service. With the commitment of a 99.99% uptime, your VOIP telephone system can match the uptime offered by your fixed line telephone, if you still use one. Most of the plans have generous allocation of conferencing, unlimited internet faxing, as well as videoconferencing for up to 100 participants.
The VoIP provider that first comes to mind of most people is typically RingCentral. The company has a highly developed system that works for small, medium, and large enterprises. At the same time, the company offers effortless integration of external vendors to their network.
The company offers RingCentral Office as its main program to enables business communication.
Ooma offers affordable plans that are designed to work as efficiently in a virtual work setting as they do in an office setting. To keep things really simple, there are just two plans. And even the upper tier plan is pretty affordable. Except for a few premium features, every customer gets everything. Ooma will also port your existing number for free if you are doing a migration to VOIP.
You can use the office phone while working from home, or use the Ooma desktop App for making and receiving calls.
Ooma’s remote features can help your business stay up and running no matter where your employees are. For starters, Ooma’s mobile and desktop apps allow remote employees to make and receive unlimited calls within North America using your business number.
Nextiva makes it a one-stop shop for you as it offers a host of pre-configured devices to choose from, both on a rental as well as purchase model.
The Nextiva VOIP solutions facilitates business by allowing unlimited calls to and from any phone in the United States and Canada. Faxing becomes easy, without any additional hardware or mess of wires. It delivers voicemails to your inbox and includes a dedicated conference line for upto 9 participants. You can respond tom calls on the go from your smartphone. There is also an optional integration offered with your CRM. You can chat with your team on one system. Flawless video and screen sharing enables you to get work done faster.
Nextiva offers many flexible options, all built to meet your needs. You can choose a month to month plan with no commitment, or you can maximize your savings by committing to a contract term for up to three years.
Reliable All-in-One Phone System with Video and Chat that offers Unlimited calling within US and Canada, Auto attendant and call handling, HD audio and video conferencing and Mobile and desktop applications
With over a million business users in over 160 countries, 8×8 has a compelling proposition and an easy to deploy solution that does not need expensive technical resources. In fact, they even offer training support to ensure your team is able to do what it needs to.
Integrations is offered with third-party business apps like Salesforce, Zendesk, Netsuite, and Microsoft Dynamics. You can thus build your own ERP system with the tools of your choice.
Grasshopper is a full virtual phone system (calls, texts, custom greetings, extensions, inbound fax, and more) which is accessible through the Grasshopper apps (available on iOS, Android, and desktop) and enable you to operate from anywhere. Grasshopper can also be used without the app, to forward calls to a landline.
It helps you separate personal and professional calling and sound professional to your external business relationships. It’s easy to set up and easy to use, and it includes toll-free vanity numbers. It even allows you to customize call forwarding rules for each phone extension on your plan. That way, each of your employees or business locations can manage calls in whatever way works best for them.
If you have not used Vonage in the past, it is unlikely to be because you had not heard of them. As one of the earliest VOIP phone services and reputed providers of PBX solutions, Vonage is an established name. And that, being on of the earliest, could also have been one of the challenges faced by Vonage, as they have struggles with technical issues and bad reviews in the past. They do seem to have overcome those issues and are on a sound footing now. They also assure 99.999% uptime, the industry standard.
With 24/7 customer support and all the features included on Vonage’s basic phone system plans, it’s like an enterprise capable solution for a small business. And what’s more, as you grow, the limiting factor will not be Vonage.
With its history and pedigree, Verizon is, unsurprisingly, one of the most expensive providers. But if you use the services of Verizon, losing revenue dollars is perhaps a far scarier proposition than paying a few dollars more for the reliability and assurance of Verizon. When you pay for Verizon, you pay for the reliability that your business demands.
With its extensive network of fiber-optic cabling, Verizon provides assurance that many others cannot. However, you need to confirm availability of the network in your area before you sign up. Verizon’s network is thicker in the North East as compared to other parts of the country.
Every feature on every plan is GoToConnect’s simple proposition.
In that case, why would anyone buy the premium plans, assuming they have more than one plan?
For the number of users that you get. Yes, GoToConnect does have multiple plans. This philosophy, offering everything in every plan, make it really simple to choose from, and also there is no complexity while upgrading or downgrading between plans.
The simplicity of its interface and array of features available to everyone, have made it a favotite amongst small businesses. Its reviews also paint a positive picture of the provider.
This VoIP phone system for small business is good for businesses with a great reliance on their mobile devices. The MiCloud Connect is a complete cloud business communications service that delivers seamless voice, collaboration and contact center solutions from a single provider.
It delivers an intuitive user experience that obnviates the need for any reliance on technical or engineering resources, and provides Google Cloud’sm proven reliability.
With this solution, virtual teams can come together with file sharing, conferencing, screen sharing and messaging. With its desktop and mobile app solutions, users can stay connected all the time.
It provides rich PBX features and an advanced softphone. It even provides a Call Centre like setup for a comprehensive setup and management.
If you want cheap, phone.com is the one for you, starting at just $10.39 per month per user (with an annual plan). The 300 minutes allocation in the plan make it about adequate for most small businesses who may prefer the low cost to some additional room for manoeuvre in terms of extra talk time. Another limitation you may need to live with is the limited CRM integrations.
Phone.com offers all of the modern features of a big-enterprise phone system but is affordable and easy to use for entrepreneurs and growing businesses. For businesses not interested in doing a detailed cots-benefit analysis of features against costs, this is a great place to start. As the business grows, and you have more breathing space, you could do a more detailed analysis and opt for a higher plan or another provider. Nothing is forever.
VOIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol and uses the internet bandwidth to make and receive phone calls, as opposed to the traditional phone which goes through the PSTN (public switched telephone network) technology based fixed wiring that terminates at the point your phone is installed, whether office or home.
The previously listed 10 companies specialize in VoIP services. However, you have one more option – telecommunications or broadband providers. These include major enterprises such as AT&T and Verizon. They also offer VoIP services and, just like many companies in this market, they may try to upsell their services along with their standard packages.
The reason why broadband providers may be a wise choice is the integration of VoIP services into the rest of their plans. Accordingly, you can get internet, cell phone, and VoIP plans in one place. Also, you can get all the equipment from the same provider, have an installer set up all the devices, and possibly avoid cumbersome pieces of hardware.
Another area where broadband providers don’t lag behind traditional VoIP companies is the range of services. Namely, most telecommunication enterprises come with settings for personal, residential, and business VoIP. Therefore, if you decide to change your VoIP features, you can easily do so by contacting your broadband company and upgrading to a higher plan.
When deciding on your VoIP provider, the most important thing is to sort your priorities. You can start by asking yourself a series of questions pertinent to your line of business:
Once you’ve listed all the necessary components of your VoIP, you should start going through the content of plans from each of the abovementioned providers. See which plan has the most features you need and, thus, find the package that fits your business better than any other.
Finally, pricing is also a significant factor when choosing the best offer. But it shouldn’t top your list of priorities. The main thing on your mind should be purchasing the highest-quality plan for your needs. This is especially important if telephone communication is your principal way of conducting business. Even if you pay a higher price initially, it should pay off in the long run since higher quality usually means better features.
VOIP uses a session initiation protocol (SIP) that carries all the various forms of data, that includes voice, video and, well, data, through a common digital line.
If you are switching to VOIP, it may be possible to retain your existing number/s. Check with the provider or providers that you are considering.
A traditional phone line terminates at a physical location and can be accessed through the device that is attached to the termination point, either directly or through the PBX.
VoIP phones (also known as Internet phones and IP phones) turn your voice into data packets which are then transmitted over the internet like an email. If you’ve used providers like Skype or Zoom for business phone calls, you’ve used VoIP.
A VOIP phone, is flexible and can be accessed based on credentials. You can, thus, access your VOIP phone from any device connected to the internet, subject to supplying the right credentials. There is also no device limitation. You could use your smartphone or laptop to access your phone line. Of course, as a business, you may wish to instal additional layers of security of employees are using their own devices.
In a Covid-19 impacted world this has been a boon for many businesses using VOIP. Staff can continue to access their business phones from their home, or anywhere they are operating from, seamlessly. Customers calling in or being called by you will continue to see the business numbers, regardless of where you are. Call Centers have been able to operate remotely because most have been using VOIP telephony for long.
VOIP telephony offers all standard features you might expect with your traditional phones, with a lot more flexibility. Features possible (some operators may not offer all of them and some might have a charging mechanism for them):
A PBX is a private branch exchange that allows a private network to be created, such as in your office, that enables sharing of telephone resources. For example, if there are 20 people in your office, you don’t need 20 lines. A few lines, say 4, might be adequate to service the requirement of all 20 since they are not on call all the time, unless you operate a Call Center.
PBX functionality, that is created through additional on-premise equipment in traditional telephony, is handled in the cloud in VOIP.
Like everything else in the world, VOIP also has some limitations.
While traditional telephone lines work during power outages, VOIP telephony is at the mercy of your internet connection. If no internet, no VOIP. Also, some of the equipment, like routers, may be dependent on power supply and may go down in case of a power outage, interrupting your telephone network. For uninterrupted connectivity, ensure a reliable internet connection as well as backup power for critical equipment.
911 operators cannot trace the location where the call is being made from. That could put you at a disadvantage in times of an emergency. In order to override and make yourself attached to a location, you need to use the enhanced 911 (E911) functionality to manually input the location details which will attach the address to your number.
Landline connections are bound for an honorable mention in the history of telephony. Over the last few years landline users have been steadily going down even as internet phone connections have been on an increase. With all features of landline phones being available in VOIP, with greater flexibility, providers will soon find that manintaining and supporting landline networks is no longer worth their while. VOIP, thus, might soon be the only telephony choice available.
With increasingly flexible workforces, partly on account of the pandemic, and with a steady rise in internet bandwidth and its penetration into the far corners of the world, it would perhaps even be economic for the world to use that network as the backbone instead of multiple ones.
We already have intense competition in the VOIP space, providing options to buying customers, as we have just seen. This can only increase in the near future. We also know that 5G technology is there on the horizon. Once it is commercialized, more internet bandwidth at much faster speeds will be available than ever before. Who knows, a day might come when voice is a hygiene available for free.