Whether it's a dedicated bridge device or a special VoIP phone, you'll need something on the hardware side compatible with VoIP in order to access the technology's chief benefit: its software layer. It's at this layer where VoIP's advanced communication and collaboration features are enabled and how well the provider has leveraged those advantages will be directly reflected in how its proprietary hardware and back-end services are programmed. Whether it's a phone or a bridge, if you're worried about getting lost in technobabble when trying to setup your new phone service, remember that the best providers should be able to ship you pre-configured devices that shouldn't require much, if any, intervention on your part. With these, you simply plug them into your router or connect them to your Wi-Fi network and they'll go out and find the provider's network on their own. Just power them up, connect to your network, and wait for the light to turn green.
Choose the service that is appropriate for your calling needs. Residential VoIP plans are cheaper than business VoIP plans because: (1) they have fewer features and (2) residential phones are used less frequently than business phones. Don’t use a residential VoIP service for a home-based business unless you’re willing to pay overage fees or to have your VoIP service canceled. VoIP providers are serious about enforcing their Fair Use guidelines.
PhonePower is one of a handful of VoIP providers that actually specialize in residential VoIP rather than business VoIP. Although PhonePower has many plans, it’s best for calling within the US (including Puerto Rico) and Canada. That’s because it has possibly the cheapest prices in residential VoIP, providing you’re calling solely on local numbers. PhonePower also enables calls abroad, although there are cheaper options such as Vonage if you’re planning on making more than an hour’s worth of calls internationally each month.
Voicemail routing can take multiple forms, but they're basically rules you can apply to incoming calls that will automatically route them to voicemail without even causing a ring. For example, if calls come in with Caller ID blocked, those can be routed directly to voicemail. Or if you're simply not into talking to anyone, you can hang out a digital Do Not Disturb sign and route all calls to voicemail, perhaps until you're feeling more social or every day between the hours of 9 PM and 7 AM. 
The interest that VoIP technology is generating for consumers and businesses alike, is creating a high level of demand that is being addressed by more and more providers entering the market. Choosing the best home phone service can now be a challenge as it can be difficult to compare providers that have different pricing structures, different features and different contract terms. Many residential providers names are becoming familiar in the home, such as Vonage, MagicJack and Ooma. Vonage, one of the more expensive options today, is popular due to its unlimited international calling feature. Evaluating Vonage competitors can save you even more money depending on your exact needs.
Nextiva also provides a number of helpful features for businesses working from home. For starters, there’s the Nextiva app, which lets you use your business phone number to make calls remotely from your desktop or mobile devices. Nextiva’s team collaboration tool, Cospace, also lets your team collaborate via video chat, so you can keep everyone one the same page.
Collective communication is the future of business communication. This type of communication technology enables users to communicate using a variety of data formats. For example, you could text your colleague about something you might have received in an email. Different data formats are combined to ensure that people who are contacted in a way are able to get the message in different ways. VoIP and unified communications go hand in hand.
The EXP40 Expansion Module for the SIP-T46S, SIP-T46G, SIP-T48S, and SIP-T48G, expanding the functional capability of your sip phone. It features a large graphic LCD. Two pages of 20 flexible buttons are shown and can be program up to 40 various features. The productivity-enhancing features include BLF/BLA, speed dialing, call forward, transfer, park, and pickup.
Some of that software is running on the provider's servers, but parts of it will be running on your devices, whether that's a PC a mobile phone or a VoIP phone. It's this software layer that provides the rich feature fabric, which along with its lower price, is what's drawing residential customers to the technology. Some of the more popular advanced features you'll find available in a residential service, include:

In addition to making sure your internet service can handle your VoIP traffic, you also need to make sure your local area network (LAN) can handle it. What makes network management tricky with VoIP is that if you simply drop it onto your network, that traffic will get processed the same as any other traffic, meaning your shared accounting application or those 20 gigabytes worth of files your assistant just stored in the cloud.
Whether it's a dedicated bridge device or a special VoIP phone, you'll need something on the hardware side compatible with VoIP in order to access the technology's chief benefit: its software layer. It's at this layer where VoIP's advanced communication and collaboration features are enabled and how well the provider has leveraged those advantages will be directly reflected in how its proprietary hardware and back-end services are programmed. Whether it's a phone or a bridge, if you're worried about getting lost in technobabble when trying to setup your new phone service, remember that the best providers should be able to ship you pre-configured devices that shouldn't require much, if any, intervention on your part. With these, you simply plug them into your router or connect them to your Wi-Fi network and they'll go out and find the provider's network on their own. Just power them up, connect to your network, and wait for the light to turn green.
That covers VoIP basics, but what about the more advanced options, and why is VoIP able to offer more advanced features where a regular phone can/t? Again, the secret is software. A VoIP system, whether home or business, can access a much richer software layer than a standard line from the plain old telephone service (POTS). On the business side, this flexibility has extended to integrating VoIP with other forms of communication to such a degree they all become a single platform, generally called Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). You won't anything that sophisticated when you're shopping for residential service, however.
Price – Is the model of phone something that fits within your business’s budget? There’s no benefit in splashing out on a top-of-the-range desk phone that you can’t afford, especially if you only need the basic functionality of VoIP calls. When comparing prices of the best VoIP telephones, you should be thinking of value, not cost. Keep the following criteria in mind when deciding if a price represents value for money.
For an extremely small business, especially one that’s just starting out, Ooma is a smart choice, as it provides all of the hardware and software you need to be up and running quickly. You don’t need a lot of know-how to start using Ooma, which is nice for a small business, where the owner likely has to wear numerous hats, including network management.
Similar to its popular small business VoIP solution, Ooma Office, the company touts its on-premises VoIP appliance to power its residential service. You'll find three versions of this device to choose from: the Ooma Telo, Ooma Telo Air or Ooma Telo 4G, but they all sit between your Internet router and your phones, making installation of this low-cost service plug-and-play.  
There are two basic kinds of softphone: a "fat" phone that's coded to run only on a full-fledged PC be that a Windows, Mac, or Linux machine. This software needs a real desktop or laptop CPU and all the other accouterments associated with a full-on PC in order to perform its functions. The other kind of softphone is one designed for a mobile device. Mobile VoIP clients are "slimmer" than a desktop softphone, which really just means they're designed to look a little different and probably have a few less features since mobile devices aren't as powerful as desktop machines. But if you're looking to run your home phone off your mobile phone wherever you are, then a mobile softphone is definitely the ticket; so be sure to investigate whether you residential VoIP provider offers a dedicated mobile client, whether that client will run on your mobile device, and how much it'll add to your monthly service charge.
While there are still a few other legacy protocols around, and a few non-SIP standards, such as H.232, SIP is what's used for the vast majority of modern VoIP phone systems. The most common use I've seen for H.232 has been in dedicated video conferencing systems. SIP, meanwhile, handles phone service, video conferencing, and several other tasks just fine, which is why its use is so widespread. Where it has trouble is with data security, but more on that in a bit.  
Vonage is probably one of the most well-known PBX providers on the market—and for good reason. Vonage phone service is easily scalable, so it can keep up with your business as it grows while maintaining affordable pricing. Vonage also offers integrations with everything from Salesforce to Slack. So if your business outgrows your current customer relationship management tools, you can switch without having to worry about whether your VoIP communications service offers integration with your new CRM.
On the phone providers' side, since this review roundup was first published, some of the products listed here now belong to other companies and some have merged into new products. If you're planning to depend on your phone system over the course of the next decade, then you should consider a vendor that's stable enough to still be around when it's time to up upgrade.
Price – Is the model of phone something that fits within your business’s budget? There’s no benefit in splashing out on a top-of-the-range desk phone that you can’t afford, especially if you only need the basic functionality of VoIP calls. When comparing prices of the best VoIP telephones, you should be thinking of value, not cost. Keep the following criteria in mind when deciding if a price represents value for money.
VoIP Office, a leading provider of Cloud based communications, makes it affordable and easy to connect to anyone, anywhere in the world. Our communications solutions meet the needs of any type of business in any industry, from home offices to large enterprises. VOIP OFFICE is a new-generation cloud based communications provider that offers all the features of your traditional PBX along with the latest functionality enabled by the use of VoIP technology. Voip Office integrates easily with your business applications, seamlessly integrating your desktop and your office into one interconnected system.
Disclaimer: The information featured in this article is based on our best estimates of pricing, package details, contract stipulations, and service available at the time of writing. All information is subject to change. Pricing will vary based on various factors, including, but not limited to, the customer’s location, package chosen, added features and equipment, the purchaser’s credit score, etc. For the most accurate information, please ask your customer service representative. Clarify all fees and contract details before signing a contract or finalizing your purchase.
On the phone providers' side, since this review roundup was first published, some of the products listed here now belong to other companies and some have merged into new products. If you're planning to depend on your phone system over the course of the next decade, then you should consider a vendor that's stable enough to still be around when it's time to up upgrade.
While understanding the basics of VoIP and SIP is important, setting one of these systems up will require some general network knowledge, too. For the best quality, you will need to meet a minimum upstream and downstream data throughput requirement. In addition, you'll also need to meet a minimum latency number (that is, the time between when a signal leaves a remote computer and when your system receives it), typically measured in milliseconds. It is possible to test your network connection to see if it will support a VoIP service. RingCentral offers this service from their website, other vendors like to have their service engineers do it for you.  

A business phone system helps you to present a professional image to your customers. If you do not have a need for office phones or spend the money, you can still use a virtual phone system to project a professional look. This enables you to place a call directly to a mobile phone. It also has key features like voicemail transcription and automated attendants.
Once familiarized with VoIP services,  hone in on what these features can do for you and how to transition to the next level. First and foremost, is cost – a universal concern for anyone. Check the provider’s plans and pricing and be sure they’re the most cost efficient for your calling needs. There is also quality & reliability, portability, customer support, and a satisfaction guarantee; all key factors that may be clinchers or deal-breakers when going through the process.
Flexible Messaging Options – There are a number of business phone service options available that make retrieving and maintaining your business messages very simple. With Voicemail Transcription, you can read the message in your inbox, or receive it as a text instead of listening to it. Let’s say a client calls you about a fax he needs, and leaves a fax number on the message. With a few clicks you can virtually send the fax as a PDF to that number.

BYOD stands for bring your own device. This term refers to employees conducting company business on personal laptops, tablets, and phones instead of on company-owned gear. Most VoIP companies offer BYOD features and solutions within their plans, either included or at additional cost. However, extra IT security layers and company guidelines for BYOD are on you.


Similar to Ooma's residential service (below), AXvoice deploys its home VoIP with the help of an appliance, appropriately called the AXvoice Device, which sits between your home's phones and your Internet router. This device not only serves as a bridge between your old phones and the new VoIP service it also enables many of the advanced features that straight POTS bridges often don't address.
Like the rest of us, you probably don't like to get hassled with unwanted phone calls when you’re at home. You can also implement “enhanced call forwarding” to reroute and block the numbers that you specify, without the caller having any idea. You also can set up your phone to block international and directory assistance calls, so they don’t bother you at home. 
He is the co-founder of NP Digital and Subscribers. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he is one of the top 10 marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies. Neil is a New York Times bestselling author and was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 35 by the United Nations.
Michael Muchmore is PC Magazine’s lead analyst for software and Web applications. A native New Yorker, he has at various times headed up PC Magazine’s coverage of Web development, enterprise software, and display technologies. Michael cowrote one of the first overviews of Web Services (pretty much the progenitor of Web 2.0) for a general audience. Before that he worked on PC Magazine’s Solutions section, which in those days covered programming techniques as well as tips on using popular office software. Most recently he covered Web 2.0 and other software for ExtremeTech.com.
While it doesn't offer as many features as its business-class version, residential VoIP is still overwhelmingly attractive when compared to standard phone service; firstly because of its much lower overall price tag and second because it simply offers more features than an old fashioned long line. You can keep your current number, suffer zero restrictions when it comes to 911 or long-distance calling, drop your monthly price to a low fixed number, and take advantage of VoIP-only features like smart call routing, virtual numbers, and more.
Because they're working across such a multitude of channels, many of today's phone systems are adopting the moniker of Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS). These are generally cloud-based, virtual PBXes (private branch exchanges) that include at least one, usually multiple, software clients to enhance their functionality on the web, desktop, and a variety of mobile devices. UCaaS systems have a wide variety of feature sets based on the tried and true VoIP. Even residential VoIP systems come with features that are simply impossible using a conventional telephone system.
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