While we think Grasshopper is great for small businesses, it misses out on our “Best Small-Business Phone Service” title because, compared to Ooma, Grasshopper is a little expensive. Grasshopper plans start at $26 per month, assuming you sign up for annual billing. And starting plans include only one business phone number with up to three extensions.
If you’re located in one of the 21 states currently serviced by Verizon Fios—which are mostly in the northeast—you’ll have access to one of the fastest internet connections available, which is perfect for VoIP. If you’re in DSL-only country, the speed will be slower, but uptime is still guaranteed at 99.95%. Either internet option will support steady VoIP service, and if your business is more medium-sized than small, Verizon could add up to a better value in the long run (especially if you’re in Fios territory).
Cable companies and Internet providers will also provide a bridge device where your phones stay the same and the VoIPing simply happens on the back-end. Just remember that these devices dictate what kinds of features the provider can offer you, so be sure you know what these devices are capable of since there'll likely be more than one model to choose from.
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.
Each provider will disclose international calling rates on their website and a list of features on their website. We give a standardized list for each provider (with explanations on our VoIP Calling Features page) but providers experiment with different features all the time. Check their website (using a link on their details page) to verify how each feature works.
Residential VoIP reviews submitted by real users can be a great tool when trying to decide which provider is the best choice for you. Each review includes ratings for various aspects of the service, such as sound quality, features, customer service and more, as well as their personal comments based on their experience of the service. Reading reviews is an essential part of the decision making process.
Ooma also offers a lot of customer relationship management (CRM) integration features with its Enterprise plans. In other words, you get complete integration of your phone system into your existing customer relationship management software. This allows you to enjoy extra perks like transferring an entire customer workspace whenever you transfer a customer call within your workspace—that way, you don’t lose all the progress you made on your customer’s account just because you have to transfer them to another station.
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.
The Vtech VSP736 is an excellent mid-range VoIP phone for firms who want a reliable phone at a reasonable price. The VSP736 supports six SIP lines and boasts three-way conferencing functionality. Another notable innovation is the ability to record calls onto a micro SD card. The model’s sizeable screen and many hard keys also make advanced call handling possible.
If you're wondering what you get with a softphone that you won't with a standard phone handset, then that depends on the service. Business-class softphones offer all kinds of features related to online meeting collaboration, call routing, multi-line conference calling, and more. From a residential VoIP perspective, you'll most often find video conferencing (though more and more this is becoming a separate product from most providers), a voicemail-to-text converter, detailed call records, and user controls for users other than yourself. Some services also offer faxing, text chat, and call metering so you can see how much you're spending.
Ooma is a popular VoIP solution for businesses, and now that there’s a residential option, Ooma is even a great option for you at home. With this new addition to its services, Ooma has traditional phone companies running scared. After all, you just can’t compare the features, quality, and service that you get from a top-of-the-line brand name like Ooma. To begin with, the service is totally free. You read that correctly; Ooma’s residential VoIP is totally free. If you need more advanced features, you’ll have to pay for them. But even the Premium plan is very affordable. With both plans, you’ll get crystal clear sound quality, basic features like call waiting, online call logs, call return, and 911 services bundled into the plan. More advanced features include voicemail forwarding and monitoring, Ooma mobile calling, international calling, and custom ring patterns.
For a VoIP system to work, it needs a means of routing calls between users or to the outside world. In a cloud based system, a virtual PBX does that job. What that means to you is that the provider is running a large PBX operation in a data center somewhere, and slicing off a little of it to dedicate to your organization in exchange for your money. You're essentially sharing a large PBX with that provider's other customers, but because these companies use multi-tenant segmentation, your PBX will appear dedicated to you. This engine will take care of routing calls on your VoIP network.
What makes SIP so popular is not only that it's deep and flexible, but also because it was purpose-built to engage in multimedia (meaning not just audio but also video and even text) communications over TCP/IP networks. For VoIP calls, SIP can set up calls using a number of IP-related protocols, including the Stream Control Transmission Protocol (SCTP), the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), and the User Datagram Protocol (UDP), among others. But it can also handle other functions, including session setup (initiating a call at the target endpoint—the phone you're calling), presence management (giving an indicator of whether a user is "available," "away," etc.), location management (target registration), call monitoring, and more. Despite all that capability, SIP is simple compared to other VoIP protocols primarily because it's text-based and built on a simple request/response model that's similar in many ways to both HTTP and SMTP. Yet, it's still capable of handling the most complex operations of business-grade PBXes.
You know Verizon; everybody knows Verizon. It’s a mobile leader, and its ultra-fast Fios (fiber-optic internet) service is expanding rapidly—so of course it’s also in the VoIP business. Verizon has built-in bring-your-own-device (BYOD) solutions, as well as the internet connections (both fiber-optic and DSL) to support a reliable VoIP business service. Consolidation of all your business’s telecommunication needs into a single bill could be easily accomplished with Verizon. It would be more convenient than cheap, however.
However, for many businesses there's a need to route calls to the PSTN and other analog phones that might remain in use, too. This may mean a PSTN gateway, or even a hybrid PBX, where there's at least a small telephone switch located on-site. Note that these days, a PBX looks exactly like the other servers in your data center, except with an attached means of handling local and analog phones. Many small businesses, however, are avoiding on-premises PBXes partially due to cost savings and partially because the capabilities offered by all-cloud systems are more than advanced enough for their needs. Some virtual cloud PBXes can handle PSTN connectivity without on-site hardware requirements.
Multiple Numbers on Demand – Building a multifaceted business phone service with any kind of localized number or vanity number. Whether it’s business VoIP solutions for small business, enterprise, or contact center, communications is only as strong as it is dynamic, with multiple numbers, all having specific assignments to fulfill. Some business Voice Over IP phone providers will offer these additional numbers for free, or an additional small monthly fee. Explore options to find out if a provider supplies key components beyond a local number such as toll-free numbers, virtual faxing, and virtual extensions.
One advantage of the traditional landline services is that electrical power is sent over the telephone wires so your phone service is isolated from your house power. This meant that your phone service would continue to work if your house power went out. However, with VoIP, power is used not only for the ATA, or the IP phone, but it is also used for your Internet modem and router devices. No power also typically means no Internet service.