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.
Few things in life are set in stone, and the same should be true of your VoIP plan. It’s wise to find a plan that is scalable and which you can easily expand if need be. You’ll want to know if you can break your contract early if you find a better deal elsewhere, or if you can easily switch plans with the same company in order to take advantage of more features, or to get rid of some you don’t need. 

With integration being at the heart of VoIP and UCaaS, you can't make a purchasing decision here without thinking about the future. On one side, think about what you'll need in 1-5 years. On the other side, consider each vendor carefully to see what they've done over the last half decade in terms of product development and keeping up with VoIP and UCaaS trends.


We address the above 4 steps in our easy-to-read comparison charts of the best VoIP providers and their offerings.  Every key detail is front and center in our extensive round-up comparisons. Don’t get swept up in what might be great marketing unsupported by likewise service. We’ve done the research for you, by narrowing down the best VoIP providers in the industry. Follow the above 4 steps for a seamless transition.
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.
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. 

A critical part of the discussion with your IT staff will be whether your existing data network can handle the extra load that will be placed on it by the new phone system. You'll need a network that can handle more advanced network management capabilities, including tools to fight jitter and latency as well as to provide Quality of Service (QoS) and different kinds of network segmentation, especially virtual LANs (VLANs). Only tools like these can help free up your network from too much congestion, which can cause your call quality to decrease or even crash the VoIP system entirely.  


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.
A high speed Internet connection is required to "carry" your calls so if you have an Internet outage (or your ISP has an outage) then your phone service will not work. Internet services have improved significantly in the last few years and outages tend to be much less common than they use to be. Again, if you have a cell phone then this may not be an issue for you.
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.

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.
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.
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.
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).
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.  
also enables T56A  to work as a base station which can be registered with up to 4 compatible Yealink handsets. This solution provides you with a quick and reliable DECT connection without wiring or cabling. As a complement for Yealink DECT series, attaching DD10K to your desk phone offers you a new solution by combining the desk phone’s features with DECT capabilities.
A high speed Internet connection is required to "carry" your calls so if you have an Internet outage (or your ISP has an outage) then your phone service will not work. Internet services have improved significantly in the last few years and outages tend to be much less common than they use to be. Again, if you have a cell phone then this may not be an issue for you.
×