It's also critical that you consider the impact of mergers and acquisitions on your phone system, both from your own organization's perspective as well as your VoIP provider. Because VoIP systems turn calls into data, the whole process isn't as plug-and-play standards-based as the old-fashioned analog phone system might have been. Should your company merge with or purchase another, VoIP compatibility will become another significant IT issue.
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.
We recognize that not all our readers’ businesses are based in the US. So we took another pass at our content to provide more information on each provider’s international offerings. And because 8x8’s international rates on calls made from the US are so good, we bumped it up to our number five spot. Finally, we added info about Ooma’s new plan (Ooma Office Pro) to the offerings mentioned below.
As always the best place to start is at the beginning! The following buttons provide access to some of our best guides and tools for getting started with VoIP. These articles give a great background into VoIP, help you understand all the basics, and answer most people questions. The VoIP/Speed test tool performs a test of your Internet connection and provides a great indication of how well VoIP will work at your home. We highly recommend running this test.
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.
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.
One of the most exciting and clear differences between a cloud PBX provider and a standard telephone system is software. Your IT staff will find a host of new software tools to help monitor and manage the system. But what catches most business operators' eyes are two key capabilities that software provides: back-end integration and softphones. The latter is exactly what the name implies, a phone that's rendered entirely in software allowing any compatible device to become a phone as long as it has an internet connection, a speaker, and a microphone. More on that below.
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.
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.
Be aware, however, that there are significant security implications regarding the use of mobile softphones on employee-owned devices. While it's possible for your employees to simply download the appropriate software from their respective app store, your IT department should be involved with allowing access while also confirming that necessary security steps are taken. Also be aware that there are important reasons not to allow soft phone installations on private devices of any type because you may not be able to remove that phone client if the employee leaves the company, and because local laws may impact how much control you have over the use of the device.
A key attraction of VoIP is that it gives these systems the flexibility to work in a wide variety of environments ranging from analog desk phones to softphones piggy-backing on a cell phone. These systems can often also integrate all or part of their softphone clients into other back-office applications, like your customer relationship management (CRM) or help desk platforms. Simply picture the standard interface of such an app that suddenly sports a dial pad and some function buttons as a pop-up screen and you'll have a very basic idea of how some of this works. In addition, these cloud based systems can have a variety of phone numbers in global locations, so that your customers can have free access to your phone at little or no 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.
RingCentral’s VoIP service isn’t the cheapest option right out of the box, but it does include features that other providers charge extra for (such as generous toll-free minutes and unlimited video conferencing). Plus, RingCentral offers price matching on plans with less than 50 lines, so you can rest easy knowing you’re getting the best possible price for your service.
When you're considering a new VoIP phone system for your business, it's important to include stakeholders from all of the key parts of your business in the planning and decision making process. Yes, this especially includes the IT staff and the data security folks since your voice communications will now be data. But it also needs to include folks who will be using the system to get work done, especially the work that drives revenue and engages customers. These people have invaluable insights into what's really needed versus what's simply cool and new. Plus, you'll need their input to select a phone system that will actually move your business forward as well as fit into your IT environment.
VoIP (pronounced “Voyp”) stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol” and to make a long story short—it allows you to make calls through your home internet connection. When you make a call with your VoIP system, your voice is converted into data and transmitted to the caller at the other end in the form of high-quality audio. The sound and connection typically are seamless enough to where you won’t even know the call you’ve received is from a VoIP line.
Unless you’re running a major business out of your house, chances are you won’t need or be interested in the ability to do video conferencing with dozens of people at the same time. The same goes for an auto attendant and business software integrations. First decide which features are priorities for you (unlimited calling, voicemail-to-email, international calling plans, etc.) and then take a look at what each company offers. After all, there’s no sense in paying for features that you don’t need.
Residential VoIP service providers are the most popular choice for home phone services in 2020. Millions of homeowners have switched to VoIP from a regular landline service and enjoy significant cost savings, unlimited calling plans, and amazing calling features (such as call forwarding, call blocking, voicemail to email and more). We will help you find the best VoIP service for your home: