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:
That being said, Grasshopper doesn’t offer any conferencing tools. For that, you’ll have to sign up for join.me—Grasshopper’s sister company. This service offers both video and audioconferencing, but it does cost an extra $10–$30 per month. That’s another strike against Grasshopper, since most providers in Grasshopper’s price range include conferencing features.
Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) is the future of business communications. It relies on sending your calls as a digital signal over the internet, rather than physical phone lines. It provides the connectivity, agility, and mobility that modern companies need. That’s why so many of them are ditching traditional landlines in favour of the VoIP alternative.
You don’t want to cheap out on your business’s VoIP plan, but . . . admit it, you sort of want to cheap out on your business’s VoIP plan. Nextiva offers an impressive balance of pricing and features that could assuage any guilt over saving a few bucks. Also, their online management platform makes it simple to juggle multiple lines and employees in different locales (read our review of Nextiva for more info).
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.
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.
Packed with advanced phone system features necessary to operate a small to medium businesses, such as hosted PBX capabilities, desk-to-desk calling, automated attendant systems, call routing and even music-on-hold, Business phone services powered by VoIP technology make it easy for any company to operate with the same level of professionalism customers expect from large scale enterprise systems. Business VoIP systems also include overall Unified Communication solutions to empower the mobility and flexibility needed for any size businesses. With an inexpensive, feature filled phone solutions, your business can operate at a high level on par with large scale systems, without having to worry about the cost.
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.
If that all is starting to sound more complex than it's worth, remember that turning your PBX into a software solution means significant opportunity for flexibility and integration that you simply can't get any other way. After all, programmers can now treat your phone like an app. Where that's taken us is to the fast-changing UCaaS paradigm (more on that below). Here, traditional VoIP providers, like the ones we review as part of this review roundup, provide additional software capabilities that are all implemented and managed from a single, unified console.
You've probably been offered a home VoIP solution several times already if you've got cable TV service or if you're getting your Internet access from one of the larger Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Outfits like those love offering voice as the third leg of a "triple play" sales pitch: Internet, TV, and phone. When you see those offerings, what you'll be buying is a VoIP-based phone service, though generally one with slightly fewer features than you'll get from a dedicated VoIP provider because the provider generally isn't focused on their VoIP product, but one of the other two.
Not every internet connection is VoIP ready, so before you sign up, make sure that your line will provide you with the level of VoIP speed and service you need. You can easily find resources online for checking the speed and call quality of your connection. The quality of your connection can potentially impact the clarity of your calls, so pay close attention.
Companies working from home will appreciate Ooma’s remote features. For starters, Ooma offers a mobile app that lets you make and receive calls from your smartphone using your business number. You can also set up ring groups, which allows you to group extensions together so they all ring simultaneously—then the call gets transferred to whichever remote employee picks up first.
Since Verizon is a massive company, customer service ratings are in line with what you’d usually read in the comments section—meaning, people are far more motivated to complain than praise. Navigating Verizon’s bundling plans for businesses may be like a choose-your-own-adventure odyssey, but its support lines are segregated well, with separate contacts for small, medium, and larger businesses. Verizon also offers competitive SLAs (service level agreements) for quality and service and 24/7 support via phone, email, and tickets.
With all the features and functionality Nextiva includes, the fact that no plan exceeds 60 bucks a month is notable. A micro-sized office could get by easily with the bare-bones Office Pro setup, but the advanced features of Office Pro Plus and Office Enterprise are tempting for a few dollars more: the Nextiva mobile voice and video app and the Team Presence status indicator (both included in Office Pro Plus) are useful upgrades, as are call recording and the number-meshing Nextiva Anywhere app (Office Enterprise).
The products and services in this review roundup are focused on business use and because of this either provide some PBX features or serve as full-on virtual PBXes. This may mean, among other things, that they provide service to telephone sets on your employees' desks. Most also support electronic faxing in some fashion, either directly (which can be a significant challenge for some VoIP services) or by simply integrating an incoming fax with your email system. Other popular features are video conferencing and shared meeting software (so meeting attendees not only hear each other but can present presentations or documents in a shared work space).
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.