Remember when landlines still ruled the country, before smartphones were sophisticated portable broadband equipment? There was a time when telephone terminals were essential business equipment, when we placed a telephone near every chair in the house. It was the moment, my friend. It was the moment.
For many companies, especially those that had already undergone their own digital transformation, business was pretty much business as usual. Your teams communicate via Slack or Teams, host Zoom meetings four times a day, and create email chains and discussion threads that can make you question the meaning of life.
But we are not talking to companies or people. In this article, we’re talking about companies that still have a phone on every desk (but now the desks are at home), that still do business on the phone (some people actually do), and that route calls. And they move into expansions (which must now traverse the planet instead of the building).
For those of you, there are VoIP (Voice over IP) solutions that allow you to operate a cloud-based PBX and connect employees working from home as if they were connected to the telephone switch on site. Here are 11 solutions that should help you stay connected.
What is VoIP?
VoIP is, or Voice over Internet Protocol, a new form of digital phone service in which calls are sent and received over the Internet. To use VoIP phone systems, all users need a broadband Internet connection and a VoIP phone service provider.
VoIP service providers offer many highly advanced next-generation calling, texting, video, and conferencing features. These functions are often included and are valuable assets at each stage of your specific communication needs. Traditionally, many of the calling features now included in VoIP phone services have been used by one person operating a switchboard. Directing call traffic correctly is essential to the success of any business. With VoIP solutions, many of them are customizable to put your business on top of efficiency and professionalism. Networking features are designed to ensure your business never loses a beat, keeping your infrastructure close at hand at all times.
How do VoIP phones compare to a landline?
You won’t even notice the difference. Lorsque you pass an appel in using votre service telefonique VoIP, vous décrochez votre telefon comme d’habitude, composez the number that you souhaitez joindre, votre telefon is connected to the RTC and you are connected to the utilisant votre connexion Internet au lieu d’util Internet connection. “Towards a traditional landline phone.
Traditional landlines work by transferring analog voice signals over copper wires. Whereas VoIP works by converting analog voice into digital data packets and transmitting it over the internet.
What to look for in VoIP providers:
When buyers ask what is the best VoIP service or who are the best VoIP providers, there are never two identical answers. Keep in mind that the best service for a person or business may not be the most ideal for you. It’s about finding a VoIP provider that can meet your specific needs. Users should consider these factors when comparing VoIP providers:
- Support: Is support available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? What are the support options and where is customer service based?
- Reliability / Downtime – How often is system downtime scheduled for updates and maintenance?
- Quality of Service – Make sure the provider can make high-quality calls at all times. Check availability and SLA guarantees.
- Versatility – Look for a provider that can grow and evolve with you and your needs.
Best VoIP service providers in 2022
|Plan||Starting price||Features||Learn more|
|RingCentral||$19.99*||Voicemail-to-text, toll-free or local number, 100 toll-free minutes/mo.||View Plans|
|Ooma||$19.95||Unlimited calling in the US and Canada, 3-way conferencing||View Plans|
|Nextiva||$19.95**||Hold music, unlimited US calling, free number porting||View Plans|
|8X8||$12.00||Unlimited calling in the US and Canada, mobile and desktop apps, HD video conferencing||View Plans|
|Grasshopper||$26.00*||1 number, up to 3 extensions, Voicemail to Email, virtual fax||View Plans|
1. Ring Central
When I started asking about VoIP providers, RingCentral was the one that was mentioned the most. RingCentral offers solutions for small vendors and large businesses, and also focuses on onboarding developers, allowing third-party vendors to connect to the RingCentral environment in new and creative ways.
Its core product is RingCentral Office, which offers all the key Virtual PBX functions, including auto attendant, corporate directory, call transfer and management, and various extensions. Additional programs provide voicemail, call forwarding, faxing, as well as meetings and webinars. RingCentral has a nice iOS and Android app that allows you to turn your smartphone into what appears to be a more traditional desk phone for callers.
RingCentral VoIP plans
|Plan||Starting price(per mo. per user)||Features||Learn more|
|Essentials||$19.99*||Unlimited calls in the US and Canada, unlimited business SMS, and team messaging available||View Plans|
|Standard||$22.99*||Unlimited calls in the US and Canada, 1,000 toll-free minutes/mo., four-person videoconferencing||View Plans|
|Premium||$32.99*||2,500 toll-free minutes/mo., 100-person videoconferencing, Salesforce® integration||View Plans|
|Ultimate||$42.99*||10,000 toll-free minutes/mo., 200-person videoconferencing||View Plans|
Here are a few other features business owners are sure to love:
- Unlimited calls within the US and Canada
- A toll-free or local phone number
- Automatic call recording
- Inbound caller ID
- 2,500 toll-free monthly minutes
- Service in 100+ countries worldwide
- Voice menus in 10 different languages
Add a second line to your mobile phone, then continue to expand and develop
You don’t want to give our personal mobile number to clients and clients, but you don’t want to bring a second phone either? Consider line 2 which, wait, adds a second line to your phone.
In fact, Line2 offers quite a bit more. Move traditional wired local PBX to the cloud and move dedicated PBX phones to your team’s smartphones. You can assign additional phone numbers to phones, transfer calls between team members, set up an auto attendant feature to disturb callers when the official bell rings. You can even turn your team into a virtual call center with the ability to dynamically distribute calls to agents.
Best VoIP service for working from home
With its affordable prices and scalable solutions, Ooma is one of our favorite phone services for small businesses. But Ooma’s Office and Office Pro plans also stand out as some of the best VoIP phone service offerings for businesses with home-based workers.
Ooma phone systems are flexible, so you can use your desk phone while working at home, make and accept business calls on your cell phone, and even use the Ooma desktop app to make calls on your computer. And Ooma’s plans remain affordable even with a higher tier plan.
Ooma VoIP plans
|Plans||Starting price(per mo. per user)||Features||Learn more|
|Ooma Office||$19.95||Unlimited calling in the US and Canada, three-way conferencing||View Plans|
|$24.95||Call recording, enhanced call blocking, voicemail transcription||View Plans|
Ooma’s remote capabilities can help your business stay up and running, no matter where your employees are. For starters, Ooma’s mobile and desktop apps allow remote workers to make and receive unlimited calls in North America using your business number.
We also like Ooma’s Ring Groups feature, which allows you to group the extensions in your phone system so that they all ring simultaneously. Then it transfers the call to the employee who answers first. This allows your customers to contact a representative as quickly as possible and provides a backup in the event that one of your employees needs to step away to take care of childcare or move laundry.
Businesses working remotely, however, should keep in mind that Ooma offers video conferencing only on the Ooma Office Pro plan. Otherwise, you get a conference line that allows home workers to collaborate over the phone. This puts Ooma behind some of the other providers on our list, but with providers like Nextiva currently offering their video collaboration tool to businesses for free, this shouldn’t be a major issue.
Best VoIP software for midsize businesses
Nextiva is ideal for mid-sized businesses on a budget, as it offers an impressive balance between price and functionality. Nextiva’s mobile app and desktop app let your employees ditch the bulky desk phones of the past, and the service’s online management platform makes it easy to juggle multiple lines, even when your employees all work from different locations.
Nextiva VoIP plans
|Plan||Starting price(per mo. per user)||Features||Learn more|
|Essential||$17.95*||1,500 toll-free minutes, unlimited internet fax, video and audio meetings||View Plans|
|Professional||$21.95*||3,000 toll-free minutes, unlimited videoconferencing, team messaging||View Plans|
|Enterprise||$31.95*||12,500 toll-free minutes, voicemail transcription, advanced business integrations||View Plans|
The Nextiva service also provides a number of useful features for home-based businesses. For starters, there’s the Nextiva app, which lets you use your work phone number to make calls remotely from your desktop or mobile devices. Nextiva’s team collaboration tool, Cospace, also lets your team collaborate through video chat, so you can keep everyone on the same page.
But common sense: Nextiva’s pricing can be a bit complex, so be sure to click on the website’s pricing page to find the exact pricing for your business. The website lists the Essential plan at $ 17.95 per month, for example. But if you click on the little question mark next to the price, you find out that the price is only for 36-month prepaid contracts on plans with 100 or more users. If you are a small business with a monthly plan, you will end up paying $ 30.95 per month for the same plan.
That being said, we think it’s impressive that none of Nextiva’s plans cost more than $ 45 per month, especially considering all of the VoIP service features you get. And for businesses with home-based employees, features like unlimited video conferencing (with a business plan or higher), screen sharing, and team messaging make it easier to work even when everyone is physically away.
Any simple extension extension solution at a fixed cost
He was new to Grasshopper, but I continued to know him while researching this article. And wouldn’t you know? It is also owned by LogMeIn. Think of him as GoToConnect’s cute little cousin.
What stands out about Grasshopper is its very manageable billing structure for small businesses. While the company offers a one and three number expansion plan and a three and six number expansion plan, the winner here is the five number unlimited expansion plan for $ 80 per month. It’s not per month, per user. It is only per month. So if you have a growing small business and want a virtual PBX with a few numbers (like one for manager, one for sales, one for support, etc.) and an extension for each employee, then boom. ! Eighty dollars a month. If you are hiring more people, don’t worry. Just a budget for that $ 80 monthly fee.
Grasshopper VoIP plans
|Plans||Starting price(per mo. per user)||Features||Learn more|
|Solo||$26.00*||1 number, up to 3 extensions, Voicemail to Email, virtual fax||View Plans|
|Partner||$44.00*||3 numbers, up to 6 extensions, Voicemail to Email, virtual fax||View Plans|
|Small Business||$80.00*||5 numbers, unlimited extensions, Voicemail to Email, virtual fax||View Plans|
What Grasshopper doesn’t have is the original equipment. You provide your own phones or mobile devices. Then you get the usual VoIP, call forwarding, voicemail, extensions, transfers, etc. However, there are no call center options so if you are building a large call center you might want a different solution. But if you want a fixed budget PBX that can usually be scaled up at no extra cost, head over to Grasshopper.
Intermediate VoIP with an extraordinary option: a real human being on the phone
When I started my first business, few people worked from home. Businesses hoped to attract business and support receptionists (yes, it was the dark ages). As part of one of my first startup activities, I hired a local answering service, forwarded all my calls to them, and then they would call me to transfer the call. It was painful, but it allowed me to receive offers that I otherwise would have had no hope of receiving.
Today, of course, we’re all used to email, texting, webforms, and social media. Calling on a business is much rarer. But there are still some old school industries where a live assistant would be a key business option.
While most of Phone.com’s plans are pretty much in the middle of the road, with relatively low prices, the real draw was their certainly not cheap plans which included a live assistant answering the phone. This real human being can then be transferred to an extension or cell phone, sent to voicemail, make appointments, and follow a script.
Please feel free to visit Phone.com for their current Unified Communications offerings. But if you want an integrated solution with a real human answering the phone, take a look at Phone.com.
Keep the feeling of being at the office, but at home
Last time around, we included Intermedia in our best email hosting service roundup, and now it’s back on our VoIP list. In fact, Intermedia offers a number of unified communications products, including virtual PBXs, SIP trunks, and various conferencing applications. In this roundup, we take a look at the company’s combined system, Intermedia Unite.
While Intermedia Unite primarily recommends Polycom, Cisco, and Yealink VoIP phones, the company’s Bring Your Own Phone (BYOP) program allows other devices to connect to the Intermedia VoIP environment. In terms of functionality, this is Business VoIP with all the fixes. As you can imagine from a provider we recommend as the leading email hosting provider, Intermedia Unite has strong ties to Office 365 and Workspace (formerly G Suite), as well as Slack and Salesforce.
In times of pandemic, the ability for workers to take their desk phones home, connect them to their home internet, and still have a receptionist capacity that allows AAs and operators to see everyone’s availability. World in your organization, doing blind transfers, hot transfers and transfers to voicemail all remotely is a big help
Ideal for small businesses
As one of the first VoIP services on the market, Vonage is one of the most popular PBX solutions available today. And for good reason.
Vonage phone service can easily scale with your business, so you don’t have to worry about difficult transitions to new systems as your needs grow. Vonage integrates with everything from Salesforce to Slack, so you’re covered if your business becomes too important for your current customer relationship tools. And Vonage offers VoIP communication features that make the service easy to use even when you’re at home.
Vonage VoIP plans
|Plans||Starting price: 20–49 lines(per mo. per user)||Features||Learn more|
|Mobile||$14.99*||Team messaging, unlimited calling and texts, mobile and desktop apps||View Plans|
|Premium||$24.99*||Videoconferencing, multi-level auto attendant, CRM integrations||View Plans|
|Advanced||$34.99*||Call group, visual voicemail, 15 hours of call recording||View Plans|
Vonage plans offer great features for home workers, including unlimited team messages, unlimited conversations, and unlimited business texts on each plan. However, if video conferencing is important to your business, you will need to upgrade to the Premium plan.
We also like that Vonage offers 20 third-party integrations through the Vonage App Center, which is available even on the mobile plan. This feature allows you to synchronize your VoIP phone system with certain accounting, inventory and CRM software so that you can build a fully networked business.
In addition, all Vonage customers benefit from 24/7 customer support and IT solutions. Between that and all the other features included in Vonage’s entry-level phone plans, it’s a great solution for small businesses that want advanced features at an affordable price. And Vonage can certainly keep pace when it comes to upgrading your devices or adding more lines, so your business can easily grow within your existing VoIP system.
How do we choose these VoIP services?
This one took a bit of creativity. I haven’t touched an RJ-11 connector for about six years. That being said, I did a lot of VoIP setups back then and worked with several of the providers listed here. To expand this list, I contacted telecom officials I know and asked for their recommendation. Most of them also ditched VoIP in a dark past and spent their time dealing with issues of mobile device management and application deployment.
But some of them still had outdated customers, outdated managers, or outdated business practices that benefited more from a unified phone system than from a wide range of modified smartphones. The companies listed here mainly derive from their recommendations.
I want to mention one of these companies, although I don’t mention them by name. This company received honorable mentions from some of the professionals I spoke to, but some details were unclear. I got in touch through the company’s pop-up chat box and was happy to contact a human rather than a bot. Five minutes later, after trying to get details about the company’s competitive advantages, I was asked “Do you need VOIP services or not?” The agent got more rude from that point on. Therefore, this company is not mentioned here at all.
And that’s a lesson for businesses: be careful if you offer a chat option on your website. If your agents are rude, you may be missing out on opportunities. I just dropped a company from the ‘best of 2020’ list because its operator was impatient and rude and therefore not qualified to be considered ‘the best of all’.
Fixed line providers are almost a thing of the past. Like it or not, VoIP systems will soon be your only business telephony option. Additionally, VoIP phone systems may be the best method to adapt to an increasingly home based work environment.
Fortunately, there are several VoIP phone systems for home and business, with more digital features and affordable prices than ever before. Still, it’s an increasingly competitive market, so don’t miss out: do your homework before choosing a small business VoIP system.
Do VoIP phones need a provider?
VoIP phones use the Internet to connect to the phone network, and need to be registered online to a service provider.
What are the disadvantages of VoIP?
The main disadvantage of VoIP compared to traditional lines is that it is totally dependent on the strength of your broadband connection. No internet equals no VoIP phone service. It does not end there either. Poor internet connection can also affect call quality and lead to problems like jitter and latency.
Is VoIP better than landline?
In terms of features, landlines are no match against VoIP. If you prefer having more control over your calling experience, VoIP telephones are your best bet. An example showing how Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) works. With VoIP, companies can place and receive calls without any extra hardware
Is VoIP worth getting?
VoIP phone service can be really good; it unfortunately just takes a lot of effort and probably some extra equipment to make it function at 100%. Again, you can get all the features of a VoIP system, at a much lower cost and a fraction of the time to set up, with a virtual phone system.