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. 
A business phone system helps you to present a professional image to your customers. If you do not have a need for office phones or spend the money, you can still use a virtual phone system to project a professional look. This enables you to place a call directly to a mobile phone. It also has key features like voicemail transcription and automated attendants.
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.
*Disclosure: We are an independent, advertiser-supported comparison service. The offers that appear on this page are from companies that we have a marketing relationship with, that compensate us. This impacts where those products appear on the site. Company listings on this page do not imply endorsement. There are many advantages of having a residential VoIP phone service. Thanks to VoIP, nowadays, telecommunication is easier and flexible than ever before. It's not only easy to use, but also very cheap. Voice over IP phone services include unlimited calling and many free features that you would normally pay for with a traditional phone company, such as call waiting, call forwarding, caller ID, etc. We offer a thorough analysis of provider, services, and features.
The EXP40 Expansion Module for the SIP-T46S, SIP-T46G, SIP-T48S, and SIP-T48G, expanding the functional capability of your sip phone. It features a large graphic LCD. Two pages of 20 flexible buttons are shown and can be program up to 40 various features. The productivity-enhancing features include BLF/BLA, speed dialing, call forward, transfer, park, and pickup.
At the VoIP level, a phone or gateway may identify itself with a Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) registrar by its account credentials. In such cases, the Internet telephony service provider (ITSP) knows only that a particular user's equipment is active. Service providers often provide emergency response services by agreement with the user who registers a physical location and agrees that emergency services are provided to that address only if an emergency number is called from the IP device.
Most of these VoIP solutions will require stable and consistent internet connectivity at every location where wired phones are to be used. At the very least, your business phone system must have access to a business class internet link to the cloud. This should be a dedicated link through a dedicated router if you expect your phone calls to sound as if they were coming from a business and not someone's home Skype connection. But it's important to know that you will also need a router that can create a virtual LAN (VLAN), and one that has the ability to encrypt voice traffic, and only your voice traffic. VoIP security from end to end for all calls is now a business necessity.
Back-end integration with custom and third-party apps, like CRM systems, also open a whole new world for your calling data because now it can extend the phone system beyond just basic voice communication. Such integrations allows users to transfer calls to and from their mobile phone, place and receive calls from their personal phone (that appear to be coming from the business), and interact with colleagues and customers via voice and text -- all from a variety of devices. But it also allows recording and analysis of call data to measure things like customer satisfaction, understand your sales audience at a new level, and even handle customer requests and problems automatically without the customer ever being aware they never spoke to a human.

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.
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.

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.


That's the basics of UCaaS, but the concept is constantly evolving to include more communication and collaboration technologies. Those capabilities also get tweaked to provide new benefits, sometimes general, sometimes aimed at specific business use cases, like call centers or help desk operations, for example. The key is integration. Voice is becoming integrated with other back-end apps.

The early developments of packet network designs by Paul Baran and other researchers were motivated by a desire for a higher degree of circuit redundancy and network availability in the face of infrastructure failures than was possible in the circuit-switched networks in telecommunications of the mid-twentieth century. Danny Cohen first demonstrated a form of packet voice in 1973 as part of a flight simulator application, which operated across the early ARPANET.[69][70]


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Businesses working remotely should keep in mind, though, that Ooma doesn’t offer any videoconferencing tools. Instead, you get a conference line that lets at-home employees collaborate over the phone. That puts Ooma a pace behind some of the other providers on our list, but with providers like Nextiva currently offering their video collaboration tool to businesses for free, it shouldn’t be a major issue.
VoIP calling as your home phone service is the best way to consolidate calling and networking in one convenient place, while saving a lot of money. Landlines are limited, and serve no more function than dialing out and receiving calls. Setting up your VoIP phone to forward calls to your mobile number is just one of the many ways you can stay connected, even when you’re not home. A common concern in making the transition to VoIP is that giving up your landline service will ultimately mean giving up your number in exchange for a new one. With number portability, residential VoIP providers allow you to keep your old landline number and assimilate it into your new phone service. Check with your VoIP provider to see if your particular number is eligible for porting, as they are portable in most cases.
Most of these VoIP solutions will require stable and consistent internet connectivity at every location where wired phones are to be used. At the very least, your business phone system must have access to a business class internet link to the cloud. This should be a dedicated link through a dedicated router if you expect your phone calls to sound as if they were coming from a business and not someone's home Skype connection. But it's important to know that you will also need a router that can create a virtual LAN (VLAN), and one that has the ability to encrypt voice traffic, and only your voice traffic. VoIP security from end to end for all calls is now a business necessity.

The caveat there is the proverbial fine print, usually located just below the really attractive dollar figure. This small print generally details exactly how many months that nice number will remain in effect before the bloom comes off the rose and you start getting billed a much higher number that represents the service's actual cost. Many providers don't even print this higher number on their websites, so be sure to ask the sales guy on the phone before you sign up. The nice number that pulled you in can often double or more once the introductory period wears off. Some providers even attach a minimum length of time that you'll need to suffer these higher costs before you can change or modify the service without getting hit with an additional early-termination penalty fee.
Because of the bandwidth efficiency and low costs that VoIP technology can provide, businesses are migrating from traditional copper-wire telephone systems to VoIP systems to reduce their monthly phone costs. In 2008, 80% of all new Private branch exchange (PBX) lines installed internationally were VoIP.[9] For example, in the United States, the Social Security Administration is converting its field offices of 63,000 workers from traditional phone installations to a VoIP infrastructure carried over its existing data network.[10][11]
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.

That situation is for fairly pristine network and business conditions, however. Companies with legacy equipment or unique business needs may need a hybrid PBX, in which a portion of the voice network remains in the analog world, while the rest is converted to cloud-based VoIP. This could happen if you occupy an older building without the necessary Ethernet infrastructure to support VoIP or if you had custom software built a long time ago that simply isn't compatible with newer phone technologies.
In 1999, a discrete cosine transform (DCT) audio data compression algorithm called the modified discrete cosine transform (MDCT) was adopted for the Siren codec, used in the G.722.1 wideband audio coding standard.[74][75] The same year, the MDCT was adapted into the LD-MDCT speech coding algorithm, used for the AAC-LD format and intended for significantly improved audio quality in VoIP applications.[76] MDCT has since been widely used in VoIP applications, such as the G.729.1 wideband codec introduced in 2006,[77] Apple's Facetime (using AAC-LD) introduced in 2010,[78] the CELT codec introduced in 2011,[79] the Opus codec introduced in 2012,[80] and WhatsApp's voice calling feature introduced in 2015.[81]
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.
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.
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