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 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.
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.
In the following time span of about two decades, various forms of packet telephony were developed and industry interest groups formed to support the new technologies. Following the termination of the ARPANET project, and expansion of the Internet for commercial traffic, IP telephony was tested and deemed infeasible for commercial use until the introduction of VocalChat in the early 1990s and then in Feb 1995 the official release of Internet Phone (or iPhone for short) commercial software by VocalTec , based on the Audio Transceiver patent by Lior Haramaty and Alon Cohen, and followed by other VoIP infrastructure components such as telephony gateways and switching servers. Soon after it became an established area of interest in commercial labs of the major IT concerns. By the late 1990s, the first softswitches became available, and new protocols, such as H.323, MGCP and the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) gained widespread attention. In the early 2000s, the proliferation of high-bandwidth always-on Internet connections to residential dwellings and businesses, spawned an industry of Internet telephony service providers (ITSPs). The development of open-source telephony software, such as Asterisk PBX, fueled widespread interest and entrepreneurship in voice-over-IP services, applying new Internet technology paradigms, such as cloud services to telephony.
Our real estate investment company has 14 phone lines altogether. For a phone service, we needed a local number, good call quality, uninterrupted service, calling apps for our laptops and cell phones, and an internal messaging platform for team communication. We started out with a niche company called Sound Communications, but their call quality and app were not very good. So once we made a bit more income, we decided to switch to RingCentral. RingCentral provides great call quality and is highly recommended in the real estate investment community. They are on the pricier side—$419.88 per line per year—but I’m OK with the price because their service is worth it and the high-quality phone calls are very important to our business.
First, there might be a very low cost or even free "basic" or "introductory" tier that's just so feature poor that the vast majority of customers will opt for the next level up, which will be the full-priced tier. Another common practice is a one- or two-year contract, each with a slightly lower price that are offered next to a significantly higher-priced month-to-month tier. Additionally, while most residential VoIP services offer unlimited calling, some vary their pricing on call restrictions. Those will come either in the form of minutes (with higher pricing attached to monthly overages) or geographic region. The latter usually start with nationwide calling and then tack on another charge for worldwide calling or even separate charges for different countries.
Our editors have researched and tested hundreds of systems, filtering out industry leading business phone services with the highest levels of reliability, backed by unparalleled customer service, and aggressive price points. The small business VoIP providers we've featured below offer custom packages for any budget, dedicated support reps, competitive pricing, and a fully managed, hands-on approach to getting your new business VoIP system up and running in the shortest possible time. Compare these providers below, some of which are from our partners, to find the right one for you.
VoIP service simply enables your phone calls to be transmitted and received over your home Internet connection instead of your telephone landline. This is perhaps why some people refer to the service as being an Internet phone service or broadband phone service. This does mean though that you need a high speed Internet service to be able to use VoIP for your phone service.