On the higher end of this space, hosted PBX providers, such as RingCentral Office, will generally offer (sometimes even require) on-premises handset hardware, like desk or cordless VoIP phones that get sent to you pre-configured to work with their service. Plug the phones in, make sure they see an internet connection, and after some self-configuration time, your VoIP service goes live auto-magically.

That covers VoIP basics, but what about the more advanced options, and why is VoIP able to offer more advanced features where a regular phone can/t? Again, the secret is software. A VoIP system, whether home or business, can access a much richer software layer than a standard line from the plain old telephone service (POTS). On the business side, this flexibility has extended to integrating VoIP with other forms of communication to such a degree they all become a single platform, generally called Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). You won't anything that sophisticated when you're shopping for residential service, however.


The most widely speech coding standards in VoIP are based on the linear predictive coding (LPC) and modified discrete cosine transform (MDCT) compression methods. Popular codecs include the MDCT-based AAC-LD (used in FaceTime), the LPC/MDCT-based Opus (used in WhatsApp), the LPC-based SILK (used in Skype), μ-law and A-law versions of G.711, G.722, and an open source voice codec known as iLBC, a codec that uses only 8 kbit/s each way called G.729.
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.
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. 
Some form of call center capability is often available, though many times either as a different product version or simply a higher pricing tier, so be careful before you assume you'll be getting those features. These capabilities are meant to support large sales or service desk staff and their need to route and process a relatively large number of incoming customer or user calls. That means complex menu trees, an auto-attendant for routing, and service queues. You'll probably find you need interactive voice response (IVR) capabilities, and that should be backed up by support for a live operator or some other type of human intervention.
Signaling – Performing registration (advertising one's presence and contact information) and discovery (locating someone and obtaining their contact information), dialing (including reporting call progress), negotiating capabilities, and call control (such as hold, mute, transfer/forwarding, dialing DTMF keys during a call [e.g. to interact with an automated attendant or IVR], etc.).
The steps and principles involved in originating VoIP telephone calls are similar to traditional digital telephony and involve signaling, channel setup, digitization of the analog voice signals, and encoding. Instead of being transmitted over a circuit-switched network, the digital information is packetized and transmission occurs as IP packets over a packet-switched network. They transport media streams using special media delivery protocols that encode audio and video with audio codecs and video codecs. Various codecs exist that optimize the media stream based on application requirements and network bandwidth; some implementations rely on narrowband and compressed speech, while others support high-fidelity stereo codecs.

VoIP has drastically reduced the cost of communication by sharing network infrastructure between data and voice.[48][49] A single broad-band connection has the ability to transmit more than one telephone call. Secure calls using standardized protocols, such as Secure Real-time Transport Protocol, as most of the facilities of creating a secure telephone connection over traditional phone lines, such as digitizing and digital transmission, are already in place with VoIP. It is necessary only to encrypt and authenticate the existing data stream. Automated software, such as a virtual PBX, may eliminate the need of personnel to greet and switch incoming calls.
On the physical side, you'll also need to plan for providing Ethernet drops to any new desktop phones you'll be placing on user desks, or even adding capacity to your Wi-Fi network should you decide to use wireless calling. For many organizations a separate network is often winds up being the preferred solution. If that's what happens in your case, you'll need a separate VoIP gateway. You'll also need security that understands voice protocols, and you'll need to have switches and routers that understand VoIP, too. By the time you've covered all those bases, a separate network is often the more effective solution rather than attempting to not only install but also integrate that much new equipment into an existing LAN.
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 you’re located in one of the 21 states currently serviced by Verizon Fios—which are mostly in the northeast—you’ll have access to one of the fastest internet connections available, which is perfect for VoIP. If you’re in DSL-only country, the speed will be slower, but uptime is still guaranteed at 99.95%. Either internet option will support steady VoIP service, and if your business is more medium-sized than small, Verizon could add up to a better value in the long run (especially if you’re in Fios territory).
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.
The most widely speech coding standards in VoIP are based on the linear predictive coding (LPC) and modified discrete cosine transform (MDCT) compression methods. Popular codecs include the MDCT-based AAC-LD (used in FaceTime), the LPC/MDCT-based Opus (used in WhatsApp), the LPC-based SILK (used in Skype), μ-law and A-law versions of G.711, G.722, and an open source voice codec known as iLBC, a codec that uses only 8 kbit/s each way called G.729.
You can use our quote request form at the top of the page if you’d like us to pair up with providers that best fit your needs. Unfortunately, we don’t generate quotes for residential VoIP providers at this time. Still, whether you’re looking for residential or business service, you can rest assured that you’ll save hundreds to thousands of dollars a year once you’ve switched to IP phone service.
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.
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:
×