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.
Once familiarized with VoIP services,  hone in on what these features can do for you and how to transition to the next level. First and foremost, is cost – a universal concern for anyone. Check the provider’s plans and pricing and be sure they’re the most cost efficient for your calling needs. There is also quality & reliability, portability, customer support, and a satisfaction guarantee; all key factors that may be clinchers or deal-breakers when going through the process.
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).
Whether it's a dedicated bridge device or a special VoIP phone, you'll need something on the hardware side compatible with VoIP in order to access the technology's chief benefit: its software layer. It's at this layer where VoIP's advanced communication and collaboration features are enabled and how well the provider has leveraged those advantages will be directly reflected in how its proprietary hardware and back-end services are programmed. Whether it's a phone or a bridge, if you're worried about getting lost in technobabble when trying to setup your new phone service, remember that the best providers should be able to ship you pre-configured devices that shouldn't require much, if any, intervention on your part. With these, you simply plug them into your router or connect them to your Wi-Fi network and they'll go out and find the provider's network on their own. Just power them up, connect to your network, and wait for the light to turn green.
Typically, price is one of the most important reasons people opt for residential VoIP. One of the most attractive is the "triple play" sales pitch we mentioned above made by almost every regional residential cable company and internet provider: Get your Internet, TV, and phone service all rolled into one monthly charge. Not only is that usually an attractive number, it also means a technician will hook everything up for you including your phone, and you'll probably be able to use the same phone you're using now instead of having to migrate to a VoIP phone.
Still the pandemic won't last forever so keeping in mind core VoIP criteria is important, too. That means providing voice communications for employees at their desks. VoIP systems may also need to support a call center for sales, customer service, and support; and they often need to connect with and through a host of other communications channels, such as fax machines, video conferencing, conference calling, mobile communications, wireless handsets, and text messaging. On top of that, they're often expected to provide more advanced functionality through software, like shared meeting collaboration, voicemail to email transcription, and call recording. And lest we forget, many businesses still need a service that will connect to public switched telephone network (PSTN).  
Mass-market VoIP services use existing broadband Internet access, by which subscribers place and receive telephone calls in much the same manner as they would via the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Full-service VoIP phone companies provide inbound and outbound service with direct inbound dialing. Many offer unlimited domestic calling and sometimes international calls for a flat monthly subscription fee. Phone calls between subscribers of the same provider are usually free when flat-fee service is not available.[citation needed]
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VoIP Office, a leading provider of Cloud based communications, makes it affordable and easy to connect to anyone, anywhere in the world. Our communications solutions meet the needs of any type of business in any industry, from home offices to large enterprises. VOIP OFFICE is a new-generation cloud based communications provider that offers all the features of your traditional PBX along with the latest functionality enabled by the use of VoIP technology. Voip Office integrates easily with your business applications, seamlessly integrating your desktop and your office into one interconnected system.
IP communication provides for device mobility. For example, a residential broadband connection may be used as a link to a virtual private network of a corporate entity, in which case the IP address being used for customer communications may belong to the enterprise, not being the IP address of the residential ISP. Such off-premises extensions may appear as part of an upstream IP PBX. On mobile devices, e.g., a 3G handset or USB wireless broadband adapter, the IP address has no relationship with any physical location known to the telephony service provider, since a mobile user could be anywhere in a region with network coverage, even roaming via another cellular company.
Multiple Numbers on Demand – Building a multifaceted business phone service with any kind of localized number or vanity number. Whether it’s business VoIP solutions for small business, enterprise, or contact center, communications is only as strong as it is dynamic, with multiple numbers, all having specific assignments to fulfill. Some business Voice Over IP phone providers will offer these additional numbers for free, or an additional small monthly fee. Explore options to find out if a provider supplies key components beyond a local number such as toll-free numbers, virtual faxing, and virtual extensions.

Before you can start considering a phone system, you need to figure out what it's going to be used for, and how much of your business will be involved. You need to look at your existing phone system and decide whether you're going to simply keep all of it and bolt some VoIP functionality on top, retain only part of it, or replace the whole thing. Frequently, a total replacement isn't in the cards if only because some parts of your existing phone system can't be easily changed over to softphones or even desktop VoIP phones. For example, if you have a heavy manufacturing environment with outdoor activities, such as a steel fabrication yard or even a landscaping company, your old outdoor phones may be exactly what you need. You also need to decide what features of the existing phone system are required, and what features of a future phone system you feel are necessary to carry into the future.

Ooma is a popular VoIP solution for businesses, and now that there’s a residential option, Ooma is even a great option for you at home. With this new addition to its services, Ooma has traditional phone companies running scared. After all, you just can’t compare the features, quality, and service that you get from a top-of-the-line brand name like Ooma. To begin with, the service is totally free. You read that correctly; Ooma’s residential VoIP is totally free. If you need more advanced features, you’ll have to pay for them. But even the Premium plan is very affordable. With both plans, you’ll get crystal clear sound quality, basic features like call waiting, online call logs, call return, and 911 services bundled into the plan. More advanced features include voicemail forwarding and monitoring, Ooma mobile calling, international calling, and custom ring patterns.
For instance, while AT&T offers landlines with unlimited phone calls for $33.99/month, with RingCentral you can get the Essentials plan, which includes unlimited phone calls starting at just $19.99 per person per month, and you can also enjoy a more extensive list of features. On Grasshopper, the introductory plan costs as little as $26/month, but that includes 3 extensions. With residential VoIP, you have a bundle of features you couldn't find with traditional landlines. Also, because of technology's continual advancements, the features continue to improve every year without a sharp rise in costs. VoIP for home use makes sense because you derive so much more value than what the traditional phone companies of today are offering.

Few things in life are set in stone, and the same should be true of your VoIP plan. It’s wise to find a plan that is scalable and which you can easily expand if need be. You’ll want to know if you can break your contract early if you find a better deal elsewhere, or if you can easily switch plans with the same company in order to take advantage of more features, or to get rid of some you don’t need. 

If you want to compare pricing for multiple residential service providers you can use our Home Phone Rates Tool. Please note that the pricing does not include additional fees like sales tax, regulatory fees and any other taxes/fees that may be relevant to your location. These tend to be the same for each provider as it is based on location, however, some providers may include additional "recovery" fees for the overhead involved in state and regulatory compliance (e.g. FCC reporting compliance).
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