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.
It is much cheaper than a regular landline - most providers offer unlimited calling plans (including long distance) in the USA and Canada for under $10 per month. There are also some great promotional deals available such as 2 year specials that cost around $6 per month (includes all your calling). Comparing this to a regular PSTN (landline) phone service that can cost in the region of $60 per month can result in savings of over $500 per year for many home phone users. If you also regularly call International numbers you can save even more, with rates typically starting from around 1 to 2 cents per minute to many countries.
If you're wondering what you get with a softphone that you won't with a standard phone handset, then that depends on the service. Business-class softphones offer all kinds of features related to online meeting collaboration, call routing, multi-line conference calling, and more. From a residential VoIP perspective, you'll most often find video conferencing (though more and more this is becoming a separate product from most providers), a voicemail-to-text converter, detailed call records, and user controls for users other than yourself. Some services also offer faxing, text chat, and call metering so you can see how much you're spending.
By default, network routers handle traffic on a first-come, first-served basis. Fixed delays cannot be controlled as they are caused by the physical distance the packets travel. They are especially problematic when satellite circuits are involved because of the long distance to a geostationary satellite and back; delays of 400–600 ms are typical. Latency can be minimized by marking voice packets as being delay-sensitive with QoS methods such as DiffServ.
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).
However, VoIP traffic to and from the on-premises systems can often also be sent over secure private links. Examples include personal VPN, site-to-site VPN, private networks such as MPLS and SD-WAN, or via private SBCs (Session Border Controllers). While exceptions and private peering options do exist, it is generally uncommon for those private connectivity methods to be provided by Hosted or Cloud VoIP providers.
While the exact features offered in any particular UCaaS solution can change radically from vendor to vendor, most include options for video conferencing, shared meeting and document collaboration tools, integrated faxing, mobile VoIP integration, and device-independent softphone clients. All of these options let customers look at communications in a whole new way, namely, in an a menu-style manner where they can implement only those features their business needs and then access them any time they want and in any combination. This new approach to business communications has been growing steadily among customers over the past few years as recent research from Statista bears out.
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Be aware, however, that there are significant security implications regarding the use of mobile softphones on employee-owned devices. While it's possible for your employees to simply download the appropriate software from their respective app store, your IT department should be involved with allowing access while also confirming that necessary security steps are taken. Also be aware that there are important reasons not to allow soft phone installations on private devices of any type because you may not be able to remove that phone client if the employee leaves the company, and because local laws may impact how much control you have over the use of the device.
The only additional piece of equipment that you need is an Analog Telephone Adapter (also referred to as an ATA) that allows you to connect your existing telephone to your home Internet. This equipment is typically provided on a free lease basis from the home VoIP provider that you choose, or you can use you own device if you prefer. You can also use IP phone(s) instead of using the ATA with your existing analog phones. The sound quality is better but there is more up front cost as IP phones are more expensive than the ATA devices.