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.
Disclaimer: The information featured in this article is based on our best estimates of pricing, package details, contract stipulations, and service available at the time of writing. All information is subject to change. Pricing will vary based on various factors, including, but not limited to, the customer’s location, package chosen, added features and equipment, the purchaser’s credit score, etc. For the most accurate information, please ask your customer service representative. Clarify all fees and contract details before signing a contract or finalizing your purchase.
IP Phones and VoIP telephone adapters connect to routers or cable modems which typically depend on the availability of mains electricity or locally generated power. Some VoIP service providers use customer premises equipment (e.g., cablemodems) with battery-backed power supplies to assure uninterrupted service for up to several hours in case of local power failures. Such battery-backed devices typically are designed for use with analog handsets.
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.
This VoIP phone system for small business focuses primarily on delivering solutions for businesses operating on their mobile devices. Mitel plans start at $20.99 per month per line, which includes unlimited minutes, audioconferencing, videoconferencing, and integrations with Outlook and G Suite. Plus, Mitel is offering free service until 2021 to help businesses deal with the effects of coronavirus.
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.
VoIP has drastically reduced the cost of communication by sharing network infrastructure between data and voice. 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.
As a consultancy marketing business for small-business owners, part of our business is to help small-business owners set up their VoIP and local phone numbers. We used to have RingCentral, and we advised our clients to use it. RingCentral gives you a local phone number regardless of whether you are in the building or not—or even in the city. You will always have a local phone number that you can redirect to any cell phone, depending on who’s working in the company. RingCentral offers good customer service and has great flexibility, but it’s a bit expensive.
Mobile clients are softphones optimized for a particular mobile OS and for being used in mobile situations. This means they're designed to switch easily between different cell and wireless connections on the fly. This means you can let your employees use whatever the cheapest wireless connection around them happens to be—and often that can be free. They also let your employees use your company's phone system on their own devices.
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.
While we think Grasshopper is great for small businesses, it misses out on our “Best Small-Business Phone Service” title because, compared to Ooma, Grasshopper is a little expensive. Grasshopper plans start at $26 per month, assuming you sign up for annual billing. And starting plans include only one business phone number with up to three extensions.
On the customer service front, RingCentral receives mostly positive reviews, offering phone assistance during standard work hours, 24/7 online chat service, and ticket service, in addition to weekly webinars and an extensive online knowledge base. Businesses of 20 users or fewer should note, however, that RingCentral favors larger enterprises for US-based support and outsources smaller-office support overseas.
Another legal issue that the US Congress is debating concerns changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The issue in question is calls between Americans and foreigners. The National Security Agency (NSA) is not authorized to tap Americans' conversations without a warrant—but the Internet, and specifically VoIP does not draw as clear a line to the location of a caller or a call's recipient as the traditional phone system does. As VoIP's low cost and flexibility convinces more and more organizations to adopt the technology, the surveillance for law enforcement agencies becomes more difficult. VoIP technology has also increased Federal security concerns because VoIP and similar technologies have made it more difficult for the government to determine where a target is physically located when communications are being intercepted, and that creates a whole set of new legal challenges.
You've probably been offered a home VoIP solution several times already if you've got cable TV service or if you're getting your Internet access from one of the larger Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Outfits like those love offering voice as the third leg of a "triple play" sales pitch: Internet, TV, and phone. When you see those offerings, what you'll be buying is a VoIP-based phone service, though generally one with slightly fewer features than you'll get from a dedicated VoIP provider because the provider generally isn't focused on their VoIP product, but one of the other two.
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.
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.
Your company needs real time access to manage your phone system in or out of the office. Our online interface makes it possible to manage your system from anywhere with voicemails, call logs, call recordings, and call routing being just a click away. If you don't have time to make technical changes, our support staff are available for all your needs.
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.
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.
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.