Communication on the IP network is perceived as less reliable in contrast to the circuit-switched public telephone network because it does not provide a network-based mechanism to ensure that data packets are not lost, and are delivered in sequential order. It is a best-effort network without fundamental Quality of Service (QoS) guarantees. Voice, and all other data, travels in packets over IP networks with fixed maximum capacity. This system may be more prone to data loss in the presence of congestion[a] than traditional circuit switched systems; a circuit switched system of insufficient capacity will refuse new connections while carrying the remainder without impairment, while the quality of real-time data such as telephone conversations on packet-switched networks degrades dramatically. Therefore, VoIP implementations may face problems with latency, packet loss, and jitter.
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.
It's also critical that you consider the impact of mergers and acquisitions on your phone system, both from your own organization's perspective as well as your VoIP provider. Because VoIP systems turn calls into data, the whole process isn't as plug-and-play standards-based as the old-fashioned analog phone system might have been. Should your company merge with or purchase another, VoIP compatibility will become another significant IT issue.
While understanding the basics of VoIP and SIP is important, setting one of these systems up will require some general network knowledge, too. For the best quality, you will need to meet a minimum upstream and downstream data throughput requirement. In addition, you'll also need to meet a minimum latency number (that is, the time between when a signal leaves a remote computer and when your system receives it), typically measured in milliseconds. It is possible to test your network connection to see if it will support a VoIP service. RingCentral offers this service from their website, other vendors like to have their service engineers do it for you.
However, you may also want features like on-hold music, call queues, voicemail to email translation, and automatic answering and forwarding of calls. If all of the employees are working out of the office, you can use the automatic attendant to determine which employee should receive the call. The attendant then can route the call to that employee’s mobile phone.
VoIP (pronounced “Voyp”) stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol” and to make a long story short—it allows you to make calls through your home internet connection. When you make a call with your VoIP system, your voice is converted into data and transmitted to the caller at the other end in the form of high-quality audio. The sound and connection typically are seamless enough to where you won’t even know the call you’ve received is from a VoIP line.
On the phone providers' side, since this review roundup was first published, some of the products listed here now belong to other companies and some have merged into new products. If you're planning to depend on your phone system over the course of the next decade, then you should consider a vendor that's stable enough to still be around when it's time to up upgrade.
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).
If that all is starting to sound more complex than it's worth, remember that turning your PBX into a software solution means significant opportunity for flexibility and integration that you simply can't get any other way. After all, programmers can now treat your phone like an app. Where that's taken us is to the fast-changing UCaaS paradigm (more on that below). Here, traditional VoIP providers, like the ones we review as part of this review roundup, provide additional software capabilities that are all implemented and managed from a single, unified console.
Ooma also offers a lot of customer relationship management (CRM) integration features with its Enterprise plans. In other words, you get complete integration of your phone system into your existing customer relationship management software. This allows you to enjoy extra perks like transferring an entire customer workspace whenever you transfer a customer call within your workspace—that way, you don’t lose all the progress you made on your customer’s account just because you have to transfer them to another station.