One important advanced feature that's ubiquitous in the world of business VoIP services, and quickly growing in the residential market, is the softphone app. Imagine a piece of software that simply uses the network connection, speakers, and microphone of your computing device to turn that device into a phone. If that softphone is attached to your VoIP account, that software will ring whenever your home phone does and when you place calls on it, those calls will register as coming from your home phone number. Just by installing the software you'' be able to immediately place and receive voice calls over your home phone account on your PC, your Apple iPad, or even your smartphone. That last one is a gotcha, however.
Our real estate investment company has 14 phone lines altogether. For a phone service, we needed a local number, good call quality, uninterrupted service, calling apps for our laptops and cell phones, and an internal messaging platform for team communication. We started out with a niche company called Sound Communications, but their call quality and app were not very good. So once we made a bit more income, we decided to switch to RingCentral. RingCentral provides great call quality and is highly recommended in the real estate investment community. They are on the pricier side—$419.88 per line per year—but I’m OK with the price because their service is worth it and the high-quality phone calls are very important to our business.
BYOD stands for bring your own device. This term refers to employees conducting company business on personal laptops, tablets, and phones instead of on company-owned gear. Most VoIP companies offer BYOD features and solutions within their plans, either included or at additional cost. However, extra IT security layers and company guidelines for BYOD are on you.
Ooma advertises only two plans: Ooma Office and Ooma Office Pro. Ooma Office includes unlimited domestic calls, three-way calling, virtual fax machines, plus most of the industry-standard features you’d expect from a leading private branch exchange (PBX) provider. Meanwhile, Ooma Office Pro offers more premium features, including call recording and enhanced call blocking—to name a few. But with either plan, you’ll have to pay a $29.95 one-time activation fee to get your service started.
In Oman, it is illegal to provide or use unauthorized VoIP services, to the extent that web sites of unlicensed VoIP providers have been blocked. Violations may be punished with fines of 50,000 Omani Rial (about 130,317 US dollars), a two year prison sentence or both. In 2009, police raided 121 Internet cafes throughout the country and arrested 212 people for using or providing VoIP services.[53]
Some of that software is running on the provider's servers, but parts of it will be running on your devices, whether that's a PC a mobile phone or a VoIP phone. It's this software layer that provides the rich feature fabric, which along with its lower price, is what's drawing residential customers to the technology. Some of the more popular advanced features you'll find available in a residential service, include:

Most businesses need a portable phone system that can be used anywhere. Of course, landlines do not meet this criterion, and no landline is suitable communication during the journey. The answer is a digital VoIP service that can be used anywhere in the world. All you need is an internet connection and your VoIP phone can be connected to any phone number in the world, whether it is connected to the VoIP network or not.

The interest that VoIP technology is generating for consumers and businesses alike, is creating a high level of demand that is being addressed by more and more providers entering the market. Choosing the best home phone service can now be a challenge as it can be difficult to compare providers that have different pricing structures, different features and different contract terms. Many residential providers names are becoming familiar in the home, such as Vonage, MagicJack and Ooma. Vonage, one of the more expensive options today, is popular due to its unlimited international calling feature. Evaluating Vonage competitors can save you even more money depending on your exact needs.

Businesses need a number of phone features to improve their productivity and efficiency. The investment in achieving this with a fixed landline service is high, while many VoIP providers offer many of these features for free. Even for the more advanced services paid for, a VoIP service costs significantly less than a regular landline phone service.

Another area of business VoIP support covers the growing number of mobile employees using softphones for sending and receiving calls from a laptop or mobile device. With a cloud-based PBX solution, you can have employees at different physical locations, including multiple time zones. This makes it easier to support longer business hours to cover your entire customer base. Most of the business offerings offer call routing based on the time of day and time zone.
The early developments of packet network designs by Paul Baran and other researchers were motivated by a desire for a higher degree of circuit redundancy and network availability in the face of infrastructure failures than was possible in the circuit-switched networks in telecommunications of the mid-twentieth century. Danny Cohen first demonstrated a form of packet voice in 1973 as part of a flight simulator application, which operated across the early ARPANET.[69][70]
Operators of "Interconnected" VoIP (fully connected to the PSTN) are mandated to provide Enhanced 911 service without special request, provide for customer location updates, clearly disclose any limitations on their E-911 functionality to their consumers, obtain affirmative acknowledgements of these disclosures from all consumers,[65] and 'may not allow their customers to “opt-out” of 911 service.'[66] VoIP operators also receive the benefit of certain US telecommunications regulations, including an entitlement to interconnection and exchange of traffic with incumbent local exchange carriers via wholesale carriers. Providers of "nomadic" VoIP service—those who are unable to determine the location of their users—are exempt from state telecommunications regulation.[67]
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.[16] Therefore, VoIP implementations may face problems with latency, packet loss, and jitter.[16][17]
The technical details of many VoIP protocols create challenges in routing VoIP traffic through firewalls and network address translators, used to interconnect to transit networks or the Internet. Private session border controllers are often employed to enable VoIP calls to and from protected networks. Other methods to traverse NAT devices involve assistive protocols such as STUN and Interactive Connectivity Establishment (ICE).
Fortunately, most of the providers reviewed here have engineering staff that will contact you as part of your setup process to help your IT staffers test and optimize your network prior to deploying their solutions. That's definitely something we recommend, but there are steps you can take now to prep your LAN for VoIP and make the deployment process that much easier.
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.
However, for many businesses there's a need to route calls to the PSTN and other analog phones that might remain in use, too. This may mean a PSTN gateway, or even a hybrid PBX, where there's at least a small telephone switch located on-site. Note that these days, a PBX looks exactly like the other servers in your data center, except with an attached means of handling local and analog phones. Many small businesses, however, are avoiding on-premises PBXes partially due to cost savings and partially because the capabilities offered by all-cloud systems are more than advanced enough for their needs. Some virtual cloud PBXes can handle PSTN connectivity without on-site hardware requirements.

Companies working from home will appreciate Ooma’s remote features. For starters, Ooma offers a mobile app that lets you make and receive calls from your smartphone using your business number. You can also set up ring groups, which allows you to group extensions together so they all ring simultaneously—then the call gets transferred to whichever remote employee picks up first.
The advanced Yealink EXP20 is an ideal IP phone system for receptionists, administrative assistants or contact center workers who need to monitor and manage a large volume of calls on a regular basis. The Yealink EXP20 is flexible, powerful and contains a large user-friendly liquid crystal display (LCD) interface that measures 160×320 pixels. As well as contains 20 physical, dual-color LED keys. The additional screen space and added number of buttons simplifies user navigation and streamlines essential operational. Up to six EXP20 phone systems can be strung together on a single daisy chain.
Although jitter is a random variable, it is the sum of several other random variables which are at least somewhat independent: the individual queuing delays of the routers along the Internet path in question. Motivated by the central limit theorem, jitter can be modeled as a gaussian random variable. This suggests continually estimating the mean delay and its standard deviation and setting the playout delay so that only packets delayed more than several standard deviations above the mean will arrive too late to be useful. In practice, the variance in latency of many Internet paths is dominated by a small number (often one) of relatively slow and congested bottleneck links. Most Internet backbone links are now so fast (e.g. 10 Gbit/s) that their delays are dominated by the transmission medium (e.g. optical fiber) and the routers driving them do not have enough buffering for queuing delays to be significant.[citation needed]

In addition to making sure your internet service can handle your VoIP traffic, you also need to make sure your local area network (LAN) can handle it. What makes network management tricky with VoIP is that if you simply drop it onto your network, that traffic will get processed the same as any other traffic, meaning your shared accounting application or those 20 gigabytes worth of files your assistant just stored in the cloud.
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.[68]
Some of that software is running on the provider's servers, but parts of it will be running on your devices, whether that's a PC a mobile phone or a VoIP phone. It's this software layer that provides the rich feature fabric, which along with its lower price, is what's drawing residential customers to the technology. Some of the more popular advanced features you'll find available in a residential service, include:
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.  

To get a better picture of the savings of VoIP for home use, here's a real life example: Long distance calls with a VoIP provider can be as little as $10 per month, if not less. Major telecommunications corporations typically charge more for such packages, even 2 or 3 times as much. If you look at this over the course of a year, that’s no small change.  
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.
Most businesses need a portable phone system that can be used anywhere. Of course, landlines do not meet this criterion, and no landline is suitable communication during the journey. The answer is a digital VoIP service that can be used anywhere in the world. All you need is an internet connection and your VoIP phone can be connected to any phone number in the world, whether it is connected to the VoIP network or not.
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).
VoIP transforms outgoing or incoming calls into a digital signal and sends it through the internet, converting it to a standard telephone signal to reach a non-VoIP number. This allows you to receive business calls on your personal mobile device. You can even make calls through your VoIP provider’s app on your smartphone—and you won’t have to worry about clients ignoring your call since their caller ID will register your business number instead of your personal number.
Michael Muchmore is PC Magazine’s lead analyst for software and Web applications. A native New Yorker, he has at various times headed up PC Magazine’s coverage of Web development, enterprise software, and display technologies. Michael cowrote one of the first overviews of Web Services (pretty much the progenitor of Web 2.0) for a general audience. Before that he worked on PC Magazine’s Solutions section, which in those days covered programming techniques as well as tips on using popular office software. Most recently he covered Web 2.0 and other software for
A high speed Internet connection is required to "carry" your calls so if you have an Internet outage (or your ISP has an outage) then your phone service will not work. Internet services have improved significantly in the last few years and outages tend to be much less common than they use to be. Again, if you have a cell phone then this may not be an issue for you.