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New to VoIP? Start Here.
- What is VoIP?
- How Do VoIP Services Work?
- What to Look For in VoIP Providers
- How VoIP Phone Services Save You Money
- Benefits of Using VoIP Services
- How To Get Started With VoIP Phone Service
- Best VoIP Providers
- Reliability of VoIP Phone Service
- VoIP Network Requirements
What is VoIP?
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is a digital telecommunications technology that lets users make/receive voice calls over the Internet instead of the standard landline telephone network (the PSTN.)
VoIP works on devices with Internet access, meaning analog phones, (desk phones or hard phones connected to the VoIP system) smartphones, tablets, desktop computers, and laptops can all be used for VoIP calling.
In addition to greater mobility, VoIP offers more advanced features, a higher level of customization, and significant cost savings compared to traditional phone lines. VoIP is also referred to as IP telephony, virtual telephony, or Voice over IP calling.
How Do VoIP Services Work?
VoIP services work by digitally compressing the outbound caller’s voice audio (speech) into digital voice data packets.
These outbound data packets travel to the call destination via the Internet and are decompressed in order once they reach the inbound caller’s device.
Once the voice data packets are reassembled, they transform back into the words and phrases of a conversation.
What to Look For in VoIP Providers
When choosing a VoIP provider, use the key factors below to evaluate VoIP providers quality:
- Network Reliability and Guaranteed Uptime (99.9% uptime and above is standard)
- Pricing Structure (Bundled Monthly Plans vs Pay-As-You-Go)
- Scalability (Can scale plans and add-ons up or down according to current/future needs)
- Security and Privacy (SOC II Type 2, HIPAA, GDPR Compliance, E2EE, 2FA, etc.)
- Available Features (Call Routing, Call Forwarding, Call Recording, IVR, ACD, etc.)
- Available Integrations (Works with existing third-party business software)
How VoIP Phone Services Save You Money
VoIP services can save 49-69% on monthly telephone costs by:
- Eliminating the need to purchase and maintain expensive hardware
- Cutting costs of hiring in-house IT teams and additional agents
- Using existing communication and IT equipment (desktop computers, smartphones, etc.)
- Reducing high costs of long-distance phone calls (unlimited VoIP US/Canada calling)
- Dramatically lowering setup installation costs
- Eliminating need to purchase and set up additional phone line
- Hundreds of free calling features that you typically pay for with landlines
- Free paperless faxing
Benefits of Using VoIP Services
In addition to the above-mentioned cost savings, VoIP offers numerous benefits to SMBs and Enterprise-level companies alike.
Top Business VoIP benefits include:
- Increased first call resolution rates
- Advanced customer self-service options
- More team mobility and flexibility (ideal for remote/blended teams)
- Improved team productivity and a more balanced workload
- Streamlined business processes thanks to AI and automation
- Increased customer satisfaction and decreased employee turnover
- Detailed insight into agent, department, and overall call center activity via analytics
- Higher levels of customization and personalization
How To Get Started With VoIP Phone Service
If you’re ready to transition to VoIP, follow these steps to ensure a smooth and successful process:
Step 1. Choose between Hosted or On-Premise VoIP Solutions
Hosted (Cloud-Based) VoIP is hosted and managed by the third-party provider, while On-Premise VoIP means your business hosts, maintains, and physically houses all VoIP hardware on-site. Hosted VoIP offers easy scalability and is more cost-effective, while Premise-Based VoIP gives businesses a greater level of security and control.
Step 2. Select A Provider
Next, select the VoIP provider that works with your budget, meets your current and future needs, integrates with existing software, and has a user interface your team can quickly learn to navigate and operate.
Step 3. Create a Business Phone Number
Most providers include at least one local telephone number in their bundled plans, giving your business a phone number with an area code that is familiar to your customers. Many businesses will opt to port in existing telephone numbers. Toll-Free numbers (800,888, etc.) and Vanity Number (1-800-WESELLCARS) will also be available for purchase. Some providers offer international phone numbers.
Step 4. Purchase VoIP Equipment/Hardware
If you’ve selected a hosted VoIP service, you’ll really only need the device(s) you want to make/receive calls on, a high-speed broadband Internet connection and router, Ethernet Cable, and an Analog Phone Adapter (ATA.) You may also want to purchase headsets, provider-compatible desk phones, and speakers.
Step 5. Start Using VoIP
The setup and installation process for VoIP phone systems usually takes one day or less, so you’ll be able to use your VoIP platform quickly. However, take the time to train employees on how to properly use the system.
Best VoIP Providers
The below table outlines the top 10 VoIP providers.
|Provider||Best For||Pricing||Key Features||Phone Numbers|
|Nextiva||Remote/blended teams needing to consolidate existing business communication tools into one platform with advanced features tailored to sales and support teams||– From $18.95-$57.95/user per month for 20-99 users
– 7-day free trial
|Native CRM capabilities plus third-party integrations.||Local Numbers, Toll-Free Numbers, Number Porting|
|RingCentral||Small-midsize remote/blended teams needing strong team collaboration features across multiple channels||– From $19.99-$49.99/user per month for 2-20 users
– 7-day free trial
|Omnichannel suite combines chat messaging, VoIP phone, and video calling in unified RingCentral App.||Local Numbers, Toll-Free Numbers, Vanity Numbers, Number Porting, International Numbers in 70+ countries|
|Vonage||Smaller, mostly in-office teams needing a scalable business phone system offering a la carte features||– From $17.99-$37.99/user per month for 1-10 user
– 14-day free trial
|On-demand, customizable, and company-wide automatic call recording with up to 15 hours of storage per extension.||Local Numbers in 80+ countries, Toll-Free Numbers, Number Porting|
|Dialpad||Call centers focused on effective high daily call volume management and agent optimization||– From $15.00/user per month (1 license minimum) – $25.00/user per month (3 license minimum)
– 14-day free trial
|Call Summary with automatic post-call action items, snippets, searchable transcript.||Local Numbers in 50+ countries, Number Porting, Toll-Free Numbers, Vanity Numbers|
|Zoom Phone||Current Zoom Meetings users needing to scale to include a business phone system||– Pay-as-you-Go plan from $120.00/user per year
– Unlimited calling plans from $180.00-$240.00/user per year
– Zoom Meetings free plan for video calling and audio-only calling
|Always-on live call handling panel with real-time contact presence directory.||Local Numbers, Toll-Free Numbers, Vanity Numbers, Number Porting International Numbers|
|8×8||Businesses of any size that want a highly customizable, API-powered VoIP provider||– From $15.00-$48.00/user per month
– 1-month free trial
|Universal Messaging team chat tool integrates with over 20 third-party chat applications.||Local Numbers, Number Porting, Toll-Free Numbers, Vanity Numbers, International Phone Numbers in 120+ countries|
|GoTo||Mostly remote, mobile teams of under 20 that constantly optimize and update call forwarding and routing strategies||– From $22.00-$39.00/user per month for 2-10 users
– 14-day free trial
|Visual drag-and-drop Dial Plan Editor. Automatic Caller Hold Time Reporting.||Local Numbers, Toll-Free Numbers, Vanity Numbers, Number Porting|
|Grasshopper||Small teams with under 5 employees or solopreneurs that need a business phone number with basic features to establish a professional presence||– From $26.00/month for 3 extensions to $80.00/month for unlimited extensions
– 7-day free trial
|Virtual Voicemail and call transcriptions. Ruby Receptionist add-on.||Local Numbers, Toll-Free Numbers, Vanity Numbers, Number Porting|
|Ooma||SMBs that want a standard, affordable business phone system with the option to scale up to an advanced UCaaS solution if needed||– From $19.95-$24/.95/user per month
– 60-day free trial
|Ooma Virtual Receptionist with NLP. Caller Info Match.||Local Numbers, Toll-Free Numbers, Number Porting|
|Phone.com||Startups or small businesses that prioritize affordability and pooled minutes||– From $10.39/user per month for 300 pooled minutes to $23.99/user per month for unlimited minutes
– No free trial, but 30-day money-back guarantee
|All plans include video conferencing with screen sharing, document sharing, team chat, and an unlimited meeting length.||Local Numbers, Toll-Free Numbers, Vanity Numbers, Number Porting, Global Numbers (International Numbers)|
Reliability of VoIP Phone Service
VoIP has a much higher call quality than traditional landlines, but some wonder if VoIP is as stable and reliable as the PSTN.
Quality VoIP providers will have a minimum guaranteed uptime of 99.9%, though the coveted “Five Nine” metric (99.999% uptime) is the gold standard.
Global Points of Presence (geographically diverse data centers) cement a high uptime by establishing network redundancy. Essentially, this means even if one data center goes offline, the others will keep the VoIP software going until a connection is reestablished.
Quality providers also offer :
- 24/7/365 network monitoring and speed testing
- Real-time network status update page
- Call quality data/analytics
- Carrier-grade/Tier 1 data centers
VoIP Network Requirements
The quality of your existing broadband Internet connection is the number-one factor when it comes to establishing consistent, reliable VoIP service.
Note that users, not the VoIP provider, are responsible for purchasing and maintaining their own Internet connection.
In general, each VoIP phone line requires 100Kbps of bandwidth per phone line to maintain a consistent connection. Contact your ISP (Internet Service Provider) directly to upgrade your bandwidth.
Rely on an ethernet connection and router, not WiFi, to power VoIP software.
Not only is WiFi connectivity inconsistent when compared to hardwire ethernet – it’s also far less secure (especially if users connect on a public WiFi network.) To ensure your VoIP system is as secure as possible, always look for providers offering data encryption to protect your Local Area Network (LAN.)
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