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Know the Difference: On-Premise vs. Hybrid vs. Cloud Hosted
The overwhelming majority of enterprise VoIP providers are cloud-based or hosted. With hosted or cloud-based services, the provider has its own data center, which they maintain and upgrade. They provide services to thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands, of businesses and have the advantages of scale.
When it comes to security, redundancy, and energy efficiency, it’s always a good idea to have a team of dedicated professionals working 24/7 for you.
Any time you’ve checked your email, you’ve used a hosted service. Just like Gmail is hosted on Google’s worldwide network of server farms, VoIP providers have their own servers connected via switches to the public internet and traditional phone networks. Your VoIP phone will be able to call every landline, cell phone, and VoIP provider in the world, just like any traditional phone.
On-premise VoIP services are on your property or in your office. They’ll be in a room or on an entire floor dedicated to running servers in your office building. With an on-premise IP PBX, you have to purchase your own equipment.
One major advantage is that you will have lower operating costs once you buy the equipment. Another advantage is that because you have full control over maintaining and securing it, the work is always done by people that you trust.
When you have your own IP PBX on-premise, your service is for the SIP trunks that define your capacity to connect to outside calls. You can add and change users by purchasing new IP phones and you don’t have to pay more for the service if you aren’t making more calls.
VoIP providers give you the option of “burst pricing”. iI you need to make a high volume of calls suddenly, you can still make those calls and be charged more for it, rather than abide by a limited network.
You can be more economical with your setup because you don’t need to plan for that kind of unexpected demand.
A hybrid system is a mix of the two. Hybrid enterprise VoIP is designed for businesses that have existing TDM infrastructure providing value to the company. The existing analog lines will be integrated into a VoIP system while new buildings and mobile phones will be able to access the cloud.
This is best suited for older buildings that do not have Ethernet plugs available in every office. It’s also useful for a large business where it’s not practical to replace every phone with an IP phone. One common application is to have internal communications in an office continue to use the existing legacy PBX while connecting the different sites via IP.
A company with established offices in many different countries would benefit most from this type of solution.
Questions to ask a Prospective Enterprise VoIP Service Provider
Why Your Company and Not Another?
When looking at the offerings of different enterprise VoIP providers, there could be a 90-99% similarity. You can expect most of the same features, a similar price point, and hopefully good customer support. But the devil is in the details.
In that 1-10% difference, you’ll find exclusive features, a special graphical user interface, or an app that no one else has. Ask what makes them stand out.
What Will My First Two Weeks of Enterprise VoIP Look Like?
When you get a new service, you might be overwhelmed with new features. Focus on the basics in the first month or two then look into their website or YouTube channel to learn more advanced features.
You’ll have to set up things like voicemail and the auto-attendant right out of the gate, so make sure you can handle how these features work. They might be different than the system you’re used to.
What New Enterprise-Class Features Should I Learn About?
Once things are humming along, you’ll need to learn about the more advanced features. Your enterprise VoIP system could make customer service easier by integrating with your CRM software.
It could also work with social media, offer a conference call feature, include an auto-attendant, and offer other productivity benefits.
How Reliable is the Service and What Recovery Plans are in Place?
Your VoIP provider of choice should have redundant backups, capable of handling a situation without loss of service. Natural disasters and directed attacks against a provider can cripple a data center. Ask what measures they have to handle these unforeseen circumstances.
You can also look on social media to see if and how they’ve dealt with previous outages.
What Do You Lose When You Switch to Enterprise VoIP?
Once you migrate to enterprise VoIP, you may lose existing equipment and compatibility with certain services. You may lose traditional faxing, but that could be replaced with online fax options. You might have to reconfigure your alarm systems or your overhead paging system.
Find out what works and what will no longer. If you need certain equipment, see how you can adapt it to your new system.
Key Benefits and Features of Enterprise VoIP Phone Systems
Enterprise VoIP is ready to grow or contract when you are. If you have a hiring frenzy or a huge layoff period, VoIP can scale up or down in on-demand with a click of a button.
You never have to worry about paying for a service you won’t use or being unprepared for a spike in demand.
Empowering and Managing a Remote Workforce
Both apps and IP phones can connect to enterprise phone systems to get all the services you use at your desk. You’ll even have the same outbound caller ID.
Features like “find me/follow me” ensure that no matter your location or device, you’re never out of touch.
Advanced Call Routing
On the other hand, if you are in a position where you don’t want to be interrupted, enterprise VoIP has a host of features that let you concentrate on what’s in front of you. You can manually set a phone to “Do Not Disturb” mode or you can set custom hours and rules for calls.
You can set some calls to go to another colleague, others to go straight to voicemail, and with a few given priority to get through no matter what.
Integration with Salesforce and Other CRM Providers
With VoIP, you’re relying on the internet. That means you can integrate and sync with other cloud-based services. That includes CRM services, social media, collaboration apps, recruitment, accounting, and email.
Handy Enterprise VoIP Terms to Know
This is when two things occur at the same time.
The number of phone calls you can make at once is the number of concurrent calls. It’s also referred to as “concurrent channels.” If you have ten phones and you only use one at a time, you need one channel.
This is short for “internet service provider”. This is usually your cable, phone company, or any other network service.
This notes how fast data can go from you, the client, to a local or remote server.
Downstream is how fast data can be downloaded or streamed to your computer. Streaming video services require a lot of download speed. Video chatting requires a lot of upstream and downstream bandwidth.
This term denotes whether or not download speed and upload speed are the same or if one is faster than the other. For proper two-way communications with either video or audio-only, you need symmetric speeds.
IVR or Auto-Attendant
This is another term for a phone tree by laypersons. It’s the computerized guide that routes inbound calls to the right agent.
This is also known as the amount of backup you have. This refers to having more than one copy of a file or more than one data center. Bi-coastal redundancy means that there are two server farms, one on the East Coast and one on the West Coast.
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