Home > Software Categories > 6 Best VoIP Software & Providers for 2023
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Aron Vaughan, Staff Writer
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Reviewed by
Corey Noles, Managing Editor
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Dec. 18, 2023: Updated page layout to current standards, added scoring for each vendor, and provided more in-depth analysis for our choices.

Aug. 16, 2023: We reviewed our recommendations and refined each vendor’s pros and cons lists to preserve our editorial objectivity. We also simplified the page layout for easier navigation and implemented additional opportunities to connect directly with the software vendors we recommend.

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At TechnologyAdvice, we assess a wide range of factors before selecting our top choices for a given category. To make our selections, we rely on our extensive research, product information, vendor websites, competitor research, and first-hand experience. We then consider what makes a solution best for customer-specific needs. 

By defining business needs, we can determine the essential features organizations in various sectors require, and select platforms that will cover all bases. Reputable providers known for their ease of use and customer satisfaction are added to our compilation list for further analysis. We then evaluate each solution on the list based on the features they offer, considering the platform’s usability, integration capabilities, customization options, mobile access, and any other relevant functionalities. Price plans, hidden fees, customer reviews, and customer support are also assessed in the selection process. 

Technology Advice writers will often take advantage of free trials and demos to get a first-hand user experience of available software. Finally, we curate a comprehensive list based on the previously stated factors, ensuring readers have the necessary tools to make an informed decision.

What is VOIP software?

Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) software facilitates making phone calls over the internet. This digital phone service is more extensible and often more reliable than a landline public switched telephone network (PSTN, also known as plain old telephone service, POTS) provided by the local phone company.

Companies and individuals can access VoIP phones wherever there’s a reliable internet connection through a VoIP telephone or a computer. VoIP’s portability makes it particularly useful for companies with distributed call centers and sales representatives.

We curated a list based on our expert recommendations that provide you with the most pertinent information on some of the top players in the field. 

  • Nextiva: Best for scalability and customer service
  • Ooma: Best for international callers
  • RingCentral: Best for enterprise-class call volumes
  • Phone.com: Best for small businesses
  • Zoom Phone: Best for integrated video conferencing
  • Grasshopper: Best for mobile entrepreneurs

Our picks for the best VoIP software

Nextiva: Best for scalability and customer service


Pros

  • Comprehensive analytics and reports
  • Full-featured collaboration and video conferencing capability
  • Straightforward browser-based administration interface
  • Supports calendar and contacts integration with Google and Microsoft

Cons

  • Limited features at lower price tiers
  • Does not utilize new available AI features

Our Rating: 4.4/5

  • Auto attendant: This feature allows businesses to direct incoming calls professionally. It routes customer support and sales phone calls reliably to the appropriate team members.
  • Call recording: Businesses can record their calls based on their preferences. The cloud-based call recording feature enables teams to provide feedback on calls for up to six months.
  • Unlimited calling: Nextiva offers unlimited calls across the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico using VoIP phones, ensuring businesses can communicate without worrying about call limits.
  • Video conferencing: Users can join HD video meetings from their computers and mobile phones. The screen sharing feature further enhances business communication in real-time.
  • Voicemail transcription: Instead of dialing into voicemail, users can benefit from smart voicemail transcripts. This feature allows them to view a caller’s voicemail message and even reply via SMS.
  • Call routing: Nextiva’s business VoIP phone solution efficiently manages inbound calls. It routes callers based on any criteria that the business sets.

Essential Plan:

Price: $18.95/user/month (when billed annually)

Features: Unlimited voice & video calling, voicemail, toll-free numbers, Outlook/Google Contacts Integrations, and unlimited internet fax.

Professional Plan:

Price: $22.95/user/month (when billed annually)

Features: Everything in Essential, plus unlimited conference calls (up to 40 participants), unlimited video conferencing, screensharing, multi-level auto attendant, mobile and desktop SMS/MMS, and integrations with Salesforce/HubSpot.

Enterprise Plan:

Price: $32.95/user/month (when billed annually)

Features: Everything in Professional, plus unlimited participants on voice & video conferencing, call recording, unlimited video conference recording, voicemail transcription, Microsoft Teams/Custom Integrations, and Single Sign On.

Our decision to include Nextiva is rooted in the company’s infrastructure, which grows with businesses, ensuring seamless communication expansion. Additionally, their customer service stands out, offering prompt resolutions and personalized support. This combination makes Nextiva an optimal choice for businesses prioritizing growth and customer-centricity.

Its top-notch security features and extensive compliance standards make it an ideal choice for industries handling sensitive data. Additionally, its high degree of customizability and strong support resources make it a versatile option for businesses of varying sizes and tech savviness.

Nextiva excels in several key areas, scoring perfect 100s in categories like encryption, compliance standards, data privacy, network security, and device compatibility.

Compared to Ooma and RingCentral , Nextiva stands out particularly in its security features and compliance with industry standards. Its commitment to data privacy and network security is exemplary, surpassing many peers in the VoIP market. This makes Nextiva a particularly appealing option for businesses in regulated industries or those prioritizing data security.

Nextiva is a business VoIP provider trusted by many organizations for their unified communications products, services, and support. Nextiva’s solutions are designed to be flexible and scalable, allowing them to provide small business phone systems in addition to enterprise-level call center services.

Founded in 2006, Nextiva has recently introduced several upgrades enhancing user experience. In late 2023, improvements such as a dedicated voicemail section in the desktop app, a new network status check feature, and convenient keyboard shortcuts were added.

The pros and cons of Nextiva’s VoIP solution are multifaceted. On the positive side, its strengths lie in high scores for encryption, compliance standards, data privacy, and network security, reflecting its dedication to secure and reliable communication. Additionally, its interface design and customizability are highly praised, catering to a diverse range of business needs. On the downside, while it offers extensive customer support, it may not provide round-the-clock support, which can be a limitation for global businesses. Also, while it includes features like video conferencing and virtual fax, it might not match the specialized capabilities of platforms dedicated solely to these functions.

Key product factors for Nextiva include its security features, compliance with industry standards, and the user-friendly nature of its interface. These factors are pivotal for businesses prioritizing data security and ease of use in their communication solutions.

Ooma: Best for international callers


Pros

  • Affordable and no fixed contract
  • Integrated video conferencing that doesn’t require client installation
  • Extensive administration features
  • Quick setup

Cons

  • Lacks comprehensive metrics for call-quality reporting
  • Limited customization in analytics reports compared to competitors
Ooma Logo

Our Rating: 3.9/5

  • Virtual receptionist: Ooma offers a virtual receptionist feature that helps businesses direct incoming calls professionally, ensuring that calls are routed to the appropriate team members or departments.
  • Ring groups: This feature allows businesses to group multiple extensions together, ensuring that incoming calls are directed to the next available team member within that group.
  • Music on hold: Businesses can provide a more professional experience for callers by playing music or custom messages while they wait on hold.
  • Digital fax: Ooma supports digital faxing, allowing businesses to send and receive faxes without the need for a traditional fax machine.
  • Mobile app: Ooma offers a mobile app that provides users with the flexibility to make and receive calls, manage voicemails, and more, directly from their mobile devices.
  • Videoconferencing: The Pro plan includes video conferencing capabilities, allowing businesses to conduct virtual meetings with team members and clients.

Essentials Plan:

Price: $19.95/user/month

Features: Over 50 standard features including virtual receptionist, ring groups, music on hold, one toll-free number, digital fax, mobile app, and email audio attachments.

Pro Plan:

Price: $24.95/user/month

Features: Everything in Essentials plus desktop app, text messaging, videoconferencing, call recording, enhanced call blocking, voicemail transcription, caller info match, dynamic caller ID, Google and Office 365 integrations, and analytics.

Pro Plus Plan:

Price: $29.95/user/month

Features: Everything in Pro plus call queuing, Salesforce integration, Microsoft Dynamics 365 integration, advanced call management, Ooma meetings recording, hot desking, find me/follow me, digital call deflection, and call screening.

Ooma offers a range of international calling plans tailored to meet the diverse needs of businesses. Their plans, such as the “Ooma World Plan” and “Ooma World Plus,” provide unlimited calling to numerous countries, both to landlines and mobile phones. The rates for international calls are competitive, making it cost-effective for businesses with frequent overseas communication. However, while Ooma offers extensive international coverage, the actual experience might vary based on the quality of the internet connection and specific regional factors.

Its high scores in key areas like call quality, number portability, and user-friendliness, backed by my firsthand analysis and user feedback, make it a strong contender in the VoIP market, particularly for those who value simplicity and ease of use in their communication solutions.

Ooma’s standout features include its call quality and number portability, both of which scored an impressive 100, underscoring its reliability in core VoIP functionalities. Additionally, its ease of use and customer support quality, each scoring 75, reflect its user-friendly nature and commitment to customer satisfaction.

The software also boasts excellent call quality and number portability. These features are crucial for businesses that rely on uninterrupted, clear communication and wish to seamlessly transition to a new VoIP provider without changing their existing phone numbers. While its competitor, Nextiva, excels in areas like customizability and advanced features, Ooma’s strength lies in its simplicity and reliability, making it an ideal choice for small to medium-sized businesses.

While Nextiva might be more suited for businesses looking for extensive customization and integration capabilities, Ooma is a more fitting choice for those prioritizing straightforward, reliable VoIP services with high call quality. Its user-friendly interface, scoring 75, and the mild learning curve, scoring 100, make it especially appealing to those who may not have extensive technical expertise.

Ooma is an internet phone service provider for businesses and homes that also offers smart security systems. It provides users with personalized service to tailor a solution designed to make their unique business run more efficiently and effectively. The Ooma Telo device offers unlimited calls and redundancies that reduce static and feedback.

One of the major additions in 2023 was its patented MultiPath Technology to Ooma AirDial, enhancing its reliability as a backup for POTS replacement​​. This innovation highlights Ooma’s focus on dependable and uninterrupted service. Additionally, the acquisition of 2600Hz, Inc. further expands its capabilities in communication applications for service providers​​. Call screening and distinctive ringtones were also added to Ooma Office.

On the flip side, while Ooma is adept at handling basic to moderately advanced VoIP needs, it may not offer the same level of sophistication or customization as some of its larger competitors. Additionally, its focus on small to medium-sized businesses might limit its appeal to larger enterprises or those with more complex communication requirements.

RingCentral MVP: Best for enterprise-class call volumes


Pros

  • Video chat capability
  • Competitive pricing
  • Responsive and helpful customer support
  • Comprehensive feature set 

Cons

  • Lags or echoes reported during calls
  • Complex process for texting through the app, especially for international messages

Our Rating: 4.3/5

  • Cloud phone system: RingCentral MVP offers a comprehensive cloud phone system that includes business phone or toll-free numbers, ensuring seamless communication for businesses.
  • Enhanced business SMS: The platform provides enhanced business SMS capabilities, allowing users to send and receive messages efficiently. The number of SMS varies with the plan chosen.
  • Multi-level auto attendant and IVR: This feature ensures that incoming calls are directed professionally and efficiently to the appropriate department or individual.
  • Video meetings and participants: RingCentral MVP supports video meetings with a varying number of participants based on the plan. It offers high-definition video, AI Meeting Insights, Live Transcription, whiteboard, annotations, and breakout rooms.
  • Unified communications: The platform provides unified communication tools, including team messaging, file sharing, mobile apps for iOS and Android, unlimited audio conferencing, and more.
  • Advanced call monitoring: This feature includes advanced call monitoring capabilities such as whisper, barge, and monitor. It ensures that businesses can oversee and manage calls effectively.

Free trial available

Core Plan:

Price: $20/user/month (when billed annually) or $30/user/month (when billed monthly)

Features: Unlimited domestic calling, SMS and MMS, IVR, integrations with Google and Microsoft apps, single sign-on, and analytics for IT administrators.

Advanced Plan:

Price: $25/user/month (when billed annually) or $35/user/month (when billed monthly)

Features: Everything in Core plus auto call recording, advanced call monitoring, multi-site management, integrations with Salesforce, Zendesk, and more, and internet fax.

Ultra Plan:

Price: $35/user/month (when billed annually) or $45/user/month (when billed monthly)

Features: Everything in Advanced plus unlimited enterprise-grade HD video, customizable business insights, unlimited file-sharing and storage, and an enhanced business analytic suite.

RingCentral is well-regarded by businesses that require enterprise-level call volumes. With its cloud-based unified communications platform, RingCentral MVP offers a comprehensive suite of features, including HD voice and video with screen sharing, advanced call management tools like intelligent routing and voicemail transcription, and a 99.999% uptime guarantee. 

The system is designed to be scalable, accommodating the needs of large enterprises without the limitations and expenses of traditional hardware. Its integration capabilities with business apps and open APIs also make it a versatile choice for businesses that require a seamless communication experience.

In comparison to other leading VoIP solutions like Zoom Phone or Microsoft Teams, RingCentral MVP offers a more holistic and business-focused communication solution. While Teams integrates well within the Microsoft ecosystem, RingCentral MVP provides a more rounded package, especially for businesses looking for an all-in-one communication platform.

RingCentral MVP’s round-the-clock availability and diverse support channels, both scoring a perfect 100, set it apart. This is a significant differentiator in a market where timely and accessible support is often the linchpin of customer satisfaction. Its self-help resources, also scoring 100, offer an extensive knowledge base that empowers users, a feature that’s not as comprehensively realized in many of its counterparts.

It also excels in areas fundamental to reliable and efficient business communication. Scoring an impressive 100 in interface design, the platform’s user-friendly interface is a testament to its commitment to providing a seamless user experience. This high score is mirrored in its learning curve and customizability, signaling its ease of use for newcomers and adaptability to diverse business needs.

RingCentral is a business VoIP provider that offers cloud-based communications including message, video, phone, and collaboration features. It offers a number of different tools that you can buy as standalone products or as part of a unified communications platform.

In the latest October 2023 release, RingCentral MVP introduced several key updates to enhance user experience across its applications. Notably, the RC App now includes Bridge Call Appearance for more flexible call delegation across different devices, addressing a previously unmet need for users who mix deskphones with the RingCentral desktop app​​. They’ve also improved conference call clarity by replacing “Unknown” caller IDs with actual phone numbers on the active call screen, a small but significant tweak that streamlines call management​​. Additionally, the “Push to Talk” feature now allows users to control beep sounds, reflecting RingCentral’s attention to user preferences and feedback​​.

For RingCentral Webinars, they’ve expanded availability to the UK and Australia, demonstrating their commitment to global market reach​​. Enhancements like moderated Q&A, the ability to add panelists by name, and branded lobbies for webinar attendees showcase a focused effort to streamline and personalize the webinar experience​​​​​​. The introduction of multiple language support marks a significant step towards inclusivity, catering to a diverse, global user base​​.

Also read: Top RingCentral Competitors

Phone.com: Best for small businesses


Pros

  • Reliable call quality
  • All essentials tools available with base price tier
  • Offers free desktop and mobile apps
  • Human and automated voicemail transcription available

Cons

  • Additional fee for caller analytics
  • Not suitable to support enterprise-level usage
phone.com logo

Our Rating: 3.8/5

  • Virtual number: Get a local or toll-free number without needing a separate line.
  • Mobile apps: Use Phone.com’s services from your smartphone.
  • Video meetings: Host or join video calls.
  • Live receptionist: Have a real person answer and direct your calls.
  • Text messaging: Text from your business number.
  • Call analytics: See detailed data on your call activity.

Basic users:

Price: $12.74/mo/user (billed annually)

Features: 500 Pooled Minutes, 1 Phone number per account, Video conferencing with 10 participants, Mobile and Web apps, 50 Standard Voice Features.

Plus users:

Price: $18.69/mo/user (billed annually)

Features: Everything from Basic users, Unlimited Minutes, 1 Phone number per user, Conversational text messaging, Video conferencing with 25 participants, HIPAA Compliant, Video Recording, IP Desk Phone Compatible, Voicemail Transcription

Pro users:

Price: $27.19/mo/user (billed annually)

Features: Everything from Plus users, Call Recording, Call Analytics, CRM Integration, Video conferencing with 100 participants, HiFi transcription, Whiteboard, Live streaming (YouTube).

Phone.com’s pricing structure is designed to be budget-friendly, starting as at $12.74 per month. This affordability doesn’t compromise on features, as even their basic plan offers video conferencing, mobile and web apps, and 50 standard voice features. For businesses that require more, Phone.com offers scalable plans with additional features like unlimited minutes, CRM integration, and video conferencing with more participants. 

Their flexibility in allowing users to choose from local, toll-free, and vanity numbers or even porting existing numbers ensures businesses have a seamless transition. The platform also emphasizes ease of use, ensuring businesses without a dedicated IT team can set up and manage their phone systems with minimal hassle.

I recommend Phone.com as the best option for small to medium-sized businesses primarily due to its excellent customizability, ease of use, and 24/7 support availability. These aspects are crucial for businesses that require a reliable communication system that can adapt to their evolving needs without necessitating extensive technical expertise or resources. The mixed reviews on customer support quality suggest that larger businesses or those with more complex requirements might explore other options like RingCentral or Vonage for more robust support structures.

Phone.com is an affordable virtual business phone system that delivers cloud-based voice, video, SMS, MMS, and fax capabilities. Unlike virtual-only phone solutions, Phone.com is a true communications platform that can support physical phones as well as mobile devices and softphones.

The service has evolved from basic voice communication over the internet to incorporating features like video conferencing, PBX solutions, and HD Voice technology. These developments have significantly improved the quality and reliability of communication over IP networks​​. Moreover, the cloud-based infrastructure of Phone.com eliminates the need for on-premises hardware, streamlining the communication process and making it more accessible to a wider range of users​​.

The key product factors that make Phone.com a compelling choice include its affordability, with plans starting at $12.74/user/month, and its compatibility with a wide range of devices. This makes it an accessible option for small businesses and entrepreneurs. The software includes over 50 standard voice features accessible to all users, a notable distinction from other providers who reserve advanced features for premium customers. Additionally, the flexibility in pricing and the ability to customize communication solutions with various add-ons make Phone.com versatile and adaptable to different business needs​​.

In terms of product design and user experience (UX), Phone.com boasts an intuitive interface, accessible through various devices including mobile phones and desktop devices. This user-centric design ensures ease of access to features like call stats, call routing presets, voicemail customization, and more, contributing to a seamless user experience​​.

Phone.com also emphasizes security and privacy, particularly in sensitive sectors such as healthcare. The partnership with a leading HIPAA compliance solution ensures the safety of data shared between healthcare providers and patients in the cloud, making it a preferred choice in industries dealing with confidential information​​.

However, there are some limitations to consider. For instance, application-to-person SMS costs extra, and the mobile application can sometimes be glitchy. The basic plan also lacks video recording capabilities and certain features available with other providers. These drawbacks highlight the need for potential users to carefully evaluate their specific requirements against the offerings of Phone.com.

Zoom Phone: Best for integrated video conferencing


Pros

  • High-quality audio and video
  • Easy-to-use and familiar platform
  • Integration with a variety of other software
  • Cost-effective for feature set

Cons

  • Performance lag reports higher than competitors
  • Screen sharing feature has been criticized for requiring the initiation of a meeting for it to work
Zoom Phone reviews

Our Rating: 4.4/5

  • Native integration with Zoom Meetings: Seamlessly switch between voice calls and video meetings without needing separate applications.
  • Centralized management: Admins can easily manage users, monitor call quality, and track usage through a unified portal.
  • Secure HD audio: High-quality audio calls with end-to-end encryption for added security.
  • Visual voicemail: Check voicemail messages visually without having to listen to them sequentially.
  • Call recording: Record phone calls for compliance or review purposes.
  • Automated attendant: Direct incoming calls to the appropriate department or individual using an automated system.

US & Canada Metered:

Price: $120.00/year/userFeatures: Pay as you go for outbound calls, internal unlimited calling, SMS & MMS domestic, one management portal, and multiple device use.US & Canada Unlimited:Price: $180.00/year/userFeatures: Unlimited regional calling, internal unlimited calling, SMS & MMS domestic, one management portal, and multiple device use.Global Select:Price: $240.00/year/userFeatures: Unlimited regional calling in one of the 48 countries and territories, internal unlimited calling, SMS & MMS domestic, one management portal, and multiple device use.

Zoom Phone, as an extension of the widely-used Zoom platform, offers a unique advantage for businesses prioritizing integrated video conferencing. 

The platform seamlessly merges its VoIP calling capabilities with its established video conferencing tools. This means that users can effortlessly switch between voice calls and video meetings without juggling multiple applications or interfaces.

Zoom Phone is a cloud-based phone system built on Zoom’s platform, designed to consolidate all business communication and collaboration into a single system. Available in over 40 countries, it offers expandable coverage through a bring-your-own-carrier option. Zoom Phone supports both inbound and outbound calling through the public switched telephone network (PSTN), making it a versatile solution.

Also read: Zoom vs. Skype

Grasshopper: Best for mobile entrepreneurs


Pros

  • Offers both mobile and desktop apps
  • Allows users to set up extensions for different departments
  • Provides a professional phone number for each call
  • Voicemail transcription

Cons

  • Doesn’t allow for automatic switching of extensions based on dates/times
  • Lack of automated responses to trigger words
Grasshopper reviews

Our Rating: 4.1/5

  • Desktop + mobile apps: Access Grasshopper’s services from both desktop and mobile devices.
  • Voicemail transcription: Convert voicemails into readable text.
  • Custom greetings: Personalize greetings for callers.
  • Business texting: Send and receive texts using your business number.
  • VoIP/Wi-Fi calling: Make calls over the internet or Wi-Fi.
  • Virtual fax: Send and receive faxes digitally without a traditional fax machine.

Solo Plan:

Price: $28/mo (billed annually)

Features: 1 Phone Number, 3 Extensions, Unlimited Users.

Partner Plan:

Price: $46/mo (billed annually)

Features: 3 Phone Numbers, 6 Extensions, Unlimited Users.

Small Business Plan:

Price: $80/mo (billed annually)

Features: 5 Phone Numbers, Unlimited Extensions, Unlimited Users.

Grasshopper is tailored for mobile entrepreneurs, offering a virtual phone system that integrates with personal phones, allowing business professionals to maintain separate business and personal communications. The platform emphasizes mobility with its apps available for iOS, Android, and desktop. Features such as business texting, custom greetings, and VoIP/Wi-Fi calling cater to the dynamic needs of entrepreneurs on the move.

Recent upgrades have further bolstered its appeal, especially with enhancements in user interface and integration capabilities. Unlike major competitors like RingCentral or 8×8, which cater to larger enterprises with a broad spectrum of communication needs, Grasshopper focuses on simplicity and mobility. This laser focus gives it an edge in user experience for solo entrepreneurs and small teams. Its mobile app, praised for its intuitive design, ensures seamless management of business calls and texts from anywhere, a vital aspect for professionals always on the move. Grasshopper’s strength lies in its straightforward approach to VoIP services, offering essential features like call forwarding, voicemail, and virtual fax without the complexity of more extensive systems. While it may not boast the extensive feature set of Zoom Phone or the advanced collaboration tools of Microsoft Teams, for the niche it serves – mobile entrepreneurs – Grasshopper provides a tailored, efficient solution. Its commitment to continuous improvement and understanding of its target audience’s specific needs make it a worthy contender in a crowded market.

Grasshopper is a business phone service acquired by LogMeIn in 2018, designed for businesses aiming to utilize the capabilities of larger office systems without the associated costs or legacy requirements. Unlike most hosted PBX solutions that require some onsite hardware, Grasshopper operates entirely through a PBX software instance on their servers, linking extensions to existing phone numbers, making it both cost-effective and straightforward. The service offers features like basic call routing/IVR, voicemail, faxing, and a mobile app that emulates the functionalities of an enterprise-grade PBX system, all without the need for extensive hardware or software configurations.

Find your new VoIP software

What’s the difference between VoIP and PSTN?

PSTN uses analog signal transmission over copper loops. Companies and individuals have used these landlines since the introduction of the public telephone system, and they remain mostly unchanged despite vast technological advances in communications technology.

Though PSTN is fairly reliable, it was created before cell phones and wireless internet usage became common for businesses and consumers. Compared with VoIP, landline phones are inefficient and not flexible enough for modern businesses. For example, PSTN uses copper wire, so when an individual makes a phone call, no one else can use that portion of the line. Call centers and companies that do most of their business over the phone must maintain many phone lines with PSTN — or they could purchase a single VoIP account.

And aside from voice calls and faxes, PSTN does little else. Today, instead of copper wires, the majority of internet connections run on broadband and fiber optic cable. These connections send digital information over multiple channels, making VoIP cheaper and more versatile than traditional telephones. Contrary to PSTN, VoIP doesn’t require dedicated phone lines — just an internet connection. 

Business VOIP vs. residential VOIP

While many services offer free or cheap VoIP telephone and video conferencing software for individuals, these options typically do not scale for business use. Companies whose sales associates and call centers rely on telephones for the majority of their business tasks will need features and reliability not currently offered by residential VoIP providers.

Business VOIP is generally more flexible than residential VOIP and offers a higher volume of calling and texting. Business VOIP service providers offer more features than their residential counterparts, including conference calls, call forwarding and holding. Personal users, on the other hand, won’t need these features, so residential service providers may only offer caller ID, voicemail, and call blocking services.

Additionally, business VOIP is more customizable than VOIP for personal use, allowing organizations to add lines, extensions, and features as their business grows and changes. They may even offer options for 800 toll-free numbers or vanity numbers. 

VoIP phone system comparison

VoIP service doesn’t require dedicated phone lines; it taps into your existing local area network (LAN) to provide telephone services. This means VoIP phones can provide sophisticated functionality and scalability to businesses, usually at a reduced cost.

There are two main types of VoIP phones:

  • Hard phones are physical telephones that look and act like traditional office phones. Basic models have all the features of a normal phone, but high-end models may include an LCD screen to make contact management easier and provide caller ID. Sometimes called IP phones, hard phones connect to the LAN via ethernet cable.
  • Softphones are not physical devices. These “software phones” are applications that enable VoIP functionality on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Hosted VOIP providers offer a virtual IP PBX that doesn’t require hardware. Since these devices are not built for voice calling in an office setting, users will connect to the software via a headset with a microphone and speakers.

Also read: ShoreTel vs. Avaya

Benefits of VoIP software

Fewer repairs and maintenance needs

Voice over internet protocol software does not rely on the copper wiring necessary for most PSTN telephone systems but works over your LAN connection instead. That means VoIP systems don’t need the infrastructure used by landline telephone systems, including installing wires, running lines on poles or underground, and repairs due to wear or weather. Instead, companies can access their phone systems through internet connections via wireless internet, cable, or fiber optics.

Scalability

Depending on your internet speeds and bandwidth capabilities, the call volume that VoIP phones can handle scales quickly. In contrast to landline telephones that would need each new number hard-wired into the building, VoIP systems can scale to new computers or hard phones where agents can field calls and use call forwarding to get them to the right person. 

And because VOIP systems are digital, you can do a lot more with them than you can a traditional PSTN, including video calling, call barging, and online fax. Additionally, automatic call distribution features make it easier for teams to handle a large volume of calls by automatically assigning incoming calls to available agents that have the appropriate specialty for the caller’s needs.

Security

VoIP services can provide encryption and security settings that keep your data safe from prying eyes when in transit or at rest. But companies who prefer more control over their data safety can host their VoIP system servers on-premise where they can add firewall protection and extra encryption on their databases.

Improved training and QA

Companies that run their call centers and sales teams on VoIP phones can easily record all or parts of representative interactions with customers. This gives teams specific examples to call out for positive reinforcement, training purposes, and quality assurance.

Plus, caller ID features make it easier for agents to handle repeat callers because they’ll be able to pull up notes before answering.

Cheaper international calls

Making international calls via a VOIP system is typically cheaper than it would be with a landline. However, one of the biggest advantages of using a VOIP system is that your service provider can assign you a phone number in countries that you make a lot of calls to. For example, if your organization is based in the US, but you do a lot of business in France, your VOIP provider can assign you a French number, and then those calls will be considered local for the purpose of billing.

Risks with VoIP software

Legality

Due to its ability to make mass telephone calls and spam thousands of phone numbers with ease, VoIP calling has run into legal troubles in some countries. Check your local regulations to ensure your calling strategies remain within local restrictions.

Data security

VoIP tools run on servers, databases, and internet connections that need protection to guard against man-in-the-middle and eavesdropping attacks. And because call centers and businesses often pass personally identifying information over phone lines, companies should be aware of the risks to their data. Companies can use a VPN or other data security protocols like encryption and firewalls to protect business information.

Common VoIP features

Text chat and messaging

VoIP software has the ability to follow up on phone calls with text messaging via SMS or other consumer messaging software found in stand-alone or social media services. Or companies have the option to bypass calls and send messages through text or message services.

Texting features often require opt-in from consumers, but they can greatly decrease appointment no-show rates for salons, medical offices, and other appointment-driven companies.

Find me and follow me (FMFM)

Find me and follow me features in VoIP software allow individuals to receive phone calls wherever they are. The VoIP phone can be programmed to attempt to connect the caller with several different numbers in a series or ring several phones at once. Some systems alert agents to pick up a call with text messages or computer notifications. The company can configure its settings to notify agents on nearly any internet-connected device.

Companies with mobile workforces and distributed teams will find these features especially helpful, as agents can interact with customers from anywhere.

Voicemail transcription

VoIP can make voice recordings of voice mail messages for the company to listen to later, or those messages can be sent to the correct party in text format through voicemail to email transcription. While transcriptions are not 100 percent accurate, VoIP providers will often pair the transcription with the original voice recording to provide further context.

Auto dialer / predictive dialer

An auto dialer or predictive dialer automatically makes VOIP phone calls from a list of preferred numbers. Many VoIP systems connect directly to an outside source of customer data including helpdesk, call center, CRM, or marketing automation software.

When someone picks up the call on the receiving end, the software then connects the call to an agent. Predictive and auto dialing gives administrators control over the phone numbers that each agent calls and ensures that the agents work through the maximum number of calls possible.

Shared line appearance

Shared line appearance connects agents and associates within and across offices. It allows teams to transfer calls from desk to desk seamlessly, and even lets agents pick up a call at a colleague’s desk.

Mobile application

Many VoIP providers offer access to administrative features through a mobile app. These apps may include the full range of features under the user’s contract, or they might provide a select few that are most helpful for the user.

Analytics

VoIP systems produce hundreds of thousands of digital data points from call metrics to agent data. Administrators can access these data points in an analytics dashboard to understand the company’s usage of the VoIP features, track and improve the success rates of individuals and teams of agents, or better understand how their lists respond to different calling scripts.

Considerations for choosing the best VOIP providers

Pricing for VoIP service varies. Most VoIP vendors provide the same basic functionality, with the ability to add custom features. The monthly cost of your system will depend on the following factors:

Company size

How many locations do you have? How many phones do you need? Vendors may charge per phone, and multiple offices will add complexity to your system, which will be reflected in the price.

Customizations

Premium features such as conference calling are often added on top of the monthly fee. Additional usage charges for long-distance, call recording, or software for mobile phones may also impact pricing.

Industry regulations and legal requirements

Industry regulations and legal requirements may affect which vendor you choose and the ultimate cost of a VoIP service. Businesses in the financial sector may require encrypted calling or other security features, while hotels may need to meet safety and privacy standards.

Deployment

Call switching and line management are handled by a device called a public branch exchange (PBX) or key system unit (KSU). You can host a PBX on-premise, or avoid the expenses of purchasing, installing, and maintaining the hardware by hosting it in the cloud. VoIP pricing varies among providers, but most VoIP vendors offer cloud, on-premise, and hybrid approaches. You may also require additional services such as SIP trunking, which can be included by the vendor or through third-party integration.

Data security

When VoIP systems have direct, unprotected connections to CRM software and databases, bad actors have a greater opportunity to access customer data through malware, man-in-the-middle attacks, and other data security breaches. Check to see if your VoIP provider includes firewalls and encryption in the monthly subscription or as an add-on fee. You may want to look into adding your own IT security software for an added layer of protection.

Best VoIP applications by company size

Any business that needs to talk to customers or other employees can benefit from a VoIP system. Though enterprises often require more powerful tools than smaller businesses, the use cases across business sizes are essentially the same. Let’s examine some of them more closely.

Startup

A new company with no existing business phone service can use VoIP services to reduce costs and track expenses. A simple solution that enables phone software to run on employee computers should come with basic features such as voicemail and call routing. If employees use their own phones, look for a vendor that has a native mobile application. This will allow employees to log in through the company account, which provides branded call logs to aid reimbursement of employees.

SMB

A hosted PBX is a good choice for small or medium-sized businesses that have little or no IT resources. If SMBs choose a provider that offers a cloud PBX, then hard phones that connect to the company’s LAN are generally the only hardware necessary. Companies with the resources (or preference) to manage onsite hardware should consider a hybrid solution that allows calls to be directed and managed between multiple phones.

Enterprise

Large enterprises need a VoIP system that can manage thousands of employees and remote offices. Companies with a mobile workforce not only need desk phones on-premise but softphones set up on their laptops or cellphones to use while traveling. Enterprises may wish to manage their own PBX hardware in each separate office, rather than choosing a voice over IP service with a hosted PBX.

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