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're wondering what you get with a softphone that you won't with a standard phone handset, then that depends on the service. Business-class softphones offer all kinds of features related to online meeting collaboration, call routing, multi-line conference calling, and more. From a residential VoIP perspective, you'll most often find video conferencing (though more and more this is becoming a separate product from most providers), a voicemail-to-text converter, detailed call records, and user controls for users other than yourself. Some services also offer faxing, text chat, and call metering so you can see how much you're spending.

When shoppers ask which is the best VoIP service or who are the best VoIP providers, no two answers will ever be the same. Keep in mind, that the best service for one individual or business, might not be the most ideal for you. It’s all about finding a VoIP provider that can cater to your specific needs. Users should consider these factors when comparing VoIP providers:

The great thing about VoIP is that it taps additional value from the already existing infrastructure without additional costs. VoIP transmits the sounds you make over the standard Internet infrastructure, using the IP Protocol. This is how you can communicate without paying for more than your monthly Internet bill. Skype is the most popular example of services that allow you to make free calls on your PC. There are many computer-based VoIP services out there, so many that you will have a difficult choice. You can also make free calls using traditional phones and mobile phones. See the different flavors of VoIP service that allow you to do this.
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.
Our editors have researched and tested hundreds of systems, filtering out industry leading business phone services with the highest levels of reliability, backed by unparalleled customer service, and aggressive price points. The small business VoIP providers we've featured below offer custom packages for any budget, dedicated support reps, competitive pricing, and a fully managed, hands-on approach to getting your new business VoIP system up and running in the shortest possible time. Compare these providers below, some of which are from our partners, to find the right one for you.
Unlike traditional telephone lines, VoIP numbers can’t be traced by 911 operators. This doesn’t mean you’d be helpless in case of a natural disaster or Sasquatch attack, however. Upon initial setup at a location, you simply need to enter your info manually through the system’s E911 (Enhanced 911) feature, which will attach a physical address to your VoIP number.
A VoIP media gateway controller (aka Class 5 Softswitch) works in cooperation with a media gateway (aka IP Business Gateway) and connects the digital media stream, so as to complete the path for voice and data. Gateways include interfaces for connecting to standard PSTN networks. Ethernet interfaces are also included in the modern systems which are specially designed to link calls that are passed via VoIP.[26]
Unlike traditional telephone lines, VoIP numbers can’t be traced by 911 operators. This doesn’t mean you’d be helpless in case of a natural disaster or Sasquatch attack, however. Upon initial setup at a location, you simply need to enter your info manually through the system’s E911 (Enhanced 911) feature, which will attach a physical address to your VoIP number.
Yealink DECT repeater RT30, designed in accordance with Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunication (DECT). The repeater can be deployed to extend the DECT radio coverage of Yealink W60B base station significantly in all directions, and when working with W60B, it supports two RT30 cascaded. Clear LED indicators are used to distinguish different DECT statuses. Its elegant design and easy installation are typically suitable to be used in the ambiance of all business environments.
In India, it is legal to use VoIP, but it is illegal to have VoIP gateways inside India.[61] This effectively means that people who have PCs can use them to make a VoIP call to any number, but if the remote side is a normal phone, the gateway that converts the VoIP call to a POTS call is not permitted by law to be inside India. Foreign based VoIP server services are illegal to use in India.[61]

The service's we detail below, however, aren't triple play providers. Every service detailed here is an independent residential VoIP provider that you can use over any broadband internet connection. But while that means their pricing is probably somewhat more transparent than in a triple play scenario, some of them do still obscure the real number you'll wind up paying. This can happen in several ways.
Before you can start considering a phone system, you need to figure out what it's going to be used for, and how much of your business will be involved. You need to look at your existing phone system and decide whether you're going to simply keep all of it and bolt some VoIP functionality on top, retain only part of it, or replace the whole thing. Frequently, a total replacement isn't in the cards if only because some parts of your existing phone system can't be easily changed over to softphones or even desktop VoIP phones. For example, if you have a heavy manufacturing environment with outdoor activities, such as a steel fabrication yard or even a landscaping company, your old outdoor phones may be exactly what you need. You also need to decide what features of the existing phone system are required, and what features of a future phone system you feel are necessary to carry into the future.

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.
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.
Work When & Where You Want – One very popular and common feature of business VoIP systems is called “find me/follow me.” Instead of having separate numbers for your office, cell phone, and home office, you have one “virtual extension.” You can program the virtual business phone service to ring all of your extensions simultaneously, or in a specific order, and you decide how to handle a missed call. You decide if a call should go to your voicemail, or to another extension. When you make a call using your cloud phone system, the receiving caller ID will show your business phone number, regardless of which device you are calling from.

The SIP-T42S IP phone is a dynamic business communications tool for superior voice communications and extended functionality. The SIP-T42S is a 12-line IP phone with multiple programmable keys for enhancing productivity. It is with Yealink Optima HD Voice Technology and wideband codec of Opus for superb sound quality and crystal clear communications. It’s built with Gigabit Ethernet technology and with an all-new USB port, the SIP-T42S boasts unparalleled functionality and expansibility with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and USB recording features.


PhonePower is one of a handful of VoIP providers that actually specialize in residential VoIP rather than business VoIP. Although PhonePower has many plans, it’s best for calling within the US (including Puerto Rico) and Canada. That’s because it has possibly the cheapest prices in residential VoIP, providing you’re calling solely on local numbers. PhonePower also enables calls abroad, although there are cheaper options such as Vonage if you’re planning on making more than an hour’s worth of calls internationally each month.
On the higher end of this space, hosted PBX providers, such as RingCentral Office, will generally offer (sometimes even require) on-premises handset hardware, like desk or cordless VoIP phones that get sent to you pre-configured to work with their service. Plug the phones in, make sure they see an internet connection, and after some self-configuration time, your VoIP service goes live auto-magically.
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.

^ Jump up to: a b Mahanagar Doorsanchar Bhawan and Jawahar Lal Nehru Marg (May 2008). "Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Consultation paper on Issues related to Internet Telephony. Consultation Paper No. 11/2008" (PDF). New Delhi India: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). p. 16 (Section 2.2.1.2 PC–to–Phone Internet telephony). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 6, 2014. Retrieved September 19, 2012. An end user is allowed to make PC–to-Phone Internet Telephony calls only on PSTN/PLMN abroad.
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.
It gets even better! Calling internationally using VoIP is far less expensive than using a traditional landline phone company. Every region of the world, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, has its own combination of technological development, geographic obstacles, regulations, and taxes. Cell phone carriers, much like VoIP providers, have their own network, which is why it usually costs more to call international cell phones. If a VoIP provider has a significant presence in a country, it’s likely that landline calls will be unlimited with an international package. For example, if you are using Vonage Word, calling from the U.S. to a landline in Germany is included, but it costs US$.0061 per minute to call a cellular phone. If you are using ViaTalk World, you can call both German cell phones and German Landlines for the same rate – free up to 1200 minutes per month. Don’t forget that with every VoIP provider, if you call within their own network, calls are always free no matter where you are in the world. With the development of SIP, you can easily make and receive free international calls from your home using VoIP.
While it doesn't offer as many features as its business-class version, residential VoIP is still overwhelmingly attractive when compared to standard phone service; firstly because of its much lower overall price tag and second because it simply offers more features than an old fashioned long line. You can keep your current number, suffer zero restrictions when it comes to 911 or long-distance calling, drop your monthly price to a low fixed number, and take advantage of VoIP-only features like smart call routing, virtual numbers, and more.
The benefits of making the change permanently from a traditional landline phone to VoIP phone services can have a lasting effect — minimizing cost and maximizing customization. Turning your home into a fully integrated network, VoIP is the most economical and intelligent method of making phone calls. Doing away with your landlines means doing away with fees and long distance charges in favor of one low monthly rate. The sooner you do away with landline service, the sooner you’ll be enjoying more features for substantially less, saving hundreds of dollars a year. Make the switch, and leave those switchboards in the dust…you won’t regret it – Get VoIP!
With all the features and functionality Nextiva includes, the fact that no plan exceeds 60 bucks a month is notable. A micro-sized office could get by easily with the bare-bones Office Pro setup, but the advanced features of Office Pro Plus and Office Enterprise are tempting for a few dollars more: the Nextiva mobile voice and video app and the Team Presence status indicator (both included in Office Pro Plus) are useful upgrades, as are call recording and the number-meshing Nextiva Anywhere app (Office Enterprise).
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.
A telephone connected to a land line has a direct relationship between a telephone number and a physical location, which is maintained by the telephone company and available to emergency responders via the national emergency response service centers in form of emergency subscriber lists. When an emergency call is received by a center the location is automatically determined from its databases and displayed on the operator console.

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.  
From an end user point of view, the actual phone service works in the same way, you pick up the phone to answer a call or to dial a number just like with a landline service. Number porting means you can keep your existing phone number and simply switch it over to your new service provider. The residential VoIP providers take care of the call routing and you can call any destination and receive calls from anyone, just like with regular home phone service.
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