Unless you’re running a major business out of your house, chances are you won’t need or be interested in the ability to do video conferencing with dozens of people at the same time. The same goes for an auto attendant and business software integrations. First decide which features are priorities for you (unlimited calling, voicemail-to-email, international calling plans, etc.) and then take a look at what each company offers. After all, there’s no sense in paying for features that you don’t need.
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 ExtremeTech.com.
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.
*Disclosure: We are an independent, advertiser-supported comparison service. The offers that appear on this page are from companies that we have a marketing relationship with, that compensate us. This impacts where those products appear on the site. Company listings on this page do not imply endorsement. There are many advantages of having a residential VoIP phone service. Thanks to VoIP, nowadays, telecommunication is easier and flexible than ever before. It's not only easy to use, but also very cheap. Voice over IP phone services include unlimited calling and many free features that you would normally pay for with a traditional phone company, such as call waiting, call forwarding, caller ID, etc. We offer a thorough analysis of provider, services, and features.
While we think Grasshopper is great for small businesses, it misses out on our “Best Small-Business Phone Service” title because, compared to Ooma, Grasshopper is a little expensive. Grasshopper plans start at $26 per month, assuming you sign up for annual billing. And starting plans include only one business phone number with up to three extensions.
Packed with advanced phone system features necessary to operate a small to medium businesses, such as hosted PBX capabilities, desk-to-desk calling, automated attendant systems, call routing and even music-on-hold, Business phone services powered by VoIP technology make it easy for any company to operate with the same level of professionalism customers expect from large scale enterprise systems. Business VoIP systems also include overall Unified Communication solutions to empower the mobility and flexibility needed for any size businesses. With an inexpensive, feature filled phone solutions, your business can operate at a high level on par with large scale systems, without having to worry about the cost.
Vonage Business is the biggest name in VoIP, and the good news is it’s a leader in residential VoIP too. Vonage has powerful, nationwide infrastructure, ensuring 100% uptime whenever you make or receive a VoIP call through your home IP phone or the Vonage smartphone app. All pricing packages are billed monthly, with no contracts. However, if you agree to be billed annually, Vonage will reward you with close to a 50% discount on your first 6 months.
SIP is built to work on a peer-to-peer (meaning endpoint to endpoint) basis. Those two points are called the "user-agent client" and the "user-agent server." Remember that those points can be swapped, so that in SIP, the endpoint making the call is the user-agent client initiating the traffic and endpoint receiving the call is the user-agent server receiving the call.
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 majority of plans are loaded with a great selection of features that can come in handy when you are making or receiving calls. Many providers offer over 30 features included in the low monthly fees. These include basic call management features such as call waiting, call forwarding, call blocking, caller ID name, do not disturb, and voicemail. More advanced features such as the voicemail to email feature let's you access your messages at anytime, even when you are away from your home, simply by checking your email inbox. Distinctive ringing, additional virtual numbers, and Smartphone Calling App's are other examples of more advanced features that can be useful.