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.
With integration being at the heart of VoIP and UCaaS, you can't make a purchasing decision here without thinking about the future. On one side, think about what you'll need in 1-5 years. On the other side, consider each vendor carefully to see what they've done over the last half decade in terms of product development and keeping up with VoIP and UCaaS trends.
One of the most exciting and clear differences between a cloud PBX provider and a standard telephone system is software. Your IT staff will find a host of new software tools to help monitor and manage the system. But what catches most business operators' eyes are two key capabilities that software provides: back-end integration and softphones. The latter is exactly what the name implies, a phone that's rendered entirely in software allowing any compatible device to become a phone as long as it has an internet connection, a speaker, and a microphone. More on that below.
We recognize that not all our readers’ businesses are based in the US. So we took another pass at our content to provide more information on each provider’s international offerings. And because 8x8’s international rates on calls made from the US are so good, we bumped it up to our number five spot. Finally, we added info about Ooma’s new plan (Ooma Office Pro) to the offerings mentioned below.
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).
Few things in life are set in stone, and the same should be true of your VoIP plan. It’s wise to find a plan that is scalable and which you can easily expand if need be. You’ll want to know if you can break your contract early if you find a better deal elsewhere, or if you can easily switch plans with the same company in order to take advantage of more features, or to get rid of some you don’t need.
Choose the service that is appropriate for your calling needs. Residential VoIP plans are cheaper than business VoIP plans because: (1) they have fewer features and (2) residential phones are used less frequently than business phones. Don’t use a residential VoIP service for a home-based business unless you’re willing to pay overage fees or to have your VoIP service canceled. VoIP providers are serious about enforcing their Fair Use guidelines.
The SIP-T46S IP phone is the communications tool for busy executives and professionals. This business phone has a faster interface with a rich, high-resolution TFT color display. It’s built with Yealink Optima HD technology, and wideband codec enabling crystal clear communications. The SIP-T46S is also built with Gigabit Ethernet technology for rapid call handling and use with accessories like a Bluetooth USB Dongle and a WiFi USB Dongle.
IP Phones and VoIP telephone adapters connect to routers or cable modems which typically depend on the availability of mains electricity or locally generated power. Some VoIP service providers use customer premises equipment (e.g., cablemodems) with battery-backed power supplies to assure uninterrupted service for up to several hours in case of local power failures. Such battery-backed devices typically are designed for use with analog handsets.
You don’t want to cheap out on your business’s VoIP plan, but . . . admit it, you sort of want to cheap out on your business’s VoIP plan. Nextiva offers an impressive balance of pricing and features that could assuage any guilt over saving a few bucks. Also, their online management platform makes it simple to juggle multiple lines and employees in different locales (read our review of Nextiva for more info).
Softphones are increasing in importance in VoIP offerings to the point that for some they're the only choice. They are a critical part of UCaaS and are as common on mobile phones and tablets as they are on desktop PCs. For workers in call centers, softphones are a common tool because of they're the front-end window of any CRM or help desk integration. So, for example, a softphone can combine a telephone conversation with text chat and screen sharing, which means a conversation between two employees can seamlessly add more participants, handle private text chats between those participants while the call is still going on, and extend to a collaboration session in which the group shares screens, documents, and data—no prep, no reserved lines, just button clicks.
The only area where a landline offers something VoIP phones can't is that they're more disaster resistant. Lost power to your house and your landline phone will keep on working. But if the power drops to your home's internet router, our VoIP phone goes dark, too. However, this limitation is less crippling these days as most people have a smartphone of some kind backing up their home phone. That phone will keep working in the event of a power outage, which means you can still make emergency calls. And if you've opted for a mobile client on your home VoIP account, you can even make those calls using your home phone number rather than your mobile number if you prefer.
The caveat there is the proverbial fine print, usually located just below the really attractive dollar figure. This small print generally details exactly how many months that nice number will remain in effect before the bloom comes off the rose and you start getting billed a much higher number that represents the service's actual cost. Many providers don't even print this higher number on their websites, so be sure to ask the sales guy on the phone before you sign up. The nice number that pulled you in can often double or more once the introductory period wears off. Some providers even attach a minimum length of time that you'll need to suffer these higher costs before you can change or modify the service without getting hit with an additional early-termination penalty fee.
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.