VoIP can be used for free with computers and even, in some cases, with mobile and landline phones. However, when it is used to completely replace the PSTN service, then it has a price. But this price is way cheaper than standard phone calls. This becomes thrilling when you consider international calls. Some people have had their communication costs on international calls cut down by 90% thanks to VoIP.
In the case of a private VoIP system, the primary telephony system itself is located within the private infrastructure of the end user organisation. Usually, the system will be deployed on-premises at a site within the direct control of the organisation. This can provide numerous benefits in terms of QoS control (see below), cost scalability, and ensuring privacy and security of communications traffic. However, the responsibility for ensuring that the VoIP system remains performant and resilient is predominantly vested in the end user organisation. This is not the case with a Hosted VoIP solution.
The T.38 protocol is designed to compensate for the differences between traditional packet-less communications over analog lines and packet-based transmissions which are the basis for IP communications. The fax machine may be a standard device connected to an analog telephone adapter (ATA), or it may be a software application or dedicated network device operating via an Ethernet interface.[35] Originally, T.38 was designed to use UDP or TCP transmission methods across an IP network. UDP provides near real-time characteristics due to the "no recovery rule" when a UDP packet is lost or an error occurs during transmission.[36]

However, VoIP traffic to and from the on-premises systems can often also be sent over secure private links. Examples include personal VPN, site-to-site VPN, private networks such as MPLS and SD-WAN, or via private SBCs (Session Border Controllers). While exceptions and private peering options do exist, it is generally uncommon for those private connectivity methods to be provided by Hosted or Cloud VoIP providers.


When you're considering a new VoIP phone system for your business, it's important to include stakeholders from all of the key parts of your business in the planning and decision making process. Yes, this especially includes the IT staff and the data security folks since your voice communications will now be data. But it also needs to include folks who will be using the system to get work done, especially the work that drives revenue and engages customers. These people have invaluable insights into what's really needed versus what's simply cool and new. Plus, you'll need their input to select a phone system that will actually move your business forward as well as fit into your IT environment.
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.

Private VoIP systems can be physical hardware PBX appliances, converged with other infrastructure, or they can be deployed as software applications. Generally the latter two options will be in the form of a separate virtualised appliance. However in some scenarios, these systems are deployed on bare metal infrastructure or IoT devices. With some solutions, such as 3CX, companies can attempt to blend the benefits of hosted and private on-premises systems by implementing their own private solution but within an external environment. Examples can include datacentre collocation services, public cloud, or private cloud locations.
There are some solutions to this issue if you have concerns. The most obvious is to utilize Uninterruptable Power Supplies (UPS) for those short outages, or a generator if you live somewhere where outages are more common (and for your fridge!). With so many people having cell phones these days most people will not be too concerned with this issue, especially when they consider the money they are saving. Most services include a call forwarding feature so you can always set that up to go to your cell phone so you do not miss important calls.

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.


Some of that software is running on the provider's servers, but parts of it will be running on your devices, whether that's a PC a mobile phone or a VoIP phone. It's this software layer that provides the rich feature fabric, which along with its lower price, is what's drawing residential customers to the technology. Some of the more popular advanced features you'll find available in a residential service, include:
However, for many businesses there's a need to route calls to the PSTN and other analog phones that might remain in use, too. This may mean a PSTN gateway, or even a hybrid PBX, where there's at least a small telephone switch located on-site. Note that these days, a PBX looks exactly like the other servers in your data center, except with an attached means of handling local and analog phones. Many small businesses, however, are avoiding on-premises PBXes partially due to cost savings and partially because the capabilities offered by all-cloud systems are more than advanced enough for their needs. Some virtual cloud PBXes can handle PSTN connectivity without on-site hardware requirements.
Disclaimer: The information featured in this article is based on our best estimates of pricing, package details, contract stipulations, and service available at the time of writing. All information is subject to change. Pricing will vary based on various factors, including, but not limited to, the customer’s location, package chosen, added features and equipment, the purchaser’s credit score, etc. For the most accurate information, please ask your customer service representative. Clarify all fees and contract details before signing a contract or finalizing your purchase.
Whether it's a dedicated bridge device or a special VoIP phone, you'll need something on the hardware side compatible with VoIP in order to access the technology's chief benefit: its software layer. It's at this layer where VoIP's advanced communication and collaboration features are enabled and how well the provider has leveraged those advantages will be directly reflected in how its proprietary hardware and back-end services are programmed. Whether it's a phone or a bridge, if you're worried about getting lost in technobabble when trying to setup your new phone service, remember that the best providers should be able to ship you pre-configured devices that shouldn't require much, if any, intervention on your part. With these, you simply plug them into your router or connect them to your Wi-Fi network and they'll go out and find the provider's network on their own. Just power them up, connect to your network, and wait for the light to turn green.
The ITU-T G.hn standard, which provides a way to create a high-speed (up to 1 gigabit per second) Local area network (LAN) using existing home wiring (power lines, phone lines and coaxial cables). G.hn provides QoS by means of Contention-Free Transmission Opportunities (CFTXOPs) which are allocated to flows (such as a VoIP call) which require QoS and which have negotiated a contract with the network controllers.
On the physical side, you'll also need to plan for providing Ethernet drops to any new desktop phones you'll be placing on user desks, or even adding capacity to your Wi-Fi network should you decide to use wireless calling. For many organizations a separate network is often winds up being the preferred solution. If that's what happens in your case, you'll need a separate VoIP gateway. You'll also need security that understands voice protocols, and you'll need to have switches and routers that understand VoIP, too. By the time you've covered all those bases, a separate network is often the more effective solution rather than attempting to not only install but also integrate that much new equipment into an existing LAN.
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.
If you are seeking a superb pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) video conferencing camera for medium-size meeting rooms, the Yealink VCC20 is an ideal choice. 2.18M pixels HD CMOS sensor plus 12X optical zoom power the VCC20 HD PTZ, delivering HD images up to 1080p at 30 fps. The Yealink VCC20 camera is an optimal solution for a smaller business environments. It is so detailed and true to life that you feel like you are in the meeting room with everyone else.
Ooma advertises only two plans: Ooma Office and Ooma Office Pro. Ooma Office includes unlimited domestic calls, three-way calling, virtual fax machines, plus most of the industry-standard features you’d expect from a leading private branch exchange (PBX) provider. Meanwhile, Ooma Office Pro offers more premium features, including call recording and enhanced call blocking—to name a few. But with either plan, you’ll have to pay a $29.95 one-time activation fee to get your service started.
The Yealink SIP-T56A is a simple-to-use smart media phone that provides an enriched HD audio experience for business professionals. This all-new smart media phone enables productivity-enhancing visual communication with the ease of a standard phone. the SIP-T56A features a seven-inch fixed multi-point touch screen, integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0+ EDR, and it is coupled with a built-in web browser, calendar, recorder and more, which also support the installation of third-party applications for business customization. Thanks to the DECT technology, if you want to expand your horizons for busy environments, or, share one phone system with your small team by adding multiple handsets, simply turn Yealink SIP-T56A phone to the corded-cordless phone, and it will repay you up to 4 DECT handsets in total to meet your daily demands.

^ 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.

In the case of a private VoIP system, the primary telephony system itself is located within the private infrastructure of the end user organisation. Usually, the system will be deployed on-premises at a site within the direct control of the organisation. This can provide numerous benefits in terms of QoS control (see below), cost scalability, and ensuring privacy and security of communications traffic. However, the responsibility for ensuring that the VoIP system remains performant and resilient is predominantly vested in the end user organisation. This is not the case with a Hosted VoIP solution.
Voicemail routing can take multiple forms, but they're basically rules you can apply to incoming calls that will automatically route them to voicemail without even causing a ring. For example, if calls come in with Caller ID blocked, those can be routed directly to voicemail. Or if you're simply not into talking to anyone, you can hang out a digital Do Not Disturb sign and route all calls to voicemail, perhaps until you're feeling more social or every day between the hours of 9 PM and 7 AM. 
Yealink YHS33-USB is a professional headset with the over-the-head style that eliminates background noise and helps you get in your concentration zone and focus. Coupled with wideband audio technology and HD voice, the YHS33-USB delivers richer and clearer conversations, as well as reduces listening fatigue. Simple plug-and-play setup allows you to use the USB port to the USB-supported Yealink IP phones, plug it into the USB port or 3.5mm jack to your laptop, or use the 3.5mm jack straight into your smart device. Get easy access at your fingertips via the intuitive control unit to the frequently-used functions, such as accept incoming calls, adjust volume and mute the microphone. Yealink YHS33-USB stands its unique position in the market with the combination of exceptional comfort, durable lifecycle, premium quality, and brilliant sound.
Ooma is a popular VoIP solution for businesses, and now that there’s a residential option, Ooma is even a great option for you at home. With this new addition to its services, Ooma has traditional phone companies running scared. After all, you just can’t compare the features, quality, and service that you get from a top-of-the-line brand name like Ooma. To begin with, the service is totally free. You read that correctly; Ooma’s residential VoIP is totally free. If you need more advanced features, you’ll have to pay for them. But even the Premium plan is very affordable. With both plans, you’ll get crystal clear sound quality, basic features like call waiting, online call logs, call return, and 911 services bundled into the plan. More advanced features include voicemail forwarding and monitoring, Ooma mobile calling, international calling, and custom ring patterns.
In the case of a private VoIP system, the primary telephony system itself is located within the private infrastructure of the end user organisation. Usually, the system will be deployed on-premises at a site within the direct control of the organisation. This can provide numerous benefits in terms of QoS control (see below), cost scalability, and ensuring privacy and security of communications traffic. However, the responsibility for ensuring that the VoIP system remains performant and resilient is predominantly vested in the end user organisation. This is not the case with a Hosted VoIP solution.
That being said, Grasshopper doesn’t offer any conferencing tools. For that, you’ll have to sign up for join.me—Grasshopper’s sister company. This service offers both video and audioconferencing, but it does cost an extra $10–$30 per month. That’s another strike against Grasshopper, since most providers in Grasshopper’s price range include conferencing features.
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.
Overall, VoIP is simply the better option for the vast majority of customers. Dropping your landline means no more hidden fees or metered long distance calling charges. Everything is charged at one low rate by most providers and your ability to customize your phone service to exactly what you need is far greater. Unless you've got some highly unique circumstances that somehow mandate a landline, VoIP is simply the better choice.

If you’re located in one of the 21 states currently serviced by Verizon Fios—which are mostly in the northeast—you’ll have access to one of the fastest internet connections available, which is perfect for VoIP. If you’re in DSL-only country, the speed will be slower, but uptime is still guaranteed at 99.95%. Either internet option will support steady VoIP service, and if your business is more medium-sized than small, Verizon could add up to a better value in the long run (especially if you’re in Fios territory).
VoIP service simply enables your phone calls to be transmitted and received over your home Internet connection instead of your telephone landline. This is perhaps why some people refer to the service as being an Internet phone service or broadband phone service. This does mean though that you need a high speed Internet service to be able to use VoIP for your phone service.
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