What Is The Best Phone System For A Small Business
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Stations or telephone sets, in some cases called lines (Business Voip Phone Systems). The PBX's internal switching network. Uninterruptible power supply (UPS) consisting of sensing units, power switches and batteries. Current patterns Since the arrival of Internet telephony (Voice over IP) technologies, PBX advancement has actually tended towards the IP PBX, which uses the Internet Procedure to carry calls.
RBS (robbed bit signaling) provides 24 digital circuits over a four-wire (T1) user interface basic POTS (plain old telephone service) lines the typical two-wire user interface utilized in many domestic houses. This is appropriate only for smaller systems, and can struggle with not being able to find inbound calls when attempting to make an outgoing call (commonly called glare).
Network port (listen mode) an external application links to the TCP or UDP port. The PBX streams info to the application. Network port (server mode) the PBX connects to another application or buffer (Business Voip Service Providers). Serial interface historically used to print every call record to a serial printer. In modern systems a software application connects via serial cable television to this port.
How To Choose A Small Business Phone System
Typically the service is supplied by a lease arrangement and the service provider can, in some configurations, use the very same switching equipment to service numerous hosted PBX customers. The very first hosted PBX services were feature-rich compared to a lot of premises-based systems of the time. Some PBX functions, such as follow-me calling, appeared in a hosted service before they became readily available in hardware PBX devices.
This permits one extension to ring in multiple areas (either concurrently or sequentially) (Office Phone System for Small Business). permits scalability so that a bigger system is not needed if brand-new employees are employed, and so that resources are not lost if the variety of employees is lowered. gets rid of the requirement for companies to manage or spend for on-site hardware maintenance.
Mobile PBX systems are different from other hosted PBX systems that simply forward information or calls to cellphones by allowing the mobile phone itself, through making use of buttons, keys and other input devices, to control PBX phone functions and to handle communications without having to call into the system first.
How Can Voip Help My Business
This indicates that they're hosted in the cloud, and run and managed by the system company. This takes the concern of setting up hardware and preserving the software application off your shoulders, while also offering your team the versatility to access the system from anywhere, using any gadget that has the system's app and an internet connection, naturally.
This means your team can remain in touch and work together from a single platform (or app), and conserve on the expenses of spending for additional interactions services. Oh, and as a perk, all of these systems likewise include limitless calls to the US and Canada in their strategies. However what else can they offer to small companies like yours? Let's learn.
5 out of 5 on software application evaluation site G2 Has the most costly beginning rate on this list Doesn't make it possible for service SMS messaging with associates and consumers Video conferencing can just appear to 25 HD video streams at a time Ooma Workplace We recommend Ooma Office to organizations that are based in, well, workplaces.
How Much Does A Business Phone System Cost
One of the very best things the system needs to provide is Ring, Central Glip, a totally free video calling combination that lets you speak in person with up to 100 participants or approximately 200, if you update to Glip Pro+ for as long as 24 hr at a time (we're impressed by your enthusiasm if you want to talk buy that long).
You can also turn on automatic subtitling if you need it, and switch the call between devices with one click for exceptional versatility. Not at all bad for a free add-on. Ring, Headquarters's rates and features for small services, Ring, Central Workplace comes with a lots of functions but which of our top functions for small companies does it offer? Available on the 'Fundamentals' plan Voicemail to email Call forwarding Call flip Ring groups On-hold customization Instantaneous messaging Mobile app Unlimited service SMS messaging, Readily available if you upgrade to the 'Standard' plan Car attendant Call recording Unlimited audio conferencing HD video conferencing (up to 100 participants) Combinations with other tools (consisting of Workplace 365, Google Workspace, Slack, and more) Exceptional team messaging allows you to share files and message consumers, clients, and coworkers from one app You can utilize Ring, Central's management websites to track usage of the system, display call quality, include and get rid of users, and more Has actually made an excellent customer review rating of 4.
Our favorite thing about the system is its unique "Vi" (Voice Intelligence) analytics feature, which processes your discussions as they take place and transcribes them into a quickly legible format. Somewhat futuristically, it can identify action products that show up during your calls and immediately style them into order of business for you, while also making note of negative and positive beliefs in the conversation.
What Business Phone System Is Right For Startup
What we discover most engaging about this system, however, is how personalized its rates plans are. Rather than signing your entire team onto one cost plan, you can mix and match putting some group members onto the most affordable, a lot of standard plan, and others onto the more expensive tiers. This makes a great deal of sense when you have some group members who'll just need the system to make irregular calls and participate in on team conferences and cooperations, and others who'll need more sophisticated functions, such as call recording, voicemail transcription, and combination with the CRM platform they use.
Mitel Mi, Cloud Link's costs and functions for small companies, Which of our preferred small company phone system includes does Mitel Mi, Cloud Link featured, and for just how much? Professional Verdict, So there you have it: the very best small company phone systems are Vonage Organization Communications, Go, To, Connect, Ooma Workplace, Net2Phone, Ring, Central Office, Dialpad Talk, ULTATEL Clarity Cloud, 88 Express, and Mitel Mi, Cloud Link.
Merely address a few questions about your operation and its interaction requires, and we'll match you up with the very best phone system suppliers for you, based on what you tell us. They'll then be in touch straight with free, customized quotes, so you can compare and save quickly. All quotes are no-obligation, and the process doesn't cost a dime so you have actually got nothing to lose.
What Is The Best Current Business Phone System
To exercise what's finest for you, you should look for the phone system that can best cater to your small company' specific needs. Exercising what those requirements in fact are is as basic as asking yourself a handful of concerns: Is your group office-based, remote, or a mixture of both? Would you like your team to work with dedicated desk phones, or will an app on their smartphones or computer systems suffice? What does your phone system require to be able to do to help your team interact efficiently and expertly with clients or customers? What are the approaches your team chooses to use to interact and work together with one another? Do you have a sales or contact/call center team that would take advantage of more innovative functions, like call tracking and analytics? What's your spending plan? Instead of working through this yourself, we can assist you to absolutely no in on the finest phone systems for you, and compare free, customized quotes straight from them.
What is the finest office phone system? The bulk of modern phone systems are designed to be used both in the workplace and from another location. With this in mind, any among the phone systems on this page might be the best fit for your small company's workplace, so long as it likewise meets your other requirements.
To put it simply, the number of employees does your business have? Ensure you have a quick and stable web connection. Your Vo, IP system will rely on it, so it needs to have the ability to manage the user volume you're anticipating. Pick the gadgets you'll need. Would you like your workers to work with devoted desk phones, or are you delighted for them to utilize their existing cell phones or desktops? Will you require any conference phones? Choose your Vo, IP system.
Why Voip For Business
Contact the system supplier to begin the procedure of readying up on among their price plans, and buying the phones you require from them. Install and set up the Vo, IP software on your selected gadgets. Your service provider will assist with this lots of have online tutorials you can view however you should not discover it too difficult if you're tech-savvy.
UC-One is a cooperation app that lets you call, message, and consult with anyone from any gadget. It's full HD video, voice, messaging, file sharing, screen sharing, and conferencing in a single user friendly cloud app that integrates with your service apps.
What is the finest phone system for a small company? What is the finest phone system for a small company? There is no one right response that will apply to every business. There are several guidelines you can follow to help you choose which direction to go in. Firstly, do not take the decision to acquire a brand-new company phone system until you have an excellent concept of what your requirements are and how you plan to satisfy them.
What Is The Best Phone System For A Small Business
Will you be utilizing it for live representatives, to manage inbound or outgoing calls, as a call center, or as a customer service center? Each of these requires different capabilities and services that may not be duplicated in another system. If you are running a call center, you'll require to have appropriate phone equipment and a number of phone operators.
These kinds of applications will enable you to record info about each call, which can be presented to your workers as a report (Best Business Phone System). Utilizing voice acknowledgment suggests that you no longer have to manually feed details to the appropriate person and can merely reroute the call to another agent or submit it in your CRM or ERP system.
For the most common business phone requirements, we suggest Ring, Central. They appear to work well for most businesses. Just how much does it cost to get an organization phone line? A lot of business nowadays are offering incredibly competitive rates on their service phone systems. You can find a lot of business that provide great services at low costs.
How To Setup Voip For BusinessWhich is the best business phone system?
The Best Business Phone Systems
How do I set up a small business phone system?
10 Steps for Setting Up Your Business Phone System
- Log into your admin dashboard.
- Set business hours.
- Configure team extensions and voicemail.
- Design call flows.
- Enable advanced call routing and auto attendants.
- Forward calls to toll-free and local numbers.
- Turn on custom greetings and call recording.
- Get team presence.
How much does a business phone service cost?
A business phone line can cost anywhere from $20 per month to $30 per month per user.Jan 10, 2019
How do I get a phone line for my business?
6 Easy Steps To Add a Business Line To Your Cell Phone
- Step 1: Download the LinkedPhone Business Phone App.
- Step 2: Verify Your Cell Phone Number.
- Step 3: Choose a Local or Toll-Free Work Phone Number.
- Step 4: Choose the Solopreneur or Team Subscription Plan.
- Step 5: Add Team Members & Additional Business Phone Lines.
What is a VoIP phone number?
A VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone number is the number assigned to you when you sign up for a VoIP service. It's basically the string of digits you enter on a dial pad to make a call, much like with traditional landlines. ... From there, you can use your VoIP number like a regular phone number.
Can you add a business line to your cell phone?
By adding a business line to your smartphone, you can keep your personal calls and business calls separate — without having to buy a new device. ... There are different ways to add a business line to your Android or iOS phone, including GoDaddy's SmartLine.Nov 14, 2018
Is VoIP cheaper than a landline?
VoIP systems can cost as little as $20 per line, depending on system technology and setup selection. ... The short answer: VoIP is cheaper than a landline because it uses an existing internet connection rather than requiring a separate system or additional hardware.Jan 13, 2019
What are disadvantages of VoIP?
The main disadvantage of VoIP compared to traditional lines is that it is totally dependent on the strength of your broadband connection. No internet equals no VoIP phone service. It does not end there either. Poor internet connection can also affect call quality and lead to problems like jitter and latency.
Is Google Voice good for small business?
Google Voice is among the best small business phone systems because of its free option with basic features and its affordable plans.Mar 8, 2021
What is the average phone bill for a small business?
In one analysis by Oxford Economics, the average monthly cost for a mobile service plan is $75.71 per employee for a business of 500 employees, assuming a two-year contract commitment. When scaled to a business of 10,000 employees, the monthly rate drops to $58.67. Those costs are on top of office phone service.Jan 24, 2019
Before picking an organization phone system for your small company, you must take a little time to think about a few of the questions you need to respond to prior to deciding - Business Voip Providers. How much does it cost to get a single-user strategy? There are different rate plans for single users who call regional and long-distance.
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VoIP phone services are more affordable than traditional phone systems and are easier to install. You can even use the hardware you already have and get up and running in minutes. To help you make the best choice for your business, we tested dozens of the leading VoIP options on the market. Along the way, we found Nextiva to be the best solution for most because it comes with unlimited calling, free local and toll-free numbers, and scalability at an affordable price for businesses of all shapes and sizes.
The Best Business VoIP Phone Service for Most
Best for Most
Get everything you need from your VoIP provider including unlimited voice and video calls, a free phone number, a mobile app, and unlimited online faxing. Or upgrade for advanced UCaaS features like video conferencing and numerous collaboration tools. Plans start at $18.95 per user per month.
>> Get 7 Days Free!
Nextiva is our top recommendation for most businesses. Every plan includes all of the essential VoIP features you need to stay connected. Every plan comes with voice, video, faxing, and team messaging, and most plans include generous conferencing limits.
Take your organization’s communication to the next level with Nextiva’s calendar integrations, auto-attendant, and mobile and desktop apps. The cheapest plan is more than enough for most small teams, but the other pricing tiers include useful options like call pop, texting capability, CRM integrations, deep analytics, and more. Nextiva will be a great fit, regardless of the size of your team.
The 7 Best Business VoIP Phone Service Options to Consider:
- Nextiva – Best VoIP phone service for most
- Ooma Office – Best for businesses without in-house IT
- RingCentral – Most affordable all-in-one solution for fewer than 20 users
- Grasshopper – Best mobile app for solopreneurs and small teams
- Phone.com – Best if you need fewer than 300 minutes per user
- Freshcaller – Best for customer support teams
When It Makes Sense to Invest Into Business VoIP Phone Services
VoIP phone services modernize how businesses communicate and are quickly replacing outdated phone systems that are too expensive, failing, and inefficient. They also make it easier for your team to make and take calls from anywhere with an internet connection.
Gone are the days where your employees have to be tied to their desks waiting for that call to come in.
With VoIP systems, they can use their mobile devices or laptops, making it a much more flexible alternative to traditional phone systems.
Aside from a cost-effective price tag and added convenience, most VoIP systems also come with other communication tools like internal messaging, texting, faxing, and video conferencing too.
Not only will you save money, you’ll also get a lot more bang for your buck.
So, if you’re tired of paying way too much every month for a legacy phone system that doesn’t work how you need it to or interested in replacing a failing phone system, making the switch to a VoIP business service is definitely the way to go.
#1 – Nextiva — The Best VoIP Service for Most
Best for Most
Get everything you need from your VoIP provider including unlimited voice and video calls, a free phone number, a mobile app, and unlimited online faxing. Or upgrade for advanced UCaaS features like video conferencing and numerous collaboration tools. Plans start at $18.95 per user per month.
>> Get 7 Days Free!
Nextiva is an industry leader in the business communication space for good reason. Regardless of the plan you choose and the size your business, you get everything you need at an affordable price. Even the cheapest plan comes with unlimited voice and video calling, so you never have to worry about maxing out your plan.
Whether you need to make and receive calls from your mobile device or want to modernize your phone system in a traditional office setting, it’s flexible enough to meet your needs.
Every user gets a phone number for free or you can port over existing numbers at no extra charge, making it easy to get started without forking over hundreds of dollars for new phone numbers.
On top of that, you get unlimited online faxing, perfect for those that send or receive one-off faxes and businesses that handle faxes every day.
If you need softphone functionality, Nextiva’s mobile and desktop apps are easy to install.
Once installed, users can make and receive calls using the devices they already have, making it an excellent choice for teams that don’t want to invest in new hardware. Want to turn all of your desktop computers into phones? No problem. Simply install the app and you’re good to go.
The service also comes with several built-in calendar integrations that make scheduling meetings, phone calls, or appointments a breeze.
Whether you prefer softphones or traditional phones, every plan includes dozens of phone-specific features designed to make handling calls easier than ever before. Some of those features include:
- HD voice
- An auto-attendant
- Hold music
- Call groups
- An intuitive admin panel
The cheapest plan even comes with 1,500 toll-free minutes per month if your team uses a toll-free number. Higher tiers include more toll-free minutes if you need more than that.
If you’re interested in a traditional phone setup, you can rent or buy office phones and other hardware through Nextiva. In doing so, you know your new devices are compatible with its services and you’ll experience a much easier implementation.
Alternatively, you can bring over the desk phones you already have, although some older phones may require a VoIP adapter to work properly.
All in all, the entry-level Nextiva plan is perfect for smaller teams looking for essential VoIP functionality.
However, its higher tiers offer more advanced capabilities and internal collaboration features that are perfect for growing teams and larger businesses with more complex needs.
When you upgrade to the Professional plan, you get unlimited video conferencing with up to 250 participants, unlimited conference calling with up to 40 participants, and unlimited SMS messaging.
You also unlock integrations with Salesforce, Hubspot, and Zendesk. These CRM integrations are particularly useful for customer service teams or outbound sales and marketing campaigns.
But the true standout feature of the top three tiers is free professional implementation.
It’s particularly important for larger teams with complex solutions or businesses that want to keep part of their existing phone system. Implementations like these can be challenging, especially without the help of your provider.
On top of implementation support, all tiers come with 24/7 ongoing support via email, live chat, and phone.
There are four plans to choose from and pricing varies depending on how many users you have. The more lines you need, the cheaper it is per user. Those plans include (for 20 – 99 users):
- Essential – starts at $18.95 per user per month
- Professional – starts at $22.95 per user per month
- Enterprise – starts at $32.95 per user per month
- Ultimate – starts at $57.95 per user per month
If you have fewer than 100 users, you’ll pay a bit more per user. These are also annual prices. So, if you prefer paying monthly, expect to pay about 30% more per user.
Sign up for a free 7-day trial to take Nextiva for a test drive today!
#2 – Ooma Office — The Best for Businesses Without In-House IT
The Best for Businesses Without In-House IT
Whether you need softphone functionality or traditional desk phones, all of Ooma’s equipment is ready to go out of the box, with most implementations taking less than 15 minutes. Includes unlimited calls and texts plus conference calling for up to 10 participants.
>> Snag Your Live Demo!
If you don’t have an in-house IT team, easy implementation, administration, and ongoing maintenance are crucial pieces of your VoIP solution.
Which… is exactly why Ooma Office is our #1 recommendation for teams without a team to maintain the system.
Its patent-pending auto-configuration technology makes it one of the easiest systems to implement, whether you only need softphone capabilities or a full-blown phone system in a traditional office setting.
All of Ooma’s hardware is ready to go out of the box, and most deployments take less than 15 minutes to get up and running. Plus, anyone on your team can act as your system’s administrator because it’s so intuitive to use (unlike other options on our list).
In just a few clicks, you can deploy your VoIP system, configure your hardware, add new lines, remove old lines, and set up new employees.
The simplicity of it makes it one of the easiest options from an administration standpoint.
Despite the service being straightforward, high-quality support is particularly important since you don’t have an in-house team who can help troubleshoot and resolve everyday issues as they arise. You and your team all rely solely on your provider for help.
The good news is that Ooma’s customer service team doesn’t disappoint.
If you do get stuck or run into snags along the way, you and your team can reference dozens of detailed startup guides and videos or get in touch with Ooma’s support team 24/7 via live chat or phone.
There’s also an incredibly active community forum you can turn to with specific questions if you’re not quite ready to contact support. A lot of users find the help they need online without ever needing to reach out.
But the team is always there if you need it.
With that said, don’t let the service’s simplicity and ease of use fool you. You still get all the features you expect from business VoIP without spending more than you need to for features you’re never going to use.
Even the lowest tier covers all your VoIP essentials, like:
- Unlimited calling and business SMS
- Call parking, transfers, forwarding, and flipping
- Voicemail with audio email attachments
- Conference calling with up to 10 participants
You also get access to Ooma’s free mobile app that allows users to make and receive calls from their mobile devices. As such, your team can work from home or on the go without worrying about missing important calls or having to use their mobile phone number for work.
One of Ooma’s standout features is a virtual receptionist on the lowest tier. Most options on our list charge extra for this, so it’s an excellent deal.
You can use it to play custom messages that deliver important business information and create a multi-level menu that segments callers automatically. With it, you get that “big-business” feel while seamlessly routing callers to the right employees.
On top of that, you can create custom menus and routing options for calls made after hours or on holidays when you’re not working.
This ensures your team enjoys their time off and callers know when to expect a callback.
If you’re looking for internal collaboration tools, you can upgrade to Ooma’s highest tier for just a few dollars more per month. It includes video conferencing, a desktop app, call recording, more participants on conference calls, and voicemail transcription.
The two tiers include:
- Ooma Office – $19.95 per user per month
- Ooma Office Pro – $24.95 per user per month
Traditional offices can probably get by with the cheapest plan, but highly collaborative or remote teams may need to upgrade to the Pro plan to get all the features they need.
At the end of the day, Ooma’s missing a lot of the advanced features other providers deliver. But its ease of implementation and everyday use makes it a top contender for smaller teams that don’t have an in-house support team to assist along the way.
Sign up for a live demo to see Ooma Office in action and see if it’s right for you today!
#3 – RingCentral — The Most Affordable All-in-One VoIP for Fewer than 20 Users
Most Affordable All-In-One Solution
Have fewer than 20 users? Get all of the essential VoIP features you need for just $19.99 per user per month, making it the most cost-effective solution for small teams. Includes unlimited calls, SMS messages, and video conferencing.
>> Get 15 Days Free!
If you have a small team with fewer than 20 employees but still need an all-in-one communications solution with internal collaboration tools, you can get an excellent deal with RingCentral.
It’s also suitable for larger teams, so you don’t have to worry about outgrowing your VoIP phone solution as your business grows and you add more employees.
But its entry-level plan for small teams is what makes it stand out from the rest of the options on our list.
The RingCentral MVP Essentials plan is only available if you have 20 users or less, but it comes with everything you need in a business phone system, including:
- Unlimited calls within the U.S. and Canada
- Unlimited business SMS messaging
- Text notifications for voicemails and missed calls
- A free phone number for every user
- The ability to port existing numbers
- HD voice
It also comes with free mobile and desktop apps to turn mobile devices and computers into business phones. On top of that, you get all of the essential call management features like call forwarding, parking, transfers, screening, and more.
If you plan to solely use the mobile and desktop apps, implementation is incredibly easy and typically takes less than a few hours to get your system up and running.
However, you can rent traditional phones and hardware at competitive rates if you need to.
If you opt for an annual package, RingCentral’s Essentials plan is the cheapest all-in-one option at $19.99 per user. It doesn’t include internal collaboration features, but you can add these capabilities with RingCentral Video at no additional cost.
The free add-on includes unlimited video meetings with up to 100 participants, team messaging, task assignments, and file sharing to give your team the collaboration tools they need.
However, if your team grows beyond 20 users, you’ll have to upgrade to the next tier.
The good news is that you can stay on this tier forever, regardless of how many users you have. And it includes internal collaboration features so you no longer have to use RingCentral Video.
The Standard plan comes with unlimited internet faxing, numerous non-CRM integrations, unlimited HD video meetings, unlimited conference calling, a multi-level auto-attendant for incoming calls, and professional implementation if you need it.
Regardless of the plan you’re on, you get complete access to RingCentral’s resource center. It includes hundreds of articles and how-to guides to help you along the way.
Whether you run into an issue you can’t seem to fix or need guidance on how to use a specific feature, the resource center is a one-stop-shop for quick help without needing to wait for customer support.
RingCentral even has its own university packed full of webinars, guides, training videos, and full-blown courses covering dozens of topics like remote work, how to get started, and more.
If you’re still stuck after all of that, you can reach out to RingCentral support via social media, live chat, or phone.
There are four plans to choose from, including:
- Essentials – $19.99 per user per month (up to 20 users)
- Standard – $27.99 per user per month
- Premium – $34.99 per user per month
- Ultimate – $49.99 per user per month
However, we highly recommend starting with the Essentials plan if you have fewer than 20 employees. It’s the cheapest way to get all of the internal collaboration and VoIP features you need.
If you grow beyond that, you can upgrade to a higher tier when you need to.
Sign up for a 15-day free trial with up to five users and 50 free minutes each to see if RingCentral is right for your team today!
#4 – Grasshopper — The Best VoIP Mobile App for Solopreneurs and Small Teams
The Best VoIP Mobile App
Get that big-business feel without the price tag. Grasshopper focuses on no-fuss software designed to turn your mobile device into a business phone in just a few taps. Includes unlimited minutes, texting, incoming faxes, and a free phone number.
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Grasshopper is a bit different than the other options on our list because it’s not a robust all-in-one phone system. Instead, it focuses solely on no-fuss softphone functionality that lets you make and receive business calls on the mobile device you already have.
Rather than spending several days or weeks ordering equipment, installing it, and configuring your settings, you can download the mobile app and you’re good to go.
In fact, you can set everything up and have a new business number in the next ten minutes.
As such, it’s a great option for freelancers, solopreneurs, and small teams who want to add an extra layer or professionalism and separation to their business without the hassle of complicated features and drawn-out setup processes.
Aside from an intuitive mobile app, Grasshopper also now has a full-featured desktop app so you can make and receive calls or texts from your computer as well.
This adds a whole new layer of versatility to the once mobile only VoIP software.
Aside from being able to use to your mobile device as a business phone, you also get a ton of other useful VoiP features, including:
- A free business phone number
- Custom pre-recorded greetings
- Business SMS messaging
- The ability to get incoming faxes via email
- Voicemail transcriptions in your inbox
- Set business hours to block calls while you’re not working
However, one of Grasshopper’s standout features is the ability to set up automatic text messages if you miss a call.
With this feature, callers automatically receive a follow-up text letting them know you’re unavailable. You can also let them know that they can text you back with their callback information to speed up your response time.
It’s an easy way to keep potential customers engaged even if you can’t answer their call or get back to them right away.
Plus, you can set up canned SMS responses to save yourself time.
Another excellent feature is the app’s ability to automatically switch over to WiFi or VoIP connections if your cell service isn’t very strong. This ensures your calls are always high-quality, even if you don’t have full bars (as long as you have an internet connection).
If you start to feel overwhelmed or get backed up with too many calls, you can add Ruby Receptionist functionality for an additional monthly fee.
It’s a fantastic feature that includes live receptionists to answer calls on your behalf when you’re unavailable or working hard on other aspects of running your business.
Your live receptionists can greet callers just as you would, schedule appointments, answer frequently asked questions, handle calls in English or Spanish, and gather information about potential customers without you having to lift a finger.
Not only does it free up your time, but it also gives your small operation a big-business feel without you having to put in extra hours.
This optional add-on starts at $130 per month, which may sound expensive at first glance. However, it’s much cheaper than hiring a new employee or a virtual assistant to handle incoming calls as your business grows.
There are three pricing plants to choose from, including:
- Solo – $26 per month for one number and three extensions
- Partner – $44 per month for three numbers and six extensions
- Small Business – $80 per month for five numbers and unlimited extensions
The nice thing about extensions with Grasshopper is that you can forward them to any number or device. So, even on the solo plan, you can add two employees or partners with their own extensions and forwarding rules at no additional charge.
This is significantly cheaper than other per-user pricing structures on our list. With Grasshopper, you can have three users for $26 per month rather than paying $19.99 per user per month.
You can also add additional phone numbers to any plan for $10 each per month.
Regardless of the plan you choose, you can reach out to Grasshopper’s customer service team anytime 24/7 via Twitter, Facebook, live chat, phone or email.
Sign up for a 7-day free trial with 100 minutes and 100 texts to see if it’s right for you!
#5 – Phone.com — The Best for Teams Needing Under 300 Monthly Minutes Per User
The Best for Occasional Calls
As the cheapest option on our list, users get 300 minutes and 1,000 text messages per month with all the essential VoIP features you need to handle the occasional phone call. Flexible plans make it easy to scale your services as your business grows. Starts at $12.99 per user per month.
>> Snag Your Free Demo!
If you and your team only handle occasional calls throughout the day, Phone.com is the most affordable option and our #1 recommendation if you need fewer than 300 minutes per user per month.
This is common in typical office settings where face-to-face collaboration are the norm and for businesses that don’t typically deal with a lot of customers.
With that said, it’s also a smart choice for startups and digital or non-collaborative teams.
Phone.com’s cheapest plan is geared specifically for businesses like these that don’t do a lot of talking on the phone or texting. With it, each user gets 300 minutes per month for both inbound and outbound calls, which is more than enough for the occasional phone call.
However, the nice thing is that when you add more users, the minutes pool together. So, if you have three users, they have 900 minutes to share and distribute however they need to.
The same goes for texting, too. Each user gets 1,000 texts per month that get pooled together when you have multiple users.
It’s important to note that Phone.com considers one text message 160 characters or less. You can send texts that are longer than that, but it’ll count as more than one message towards your monthly limit.
Despite those limitations, you get a ton of other features at a much more affordable price point than paying for an unlimited number of minutes and texts even if you don’t need them.
Users can set up video meetings with up to 10 participants and administrators can create custom call routing rules to automatically connect callers with the right employee. Other providers charge a lot of money for these features, so this is an excellent deal.
Efficient call routing also helps your team save their monthly minutes for more important conversations than simply transferring a caller to someone else.
On top of that, every plan includes:
- Mobile and desktop apps for softphone functionality
- Email voicemail notifications with audio attachments
- Document sharing and internal chat
- Custom greetings for incoming calls
- Click-to-call from your computer
- Caller ID and hold music
- Free number porting
- Unlimited outbound faxing
Although we recommend softphones for most businesses, you can also rent or purchase numerous desk phones at affordable prices directly from Phone.com.
The cheapest plan starts at just $12.99 per user per month, making it the most affordable option on our list, with unlimited minutes starting at $19.99 per user per month. As such, the unlimited plans are on par with other providers.
But the best part is that you can add users at different tiers.
If you know your support team spends more time on the phone, you can upgrade them to the unlimited plan while keeping your other departments on the lowest tier.
Maybe one user is consistently using up more than their fair share of minutes. No problem! You can bump them up to the unlimited plan to save more minutes for everyone else.
Or you can add managers on the unlimited plan but keep their team members on the limited plan to save money since they probably don’t need unlimited minutes to begin with. This level of versatility makes it an excellent option, even as your business grows or your needs change.
You can also add, upgrade, or remove users at any time within your account dashboard.
It’s easy to use, even for non-IT users, so anyone on your team can act as an administrator with no problems and minimal snags along the way.
Request a free demo or sign up today to get started with Phone.com!
#6 – Freshcaller — The Best for Customer Support Teams
The Best for Support Teams
Looking for a better (more affordable) way to deliver excellent customer support experiences? Freshcaller delivers everything you need in a VoIP system plus essential support-specific functionality at a fraction of the cost. Plans start free with usage-based pricing or at $15 per user per month.
>> Get 21 Days Free!
If you’re a customer service team looking to streamline your support processes, Freshcaller is our top recommendation.
With it, you get everything you need in a VoIP phone service plus numerous support-specific features designed to help reduce the number of tickets you get, minimize lost tickets, and deliver excellent customer experiences.
However, the best part is that you can integrate with your CRM on every tier.
Unlike other options on our list, you don’t have to pay big bucks to “unlock” this capability that’s crucial to how your team operates.
Freshcaller integrates with dozens of CRMs out of the box, including all of Freshworks’ CRMs, AgileCRM, NoCRM, ZohoCRM, Infusionsoft, ZenDesk, Pipedrive, Hubspot, and more. So, regardless of what you use, you can easily pull relevant customer data into your VoIP platform and vice versa.
These deep integrations can even automatically pull customer data into a screen pop your reps can review before answering the call.
As such, they can review past interactions with your team, previous purchases, and the company they work for in just a few seconds. However, it also works the other way around as well.
If that data doesn’t exist in your CRM, you can automatically add it in Freshcaller to equip other reps that interact with that customer in the future.
Many of Freshcaller’s built-in integrations include two-way sync, which also helps eliminate the need to enter the same information into two separate platforms and greatly reduces the risk of human error.
On top of that, the service supports outbound calling (starting at $0.022 per minute) for proactive customer service.
Aside from customer support features, you also get all the essential VoIP functionality you expect, including:
- A web-based app that lets users answer calls within their web browser
- A fully functioning mobile app that lets your reps answer calls on the go
- Advanced caller ID settings based on what information reps need prior to answering
- Automatic desktop notifications and custom greetings
- The ability to take notes and attach them to customer profiles
However, the best part is that Freshcaller offers a free plan with per-minute pricing that comes with all of these features. And you don’t need to pay extra just to access essential support features as you would with other providers.
The only caveat is that you have to purchase phone numbers through Freshcaller for $1 per line per month.
If you need more advanced features or don’t want to pay per minute, you can upgrade to a paid plan starting at just $15 per user per month. Freshcaller’s paid plans include a set number of free minutes per user every month with discounted per-minute rates after you exceed your monthly quota.
They also include the ability to port existing numbers, meaning you don’t have to buy phone numbers from Freshworks if you already have them.
When you upgrade, you can also set up customized call routing rules, after hours routing, and holiday routing when your team isn’t in working. Other advanced features include hold music, wait queues, conference calling, speech-enabled or standard IVR menus, and queue callbacks.
Freshcaller’s plans include:
- Sprout – Free (each line is $1 per month + $0.016 per minute for incoming calls)
- Blossom – $15/user per month with 1,000 monthly incoming minutes per user
- Garden – $29/user per month with 2,000 monthly incoming minutes per user
- Estate – $45/user per month with 3,000 monthly incoming minutes per user
- Forest – $69/user per month with 5,000 monthly incoming minutes per user
There are also omnichannel plans that include ticketing, helpdesk automations, auto-balanced ticketing assignments, knowledge base functionality, chat bots, and email bots. These solutions include everything you need to centralize support inquiries regardless of where they come from.
These features start at an additional $34 per user per month. So, we only recommend it if you don’t already get these features elsewhere.
The sheer number of plans and pricing options to choose from can feel confusing, but it helps deliver the flexibility required to suit customer service teams of all shapes and sizes.
Sign up for a free 21-day trial to take Freshcaller for a test drive today!
Methodology For Choosing The Best Business VOIP Phone Services
Business VoIP phone services come in a near infinite number of shapes and sizes. To make your decision even harder, there are dozens of factors and minute details to consider before investing your time and money.
To help you out, we’ve developed a definitive methodology you can use to make the best decision for your wallet, team, customers, and business.
Call Volume and Number of Users
The number of calls you handle and the number of users you have both play a major role in determining which VoIP solution is right for your business.
For smaller teams, you need a phone system that’s affordable, requires little to no hardware, and is easy to implement without an in-house IT team. Top-notch customer support and tutorials are also important considerations because you’ll need to rely solely on them when issues arise.
If you’re a small team with low call volumes, usage-based pricing is the most affordable way to get all the features without breaking the bank.
However, affordable per-user pricing may be a better fit if your team handles higher volumes.
For larger teams with dedicated in-house IT support, an intuitive administration portal, user management features, and custom integrations become more important.
With custom integrations, your in-house team can develop a completely custom, internet-based phone solution specifically tailored to how your team likes to work. This can greatly improve productivity and ease the pains of implementing a new system.
You’ll also benefit from multi-site management tools for multi-location businesses and advanced analytics to monitor your team for continuous improvement efforts.
We highly recommend per-user pricing with unlimited calling for larger teams.
Keep in mind that some advanced capabilities may require you to upgrade to higher tiers and many providers make you commit to a long-term contract to get the best pricing.
There are three main types of business VoIP phone deployments—traditional desk phones, softphones, or a combination of the two.
Softphone functionality lets you make and receive phone calls using your mobile device or computer. You can use any of these devices to make calls from your business phone number. In most cases, this is the easiest option since it requires no additional hardware or equipment.
Usually, it’s also a breeze to deploy. All users have to do is install the software on their device and connect their accounts to get started. Simple enough for your team to get up and running.
There are a few more things to do on the administration side if you want to do things like setting up advanced menus for incoming calls, porting existing phone numbers, integrating with your CRM, or implementing advanced call routing.
However, the process is significantly easier than deploying traditional phones.
Softphones are an excellent choice for mobile teams like field service providers, small businesses just getting started, and work-from-home environments.
They’re also smart for customer service and outbound sales or marketing teams since they offer deeper integrations with your CRM.
On the other hand, desk phones may be more appropriate and easier for your team to use if you’re in a traditional office setting. If you don’t already have office phones, you’ll need to buy them or rent them from your provider.
If you already have them, then it’s imperative to make sure they’re compatible with your new internet-based service. In some cases, you may need to buy a converter.
But the complications and hardware requirements don’t stop there.
Some providers require you to buy a separate server specifically for storing VoIP data. You may also need a few other odds and ends to make your existing infrastructure work. The best thing to do is get your IT department involved in your conversations as early as possible.
They’ll know more about the different pieces of equipment you need, where to get them, and how to install them.
You also need to consider the fact that each phone needs its own ethernet cable. Do you already have them running to each desk or will you need to drop new ones in? Again, your IT department will know more about this and how to make it happen.
Furthermore, your internet speeds and bandwidth may need an upgrade to handle your new system, especially if you have a large team handling calls simultaneously.
Before making any decisions, be sure to have these conversations with each provider you’re considering. It’s important that your IT team is actively involved so you’re fully aware of what you need to invest in before you can implement your new phone system.
Once you have the hardware you need (if you need any at all), it’s time to start implementing your new VoIP phone system. Gathering and installing the hardware you need may be challenging, but ensuring a smooth implementation can be even more difficult.
So, it’s important to have a clear understanding of how long it’s going to take, who’s in charge of what, and how you’re going to get your team up to speed.
You can set up most softphone systems within a few hours (rather than weeks or months), although some may take a few days and several conversations with support to get right.
But not every provider’s support is created equal. It’s crucial to understand how responsive and helpful the support team is before spending any money. We highly recommend reaching out to them to ask specifically about implementation and how they can help before making your final decision.
Strong customer support is vital, especially if you don’t have an in-house IT team who can assist with setup and troubleshooting.
Most traditional phone setups require a more extensive implementation process. If you want to go this route and don’t have in-house IT, we highly recommend going with Ooma Office.
All of their phones are to go out of the box, making it more of a plug-and-play implementation than other options on our list.
However, if you’re a larger team or want to keep part of your existing phone solution, deploying your VoIP system isn’t going to be that easy and will require implementation support (both in-house and from your provider).
The more complex the solution, the longer it’s going to take to work out all the kinks for a full company-wide deployment.
As such, it’s crucial to choose a provider that can work with your in-house team to deliver excellent implementation support. You should also have a clear understanding of which team is responsible for different tasks to ensure a streamlined deployment.
Regardless of how easy you think it’s going to be, strong implementation support is a must-have.
However, that doesn’t mean your provider’s customer support efforts should stop there.
Ongoing Support for Your Team
Once your system is in place, your team needs to learn how to use it. From end users to administrators and technical specialists, there are a lot of people to get up to speed.
It’s especially true if your new system is complex or significantly different from the one you were using before.
Administrative users need to learn how to add new lines, remove old lines, set up the phone book, change phone numbers, and more. With most VoIP services, there’s a lot of room to make mistakes on the administration side of things.
To make matters worse, the backend of most VoIP software isn’t super intuitive for everyday users. So, if your administrators aren’t IT professionals, strong onboarding support from your provider is a hard requirement.
On the other hand, end users have to learn how to transfer calls, make calls, put callers on hold, and leverage dozens of other features that come with your software.
So, you can’t afford to gloss over lackluster onboarding support, even if you have an in-house IT team—they’re going to need help too.
Some providers offer personalized training sessions for free while others charge for it or only offer written how-to guides instead. As such, you should think about the technical capabilities of your employees. Some will need more hands-on support than others, so it’s important to choose a provider that delivers the right level of support for everyone on your team.
Even after everyone’s up to speed, there are countless snags and issues that can pop up at any time, from software bugs and system malfunctions to user errors and account lockouts.
Without strong ongoing support from your provider, small issues like these can last weeks or even months and create an extremely frustrating experience.
On top of that, the more users you have, the more vital scalable customer support becomes. More everyday users and administrators means more people leaning on your provider’s support team for quick fixes and resolutions.
Whether you expect to need a lot of ongoing support or not, we recommend having these conversations with each provider you’re considering before making a decision.
All of the options on our list deliver phone-based features for both inbound and outbound calls.
Some of those features include hold music, parking, automated menus, call routing, caller ID, an auto-attendant, and call recording functionality.
A basic phone system with essential calling features is more than enough for solopreneurs, freelancers, and small teams in a traditional office setting. If that sounds like you, the introductory plan on any of the providers on our list is an excellent choice.
Alternatively, you can go with Grasshopper (for solopreneurs and small teams) or Freshcaller (for customer service teams).
Some providers offer a wider array of features beyond simple voice calling, ones that empower teams to communicate with each other in addition to communicating with customers. You’ll often hear these more comprehensive packages referred to as United Communications as a Service (UCaaS).
UCaaS providers typically include:
- Most phone-based features, plus
- Conference calling
- Video conferencing
- SMS messaging
- Internal chat features
- Internet faxing
Examples of this are Nextiva, RingCentral, Ooma, and Phone.com. You can get all of these features and more on higher tier plans.
They are typically more expensive than basic phone systems, but are an excellent way to help remote, collaborative, multi-location, and large teams get all the communication tools they need under one roof.
Even if you already have a conferencing, faxing, or internal chat solution elsewhere, consolidating them is a smart idea. Doing so means there are less moving parts, fewer integrations to worry about, and one monthly fee rather than paying for and managing your communication tools separately.
With that said, UCaaS features may not be necessary for smaller teams or those in a traditional single-location office setting where face-to-face meetings and collaboration are more common.
Best for Most
Get everything you need from your VoIP provider including unlimited voice and video calls, a free phone number, a mobile app, and unlimited online faxing. Or upgrade for advanced UCaaS features like video conferencing and numerous collaboration tools. Plans start at $18.95 per user per month.
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The low cost of implementing VoIP phone systems means they are accessible to even the smallest businesses. Regardless of your size, you can have that big-business feel when customers call and a top-notch internal communication system, thanks to all the functionality that VoIP services deliver at an affordable price.
For most businesses, we recommend Nextiva because of its flexibility, scalability, and budget-friendly price tag. But it may not be the best for you, depending on what you need.
So, don’t forget to use the methodology we talked about as you sort through choosing the best business VoIP services for you and your team.
Best voip telephone products according to redditors
Well there's far better resources for cooking on the cheap than me.
But some reliable cost savers that work for me.
- Learn how to cook dried beans. (And rice too, but that's easy)
Here's some recipes.
More Recipies PuertoRican Style
- Get a water filter, and learn how to drink mostly water. (If it's a pitcher, put a large container of unfiltered water near to it, and occasionally pour it into the filtered pitcher. Cuts down the hassle)
- ^ In addition to this one, Crystal Light, Tang, etc etc some sort of water sweetener. Keep a cold pitcher of that in the fridge for the kids.
- Eggs. They're cheap, and an easy source of protein and other nutrients.
- Nature Valley granola bars in the 96 pack. If you can find a place to buy these locally, they can be as low as 12 cents each. A very flexible snack/breakfast item.
- Get some good portable tupperwares for packed lunches. (Probably some insulated lunch sacks too, given the heat)
EasyLunchboxes 3-compartment Food Containers
EasyLunchboxes Insulated Lunch Cooler Bag
And of course, learn how to spend less on entertainment/phone.
Depending on what cost tier you're going for.
But I'm gonna guess a good internet connection, a tracphone, and maybe netflix should have all your bases covered.
Everything else you can just get from the internet.
(Although maybe Skype for another $3 a month... dunno how that compares to the cost of a landline phone)
Although for phone, maybe buying one of these, and paying nothing per month would be better than skype.
OBi110 + Google Voice = "Free" Landline phone, for nationwide calls.
(Although granted, maybe even this is too expensive)
For even cheaper, a lot of libraries have free DVD rentals.
And redbox kiosks, are $1 for a one nights movie rental for new movies.
GV has been my only number (other than my cell number, but nobody uses that one) for a year now. No regrets, it works great. Get an Obi-100 and you'll basically have a home phone too.
TV: Usenet, Netflix, and get an antenna.
You can hook up Netflix to your TV using a Roku or Boxee Box, or a smart internet-enabled TV if you have one.
Check out TVFool to find out what channels are available for free over the air in your area. If you live within 50-100 miles of the US border as the crow flies, you should be set to receive 10-30 channels for free in high quality HD, much higher quality than you can receive over cable. Pretty much anywhere in the Golden Horseshoe receives a great selection of channels for example, except maybe Newmarket and further north.
If you do decide to go the antenna route, check out this forum where people talk about reception results in different parts of Canada, and what antennas they had to install to get those channels. Best of all, this truly is a one-time investment, and it's totally legal. No need for multiple receiver boxes or any other nonsense.
If you set up usenet by following this guide, you can connect a Boxee Box to a computer that downloads things via usenet, and hook up Boxee to your TV. Your favorite shows and movies will be set to download automatically, and you can watch them on your TV.
Internet: Teksavvy. It's as good as they say it is. They still offer unlimited download plans and their standard plans involve a very reasonable 300 GB per month usage + no contracts + great support.
Home phone: Teksavvy offers phone service and long distance as well. They are a Bell reseller (in southern Ontario at least), but it feels good to not give Bell any money directly. For long distance, I make and receive calls for free using Google Voice, but I have used Teksavvy long distance occasionally and their rates are quite reasonable. If you set up a Google Voice account, you can get an adapter like this one that hooks up to your phone.
Magicjack creeps me out. I use this baby for my home phone w/ my Google Voice #.
In order to use google voice to bypass the cost associated with traditional sms messaging on ting I use the following setup. My phone number is actually on google voice not on my ting account. Using the google voice app I'm able to send and receive calls and text messages using my google voice. People don't even know that my number is on google voice and not on ting. All text message are sent over the data connection or wifi. Although there are data charges the amount of data used for messaging is quite small. Since data is used to send messages you would lose the ability to send messages while roaming. Another advantage to this setup is that messages can go over wifi. This is useful if you (like me) are sometimes in a college basement and can't get a signal but you still have access to wifi.
-this only works with android phones
-you will lose the ability to message non traditional numbers (ex 464411)
-you can't send or receive MMS messages
When you set up ting you should move your number to google voice not to ting. This cost $20 one time. If your not attached to your number google voice will assign you a new number for free.
Log into your google voice account and add a forwarding phone that is the number that is the number assigned to your ting phone. This is not your google voice number but the number listed in your ting account. When you do this it will place a test call to your ting phone for verification purposes. I would also recommend turning off call screening and enabling the spam filter.
Next download the google voice app and start the setup process. It's important to skip "sprint google voice integration" because your using ting and not sprint. However google voice can't tell that your a ting customer and not a sprint customer so it still prompts you. You should select the following options while setting up the app.
-use google voice to make all calls
-skip voice mail forwarding setup (this is not necessary since your call are already going through google voice)
Next you should log into your ting account and select the line that your are setting up google voice for. Select the following options.
-disable the ability to send and receive text messages
Another cool thing you can do now that you have your number on google voice is send and receive text messages in a web browser on your computer by going to voice.google.com If you make a lot of calls at home and have a reliable internet connection you can purchase an obitalk voip adapter. http://www.amazon.com/OBi100-Telephone-Adapter-Service-Bridge/dp/B004LO098O/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1376716249&amp;sr=1-1&amp;keywords=obi100
This allows you to make unlimited calls with your google voice numbers while at home using a traditional phone.
I use Google Voice and an ATA (analog telephone adapter) so I can use my normal house phones.
This is the device: Google Voice OBi200
This it's a VOIP box, basically it allows Google Voice to be used as a home phone. I have it hooked up to 2 phones in the house. I paid about $40 for the box and now I have a home phone that has no reoccurring fees. If I were to do it over, I would purchase the OBi202 since it has extra ports for Fax or more phones.
If you want VoIP telephony, you can get that for free with the Obi200. Yes, you need to buy the box, but after that cost, it's free.
you can hook one of these up with a google voice number. i dont have any experience doing it though.
Yes, I use this setup for many years now.
You can create a Google voice number (or port one in from a cell phone. You can even port your landline to a prepaid sim and then port that to Google for less than $10) then connect that to an [Obhai ATA](obi202 2-port voip phone adapter with google voice and fax support for home and soho phone service https://www.amazon.com/dp/B007D930YO/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_YRG5CbNRNJKSN)
You can also get any ATA device and connect it to a cheap SIP provider, I use Anveo
I ported my home phone to Google Voice ($20 one-time port) and use this to get calls (They regularly go on sale at Newegg too). It gives you free calls in US and Canada. You can purchase e911 for $15/year.
Plus, you get the ability to set a ring group to ring however many phones you wish at the same time, and get a free voicemail on your intercom.
You can also install a VoIP phone in your apartment at no extra cost. I'd recommend a GXP1620. That's what we're using in our office, we've got 5 of them and they work really well.
We're also using this ATA, which allows us to plug in our two cordless phones we were already using before we made the switch to VoIP.
Last month's bill was about 15$ for two local DIDs and one toll-free, including communication charges. All of this with no restrictions on the amount of simultaneous calls.
Just get a VoIP adapter like the OBi110. It has native Google Voice integration.
The Linx Derp Lab 0.5
- Modem: Arris SB6141 with 35Mb down 5Mb up
- Firewall/Router: Untangle installed on Zotac 323Nano with USB 3.0 to NIC added for WAN - 8GB RAM and 120GB SSD system drive
- Core Switch: Cisco 3750G 24port switch
- ESXi host 1: HP Proliant DL380 G6 Dual Quad core with 40GB RAM and 8x73GB RAID 5
- ESXi host 2: HP Proliant DL380 G6 Dual Quad core with 40GB RAM and 8x73GB RAID 5
- CentOS07-1: Whitebox embedded AMD Quad core with 4GB RAM and 60GB SSD
- CentOS07-2: Whitebox socketed AMD Tri core with 4GB RAM and 60GB SSD
- FreeNAS: Whitebox socketed Intel Dual core (HT) with 10GB RAM and 12 x 1 TB RAID Z2 + 3x120GB SSD cache
- Pi2: Raspberry PI2 running raspbian
- UPS: APC Smart-UPS 2200
- Home office AP/Switch: TP-Link WR 1043ND flashed with DD-WRT
- Office VPN: Arubba RAP-3WNP
- VOIP: OBi202 with Google Voice
- Gaming Rig: AMD FX-8350 with 16GB RAM and 2 x 500GB Samsung Evos with a dinky XFX R7-260X
- Third ESXi host, similar hardware, and hope to get a VMUG membership
- 2nd Cisco switch so I can do A side B Side (or 2 switches of something with easy GUI setup since I lack Cisco IOS knowledge)
- A rack that is better than a cheap shelf (and maybe some PDUs)
- 10Gb cards for FreeNAS and ESXi hosts (maybe white box servers)
- Maybe a 10Gb switch so I don't have to mesh the servers
- Pretty network cables
- UniFi AC Pro AP , for sure one, but may add a 2nd if it doesn't cover the whole house (2 stories plus basement)
- A real router like an EdgeRouter
Plans for lab
- Play with various flavors of linux and linux services (like understanding LAMP stack)
- Host a blog to record my derps of learning linux (Hence the name)
- Stand up a windows domain with AD (possible MS certs, but not my focus)
- Figure out how to integrate linux with Win AD
- Host a generic webserver with the blog, just for experience sake
- Learn ESXi beyond my basic understanding
- Maybe Cisco CCNA, but its not my priority
- Kali/Hacking/Security Lab (this is my priority since I want to get my CISSP)
- Learn mysql or just SQL in general (I have just enough understanding to be dangerous at work)
- Learn how to use the Pi2 to automate backups or reboots, or controlled shutdowns when the UPS gets low (30 min run time currently)
- Stand up pfSense somewhere on the lab network to learn (I tried sophos UTM and didnt like it). I have untangle paid for a year since its GUI makes setup a piece of cake. That should give me time to figure out pfSense and see if I like it better.
I don't typically talk about my interest in "no surf" with my IRL friends but it actually came up this weekend.
One of our friends was using too much data so they deleted Facebook and Instagram from their phone. She has been without the apps for one week but commented on how much less she checked her phone. About 6 months ago, my wife also deleted Facebook from her phone and her usage has declined significantly. She still has the Instagram app and will mindlessly scroll for 30 minutes after work. I'm trying to get her to change this.
I told everyone what I did to reduce my usage of SM. So, if I were creating a step-by-step guide to using less social media it would be this:
1. Get a password manager and auto-generate a new password for all social media accounts. Make your "Master Password" extremely cumbersome (but memorable). My "Master Password" is like 40-50 characters in length. Personally, I use LastPass but I know there are other, possibly better, alternatives. I don't even know my Facebook, Instagram or Twitter passwords.
2. Delete the apps from your phone. This is the key step. If you are one button press from a social media dopamine hit it's going to be damn near impossible to stop yourself. Acknowledge that you don't have that much self-control and just delete the apps.
3. Only login to your accounts on the browser. Delete your browser history every night which will force you to log back in manually.
Those 3 steps will help a lot. I haven't had the social media apps for about the last 2 years and if you're anything like me your interest in them will disappear in a matter of a few weeks (2-4 maybe). Once you're out of the social media loop you might not have any desire to re-engage on a significant level.
Some smaller tips would be:
4. Make an effort to stay in contact with people via texting/messaging and set up IRL events/gatherings. FOMO is real but can be mitigated by doing something. Don't quit SM and sit around your house alone. Make plans to meetup with people, learn something new (cooking, guitar, studying, whatever interests you) or get out and exercise.
5. Go silent. Turn off vibrate and sound notifications. This makes it easier to check your phone when you want and not get caught responding to every buzz or ding. I noticed that the constant email alerts would sometimes cause me to delete the email but then immediately check another app. If I didn't get alerted to the email, I would have avoided picking my phone up all together.
6. Get rid of some SM "friends." Personally, I ask myself "If I saw this person in a grocery store would I go out of my way to spend 5-10 minutes talking to them?" If I say "no" they get removed from my friends list. I went from ~ 1,000 Facebook friends to about 150. Instagram, I'm even more ruthless because I ask "would I be excited to receive a Xmas Card from this person?" This has left me with ~70 Instagram friends. The effect is the SM pages have less information to send your way.
The result is that never-ending page gets less interesting and your desire to spend time there diminishes. These sites know this too. Whenever you "Unfriend" people on Facebook the site will guilt trip you the next time you log onto the page. They realize that "Unfriending" or deleting contacts is the first step towards leaving the platform altogether.
7. Rearrange the icons on your phone periodically. I have a bi-weekly calendar reminder to move non-essential icons around. I never move the phone, camera, alarm clock, texting or email apps. I use them way too often and don't want to search for them. Everything else is rearranged that way I can't "auto-pilot" myself directly to apps that waste my time, such as Feedly, Google News, Yahoo Sports, ESPN, etc. This isn't necessarily SM related but I noticed that when I first got rid of Facebook/Instagram/Twitter apps I filled the void by reading more news/using other apps.
I will typically go on SM for ~10 minutes a week. I never use Twitter anymore. Facebook usually get a quick glance (2 minutes). I spend about 5 minutes quickly looking at photos on Instagram. I never really got that into Snapchat so I never waste time sending snaps. I will look at the ones I receive as they come in. I get maybe 8 a week so this takes a total of ~3 minutes/week.
As an aside, I want to point out the book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles During. Not geared towards tech habits like the recommended reading but I think it's a good entry point into the realm of behavior change. Really easy to read and available at practically every library. The audiobook is ~8 hours long and usually available on OverDrive. The book really emphasizes how making a change to our habits is quite difficult but gets progressively easier. The website for the book has a few good resources as well.
One point that really hit home for me was the idea of "Keystone Habits". The premise is that some habits are so powerful that they can cascade into a positive feedback loop making many other positive habits easier. I've noticed that when I practice good "screen hygiene" I am able to cascade this into more productivity and better overall satisfaction at the end of a day. I'm thinking of making a few subtle changes to "force" myself to practice better screen time habits. It's a work in-progress for myself but I'll report back after I make some adjustments (analog alarm clock, ObiHai home phone).
tl;dr: YOU CANNOT DEPEND ON WILLPOWER. Use your current motivation to put barriers in place for when you lack willpower. Use the current "can-do" attitude to institute good habits that become second nature.
TBH, I haven't even tried either of those scenarios. But yeah, the SMS integration is the one area that needs some improvement. That said, I quickly adapted to just using the GV app for SMS. It has been a very small price to pay for the convenience of using my GV# instead of the one I got assigned on TMO.
While I'm yacking about GV, let me throw this out as well. I've used an Obihai device that I've used with another Google Voice number as my landline for years. After I ported my Fi phone number back to GV I was able to add that number to my Obihai as well, so now my cellphone calls come through on my landline as well. And the Obihai even allows me to set a distinctive ring for each line. Although I'm not a big proponent of Fi these days, I remain a big fan of Google Voice.
Get one of these. You can plug any phone into it and use your Google Voice number for free. You can make and receive calls all day. I have one at home, changed my life.
I haven't found a windows phone app that works with google voice yet. I use google voice with an obi100 device and a cordless phone for making & receiving free calls.
I have been using Google Voice with obihai OBi100 for couple of years now. Haven't had a single issue. You can port your number to google voice.
This is the right answer. OBi is even cheaper for upfront costs.
It uses your internet connection for VoIP, Voice Over Internet Protocol. You can even set up a Google Voice account to use with it, so you can give clients/whoever else one number, your Google Voice number. Then you can setup (and dynamically change) rules for forwarding calls to your house phone, cell phone(s), work phone if applicable, etc. You can vary it by number (friends/family always ring your cell, other numbers by default ring home phone), time of day, day of week, it's incredibly flexible.
Do this, I did and it was a good idea.
Port your number to GV or get a new one.
Buy this: Obihai OBi100
And set it up to use your GVoice account. You can continue to use your phones as you are accustomed to, and GVoice will serve as your Voicemail/Answering machine. You can get the messages on your smartphone, Gvoice website, or call for them from the phone.
The Obihai is supposed to have a really high REN rating (5) so you could conceivably hook it directly to your house wiring and run all your phones with it.
I bought one of these a few months ago and then dug up my old cordless phone and now it's like I am living in the 90s again. Awesome.
Assuming you are in the US and calling the US. If you must make the calls on your iPhone (and don't want a home phone at all) options include:
• A Skype Number and unlimited Skype calling. ~$5-6/month.
• The Talkatone app lets you make and receive Google Voice calls over wifi. I have used the android version, it mostly works as advertised. One time cost/free with ads.
If you are okay with having an actual home phone/willing to buy a handset for that you should check out the Obi. Uses google voice for calling. This is my preferred solution, though it does depend on google keeping free calling via gmail around for the free calling. Should that be discontinued you could just sign up with a SIP provider. http://www.amazon.com/OBi100-Telephone-Adapter-Service-Bridge/dp/B004LO098O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1377883447&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=obi
Of note, none of these include emergency calling for free, with the Obi you can sign up for an emergency calling subscription too, but it'll cost you a couple bucks a month.
You might be making a single number port more complex than it needs to be.
One of these:
http://amzn.com/B004LO098O (which is the size of a deck of cards)
a telephone and some web set up and you are done.
You can use a ATA box to convert the fax phone signal to VoIP.
This will allow you to connect to a SIP network via static IP or by registration.
I've used ATA boxes to test fax over SIP with my companies software and it worked fine. I've not used the cisco boxes linked above and can't remember the model I used. It supports G711/T.38 either way so should be fine.
$420 - 1 year 30/5 cable Internet
$80 - Cable modem
$90 - 1 year Netflix gift certificate to myself
$100 - 1 year Hulu gift certificate to myself
$70 - Over the air antenna
$180 - Prepaid CallCentric
$46 - Cisco ATA for CallCentric
$986 for one year of high speed Internet, 1 year of Netflix, 1 year of Hulu, all the over the air HD broadcast stations, near unlimited telephone calls, and all the equipment needed to make it run. No monthly payments or bills for one year. Accessible from my smart phone, smart TV, and computer.
I just checked my FIOS options and it looked like I could get telephone service for $5 a month. Or, for $50 you could get the ObI200 and use Google Voice.
I set a relative up with two Google Voice lines on an Obihai 200. The cost to make the switch is:
- Obi200 = $50 (one time fee)
- T-mobile phone port = $10 (one time fee)
- Google Voice port = $20 (one time fee)
- Anveo e911 service = $15/year
If you do this, you can configure the Google Voice number to ring on the ObiHai 200 device and mobile line. In other words, anyone can call the original landline number and it will ring the home phone and mobile phone.
Before you do this, you need to make sure you meet the following requirements.
- Verify that the landline number can be transferred to Google Voice. Go to this page and enter the landline number. If you get this message "Ooops! This number appears to be from an area we don't currently support," then there is no way to port the landline number to Google Voice. However, if you get this message "Ooops! We currently don't support porting from your carrier ..." then you can port the landline to Google Voice (by way of T-mobile).
- You must have a reliable Internet connection. I don't know if there is a required minimum speed, but I've used the GV/Obi200 device on plans as low as 5Mbs down/1 Mbps up.
If you meet those requirements, then you need to buy the Obi200 and a T-mobile pre-paid sim card (don't get a post paid sim card). Once you have them both, then you will need to port the landline number over to the T-mobile sim card (you might need a T-mobile compatible phone to do this). Once you've done that, you can go into GV and port the number from T-mobile over to GV (use grandma's google account; if she doesn't have one, then open one). Then you just need to setup the Obi200 including setting up Anveo e911 service. Viola! You have reduced the monthly bill from $50 to a little over a $1. Congratulations.
> i do not have a landline service to test it out
If you get one of these, you can get a free Google Voice number, and use it with your Star Trek phone!
You can sign up for a free Google Voice account as it includes talk and texting. Always nice to have as a backup. You can have that number also ring on your cell phone (after your line issue is corrected). And you can also buy a Obi Talk adapter so the google voice can make/receive calls as a house phone with no monthly bill.
We are utilizing this phone configured by this guide, each extension (ext1,ext2,etc) is mapped to a local phone. For dialing out you would choose the ext line then go from there.
EDIT: to answer your question below - Call quality is great, haven't had any issues so far (cross fingers).
Ive ditched the phone cord for a prepaid cell phone that I use on the go, and for most calls I use a Obi110 and Google Voice. (4 months ongoing now)
Its lets me route all my calls from GV into the Obi for free (at least until Google decides its time to charge for it). You can use a normal landline phone with the Obi, or configure it to just use a smartphone as your "landline" phone via wifi or even plug in your existing phone system into the device and have the option of either. Obi -> Obi calls are free and you can even (with permissions) dial another Obi device and use THAT phone system to make calls from.
Anyway, I probably use my cellphone for maybe 100 minutes a month and the rest of my phone use is at home. Pretty cheap and I don't feel limited by minutes. I also don't need to have a computer running 24/7 in order to recieve calls.
If you are at home, use a cordless phone & OBi100 for calling instead of a cell phone.
For $39.00 I purchased this: ObiHai Obi100 and have attached it to my phone. It is now my primary home phone and works with Google voice like a charm. I get free calls to my family on the other coast, and I don't use up my mobile minutes. I also added an Anveo e911 account so that emergency calls route the police to the proper address. (it can do two SiP voice providers at once, in case you wanted one for international calling and google for just North America) Obi also has apps for android and iPhones that allow you to use your Obi on your mobile, so if I am on any wifi network, I can call from my mobile and not use minutes.)
It is the best Google voice accessory I have ever bought, and I haven't looked back since.
Absolutely. Sorry if I wasn't clear enough in my lengthy post, but having no landline was really the motivation for the whole writeup (that, and not wanting to pay a monthly fee).
If you're already familiar with Google Voice, order an OBI 100 (not the 110, which allows you to use a landline as well) and you'll have it set up in 5 minutes.
Google voice plus a thingie. We use it at home for our home office service. Works well
Avoid satellite at all costs. Not worth it. You're paying more for less.
Verizon FiOS is where you want to be, ideally, just due to the technology being superior. Latency, signal quality and bandwidth are all excellent. I have coworkers who have the 300Mbps plan from them and love it (they're definitely power users!). The most basic plan of FiOS will probably treat you mostly well, some others might have to jump in and comment on this as I don't know this stuff personally.
Comcast is mediocre. Their residential side is very unfriendly if you're a power user. They have strict data caps, and violating the data cap three times in a row bans you from their service forever. If you consider yourself a power user (lots of streaming content, large downloads, steam games, etc), you might want to just go with their business level service. You don't have any data caps and if you have an issue with your internet someone to look at it will be out in hours instead of days. The plan isn't awfully expensive either (60/month for 12/2mbps in my area). The drawback is the 200 dollar installation fee and the minimum year-long commitment (or 100 dollar fee for 2 years, 50 dollars for 3). If you break the contract you pay 75% of the remainder of the commitment. So if I broke my contract right now two months into the contract, I'd pay 60 10 .75 = 450 dollars, ouch!
As for your other services...
I see you're bundling phone. There's a very good chance you can get by with much less expensive VoIP phone service (especially if you already use cell phones in your family) and drop the expensive telephone plans. Check out Google Voice; it's a free telephone number that does all sorts of neat tricks and features for you. Then, combine it with the OBi100 so that you have "landline" phones that use Google Voice's free telephone service. It's free calls to the US and Canada, and pretty low international rates. What's the catch? You need your internet connection to be on to get phone calls (but you can get these forwarded to your cell phones too), and you can't make 911 calls from your Google Voice powered phones.
As far as the TV... that's more tricky and I don't have a good answer for you, because I don't even have TV installed at my place and don't care for it. Try reading up in /r/cordcutters about ways to cut the cord. There's a lot of online media options available now with netflix and hulu plus, and many other streaming options too. They can help you with those.
So you need something like this : Cisco SPA112.
The rest of your plan seems to be really good. It will be a much better network than what it is now.
I recommend getting an Internet only plan (the more faster & reliable the better) and for a landline, you can get an obihai device over here & here. Then, you need to sign up for a VoIP service called Google Voice, it's a free phone service that comes with a free u.s. number and once you're done setting up the account, connect that account to obihai by using Obitalk. Enjoy.
I am not sure this will work for you, but I use www.voip.ms for my business line. They have IVRs, voicemail, virtual extensions, ring everywhere, text, fax to email, and a lot of other services. I ported my Google voice number to Verizon, then to Voip.ms, and it works fine.
I do have an ObiHai 202 VOIP adapter which connects to my phone line in my house to a regular phone. However, you can have VOIP.ms just ring to your cell phone or any other number.
I am not sure how Air BNB will treat it, but the voip.ms folks are pretty nice if you email them for support.
You are absolutely right! One is used by a raid card and I think the other is empty at the moment on closer look... For the USB FXO ports, will there be a slowdown due to the USB 2 interface? Also what is the difference between this and say the Obi202?(https://www.amazon.com/OBi202-Phone-Adapter-Router-2-Phone/dp/B007D930YO) Is the main difference that if you use the Obi202 you cannot use the FreePBX and you have to use their software?
I would want to use VMWare as it seems easier to setup but what is putting me off is it seems hard to use with a free license? Are you using a free license, paid, or perhaps thru VMUG?
The only complication with my current VM is I had some help before in the setup and I have actually assigned two ips thru one ethernet device due to the way I wanted to mimic two devices. I just have to figure that part out...
>Hardware units available to literally plug a home phone directly into GV without using a computer.
Big GV fan here. This is definitely one of my favorite tech toys, and a perfect complement to my $30/month plan from T-Mobile.
Does anyone know the cheapest device you can get to work with this service? This one is $50
If I had known how easy it was, I would have done it years ago.
I bought an Obi200 interface box for about $50. It has 3 sockets: power, phone, and ethernet. I plugged its wall-wart into the power socket, my old home phone into the phone socket, and used an ethernet cable to connect it to my home router.
I used the router's configuration web-page to make the Obi200 visible to outside world.
Next step was picking a phone service provider. Obihai lists a dozen vendors that provide phone service through the device. I went with PhonePower at $33 per year. I paid $15 to port my old phone number away from AT&T. So, for better phone service, I'm paying $33 per year instead of the $545 that AT&T was charging me.
Phone+Tone to Pulse Converter+VOIP box+Google Voice=My daughters first and only phone I provided.
For all other tech; people need yards raked, poop scooped, dogs walked, babies sat.....
BTW she loves it her friends can call her, she can call them, the old who gets to the phone first game is live. And yes slamming the phone is the only way to hang up.
In case of backing out to try Vonage, I would instead recommend you try an Obi200 instead. Pretty sure it works with Voip.ms if that's where you want to stay, but it also works with Google Voice, meaning you can grab a free number from them and make calls within the US for free.
Source: Just upgraded my Obi100, which I've had for 3 years, to an Obi200 doing the same thing. Conference call for work this morning was done over the Obi200.
I'd still say give the PBX thing a whirl; I mean, this is /r/homelab after all. But for actually getting stuff working fast, Obi200.
They do sell Internet alone. You may have to push for it, but they do it. I moved from NoVA to Central VA and had to get Comcast when I did have FiOS. I used this https://gethuman.com/phone-number/Comcast site as it caters to getting live people at companies. I got a concierge sales person who set me up with a sweet deal.
If you are with Comcast, they will try and upsell later. Be strong. Try and do the Internet deal on the phone.
I have a 150/24 speed on my net roughly and it sits about 100 a month. Much better than 300 plus for unused channels. If you need OTA channels, you can get a digital antenna that is cheap. Just have to be close enough to get them.
Also, I do not use the Comcast router/wifi. It is garbage. I bought my own that is approved for use on their system and for Wifi I bought this bad boy.
I have two Amazon FireTV boxes, not usb dongles. They are faster and more stable imo. There are other devices, but i went with these as they are android, but only semi locked down. You can sideload apps and there are many many there anyway.
I went SlingTV and OAN for paid things. That is 25 a month on top of 100. Obvs I am online a lot and I do game, so its what is important to me.
As to phone. I bought an ObiHai device and linked it to a Google phone number and have a 3 cordless set hooked to that. Base and two remote locations. It is free and works very well. I know its Google, but its free and you can get a local number or possibly port your current one.
You will need to buy an MTA, either built in to the modem or a separate device. I've personally used and recommend https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B00GP2HS3Y/ before, and because of the price being so inexpensive, can replace them if they go bad.
As far as AIO printers go, do you want laser or do you want inkjet? Are you concerned about print speeds?
I can suggest HP OfficeJet 3830 Wireless All-in-One or the HP OfficeJet 4650 Wireless All-in-One -- both are good inkjet printers with WiFi.
Google voice + Obi 200 = free phone and GREAT control. Also it saves all voice mails.
I have mine set to not ring between 10pm and 7am (10 am on weekends) and my own JNMIL is WHY I have this set.
Google has offered VOIP for many years through Google Voice. You were even able to use it as a standard landline using hardware made by companies like Obihai. They make these adapters that you can connect to your landline phones and get free phone calling. Google Voice never supported 911 and these Obi boxes can't call 911. (They do sell a 911 service separately.)
I would skip the phone service and go with a VOIP solution. You can get an ObiHai 200 and port the number to Google Voice or Anveo and spend less than $5 a month including 911 access. https://www.amazon.com/OBi200-1-Port-Adapter-Support-Service/dp/B00BUV7C9A
You want to get the e911 from Anveo and use Google Voice for calling. That combo gives you unlimited calling and multiple 911 calls per year. I have this setup right now with a Panasonic wireless telephone set in all the rooms of my house and it works great.
Before you leave the US, transfer your cell phone number over to Google voice. Buy one of these and set it up with your Google Voice account. You can transfer your wife's phone number as well and add it as a secondary account. Incoming and outgoing calls to the US will be free.
Sign up for Amazon Prime. Your basic necessities can be found at the exchange and commissary, but they do a shit job in keeping their levels of stock maintained.
If you decide to go through a major provider for cell service, avoid Softbank. The coverage is garbage. AU is pretty decent and you can bundle with internet for a discount.
You should consider grabbing an international driver's license from your local AAA. You will need to take a short drivers ed course before you can get your base license, assuming you already have your stateside license. It's only offered on certain days, so if driving is an absolute necessity, you can rent a car with your international driver's license until you get your base license. Your sponsor should be able to take you around, so consider this tip low priority.
AFN satellite is pretty limited in their programming. If you want Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video, you'll need something like a Roku or Apple TV and a DNS Proxy. I'm signed up for SMART DNS and I can access all the programming from those providers. I also have a Sling Box slinging cable from my brother's house to me over here. If you have family that is willing to pay for an additional cable box, you might want to invest in a Slingbox.
There is an auto resale lot on the base. You can find some good deals, but none of the cars have a warranty. If you decide to buy a car off base, you should avoid the places by the base that cater to Americans. A lot of cars are older and high-mileage. You should explore options off base. Try switching the language to English and browsing Crossroad. I'm sure the translation isn't perfect, but it will give you a good idea of what's offered here.
You could skip the asterisk solution, and use the grandstream PBX. The GUI is significantly cleaner (also with less features) but should be able to have voicemail, ring groups, call queues or "agents", custom dial rules, etc. It would save you a lot of money over a traditional phone system.
The PBX would run around 300-500$ depending on where and what you get, but amazon has one for 360$ here https://www.amazon.com/Grandstream-UCM6204-Innovative-PBX-Ports/dp/B01LZKCBD7/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1524428192&amp;sr=1-1&amp;keywords=grandstream+pbx
this pbx should be easy to setup (youtube videos are great on the subject) and the one price includes all features, and software updates are free as long as the device is still "supported".
As for your phone endpoints, grandstreams are cheap and work great. Their best phone IMO is around 100$ on amazon, and they have cheaper options as low as 50$ (on amazon)
grandstream GXP 2170 is pretty nice
Or the 1625 (for the cheaper option) for 40$ https://www.amazon.com/Grandstream-GXP1625-Medium-Business-Device/dp/B00VNMWRFK/ref=pd_sim_229_7?_encoding=UTF8&amp;pd_rd_i=B00VNMWRFK&amp;pd_rd_r=EJ27CJTWYAPA4D2Z7HNE&amp;pd_rd_w=YQDrV&amp;pd_rd_wg=3Cr2u&amp;psc=1&amp;refRID=EJ27CJTWYAPA4D2Z7HNE
The above phones will work with any sip based phone solution
If you're looking for the "easy drop in and just works" solution, you could try ring central, or 8x8. But i think theyre crazy expensive for what they actually do.
Just touching on telephones, we’ve been using https://www.callcentric.com/ for years for residential phone and they have some practically free plans. They used to even have free numbers if you’re not fussy about area code but I think they discontinued that.
To get dial tone I’d just KISS and use something like this.
Edit: forgot this: Grandstream GS-HT802 2 Port Analog Telephone Adapter VoIP Phone & Device, Black https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01JH7MYKA/
Why not try a newer Cisco phone? I upgrade all 7960's to SPA525G's, which are around $160 on Amazon. They easily go through NAT at our remote offices and allow VPN, wireless, bluetooth, custom ringers transfered from USB, etc... Very feature rich compared to the 7960s. oh, AND a very nice, friendly web GUI, instead of configuring manually or with a tftp config.
I use my phones in a Freepbx/Asterisk setup and they work amazing.
edit: Heres a screen of the line config page
My tiny little home router only has 4 ports but thankfully it's just my deskop & the Meraki MR18 WLAN using the ports so I think I'm good on the port situation so no need for a gigabit internal switch. I will check out the Grandstream, Polycom, and Yealink handsets and see if I can find something decent.
/u/mike2312 - I don't really know how much I will need to spend for a decent phone so I'm just looking for a generic range of options, if you want to suggest something go nuts, I'll kibosh any options once I have a bit more understanding of what's available. And sorry! I'm sure that's kind of annoying but I know literally nothing about handsets
Edit: I was thinking of something like this Cisco SPA 303, because a review specifically mentions it works with voip.ms, which is the service I use
When you said you would "move over from a landline to voip.ms" - what did you mean? To use voip.ms, you need SIP telephones (like Cisco SPA504G) or an Analog Telephone Adapter. What's your plan?
An ATA has three ports: power, Internet, and plain old telephone. It uses your Internet connection to communicate with voip.ms, and makes conventional telephones work over a VOIP protocol.
So one way to use an ATA is:
- Disconnect your home phone wiring from the existing provider, probably at the "MPOE" (main point of entry).
- Set up your ATA and configure it - see the voip.ms wiki.
- Plug in a phone, check for dial tone, make a call, receive a call.
- When that's all good, use a plain old modular phone wire to connect the ATA port to your home telephone wiring - and all your old phones (including your burglar alarm) will work through the ATA using the SIP voice-over-IP system.
Also, if you get the Obi110 it lets you use Google voice with a home phone
You can buy one of these for $50 and use it with a google voice number: http://www.amazon.com/o/ASIN/B0045RMEPI/?tag=dp-us-20
Problem for me is google voice offers no local phone numbers in my area, so I'd either have to have an oddball landline number which would be long distance for neighbors to call, or fork out the $200 for the ooma.
There was a recent post about this by a redditor here (link to reddit post, but actual steps are on his blog which the post title linked to). However, instead of building an asterisk box, the 2nd most upvoted commenter recommended buying this instead, which would do the same thing. That looks to be cheaper and easier than a Sheeva Plug. Either way, you can use analog phones with the device, which converts the stream to VOIP, and you can use Google as your SIP provider, provided you are using your GV number.
There is a SIP client for Android which will allow you to use GV over VOIP here, with some tutorials linked at the bottom. You'll still use your minutes when out and about, but otherwise you'll be all VOIP.
Keep in mind Google has not promised free SIP access for any length of time. If I remember right, the service was either discovered or possibly leaked, but there was never any announcement or launch for it, so it could possibly disappear, at which point you would probably want to subscribe to a SIP provider.
The product you're looking for does not exist, and if it did exist, it would not work.
The Huawei router you've linked in your replies contains a built-in SIP Gateway. In order to get that feature back after you replace your router with one that doesn't have it, you need to plug something else into your new router to get this feature back.
Any SIP gateway like this Cisco device or this Obihai device will work. They'll still need to be configured to work with your SIP service provider.
Google Voice might go a long way towards getting you your fantasy solution. I use it daily.
What I did was port my cell phone number (the number everybody has known me by for 15+ years) to Google Voice. I then got a new cell phone number and an Obihai VOIP thingy. Total cost was a one-time $20 to port my number, $35 for the Obi thingy, and basic cell phone service.
I configured my Google Voice account with my new cell phone number and set up my Voice account on the Obihai. When you call my 15 year old phone number, both my cell phone and any land line phones I have plugged into the Obihai ring. Whichever picks up first gets the call. Simultaneous ring! When I pick up on an Obi phone, I'm not charged any minutes and the sound quality is far superior than cell and delay much reduced.
On my android phone, I set up Google Hangouts for text and the Google Voice app for voice calls. When I make a call on my cell phone, Voice spoofs my 15 year old phone number so people I call only ever see my Voice number, not my new cell phone number. NOBODY ever sees my cell number whether I text or call. They always see my Voice number, which is the number they've always ever seen from me.
Also, if you have Voice open in a web browser, calls and text ring through there too. So if you were to set up a PC with a set of speakers, keep Google Voice open in a web browser and calls will ring through the speakers.
I have a number of phones connected to the Obihai throughout the house. I even have a few antique rotary phones connected with a pulse to DTMF converter so I can dial out.
As an option, you may consider doing what I'm doing: Internet + Google Voice.
I have Comcast HSI only, and a nifty box, the OBi110 VoIP Telephone Adapter and Voice Service Bridge. Those two with a free Google Voice account get you, in my experience, solid telephone service.
Since I have a home run situation in my house, the cable modem, router and OBi110 are in the same place. I've hooked existing telephone cabling into the OBi, and have regular old phones plugged in all over the house.
One downside is that you will not have accurate 911 geo location service. I'm not even sure where my 911 call would be routed if I do need to make the call.
The big upside with Google Voice is that you can route your one telephone number to your cell, home, work based on rules you set up.... plus other nice features.
I hope that helps a bit.
Also - with your 1.5 connection, you may consider buying a newer cable modem that supports DOCIS v3.0. That should help your speed a bit too, unless you have some other issues on your connection.
Buy this - obi110
It connects to Google Voice, and has a regular telephone port that he can connect his phone to. It's $50, and no monthly fees, assuming Google leaves gmail calls free.
More details: http://obihai.com/googlevoice.html
I've been thinking of getting an Obihai ( http://www.amazon.com/OBi110-Service-Bridge-Telephone-Adapter/dp/B0045RMEPI ), but I'll see what the service is like in my apt first.
Also, apparently if you go over it's 10 cents a minute, which would work out to 45 dollars for 450 minutes, and $75 (45 + 30) for 550 minutes is still less than I'm paying per month right now.
I'll look into your recommendation, thanks!
- You can purchase an Obitalk device. I personally use the Obitalk 110. Keep in mind that most VOIP providers do not offer e911. However, you can signup directly through the Obitalk's web portal. More info here
- This will depend entirely on your area.
- I use MLB.TV to view baseball games. Keep in mind that you'll be blacked out for your local team so you will need a VPN or Proxy service. But other than that requirement, it's still cheaper overall compared to cable. Check out /r/vpn and ask which service is the best at the moment.
An OBi110 would probably be your cheapest bet. It's now discontinued, but works perfectly well.
It looks like it's cheaper from Amazon.com even with shipping to Canada and the currency conversion.
> or is there software that will use a Data/Fax/Voice modem?
Theoretically yes although I'm told the audio quality doing it that way is terrible.
Obi110 hooked up to my FIOS Router and a DECT 6.0 compatible phone. Add in a Google Voice account and you get free local and long distance in the US. I also added in a $1.50/mo CallCentric account so that I could have e911 service.
What you can do is limit your dependence on them. Cancel TV, get Netflix. Buy your own DOCSIS3 modem, return that rental garbage. Cancel phone, get a your own number and a VoIP bridge. The internet service from TWC (my provider) is reasonably priced for the speed and quality IMO. TV and Phone are highway robbery
I have a ting account with 5 lines for people in my family that want a smartphone but don't use it enough to justify a major carrier sized bill. I make sure that everyone's number is ported to google voice so that all txt messages don't cost extra. I have not found a smooth way to switch between making call over wifi and cellular. Additionally any voip app I've used has always been a major battery suck since they depend on the wifi always being on.
One potential solution you may be interested in is to purchase an obitalk voip adapter.
This would allow a corded phone to make and receive calls on the same google voice number the android phone uses. There wouldn't ever be voice charges for call made from the obi device as long as google keeps call to the US free.
Sign up for a Google Voice account, Pay $20 to have the # ported to Google Voice, Ask her to get one of these for $40. Once setup, She can use it as her land line anywhere she goes (with an internet connection).
Not so sure about flipping the # back to a cell # when she gets back though.
I picked up an Obi for about $40. You'll need a fast/reliable internet for the Obi to work. Basically you'll transfer/port over your home phone number to Ring.To (a free VOIP service). Then subscribe to Anveo E911 service for about $13 year. Once the porting of your home number is complete (usually takes 5-10 business days) you'll have a VOIP land line for $13/year plus the initial cost of the Obi. There were a couple hiccups in the beginning but it's all been sorted now. With Ring.To it's free local and long distance calls but no international calls (I use my cellphone plan to make international calls).
The way I cut my cable bill from $120/month to $46/month was by purchasing an Obi for home phone, cut TV and use OTA antenna channels combined with a Roku (subscribed to netflix/hulu plus/amazon/HboGo etc) and purchased my own cable modem instead of paying the monthly fee.
If you have a spare iPhone then all you need is a WiFi connection and Hangouts to use it with Google Voice as a "landline." Hangouts is clunky for dialing out, but answering is pretty smooth. You can place the phone in Airplane mode and then enable WiFi, no need for cell service on the iPhone.
Alternatively, assuming you have a landline handset that you already like and are comfortable with is to get a Obi100 ATA ($38 on Amazon) and a Callcentric account (If you select that you are outside the US and dont care about 911, it is free incoming forever with no montly fees). Dialing out is not possible with this setup (unless you initiate things through Google Voice on the website or the GV App on your iPhone) unless you pay money.
The Obi can connect directly to your GV account to make outgoing calls, but there are a few problems with how it does that. The XMPP interface was supposed to be shutoff by Google earlier this year, but that has not happened. In addition, if you have gmail open, the phone doesn't ring because the calls are redirected there. Therefore it is advisable to have the SIP account to receive the calls with and turn off Gmail for receiving calls in Google Voice(This may also kill Hangouts, so you need to choose what is important to you).
Google voice with this works great for me I use it as my home phone and is free.
Buy some sort of separate VOIP device and attach it to your internet if you're not attached to your phone number. I just had the same issue, cable modems with phone ports are crazy expensive, but I was looking to cut back from Time Warner. I bought an Obi100 and set it up with Google Voice, but may look into a different provider if Google makes it not free, depending on the rates they charge. Obi100 on Amazon. Otherwise, you'll need to pick up a modem that has telephony ports on it like this one - the key is to look for the word telephony and see if it mentions VOIP and has phone slots on the back: DOCSIS 3.0 modem with telephony. Depending on your internet speed you could maybe buy a DOCSIS 2 modem, but the minor savings won't buy you much future forward time. I think any of the Motorolla surfboard modems are valid with TWC's service, truth be told anything should work but they do have some compatibility lists somewhere. All you have to do is call them and give them the MAC address and it's ready to go.
+1 for this.
Voice quality is awesome, and everyone who calls can't tell that it is VoIP.
I have the Obi100 which only cost me $30. I paid another $12 for 911 services since Google Voice doesn't do that.
Have you considered porting your number to Google Voice and then just forwarding to whatever random number you get from T-mobile?
That's what I did (left Sprint for T-mobile on straight talk). I like it because it means YOU always have control of your number and you're not at the mercy of the cell provider.
And of course you get to use Google Voice which is awesome. Text from your desktop, read / listen to your messages, block spam calls / texts, and my new favorite feature I just found: present a "this number is no longer in service" message to folks you don't want to hear from again!
Plus, if you pick up an obi100 and have an old cordless phone lying around, you get a free home phone w/ unlimited minutes (through 2012 at least) and it uses your same google voice number so you can pick up calls on either your cell or your home phone.
Seriously awesome stuff! And on the cancellation, it "just worked" for Sprint (account showed no service right after port completed which took about a day). You WILL get charged an ETF if you are in contract though, so be aware of that.
Interesting -- just curious if you've seen/heard of this beautiful device?
You basically buy it, hook it up to your LAN, configure it to use GV, and voila -- free VOIP without an asterisk/pbx box.
I agree with rosi91 on the most minimalist communication tool. As for my minimalist telephone setup, I have this: http://shop.panasonic.com/shop/model/KX-TS500B
and this: www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004LO098O/
Simple, easy to setup, and unobtrusive.
EDIT: remove "?ref=" from amazon link
following a guide I found on here, I got rid of ATT for google voice and verizon pay as you go. I got an OBi100 from Amazon, and a cheap VTech Phone for home. This gave me unlimited talk when I was at home. This substantially reduced the amount of minutes I needed.
Secondly, I got rid of my expensive family plan from ATT, and went for the 100 minutes, unlimited data/text plan from Verizon. I was paying $135 a month from ATT (for two iPhones) and am now paying $65 a month, for the same two phones. I have a lot less minutes, but I just use my home phone and don't really talk on the phone when I'm out and about. This saves me $70 a month, or $840 a year.
- Yealink T46G
- Cisco SPA112 (For a couple ATA handoffs around the house)
- FreePBX 13
- QubePBX - Been playing with it, haven't deployed in production. Very nifty though.
- Questblue - Best provider I've used both professionally and personally. Highly recommend them.
We use a company called Skyswitch.
They're really good as far as call quality. They've also had no outages in the last 4-5 years we've used them (at least in our area).
We primarily use Cisco SPA 112 as the ATA for residential customers and Polycom VVX 410/411 for businesses.
I have no experience with Google voice though.
I'm in the lower Hudson Valley NY. For my home office I use Callcentric with a Cisco SPA112. Callcentric is based in NY and their quality is excellent.
Or one could just buy an Obihai Viop device; link here ... and use Google Voice and eliminate any monthly/annual payments to anyone to call throughout the US and Canada also GV's rates internationally are as low or lower than anyone's including people like: Voip.com, Broadvoice, 8x8, VIOPo, Vonage, IPX and Phnepower
your cable bill will spike too.. there is no way triple play is going to cost your $140 after the trial period expect it to go up about 30%
Since you are in north jersey you can get a ton of Antenna broadcasts. I would suggest that you get the 50/50 from Verizon and then install an antenna then hook up your own VOIP service using Google Voice/messenger and a obi device and get a Vtech link to cell phone that will let you use either your voip or your cellphone to make and receive phone calls
these things let you plug your phone in and use it over the internet over your google account and you can get a free phone number or port one in for a small fee.
I got this from amazon for $32 about a month ago not sure why the price went up but I would wait until it goes down again.. you can add phones to it if you need more in your home
So you would have voip cellphone service so you don't need the triple play for phone.. then you have a low end data package .. and then you can get sony vue or sling or other services to watch special TV offerings like sports networks and kids channels whatever you need.
you end up only paying for your data plan but verizon needs to setup the Ethernet port in your home.. don't let them install the data plan on the coax ont port or you get screwed with rental fees for device you can't install on your own.. anyway..
If you eval yourself of those options you will save about $100 a month once the trial ends.
Get a free Google Voice number, slap it on one of these for $50, and you've got a home phone.
I use Callcentric and a Obi200 for my landline, the device is $47 and Callcentric is $3.47 month. I ported my landline to Callcentric and use google voice to make calls. Callcentric is very rich with automated call handling as is GV. What sorts of call handling are you looking for?
I set mine up to not ring unless the number is whitelisted all others go to voice mail (I then get an email notification along with the msg) and those that are in the Telemerketers list get a disconnected msg.
Anvio is another service provider which I'm sure has just many options for call handling as well.
Know what speeds you're getting from your ISP and make sure the modem you want to buy supports or exceeds that speed. Usually getting a separate router and modem is the way to go, but if you want a single device, you'll be looking for a gateway. You'll get better wifi and save money getting your own devices.
You can also drop the land line and get an internet phone adapter which you can plug into your router and make calls for free over the internet. Only downside is that you'll need to pay something like 12 per year to upgrade your line if you want to be able to call 911.
Do they really need a home phone? Do they call international?
If not, then I would cancel that and just have the cell phones as their primary number. The other option is to port that home number to Google Voice and get a OBi200. The OBi200 lets you use your Google Voice number on a home cordless phone setup through VoIP. Google Voice has no monthly fee and you get free unlimited calling within US and super cheap per minute calls internationally.
You could also just get them the Google Voice app and have the home number calls forwarded to one of their cell numbers.
I really wanted one with a boom mic, I feel like they are superior.
So what I do with this is it's connected to my router via Ethernet and then via RJ9 (regular phone cable) to a wireless phone base. I have three wireless handsets, just traditional phones. For the cost of $50 bucks for the hardware you basically have free VOIP via Google Voice for life.
I really don't understand why people pay for home phone anymore. Just get an OBi, connect it to Google Voice, get free home phone service with call waiting, transcribed voicemails, ability to send/receive SMS/MMS from the number, have that number also ring up to 5 other numbers, etc.
If you want 911 service that's like $3/mo.
Actually, I don't know why people even want a home phone anymore...
Edit: Here is some more info
This doohickey will allow you to connect a traditional landline phone, fax, or whatever you like for use with a variety of VOIP services, many of them free or low cost. Works with any broadband connection.
Plug this into your network and any phone jack. Disconnect the telco line on the outside of your house. Setup with a VoIP provider and you good to go. All the phones in the house will be able to place and receive calls.
Fair enough. I suppose I could use the existing cabling with an Obibox or similar, but everything would be on the same line (which truly is the norm in a home).
Understood. If you already have an internet connection, running voice over it should border on free at this point. It's why Comcast throws it in, but it is a shame that its service locks us into a very limited number of particularly expensive endpoint devices. Cheap Obihai device here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BUV7C9A/ But several other options out there that are also very inexpensive, if not completely free.
We are still maintaining a Comcast voice line and their rental box at the moment, but will look to migrate once promotional pricing runs out.
Is she using a smart phone or a flip phone? If its a smart phone you could just transfer her number to google voice and use the hangouts app over wifi.
Theres also the tmobile line link device for $10 per month but at that point you would be better off with the obihai + google voice solution others mentioned.
Honestly instead of a magicjack I would go with an Obihai...
I picked up the obi100 from amazon for $35 (http://www.amazon.com/OBi100-Telephone-Adapter-Service-Bridge/dp/B004LO098O/ref=sr_1_cc_2?s=movies-tv&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1321670753&amp;sr=1-2-catcorr) no referral link btw
It's awesome... first it's completely compatible with google voice.. so I can set google voice as service provider 1 (which enables free incoming and outgoing calls using google voice.. using a regular phone handset) then I used VOIP.MS for provider 2 (The device supports 2 providers).. threw $25 on the account and activated e911... programmed the obi100 to route 911 calls through provider 2 and everything else through provider 1... also picked up a toll free DID (in dial) number (just in case I ever have to use a payphone.. can use attendant to place outgoing calls on my voip through a 1-800.. and also for people to call me toll free) ....
So now.. for a total investment of $60, I have completely free phone service (until google ever changes it.. and even then I can use voip.ms for crazy cheap prices, less than 1c a minute).. fully functional 911 service going to my address, a toll free inbound number I can receive calls on or call to make outgoing calls from whatever supports toll-free calling...
One of the best investments i've made in a long time, you should check it out.. I have no idea how they got the device to allow outgoing calls using google voice (uses the gmail interface somehow.. but doesn't require your computer to even be on..)
Awesome piece of tech, the obi110 has an extra port to be connected to the POTS system as well, if you wanted to integrate that into it.. but that's not even remotely required.
use MagicJack for each landline, I've used it for years and works great, only $35 per year per line
Ooma, Inc., a smart communications platform for businesses and consumers, today announced that – for the eighth year in a row – the company’s Ooma Office service has won PCMag’s prestigious Business Choice Award for Best VoIP System.
This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210311005225/en/
Ooma today announced that – for the eighth year in a row – the company’s Ooma Office service has won PCMag’s prestigious Business Choice Award for Best VoIP System, earning top scores in all categories rated by PCMag readers. (Graphic: Business Wire)
The award (https://www.pcmag.com/news/business-choice-2021-voice-over-ip-voip-systems) is part of the magazine’s annual Business Choice survey of its readers, and Ooma once again emerged as the top business VoIP provider among 14 finalists, including RingCentral, Avaya, Vonage, and Mitel.
"Ooma has won our VoIP survey for eight years running, and this year, it earns incredible scores on every measure we rate," PCMag says in its story on the award. "If your business needs a reliable phone system, our readers agree: You can’t go wrong with Ooma."
Dan Costa, editor-in-chief of PCMag, said: "PCMag readers have spoken repeatedly and clearly through the years to say that Ooma is their favorite VoIP provider. Ooma not only wins in overall satisfaction but leads in all categories we measure – including value, reliability, ease of use, call quality and likelihood to recommend."
"This is the award that is most meaningful to all of us at Ooma because it comes directly from our customers. We are truly honored to have once again been chosen as the best business VoIP service by the readers of PCMag," said Jim Gustke, vice president of marketing at Ooma. "Our goal from the beginning was to create a business communication system that is incredibly easy to administer, even easier to use, and curated with the features and services businesses need most. This accolade is evidence of our progress and achievement. It’s a thrill to know Ooma is helping make so many businesses more successful."
Ooma Office and Ooma Office Pro (https://www.ooma.com/small-business-phone-systems/) offer a set of features tailored to meet the needs of small and medium businesses, with service plans starting at $19.95 a month per user with no long-term contract required. Customers have their choice of interface – conventional analog phones, IP phones, virtual service through the Ooma Office desktop and mobile apps, or any combination of the four. Advanced features such as a virtual receptionist, ring groups, video conferencing, text messaging, call park and multi-site access combine to make small businesses sound big.
About Ooma, Inc.
Ooma (NYSE: OOMA) creates powerful connected experiences for businesses and consumers, delivered from its smart cloud-based SaaS platform. For businesses of all sizes, Ooma provides advanced voice and collaboration features including messaging, intelligent virtual attendants, and video conferencing to help them run more efficiently. For consumers, Ooma’s residential phone service provides PureVoice HD voice quality, advanced functionality and integration with mobile devices. Learn more at www.ooma.com or www.ooma.ca in Canada.
PCMag has been the leading authority on technology buying since 1982, delivering independent reviews of more than 2,000 products per year. Our editors and analysts are regularly featured in the press as experts. Contact [email protected] to get their advice or schedule an interview.
Ooma, Ooma Office, and the Ooma logo are trademarks of Ooma, Inc. All other company and product names may be trademarks of the respective companies with which they are associated.
The detailed terms and conditions of Ooma's products, services, and support are fully set forth in the Terms and Conditions, available online under the "legal" tab on the bottom navigation bar of the Ooma Website. Details on service plan pricing are at https://www.ooma.com/small-business-phone-systems/plans/.
PCMag Business Choice logo is a trademark of Ziff Davis Inc. Used under license. Reprinted with permission. ©2021 Ziff Davis, LLC. All rights reserved.
View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210311005225/en/
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Matt Robison at Ooma
Reddit best voip
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Do you want to skip the read and get right to my top pick? The best VOIP phone services for most people are Nextiva, Ooma, or Ringcentral.
Buying VoIP for your business is going to save you money over a traditional phone line. And if you are using a clunky VoIP service from an ancient provider, you may be able to switch to something sleeker without losing anything except the frustration.
With old phone systems, you called your vendor to re-route a call path or set an employee up with a secure at-home workstation.
With VoIP phone services, these actions take a few clicks.
To write a really helpful post for my readers, my team got in touch with leaders who have used VoIP in different ways. You can find about 80 percent of what you need to know about VoIP anywhere on the web—here’s the 20 percent you can’t find anywhere else.
We spoke with:
- Gregg, who manages IT services for a living. He knows the good and bad of different VoIP options and helps businesses stay protected from hacks.
- Jason, who has been working in call centers for nearly 30 years and just bought VoIP for his enterprise organization. He’s attuned to what’s important for your employees, whether they’re remote or in an office.
- Makan, who’s set up dozens of high-volume telemarketing teams. He’s learned how to reduce the risk of regulatory fines and identify top performers in an industry with exceptionally high turnover.
- Sarkar, who manages sales teams in the B2B SaaS space. He walked us through how to sync VoIP and CRM software with the fewest possible headaches.
Look, I know what works for a company like mine. By speaking with a range of experts, my team and this article can help a wider array of buyers with different use cases or situations than my own.
There are companies looking to outfit offices in 20 countries. Others have to protect patient data. Some folks just want to stop using their personal mobile number for work.
Here are the seven best VoIP phone service providers you can start using right away. After the reviews, you’ll find an in-depth buyer’s guide.
#1 – Nextiva Review — The Best for Offices with Work-From-Home Employees
I hear a lot about the trends of working from home, but I don’t think anyone can say for sure what “office life” is going to look like two or three years from now. If you want your teams to stay functional no matter which way the wind blows, Nextiva is a solid choice.
It’s cloud-based VoIP, so your employees can come into the office, set up a desk at home, or use their phone on the go. Unlike an on-premises phone system, employees can use their phone without a VPN because they’re calling through Nextiva.
So, you have way less to worry about with security—which is definitely on the minds of managers who have people calling from hotels, coffee shops, and their home network.
The experts my team spoke with categorized it as a true plug-and-play system for businesses that want a dial tone without IT headaches. If your system is built on ten phones or fewer, you will have very little trouble getting Nextiva installed.
One thing that Jason pointed out, however, was that you’ll need to put some thought into compliance if you plan to take credit card numbers over the phone. But, for the most part, security is handled by Nextiva because everything is routed through their cloud.
Nextiva can scale to hundreds of phones if need be. There will be some backend configuration to get everything going, but Nextiva will help you deploy with a guided installation process.
And unlike some of the other companies that offer this type of flexibility, Nextiva can outfit your entire office. Fax machines, conference phones, multiple offices–whatever your setup, you’ll be able to transition it to Nextiva’s modern platform.
Level up your business phone by connecting it with email, text, and video—or centralize every channel within a single window for your employees.
All the call handling and user administration features you’d expect are included. And when I say they are easy to use, check out the Call Flow Builder that lets visualize how routing is set up:
It can be tricky to configure auto attendants in some platforms, but it’s drag-and-drop easy with Nextiva.
The company has done a lot to make everything as easy as possible on end users. If you’re wondering whether or not you have the necessary internet speed at your office, you can test it right now on Nextiva’s website. Simulate the traffic required for two or 200 phones. You’ll get info on speed, but also jitter and everything that goes into whether or not you can reliably make calls.
You can also use the site to test the speed of remote workers who need to be on call, which Jason highly recommended. If their home network doesn’t support VoIP, you may be looking at an expensive hiring blunder.
Nextiva offers 24/7 support for every plan. That’s not typical, especially for VoIP at such an affordable price:
- Essential: starting at $18.95 per month per user
- Professional: starting at $22.95 per month per user
- Enterprise: starting at $32.95 per month per user
- Ultimate: starting at $57.95 per month per user
These are the annual prices—it’s a little bit more per user to pay month to month, but you don’t have to sign a contract.
The Essential plan is going to work for many teams. It includes unlimited voice and video calling, a free local and toll-free number, and 1,500 toll-free minutes. That’s a lot more than you are going to get with other entry-level plans.
Unlike RingCentral, there’s no user cap for the Essential plan. This means you can offer more people unlimited voice and video at a low price, rather than having to upgrade once you hit 20 users.
For conference calling and business SMS, you’ll need the Professional plan. This comes with Salesforce, HubSpot, and Zendesk integration. Essential only has integration with Outlook and Google Contacts.
At the Enterprise tier, you get integrations with CRM software and single sign-on, which is a huge boon to remote workers.
Nextiva One is the company’s omnichannel solution. If customers reach out to you through a variety of channels in addition to phones, this might be a good idea.
Your employees can see all communication with each account, which is really helpful if people are logging help desk tickets, chatting, reaching out on social media, and so on.
Jason argued that omnichannel also makes administrators’ lives easier. “I don’t have 10 systems to manage,” he described to us, “it’s all within the same system.”
You can coordinate ecommerce with a call center or tie multiple brick and mortar stores into a single system.
You also have one bill as opposed to dozens and you’re not chasing down information across multiple platforms. If a customer has an issue, you can go back through the entire record quickly, regardless of how they got in touch.
Organization is just easier with Nextiva. Staying on the same page with customers and your employees is as simple as logging into the system, no matter where you are.
For teams that don’t have an office to coordinate activity, Nextiva is the best VoIP solution.
It’s a product that employees new and old can start using immediately on whatever device they have. Should they ever have an issue, Nextiva’s reputable customer service is there to provide support.
If you are looking at the way features break down in the different packages and you don’t find a perfect fit, just reach out to Nextiva. You can purchase any feature a la carte.
Build your system, your way, in less time with Nextiva. Get in touch for a seven-day free trial of the Essential package, or a demo of any other package they offer.
#2 – Ooma Office Review — The Best for Adding VoIP to Existing SMB Phone Systems
If you are holding off on replacing that aging phone system, Ooma can help you install business-class VoIP with minimal disruption to your work.
Any phone you have that’s still working—analog or IP—is going to hook right into your new Ooma system. You can also buy phones from them at a great price and they will be preconfigured, ready to go out of the box.
Ooma Office is going to work fine for most users, coming with 35 VoIP capabilities and a really powerful mobile app. Employees can make calls and collaborate with their colleagues in the app, whether they are in the office or on-the-go.
One thing Gregg pointed out was how expensive it can get to customize your setup if you have to pay per extension. With Ooma, every user gets a number of free extensions: one for conferences, one for online faxing, and one for a Virtual Receptionist.
Virtual Receptionist is Ooma’s term for an auto attendant. You can set it to play custom messages about business hours, let callers dial by name, select a preferred language, or route the caller to another extension.
With other vendors—especially ones that cost as little as Ooma—you often wind up paying extra to enable online faxing. Some VoIP phone service providers don’t even accommodate it.
When Jason sent his business requirement document to vendors, “two companies bailed out right away” because they weren’t able to set up fax machines. Most of the other vendors told him “they don’t really do that,” but they would try in order to get the business.
With Ooma, each of your users can set up their own fax extension for free. Problem solved.
When it comes to integrating VoIP with existing equipment, Ooma minimizes the steps you have to take and maximizes your flexibility. Connect to Ooma Office via WiFi, ethernet, or use the base station to get analog devices on board.
Think of it as a cloud-based VoIP solution that’s really good at accommodating your existing equipment. It might take some time to configure a large office, but the administrator portal is straightforward. It’s not the prettiest interface of all time, but it’s stupid simple to use.
While Ooma offers solutions for enterprise, their VoIP phone services for small businesses really stand out from the pack. There are no contracts, affordable pricing, and the customer service is fantastic.
Usually to get the best price on VoIP, you need to sign up for a year at least. Ooma’s price is what it is. For small business, Ooma pricing breaks down into two tiers:
- Ooma Office: starting at $19.95 per month per user
- Ooma Office Pro: starting at $24.95 per month per user
Upgrading to Pro, you get the desktop app, video conferencing, call recording, enhanced call blocking, and voicemail transcription. You’ll also be able to host conference calls of up to 25 people, whereas Ooma Office has a limit of 10.
You don’t have the choice of selectively upgrading users with Ooma Office—it’s all employees on one plan or all employees on another. But, at just $5 per user to upgrade, you’re still falling in the average range for VoIP.
And, if you upgrade, you can set people up on their computers with a softphone, which means you have less hardware to buy.
You can avoid buying phones without upgrading by having people call from the mobile app (which is included with Ooma office), though Gregg warned us that VoIP can be hard on a cell phone. “Yes, you save money because you’re not buying physical equipment,” he said, “but it can drain the battery life right out of the device.”
Transition to the cloud at your own pace. Keep your equipment and manage it yourself with way less work than a traditional set up. Get a quote, sign up with Ooma, and start saving money today.
#3 – RingCentral Review — The Best for High-Volume Outbound Calling
RingCentral gives you unlimited calling, texting, and video conferencing at a competitive price. If you just need the phones and texting, you can get an even better deal.
Forget about per-minute charges and set up employees with VoIP that’s easy to use. For call centers, customer service, sales—anyone who has people on the phone constantly will appreciate RingCentral. This is especially true if you have to train new employees all the time.
First off, they’ll be able to use the interface. It’s intuitive to anyone who has used a computer. Administrators and managers will find they can shorten the time it takes to turn rookie hires into skilled ambassadors for your company.
“You save a lot of money because you can identify hires that aren’t doing a good job and wasting their time,” Makan told us. He’s set up a lot of telemarketing call centers with RingCentral and has really valued the ability to “tell right away who’s worth the money.”
The ability to track calls, KPIs, and listen back to recordings was like night and day for him compared to working on a landline. Teams can listen back to calls that went well (or poorly) to get a sense of how to better capitalize on each opportunity.
The reporting features aren’t going to take a data scientist to glean insights from. Find your top performers and figure out what they’re doing. Identify people who aren’t a good fit and let them go.
I hear a lot of marketing word salad like “this tool optimizes performance,” all the time. RingCentral walks the walk.
“You can actually predict your sales,” Makan said, “I know it’s difficult to fathom, but it’s true.”
He was able to figure out that 2,500 calls lead to one listing. This told him the number of minutes people needed to be on the phone in order to stay profitable. Over time, he could see how many listings an employee should be generating in their first month, second quarter, and so on.
You’re likely going to measure different KPIs, but it’s the same idea. With the kind of visibility that RingCentral provides, you can distill the numbers to simple metrics that hold employees accountable. You know ahead of time what your sales are going to look like, and you can scale up or down accordingly.
There’s a lot about RingCentral that’s well suited for large-scale calling. Admins don’t have to be IT wizards to add new users and give them access to specific resources. They’ll be able to provision new hires quickly. When someone leaves, they’ll be able to switch around accounts and recycle the number, so you don’t wind up paying for lines you’re not using.
If you have turnover—as many high-volume calling occupations do—you need to be mindful of your database integrity. RingCentral makes it easy to limit access to resources and revoke it if need be.
You’re definitely going to be using a CRM (or some form of database) to call at scale. RingCentral integrates with a lot of them. You want to keep that information private.
Another liability for call centers that RingCentral helps you navigate is compliance, which is crucial if you are making a lot of cold calls or using an auto dialer. There’s a TCPA safe dialer, which helps agents avoid bringing a “robo-call” lawsuit down on your company. Instead of worrying about messing something up, they can focus on the person they are talking to.
The DNC list features are also easy to use. Integrate with third-party tools to constantly update your list, and quickly show your employees how to maintain your own internal list.
RingCentral is HIPAA compliant, which means the standard for privacy and security is incredibly high. Fines for HIPAA violations are very steep, and that’s not the worst that could happen.
Selecting from RingCentral’s range of packages, you can replace your phones with VoIP and save a little money or completely outfit an omnichannel call center.
RingCentral MVP (formerly RingCentral Office) has four tiers to choose from:
- Essentials: starting at $19.99 per month per user
- Standard: starting at $27.99 per month per user
- Premium: starting at $34.99 per month per user
- Ultimate: starting at $49.99 per month per user
These are the prices if you sign up for a year of service, which reflect a 33% discount on the monthly rate.
The Essentials plan is capped at 20 users. You get unlimited talk and text, as well as document sharing, which can be helpful for sharing sales and customer service scripts. You also get team messaging, which is especially helpful in the days where not everyone is coming into a physical office.
With Standard, you get unlimited fax, video conferencing and integrations with Google Workspace, Microsoft 365. There’s no cap on users, either.
But if you are going for high-volume calling, I really recommend getting Premium. You get the CRM integration that is so important for dialing into your metrics and communicating effectively at scale.
At $10 above the average cost of VoIP, Premium is a steal. Remember, that VoIP average is for voice only and with RingCentral MVP you’re getting texting, video, and advanced call handling features that other “average” plans do not include.
Managers will be able to listen in on live calls and “whisper” advice. The employee can hear them, the caller can not. From what I found, features like this from other vendors were usually reserved for plans that cost upwards of $50. So in that sense, I’d consider RingCentral MVP well below the average price-wise.
RingCentral offers contact center software, as well, which will unify your communications. Your agents will be able to see a complete record of a customer’s history. When did they call, when did they chat? It’s all right there. You’ll have to get in touch with RingCentral for Contact Center pricing.
This is my number one pick for people who have to make a ton of calls. RingCentral helps you protect yourself from a number of the liabilities that come with outreach at scale. It also gives you the viability and tools to stay efficient and maximize each employees’ ability to contribute.
Try RingCentral for free today.
#4 – Phone.com Review — The Most Affordable Professional-Grade VoIP
Phone.com is a smart choice for businesses that are looking for budget-friendly VoIP. You can have unlimited calling or pay less for a set block of minutes each month.
One of the really cost-effective features of Phone.com is that you can mix and match plans. Give the sales team unlimited plans and save money on each employee that only uses the phones occasionally.
And, with the Basic plan, you’re still getting most of the standard VoIP features like call handling, auto attendants, hold music and so on. You’ll have to upgrade to get HIPAA-compliant video conferencing, for example, but you can host up to 10 people in a regular session with Basic.
With most other vendors, you have to upgrade the plan for all your users. Phone.com can really help you keep costs down by giving users the features they need. This is one of those licensing irregularities that Gregg told us about, where it can work out well if you know what you’re doing.
Phone.com lets you pick what you need. Call recording and inbound faxing is extra, though you’ll be able to send faxes from your phone with any plan.
Nextiva and RingCentral are a little bit more robust, especially when it comes to reporting and analytics. In terms of CRM integration, Phone.com is limited to AllProWebTools and Zoho.
But some businesses just need a reliable phone with call handling capabilities they can manage themselves. Phone.com does more than that, and it’s just enough cheaper than those other options to net a sizable savings.
Offer your customers the ability to text when they have questions. Phone.com keeps all of your employees’ messages organized. Come for the phone system, stay for the messaging.
To use IP phones, you’ll have to be on an upgraded plan. The company offers really great prices on popular phones of all styles. You can use what you’ve got, too, as Phone.com supports a range of hardware.
Using your own equipment will definitely lessen the initial outlay, but in talking with Gregg we learned that older phones can get hacked. Just make sure that the processor isn’t too far behind what Phone.com is trying to sell you, and get ready to do some of the configuration yourself. You really can just plug and play if you buy equipment through Phone.com.
Pricing for Phone.com is low across the board:
- Basic: starting at $10.39 per user each month
- Plus: starting at $15.99 per user each month
- Pro: starting at $23.99 per user each month
To get these prices, you’ll have to sign up for an annual subscription, which saves you 20 percent of the month-to-month price.
Basic comes with 300 minutes, which are pooled for all your users. This just means Basic users share minutes instead of having to worry about going over individually each month.
Each user also gets 1,000 pooled text segments. A segment is limited to 160 characters, which is way less than most phones can send in a normal text message these days. So it’s not 1,000 texts per month, unless you like to keep things brief.
Volume licensing brings the price down, both for users and for additional phone numbers. With 25 or more users, the price of Basic drops down to $8.99, Plus to $14.99, and Pro to $21.99.
Considering that Pro can hold its own with many of the call center VoIP solutions I’ve looked at, it’s worth checking out if you need a lot of phones on a tight budget. With HIPAA-compliant voice and video, it could be a good option for medical practices looking to support telehealth.
You really have to get input from every person and department using the phone system. Figure out the technology and functionality you need to support. If Phone.com fits the bill, it’s going to be a smaller one than you’ll find anywhere else.
Phone.com gives you a low price that scales up much better than OpenPhone, Grasshopper, and other lightweight VoIP solutions.
I wouldn’t use it to set up a call center—you’re going to have to fully rely on your CRM for all but the most basic reporting and analytics—but you’ll be able to get plenty of phones set up for normal business needs.
If you are thinking about cutting the cord with your traditional phone line, this option is going to save you the most money. Sign up with Phone.com today, no contract necessary.
#5 – Grasshopper Review — The Best If You Need More Extensions than Phone Lines
Grasshopper is a great option for small companies that want to establish a professional identity without buying a very complex system.
I’m thinking about the restaurant owner that wants numbers for a few locations without having to pay for a traditional phone line going to each one. Or maybe the law firm that wants a few numbers with lots of extensions.
If you outline your business requirements and it turns out you only need the essentials, don’t pay more for things you don’t need. Grasshopper is going to set you up with everything you need for one flat rate each month.
You’ll get a suite of features designed for the daily work of a modern business, without the clutter aimed at larger organizations. There’s no need to upgrade just to access a particular feature. Every Grasshopper plan comes with unlimited calling, as well as every feature the company offers, such as setting up a phone tree, personalized greetings, call routing, and more.
There are even a few features, like instant response, that you won’t always get with other providers. If you miss a call, Grasshopper will automatically send a text message.
Simultaneous call handling and call forwarding lets you pass off calls to teammates when you’re busy. Voicemail transcription makes it easier to catch up on calls after hours.
Manage everything I just listed directly from the mobile app. Route calls exactly where they need to go—it’s just a few swipes on your cell.
You also get unlimited extensions with Grasshopper Small Businesses plans, and several free extensions with their other plans. Route calls to other numbers, mobile devices, informational extensions to answer FAQs, or a polite out-of-office voicemail.
Getting charged for extensions was something Gregg said people should watch out for in the contact they sign. The total cost can “go up real quick” if you have to pay for an extra line just to set up a voicemail extension.
With Grasshopper, you don’t have to worry as much. The entry level plan comes with one number and three extensions—perfect for the sole proprietor or founder to greet their callers with a professional menu and connect them with the right person.
Let’s take a closer look at your three options with Grasshopper.
- Solo: starting at $26 per month for one number and three extensions
- Partner: starting at $44 per month for three numbers and six extensions
- Small Business: starting at $80 per month for five numbers and unlimited extensions
As I said, it’s really just the basics. There’s no CRM integration or call recording, so think about Grasshopper as a way to replace your phone system rather than revolutionize it.
That said, if you’ve been trying to work magic with free VoIP like Google Voice, the ability to set up call routing may feel downright revolutionary.
It’s also going to cost less and be way easier to set up than it’s more robust competitors. Toll-free numbers might take a day to start working, but typically your number is ready to go when you sign up.
If you want to add an extra line, it’s $10 per month. That’s a lot more than Phone.com for extra lines, which is why I don’t recommend Grasshopper if you need a ton. Plus, the interface isn’t built for handling a big system anyway.
But for the small office, it’s perfect. It doesn’t matter where you or your business partners work—people can be out in the field when a call comes into the office, or in a different city altogether. Grasshopper makes it easy to ensure your calls get where they need to go.
Try Grasshopper for free.
#6 – PhoneBurner Review — The Best Off-The-Shelf VoIP for Sales Teams
PhoneBurner is ready to rock. Are you?
This product is a little different than the other VoIP options on my list. It’s a sales engagement platform, so it’s not designed to replace your phone system. Rather it’s designed to give outbound reps the perfect tool for prospecting, selling, and closing deals.
Is the team remote? Do people like to work out of the office? Not a drama. Your users can phone in from anywhere and start working through your hottest contacts.
It contains a CRM and auto dialer software built into the platform. You’re not trying to make technology play nice—it’s all set up when you open the box. You can integrate with your own CRM if you want, or simply import your leads and start making up to 80 calls an hour.
I don’t know what your reps’ pace is now, but 80 calls per hour is smoking. There’s no “telemarketer” delay when the call connects, just crisp conversation like it’s over a phone line.
And, because the CRM is tied in, reps can see exactly who they’re talking to, what stage of the pipeline they’re in, and any notes left in the account.
Sarkar said that pretty much everyone in the B2B SaaS game is telephoning through sales engagement platforms now. The auto dialer makes your agents far more efficient by eliminating the busy work of dialing. “You barely have to click anything,” he said.
With PhoneBurner, you’re not manual dialing, tabbing through pages to find a number, or copy/pasting emails frantically before the next call. Instead, you can drop voicemails without waiting for the beep, send an appropriate email, or move a prospect to another folder with a single click.
For Makan, auto dialer software was crucial for large-scale outreach in telemarketing, but it was a pain to set up. You have to specifically program the CRM and the auto dialer. From there, it’s expensive to get the CRM software tuned to your industry. He mentioned one popular CRM option that cost $25,000 and $50,000, “just to get you all set up with the phones.”
With PhoneBurner, a lot of that work is off your plate. It’s not going to groom your database for you, but the fundamental CRM/auto dialer integration is already in place.
The company takes it a step further by offering one of the most comprehensive onboarding packages that I have seen for any product. Their team works with you on goals before you set up, runs you through a test session, and then trains your team on how to use the platform.
You also learn how to build reports so you can track performance. It’s easy to do this wrong, on any platform, but your PhoneBurner advisor is walking companies through the process, week in week out. They’ll get you set up with dashboards, leaderboards, and all of it is going to be customized to your goals.
Leads are distributed automatically, based on rules you set. Toggle between pre-set configurations, like Round Robin or First Come First Served, or customize your own settings. Make sure leads get to the right agent every time, with only a small amount of work on the manager’s part.
PhoneBurner isn’t cheap, but remember that this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison with the other VoIP providers because you are getting the auto dialer and CRM built in.
- Standard: starting at $126 per user each month
- Professional: starting at $152 per user each month
- Premium: starting at $169 per user each month
These are the prices if you sign up for a year, which are discounted 15 percent compared to paying monthly. You’re getting unlimited dial minutes, which is obviously important if your reps are making a thousand calls each week. With PhoneBurner, that’s not hard to do.
Call recording is stored free for 30 days with the Standard plan, 60 days with Professional, and there’s no limit for Premium plans. There are also limits on the number of contacts you can store, which start at 10,000 on the Standard plan.
You’ll need to upgrade to Professional to get softphone capabilities. It’s not a big deal if you already have phones, but I imagine that’ll bother folks that want to use their tablet or computer.
With Premium, you get a dedicated inbound line, as well as some of the handling features. I would not recommend using PhoneBurner for serious inbound traffic—the other VoIP options are going to be way cheaper—but some teams will appreciate having a custom voicemail and the ability to forward calls.
On average, a rep can make 233 percent more calls with PhoneBurner than they can with a regular line. Does the math pencil out for you? For Makan, it took 2,500 calls to generate a listing. What’s your metric?
If doubling or tripling your rep’s productivity sounds like a good idea, start a free trial with PhoneBurner today.
#7 – OpenPhone Review — The Best Way to Run Your Business From a Mobile Phone
Jason warned us about going with the “newest and cheapest option,” so I was a little bit skeptical when I heard about OpenPhone. It’s only a few years old and it’s $10 per month.
That’s way less than the average cost of VoIP, cheaper even than some of the “budget” options I looked at.
But the more I discovered about the company, the more I liked it. OpenPhone is new, but certainly not fly-by-night. It’s a recent graduate of Y Combinator, the startup accelerator that helped launch AirBnB, DoorDash, DropBox, and Reddit.
Like those companies, OpenPhone has come to market with a new set of assumptions about how people are living and working. Instead of trying to replace a business phone system, as many Cloud-PBX’s claim to do, OpenPhone simply turns your mobile into a better phone for business.
It’s really aimed at the modern startup or small business, especially if the owner is one of those people who steers the ship from their phone. You’ll get a business number for your mobile phone. Go local, toll-free, or keep your own number, you choose. Porting your old number is 100% free.
Set up an auto-attendant so callers can get the information they need and connect with the right person. Establish a professional identity for your business in minutes. You’ll be reaching people on a stronger footing because you always know if an incoming call is business or personal.
There’s no hardware necessary and no more giving out your mobile number. Keep your privacy. Get numbers for your team and let them keep their privacy, too.
Where OpenPhone really steps away from the crowd is the shared inbox. You can have multiple people call and text from the same number. They can even make calls from that number at the same time.
A lot of phone systems don’t include text messaging, let alone allow multiple users text in the same thread. With OpenPhone, you can text the way you normal humans do:
Tag users with @mentions to bring the right people into the conversation quickly. Group messaging is really helpful for collaboration, especially since you can send files, videos, and GIFs.
You’re just not limited with texting the way you are on a lot of other VoIP phone services. You can send snippets from templates as part of a campaign or auto-reply to missed calls and texts.
Managing contacts isn’t hard either, as you get limited CRM integration with Google Contacts or via Zapier. You can use HubSpot for a more robust CRM solution as well, which allows you to store recordings and view message histories with ease.
Keep in mind this is not going to be a full-blown CRM solution the likes of which I’ve described with PhoneBurner and others. You’ll need to get into HubSpot to make changes to contacts, for example.
Because it’s a young company, there will be additional and deeper integrations “in the future,” which I know can be frustrating. But if you are a young company as well, HubSpot’s free CRM software plus OpenPhone is just about the cheapest way I can think of to deliver the essential benefits of connecting VoIP and your CRM.
- Standard: starting at $10 per user each month
- Premium: starting at $25 per user each month
- Enterprise: contact sales
Standard has most of what I’ve mentioned already, along with unlimited calling and texting. Bear in mind that it’s unlimited within the fair usage policy. According to the terms of service, for the Standard plan, you’re looking at 1,000 texts and calling minutes per month.
Though it’s not truly unlimited, that’s pretty generous. Phone.com caps their entry level plan at 300 minutes and 1,000 text segments, which is likely a smaller number of texts.
The Premium plan comes with HubSpot integration and more collaborative features, like the ability to transfer calls and an advanced auto attendant that gives you a wider range of call routing features.
Extra lines are $5. So, for the price of standard VoIP (around $25 pretax), you could get a company of four set up on the Standard plan.
There are other free ways to get a business number for your mobile phone. Go for it. Getting off the ground you need to save every dollar—I get it—but there’s a point where the inconvenience of trying to work around something like Google Voice starts to cost you money.
OpenPhone solves most of those problems for $10 per month.
How much does a single missed opportunity cost you? For a barber, maybe it’s a call from a stranger who would have spent thousands of dollars as a regular over the next few years. If only you’d been able to catch them.
It’s well worth checking out, and I have a feeling you’ll be hearing a lot about this company in the future. Try OpenPhone for free today.
What I Looked at to Find the Best VoIP Phone Services
I’ve been a small business owner who has needed the cheapest possible business line before. Like having a real number that people can connect to by using the “Contact Us” button on my Facebook page. I think it was still TheFacebook.com back then.
Now, I have people reporting to me about our VoIP options in Brazil.
Growing from a one-man show to a global operation, I’ve been on a few sides of this conversation. We’ve built a marketing machine and I know how we use VoIP—but my team wanted to get a wider picture of what’s going on to help more of my readers.
Some of you have on-call IT support and months to demo the best options. Others are completely on their own running a business and can’t sacrifice more than a weekend in order to find the best VoIP phone service.
Either way, you need to be able to separate the options that are working well for other businesses from the one that’s going to work best for you.
My team reached out to other leaders in the field to see what things looked like from their perspective. We don’t sell VoIP, for example. So, it was really interesting to think through buying VoIP with Gregg, who runs a managed services provider.
VoIP is just one of the IT services Gregg’s company manages, but over a few decades, he’s seen plenty of things go wrong, helped people out of bad contracts, and restored their business integrity after hacks. He offered a lot of insight on VoIP security and what people can do to make sure they’re not spending money on stuff they don’t need.
Technically, Gregg is a competitor with some of the services I recommend, but he was very frank and offered advice you are not going to find on any review site.
We also talked to Makan, who set up call centers for telemarketing in real estate. These are call centers where each employee is making something like 1,000 calls each week. His practical advice is hard-won in an industry that has a staggering attrition rate.
“You’re going to let go of eight out of every ten people who work for you,” Makan told us. New hires have to be brought up to speed, coached, and—when they have to go—be safely de-provisioned in order to prevent your database from leaving with them.
And simple employee mistakes can cost thousands of dollars in legal fines because telemarketing is so highly regulated.
But if you can do it right, the payoff is huge. Makan was able to use call center analytics to surface important metrics that guided his hiring, onboarding, and training. “We no longer have to keep employees for like a year and a half to see if it works or not,” he said.
In searching for the best VoIP provider, you’ll read a lot about using analytics to optimize performance. It’s not just marketing lingo. Makan explained how you can basically predict your sales with VoIP tied to a CRM, and scale hiring up or down accordingly.
Sarkar, a sales manager in B2B SaaS, also pushed the importance of VoIP/CRM integration. We talked a lot about how your sales strategy informs the buying decision.
Are you in a mature market that needs to handle inbound inquiries, or are you selling a novel product that requires you to hit the phones and educate prospects over a cold call?
Configuring a general purpose CRM to work with your VoIP, can be a ton of work. Sarkar helped us see how some companies save a lot of time and effort by using a sales engagement platform like PhoneBurner. It has all the outreach capabilities built in. That means less setup and fiddling to get up to speed, with a better experience for your sales teams and customers.
There’s just a lot to think about, depending on where you’re coming from. Jason has worked in call centers since 1992. He’s seen the market evolve from desk phones to headsets to AI. His eye for distinguishing meaningful advances from shiny objects that get you nowhere is unrivaled.
Jason also recently purchased an enterprise VoIP system for the company he’s with now. Talking through his experience was extremely helpful in understanding how enterprise buyers have to work through their options methodically and coordinate with multiple departments in order to find a VoIP service that works across the entire organization.
And even though the scale is different, a lot of his guidance serves as practical advice for the small business owner. How do you know if remote workers have good enough internet for VoIP? How do you evaluate the quality of integration between VoIP and your key business software?
You may not have to buy as many phones or connect as many locations as Jason, but these questions still matter.
We covered a lot of ground in the interviews and research. Here are the three biggest takeaways that I think will benefit anyone shopping for VoIP:
- The ability to self-manage is crucial: It used to be that you had to call your service provider to make any changes to your phone system. Want to add a user? Change a call path? The options I chose are simple enough to administrate without having to loop in IT. Small business owners without an IT staff can see why that’s important, but large businesses benefit too. It keeps overhead down as they scale. Admins won’t need technical support to accomplish their daily work.
The problem is that some of the “bigger names” in the industry are stuck in the past. “It’s very cumbersome and convoluted,” Gregg told us. “End users are not making changes to it.” Avoid those and go with something you can manage yourself.
- Identifying all of your business requirements early will save a lot of pain: Check in with every department that’s going to be using VoIP. If you are a small business, check in with every team. What do they need, what would be nice to have, and what’s superfluous in their eyes? Leave no stone unturned. Your solution has to cover executives and receptionists, who will be using VoIP in different ways. You may be able to replace equipment like fax machines and conference phones—or you may have to find something that plays nice with inventory you want to keep.
Jason created a detailed business requirements document and sent it to vendors. A few dropped out right away, which saved everyone time. Yet a simple oversight by his IT team delayed the deployment of their new system by half a year.
- VoIP plus your other software and channels is the key: I’m really going to hammer on the CRM integration below because it was so important to almost every expert we talked with. But let me emphasize here the opportunity you have by connecting VoIP to your other business software. You can really dial in with analytics—some providers offer voice recognition technology that pulls all sorts of insights about your employee’s conversations.
And if your voice communication is tied in with live chat, email, texting, video, and social media, employees have everything in one place. They are looking at a complete relationship during every conversation, regardless of where it started. It also makes your billing a lot less complicated, especially if you have multiple offices. One bill for all your communications.
I looked for VoIP you can use right away. Admins will be able to make sure everyone is set up, and new hires will gain fluency quickly in the modern system. No more six-month deployments.
Companies like Ooma, RingCentral, and Nextiva can set up large offices very quickly. And if you have a small office, you may be able to get started this afternoon.
I wanted to find a few different products that work across every channel. These omnichannel solutions are more expensive, for sure, but they were worth it for virtually every expert my team talked with. It makes everyone more efficient because they’re not logging into different accounts and losing track of conversations.
I also looked at products that have a more limited selection of integrations and channels. These are way cheaper. Not everyone is trying to run a call center with VoIP—it could just be they want an 800 number on their ecommerce website. As long as their callers are routed correctly or greeted by a professional voicemail after hours, it’s all good.
Really, a lot of people get VoIP because they don’t want to give out their personal number for business anymore. OpenPhone will do just that. Grasshopper is perfect for the small office that needs the essentials covered and nothing more.
Alternatively, you can find a great deal on basic plans from some of the larger VoIP service providers. Ooma Office is a good deal no matter how you slice it. The Essentials plan from Nextiva is well within the small business price range, and can completely remove the need for an expensive traditional phone line.
Let’s walk through the big factors you have to consider. Evaluate your options like an expert by taking in the perspective from industry veterans and sales leaders.
Baseline VoIP Features
I want to focus on what makes these products different, not overwhelm you by describing every feature for every product. Once you start digging into VoIP, you’ll find that 30-40 different features is the low end in terms of what you get.
Every option I picked covers what I consider the baseline VoIP features, with some minor exceptions. You won’t hear me call them out unless there’s something superlative about how a vendor does it.
To be make my list of recommendations, the providers had to include:
- Call handling features like call forwarding, call transferring, call waiting, and extensions, so that you never miss a call, no matter where you are.
- Menus and auto attendants that let callers dial a certain department, listen to business hours, and so on.
- Call recording that provides a history and playback of all calls, which is useful for training and sometimes necessary for legal reasons.
- A mobile app that turns your cell phone into a business line
- Online fax to replace the need for traditional machines while also digitizing documents automatically.
- Softphone capabilities to let you make calls from desktops and tablets with just a headset.
- Video calls and conferencing for meetings, webinars, telehealth, and more.
- Voicemail transcription that turns your missed calls into a quick read by text or email
Some of the “entry-level” VoIP packages aimed at companies with five to ten employees only come with limited versions of these features. You may have to pay extra for call recording, for example, or go with a more expensive plan to get unlimited online fax.
Plans vary between basic business phone systems and premium solutions for call centers. The latter come with much more customizable call handling features, multi-level auto attendants, and deep reporting features that a small team isn’t going to miss.
Making a Cost-Effective VoIP Purchase
Traditional phone service, after tax, would be somewhere around $50 – $70 per month. In my research, I found many users switching to VoIP because they were paying a lot more than that.
I think this is how people “cut their phone bill in half” by switching to VoIP. They were getting dragged over the coals by their current phone provider. For people with a reasonable phone bill, the savings may not be so dramatic.
“It’s not some magic savings,” Gregg told us. “You’ll be saving a little, but not as much as you would think with your monthly phone service.”
But, since you’re probably going to be paying per-phone, even a $10 savings each month will add up quickly. The more intelligently you can select a provider, the greater your savings will be.
Let’s run through how to assess the sticker price, the real price, and everywhere you can cut costs by finding a system that fits your business.
Gregg said VoIP costs about $25 per user per month on average, which is basically what I found in my research. This is if you are paying for the phones outright or using softphones. If you’re renting desk phones, it’s typically about $10 per month extra, bringing the cost of VoIP to about $35 per user each month.
Call it $40 per month after taxes and fees. It’s not providers padding the bill, just the unavoidable government-mandated surcharges for the Universal Service Fund, which brings telecom to rural parts of the country and supports 911 emergency numbers.
Now you are definitely going to see VoIP for cheaper than $25 per line. I’ve included simple VoIP solutions like Phone.com and OpenPhone that are less than half that.
Typically, the tradeoff with the really low cost plans is that you’re getting a set block of minutes per month, whereas plans of $25+ tend to come with unlimited calling in North America.
For sales, customer service, and other use cases that require people on the horn all day, unlimited calling is a must-have. When you go over your set block of minutes, your VoIP savings can disappear.
If you are using auto dialer software over VoIP, you really need to avoid per-minute pricing. Makan did the math out during our conversation: if you have 100 employees expected to make 200 calls a day, you’re looking at 100,000 minutes per week. That’s way too much call volume to survive being billed by the minute.
Some providers, like RingCentral, Ooma, and Nextiva, offer plans in the $20 range for unlimited calling. So you can pay below average, but not have to worry about massive overage charges.
Another factor that can potentially lower the total cost of VoIP is understanding the licensing. For instance, is it going to cost you extra to add an extension? Are you paying per user, per line, per call path? Vendors don’t all charge the same way.
Gregg cautioned us that a lot of people don’t understand exactly how they’re paying in the contract. They go to customize something on their end, thinking it’s free, and then get shocked when the bill comes at the end of the month.
With Grasshopper, even the cheapest plan they offer comes with three extensions for free. This is great for a small business that wants one line for a few departments, or a startup that needs a basic phone tree.
Phone.com costs less to add a new number than Grasshopper, but you don’t get free extensions. The different arrangements can be confusing, but if you take the time to understand what you need, you can play it to your advantage.
If you are really trying to get VoIP on a budget, Jason warned us that you have to be a little cautious. It’s really easy to spin up a VoIP company these days—the technology is not new—and he laid out some horror stories of badd apple vendors pretending to offer reputable service and dropping clients as soon as they get their money.
“And since it takes about 30 days to port over a number, you’re kind of out of luck if that happens,” he said. The U.S. Department of Justice has prosecuted these cases, clawing back millions of dollars from phony VoIP fraud schemes.
Better to be safe than sorry, and use a VoIP provider like Grasshopper or Ooma that’s been around awhile. Or, a household name like RingCentral that is a publicly traded company. “I can’t imagine they would dump you in 10 days or anything like that,” Jason said.
Cloud-Based or On-Premises System
You can get VoIP infrastructure installed in your office (on premises), or use the internet to connect to the service (cloud-based). Either way, you’re paying less than you would for a traditional phone line, but there are important differences to understand.
There is a much higher initial cost of equipment if you go with an on-premises deployment. You have to buy the PBX, phones, routers, switches, etc., whereas a cloud-based provider hosts all of that themselves.
You can buy desk phones with a cloud-based solution and many people do. But, you don’t have to so long as you outfit employees with a softphone or a VoIP mobile app.
“When it’s cloud-based, you don’t have the big outlay,” said Gregg. “But you’re not really missing out by not getting the equipment because these systems come with a ton of functionality.” Some of the key capabilities he talked about were:
- Your employees can work from anywhere in the world with internet
- You’ll be able to self-manage features menu systems and call routing
- You can scale up without buying equipment, and scale down without waste
- You don’t have equipment to maintain and monitor
These are four of the top reasons why I only recommended cloud-based solutions.
Like any solution someone else is hosting, you do sacrifice a little backend control. You are limited to the features they provide, whereas an on-premises system can be completely customized to fit your exact needs.
But the end user can do the vast majority of what they need to with Ooma or Grasshopper. A shop-owner with zero IT experience can add an extension for a new employee or make changes to information about holiday hours provided by their auto attendant.
Most people get the control they need without the responsibility that comes with maintaining a system. If you need hundreds of phones and super customized configuration, an on-premises system may be your only option. That’s going to require IT overhead—hiring an MSP like Gregg to install, maintain, monitor, and replace your equipment—or hiring an in-house staff.
For many business owners, it would be a dream not to stress about the phones. The cloud-based providers I looked at offered nearly 100% uptime, and some offer financially-backed SLAs.
Like Gregg told my team, “You’re not so worried about the end at the main office being up at all times because your employees are connecting directly to the cloud-based server.”
The simplicity here is even more important if people are telecommuting or working out of the office a few days a week. It’s much harder to secure communications between external users and an on-premises system.
I’ll say more about that in the security section, but modern employees need access to company services at all hours. As such, cloud-based is becoming a lot more popular.
Greg told us flat out, “If you’re SMB in the ten phones range—give or take—it’s not worth it to do on-prem anymore.”
Larger companies will have more to think about, but VoIP providers like Nextiva, RingCentral, and Ooma can help you get set up regardless of what kind of deployment you need. With these vendors, you can really get the best of both worlds or make the transition to cloud at your own pace.
What Kind of Internet Speed Do I Need for Clear Calls?
Calls have to be clear. You can’t compromise on that, or you’ll wish you had your landline whatever the price.
So how do you make sure your setup handles VoIP?
Here’s the nuts and bolts of what I found: VoIP is not going to work on DSL. Cable might be okay for a small office, but it won’t be the greatest.
Fiber is what you want. It has the bandwidth you need and the upload/download speeds are the same, unlike cable.
Everyone we talked to about VoIP told us that running low on bandwidth is going to start causing issues—dropped calls, echoing on the line, and terrible conversations.
Here’s the thing, VoIP doesn’t need a blazing fast connection.
Gregg said that 100 kbps is good. 140 kbps is “like the most ideal, pristine phone call.”
So, if you’re on a 1 mbps line, you could potentially make ten phone calls. “Granted, you always wanna overcompensate for fall offs and whatnot, but that’s all you need speed wise,” he added.
Nextiva and RingCentral have VoIP plans aimed at smaller companies that don’t have commercial office infrastructure. They will let you test your connection right on their website. You’ll get all the information you need to figure out if you’re ready for VoIP, or you need to upgrade your internet first.
We’re not talking about a massive pipe here, the problems you run into are the stability of the connection. If you’re downloading a song, who cares if it takes two or three extra seconds? You wouldn’t notice. But when you’re having a conversation, even a slight delay is going to be a huge pain.
Any delay over 150 ms (that’s milliseconds) and your meaningful conversation is now impossible. For reference, a call over a landline has a delay of about 45 ms, so 150 is definitely the upper limit of what you want.
Any higher than that, you’re talking over someone or they missed what you said.
Making cold calls, helping an irate customer—it’s hard enough already. No one wants to repeat what they’ve said. And it’s not going to be good if someone mishears a credit card number.
“Where it becomes an issue,” said Gregg, “is if you have a cable modem that only has 5 mbps on your upstream, and everybody in the office is uploading stuff to Dropbox, OneDrive, and things like that, eating up that bandwidth.”
Remember the dark days where someone couldn’t be on the internet and the phone at the same time? Don’t go back. Make sure you’ve got the bandwidth to accommodate all of your users with all of their tasks.
Network and Hardware Considerations
Now you can have all the bandwidth in the world and still get bad VoIP quality if your network isn’t configured properly.
Small businesses don’t have to worry so much about this. According to Gregg, “If you only have five phones, maybe even as high as 10 phones, sure you could just dump them in on a network.”
He advised running a separate VLAN for anything beyond 10 phones in a single location in order to avoid quality issues. Separate the phones from the computers and prioritize voice traffic in the routers. This way, whatever your employees are doing won’t affect the quality of your calls.
Even with the so-called “plug and play” systems, you’re going to want to put some thought into network configuration if you are putting in more than 10 phones. “I mean you can just plug them in,” said Gregg, “but I wouldn’t be too hopeful about the quality.”
But it’s not just phones to think about. “The fax machines in the conference rooms really threw me for a loop,” Jason explained. “I’m like: I’m just buying a phone system!”
You have to be methodical. Where do the phone lines need to go? Are they connected to the security system? If you have PoE, you can just plug the ethernet cable into the phones, but if not, you’ll have to make sure there’s power running everywhere you want a station.
With a cloud-based service, you’re going to have to let the vendor behind your firewall.
Jason had an issue where one of his guys missed a key thing about the firewall requirements, and it delayed his VoIP deployment by about six months. “I was not too happy,” was all he said about that.
If you have a lot of traditional phones and fax machines that you want to keep using, I’d recommend Nextiva, RingCentral, or Ooma. They offer analog telephone adapters (ATAs) that allow you to VoIP-enable landline devices.
This allows you to phase out your old system gradually, instead of trying to Hercules your company through a massive (and much more expensive) transformation. It’s going to be painful to switch no matter what, but how long can you justify investing more money in an old PBX that’s twice as hard to use for half the functionality?
One last thing about using old phones. It’s great if you can use what you have or get a deal somewhere rather than going through the vendor.
Yet Gregg has encountered problems with aging phones. Hackers will try and log into the phones to start making spam calls. “We were seeing upwards of 100,000 attempts a day on a single phone system,” he recalled. The processors on the older phones weren’t powerful enough to withstand all the incoming requests, and the attack crashed the system.
So, definitely be on the lookout for deals and try to make the most with the equipment you already own. But just be cautious about buying a phone that has an older processor, because it might be a vulnerability.
Plus, when you buy a phone directly from your VoIP vendor, it’s pre-provisioned. It’s got a secure connection out of the box. When you start piecemealing things, you may lose that desirable plug-and-play functionality.
Make Sure Remote Workers Are Up to Speed
Cloud-based VoIP gives you complete freedom to go remote with ease. Connecting external users to an on-premises system has a lot more hurdles in terms of cost and security.
But even if you go cloud, which I highly recommend, there are a few things to be thinking about.
Remote workers need a solid internet connection for VoIP. When Jason hires someone working from home, the job post says they have to have a locked and secure WiFi.
He also has them take a speed test to make sure that their connections are robust enough to be able to take phone calls. He requires a minimum of 20 mbps download and 10 mbps upload.
It’s just a generic speedtest, nothing fancy. He sends them the link, they send back screenshots to verify. Jason said most people “blow those upload/download times out of the water,” but you need to be sure.
With telecommuting employees, you also have to think about training and management at a distance. I know I’ve said that the premium VoIP plans from vendors like RingCentral and Nextiva are aimed at the call center crowd. Well it’s also true that those features become really important for collaboration when there is no office.
Sharing documents within the platform, like phone scripts, or the ability for a manager to listen in on a new hire’s first live calls—you can provide more support to develop your employees, even when people are working from home.
For a small team, OpenPhone can work really well. People can share an inbox, tag calls, leave comments, and ensure that no opportunities are missed.
People love to be able to work on the go, even if they’re not fully remote. One thing that surprised Jason was how important the mobile app was to the executives. They wanted everything forwarded to their cell.
Mobile apps are great, but they’re not without their downsides. Gregg said VoIP on mobile was great for saving money, but he wasn’t so keen on it as a full-time stand-in for using a computer or desk phone. “It’s nice in a pinch,” he said, “but if you wanna watch a cell phone battery drain out before your eyes, that’s a great way to go.”
Integration with CRM
My team asked Jason what the biggest thing you can do to help reps and agents is, and he said integration with your CRM.
This was a tune we heard from everyone, and it dovetails with my own experience. CRM software is a total game changer when it comes to growing your business and providing service to customers.
Look for a VoIP phone service that has integration with your CRM. If you don’t have one, Nextiva and PhoneBurner have one built in that you can start using immediately.
The technology’s not new by any means, but CRM software has gotten really good in the last couple of years, and a lot less expensive. When you combine a CRM’s ability to track customer information with quality voice communication, the resulting experience for your employees is amazing.
A customer calls and their account information pulls right up on screen. There’s no digging for a file or asking for a customer to provide their name, ID, order number, etc.
Sarkar talked with us about how it increased his sales reps’ efficiency. “You get to have more conversations by cutting out the extra time you spend figuring out who’s calling.”
Really, every interaction is streamlined, which makes your reps and agents way more productive. If a customer has an order, the rep can see where it is. There are no extra steps to verify who’s calling, or ask them to dig up a purchase order number.
Saving seconds on every repetitive task adds up quickly. Employees can click-to-dial numbers within the CRM. Account information is centralized and agents can leave notes about calls. Everything is stored in a way that makes sense.
Makan put it well when he said, “Compared to a traditional phone system, voice over IP integrated with the CRM is hands down like: before iPhone [versus] after iPhone.”
The ability to record calls within the CRM was a huge factor for a lot of the people we spoke with. “In the past,” Jason said, “the systems that I’ve had for recording were kind of separate from the CRM, so I had to go chase that down. If somebody called in, I’d have to be like who do you talk to? When did you call? And that would be kind of a nightmare.”
When Jason moved to a new VoIP provider, integration with their CRM was the deciding factor. His company communicated on so many channels, all of which are recorded. The integration makes the process of listening back much easier.
“If you complain about a rep or something like that,” Jason said, “I can take your phone number, plug it in, and find every single call you’ve ever made over the last year, every chat, every email, every contact. It’s super simple. [It] saves me on time tracking down calls.”
For Makan, call recording was essential for assessing employee performance. “Traditionally, you give someone a dummy phone,” he said. “You don’t know how many calls they made, who they talked to, or what the level of conversation was.”
With VoIP, you can do quality control much easier. Listening back to the calls is easy. What went right? What could be improved? Identify who needs training and who’s not a good fit.
Makan explained how it really helps managers conserve their time and energy for quality candidates. They know who to invest in and who to send on their way. “I mean, you can tell in like 60-90 days. Any excuse they give, you can just listen to the quality of the calls.”
Be on the lookout for VoIP providers that showcase direct integrations with your CRM (and other software, for that matter). You absolutely have to demo it to see how that integration drives and works on a day-to-day level. If you want that “super simple” experience Jason was talking about for recording calls, the integration has to be tight.
Also be aware that the initial setup of your CRM and VoIP is going to take some time, especially if you are tying in multiple channels like talk, text, and chat. You need to customize it to fit your industry and use-case because the software is fairly general purpose out of the box.
“You can really geek out on it,” said Makan, “and that’s the challenge.”
Sarkar was a big fan of sales engagement platforms because they have the CRM built-in and they are already tuned for the job. Obviously you don’t want to use them for customer service, but something like PhoneBurner is going to supercharge a sales team with a lot less configuration required.
Convenient Compliance Tools Employees Can Use Without Thinking
There are a lot of regulations protecting consumers from getting robo-calls or having their credit card information stolen. So if you are making a lot of calls or taking financial information over the phone, there’s going to be telemarketing and privacy laws you don’t want to mess with.
I’m glad those regulations are there, but new hires (or just plain carelessness) can break a law by accident and get your company a heavy fine. I found that a single call to someone on the national Do-Not-Call registry could result in a five-figure penalty.
A single slip up could cost anywhere from $11,000 to $43,000. And that’s per call, as in you could get multiple fines if one of your employees screws up. If it happens multiple times, I doubt the government’s going to hit you with a smaller fine.
Or think about HIPAA compliance for healthcare providers. Accidentally exposing a patient’s protected health information can result in jail time. This is true even if the company didn’t know a violation had occurred.
And yet companies make calls and share private information all the time without going bankrupt or winding up in the slammer. This is because they use good VoIP providers that make compliance convenient for employees. Your agents get the proper tools so that they can focus on the customer instead of how to stay in the clear of arcane compliance laws.
Regardless of how big a business you are, if you are making a lot of outbound calls (especially if you’re using auto dialer software), you need to update your DNC list and use it to scrub those numbers from your call lists.
RingCentral, Nextiva and include easy-to-use features to make sure your DNC list is up to date. PhoneBurner has integrations with DNC.com in order to keep people safe.
Makan, whose agents made thousands of calls a week, said that Zoho CRM in conjunction with RingCentral was the cheapest possible way to set your employees up for success. You just have to keep up on your DNC list grooming, “because that’s something you’re gonna run into a lot, and they need to scrub the numbers that they call up.”
Recording calls is another area where compliance is important. These laws vary state to state. In New York, you don’t have to tell people the call is being recorded. In New Jersey, you do.
Products like RingCentral let you automatically notify people that the call is being recorded, so you’re covered. This allows your teams to think less about how to make legal calls.
Jason told us about one of the features that sold him on going with their VoIP provider. It’s illegal to record credit card numbers, so employees need to remember to pause the recording while they take that information.
“And as you can imagine,” he said, “if you take 1,000 or 1,500 calls a month, you’re bound to forget that a couple of times, or miss it, or forget to pause, or forget to unpause, which is a big no-no in our area.”
The VoIP service he chose automated this process within their CRM so employees didn’t have to think about it. As soon as their cursor was in the payment info box, the call stopped recording.
“So my reps don’t have to remember to turn that off, and that’s just super easy,” Jason said. “I don’t have to worry about PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance. I don’t have to worry about, ‘Hey, if you forget, tell me so I can go delete the call out of the system.’ What if we delete the wrong call?”
Take every opportunity you can to automate compliance. The potential liabilities from a single oversight are enough to justify the cost of spending a little more each month on your VoIP, CRM, and training.
No one wants to pay for $20,000 worth of phone calls they didn’t make. That’s what happened to a client of Gregg’s before they properly secured their VoIP. Someone hacked it and used it to start blasting out scam calls.
Security is a major concern for any internet-based service, and VoIP is no exception.
It’s pretty straightforward for on-premises systems if all your phones are in one location. Set rules in your router so that no one can connect to the phone system except the phone service provider.
Gregg said, “As long as that’s configured you’re solid, and you can’t get hacked because the traffic can’t get there from anybody else.”
Securing an on-premises system gets a lot harder if you have people working from home, which is why a lot of companies are opting to go the cloud-based VoIP route. Residential addresses don’t have static IP addresses, so you can’t set rules in your router.
“The only appropriate way to do it is using a VPN service,” explained Gregg. “If you leave the ports open so that anyone can connect, you’ll see that the phone system will get hammered constantly.”
With cloud-based VoIP, the provider is ensuring that the right people are calling into their system. You still have to maintain good security hygiene at your company—long passwords, principle of least privilege, and de-provisioning old accounts.
These last two points are really important. You need to make sure that employees only have access to the data that they absolutely need. If possible, they should have read-only access. And when employees leave, you have to de-provision them.
For one thing, you don’t want to pay for old accounts that aren’t in use. If you have high turnover, be careful to re-use old numbers you’re already paying for, rather than buying extra ones. You don’t want to be shocked by a bill that has dozens of lines you’re not using.
“People need to be aware of sabotage,” said Makan. “If you get a disgruntled employee, they can wipe out the database, if you don’t back it up. Or they copy it. Or they just start corrupting the numbers and changing things in there.”
If you adhere to the principle of least privilege and are on top of booting old users out of the system completely, the risk of sabotage is near zero. If not, you’re putting your data integrity in jeopardy.
VoIP phone services like RingCentral, Nextiva, and Ooma make it easy for administrators to keep track of who has what privileges. You won’t need an infosec credential to keep all the accounts locked down.
My top recommendations are Nextiva, Ringcentral, and Ooma. They are affordable, reliable, and easy to set up.
If you need a full-fledged VoIP platform on the cheap, consider Phone.com.
Grasshopper is great if you’re more worried about having enough different extensions instead of unique, dedicated phone lines.
Need something that’s more suited to support your sales teams’ efforts. Look at PhoneBurner for a sales engagement platform that includes an auto dialer.
If you’re a solo operator or just someone who is sick of having to use your personal number for running your business, OpenPhone gives you an easy and cheap way to get a professional number and VoIP service.
So, to recap all my top picks:
- Nextiva – Best for offices with work-from-home employees
- Ooma Office – Best for Adding VoIP to Existing SMB Phone Systems
- RingCentral – Best for high-volume outbound calling
- Phone.com – Most affordable professional-grade VoIP
- Grasshopper – Best if you need more extensions than phone lines
- PhoneBurner – Best off-the-shelf VoIP for sales teams
- OpenPhone – Best way to run your business from a mobile phone
Regardless of the route you go, don’t forget to consider your requirements, budget, and the criteria we talked about as you go through the process of choosing the best VoIP phone service for your business.
Have you used a VoIP service provider in the past? What was your experience like?
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What is reddit's opinion of VoIP.ms SMS? From 3.5 billion comments
There's one small thing about SMS-- For now, you'll have to use an app called Voip.ms SMS for best results-- that is, if you want to see threaded messages and a central app to access them in. If you prefer, you can always have SMS delivered to your email, and you can just reply to the email and your recipient will get an SMS reply! This is awesome if you don't want to have to mess with your phone all the time, or prefer to use a regular keyboard to reply, or want all your messaging to come in through Gmail or whatever.
Regarding US/Canada interactions-- If you spend a lot of time talking to people in the US (family, whatever), just get another US number from VoIP.ms and forward it to your Canadian number so your family can call for free! It'll also permit SMS from US numbers with no extra charges. Want a special number for business? A disposable number you give to, I dunno, hookups or people you're not sure you want having your main? A temporary number for some small project you're doing? BAM. Another few bucks gets you another number that you can cut off any time.
Data roaming fees are something you can't really get around, BUT your internet calling can be set to prefer wifi, so unless you're caught out of a wifi zone, you shouldn't see any problems. In fact, when travelling, you can easily get travel data accounts on a SIM (like I did when I went to Vegas in April) and you're good to go-- WITHOUT changing your number or any other such fuckery.
911 will always work on any SIM whether it's data or voice-- that's a provision of the Canadian 911 service, so you CAN call 911 through VoIP.ms, but you can ALWAYS just call through your regular SIM.
A note about Bell (versus other D4T providers)-- NEVER tell them what device it's going into ("I have a couple of devices I move it between"). They don't want you doing this- they want you using their stupid voice service, so telling them straight up that you're sticking your new D4T into a Nexus 6p will be a problem. Bell's policy is mainly one of trust (?) that you'll be using it in a tablet (though "tablet" is never defined in this context, neither by spec nor by a list of permissible devices), but I know from experience that Telus (despite likewise having absolutely no definition for what is and isn't a tablet) WILL nail you with pay-per-use data rates (which are fucking medieval in their brutality). I was using Telus on my Note 3 for ages, but when I started using my Nexus 6p, I guess they somehow caught the change and started billing me crazy amounts. I got those charges reversed after arguing the issue, but I got tired of wrestling with them over net neutrality issues ("It's like charging me seven times more for water because you found out I'm making tea with it instead of washing my ass."), so now Bell gets my money instead of Telus. Anyway, DO NOT TELL THE CARRIER (that is, the jabroni behind the counter) WHAT DEVICE IT'S FOR. THEY WILL ASK. And if they find out what you're up to, they'll tell you all kinds of shit. I had a friend go in (with explicit instructions) to do this very thing, and he fucked up and told the guy his plan. It ended super badly. That guy now carries around an iPad mini in a shoulder bag as his phone because he didn't listen and he let the Telus guy railroad him.
WOW, I wrote a lot. Sorry about that. I hope the long read yields some usable info.
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