Why a VoIP Service is Perfect for your Business

If you are a business owner looking to expand your organizations internal and external communications system you are no doubt already familiar with the term VoIP. Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP as it is most commonly known is an extremely cost effective and reliable way for businesses to communicate with clients and customers wherever they are in the world.



No matter the size of your business it is likely your organization could benefit from the rich features available from the top-rated VoIP providers and because of this we have decided to review the best 15 for you you in this guide so you can find the perfect provider for your business.


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Best VoIP Provider Comparison

VoIP ProviderPrice FromOur RatingCore BenefitCompare
RingCentral Logo$24.99 Very easy to set up and scale as necessaryget-quote-button-green
8x8-Logo-outline-600x300On Request Option of unlimited or global extensionscompare-now-button-white
Vonage Business Logo$34.99 2.4 million worldwide customersget-quote-button-green
Nextiva Logo$19.95 Unlimited Calls in U.S. & Canadacompare-now-button-white
Mitel LogoOn Request Phones and hosting service integratedget-quote-button-green

choosing a new VoIP providerFinding the Right VoIP Provider

Choosing the  best VoIP provider for your business obviously depends on a number of factors. These can range from the size of your business, how many users you initially need, through to your growth strategy and where you see your business in three to five years’ time.

Because of the number considerations that need to be made when searching for a VoIP provider, choosing the right solutions package for your business needs can be complicated. What is the perfect choice for one business is not necessarily the right provider for you so it is important to keep this in mind if you’re looking for tailored solutions that can really benefit your organization.  To help find the best VoIP provider for your business we have put together the following checklist and factors that you need to prioritize in order to help you find the right provider –

Features and Overall Costs
For a number of businesses, cost is a contributing factor when looking for a suitable telephone system. When comparing VoIP with traditional phone systems there are significant cost savings to be made.

It is important however to look carefully at what features are included in the price that you pay because some providers may charge additional fees for functionality that some other providers include as standard. Business owners should also carry out a review of their business to determine what features and functions the business needs as a minimum to operate effectively without paying for other features you do not need or use, this is why custom solutions are often beneficial.

Quality Standards
This is an obvious one but it is important that you choose a provider that delivers high quality calls around the clock. There is nothing worse than poor phone signal, particularly when you are speaking with an important client.

Support
Although maintenance is greatly reduced with VoIP it is still important to consider providers with a high level of support who can assist you when problems do arise.

Flexibility
This point relates to individual packages offered by providers. It is important that the provider you choose offers solutions that will allow your business to grow and expand. Some providers will also often custom tailored packages designed specifically to enable your business to get the most from your VoIP service.

Third Party Integrations
Perhaps you want to integrate your VoIP with your existing systems and processes. If this is something that you require, make sure that the product you need offers this function.

Overlooking this step means you could spend a considerable amount of time migrating your business data or creating databases from scratch which is both time and resource intensive. Whether you need integration with Dropbox, a CRM solution or Salesforce, make sure that the solution you wish to use fits in with your existing processes.

These factors cover the absolute basics you should be looking to identify about any VoIP provider you’re considering.  There are of course many other considerations that need to made and we look to cover all of these aspects in our in-depth reviews below.

VoIP Provider Reviews


RingCentral Logo + outline

RingCentral

Editor Rating:

Price (per user/per month): $24.99 – $44.99

Deployment Options: Hosted (Cloud)

RingCentral Office offers several cloud-based plans, depending on your business’ demands.

RingCentral is used by over 300,000 businesses, and offers its own set of competitive plans. Indeed, its middle-tier premium package comes with 2,500 toll-free minutes per month and allows up to 25 people to participate in HD video conferencing.

Their Standard plan covers up to 19 users for $24.99 per user/per month, includes 1,000 toll-free minutes, a mobile app, a call management interface, and many more features.


RingCentral Office Thumb1

RingCentral Office Thumb2

RingCentral Office Thumb3



Highlights

 Over 300,000 Customers
Includes Voice, Fax, SMS & HD Meetings
 Very easy to set up and scale as necessary

Key Features

 Auto Attendant, Group Calling, Call Queue functions
 Free setup, money-back guarantee
Integrate with popular software and CRM platforms, including Outlook, Box and Sales Force



Conclusion

One of the most popular VoIP providers for small and medium-sized businesses, with well-designed software interfaces for every type of connected device, and advanced functionality without the hefty pricetag.




Vonage Business Logo

Vonage Business Solutions

Editor Rating:

Price (per user/per month): $34.99 – $64.99

Deployment Options: Hosted (Cloud)

Vonage Business Solutions offer three price plans – Starter, Essentials and Premium to meet your business needs.

Vonage has become a major player in the VoIP industry. For $39.99 / month, professionals can enjoy an unlimited number of inbound and outbound calls.

This is particularly ideal if your employees make many calls within the U.S. and Canada. Additionally, calls made within the Vonage network are totally free.
The Essentials plan allows  lines for 1 – 5 users incorporates over 40 features, including  toll and local free number, conference bridge,  voicemail transcription and call recording.


vonage business desktop thumb1

vonage business desktop thumb2

vonage business desktop thumb3



Highlights
2.4 million worldwide customers
Unlimited calls in the U.S. and Canada


Key Features
Customizable conference groups
Voicemail transcription
Call recording



Conclusion

This service provides advanced technology and a large range of standard features that make it ideal for growing businesses with diverse communication needs.




Nextiva Logo

Nextiva

Editor Rating:

Price (per user/per month): $19.95 – $29.95

Deployment Options: Hosted (Cloud)

Nextiva offers three price plans, these are the – Office Pro, Office Pro Plus and Office Enterprise and all have been designed to meet your business needs.
The Office Pro Plus plan at $22.95 per line per month includes voicemail to text or email, unlimited calling and advanced call management.

Like other VoIP providers, Nextiva is a cloud-based service whose clients span small to large businesses.

Its 3 major plans for businesses range between $20 – $30 per month, and include cloud-hosting, voicemail-to-email services, and free local calls.



Highlights

 

100,000 customers
Unlimited calling in US and Canada
Simple set up


Key Features

 

Mobile app
HD voice
Auto attendant
Call recording



Conclusion

Nextiva claims to be focused on aiding the communications process of small to medium sized businesses. This is done by offering affordable solutions that include advanced features helping the company to win more than 30 independent telephone and technology awards over the years.



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Mitel Logo

Mitel

Editor Rating:

Price (per user/per month): Not available

Deployment Options: Hosted (Cloud)

Mitel’s MiCloud Business offering is a hosted VoIP solution including phones as well as cloud hosting service. This service is offered at five levels – Professional, Business Extension Only, Business Extension Only + Voicemail, Business Lite and Business Advanced.



Highlights
Phones and hosting service integrated
Unlimited calls in US and Canada

Key Features
Voicemail to email forwarding
Call recording
Call transfers



Conclusion

Mitel MiCloud Business is an all-inclusive package that bundles hardware, software, infrastructure, phones and support into an affordable solution from a leading VoIP player.



8×8

Editor Rating:

Price (per user/per month): Not available

Deployment Options: Hosted (Cloud)

8×8 offer two price plans for business solutions – Virtual Office and Virtual Office Pro. These packages different in the types of features offered and overall size of your phone systems.

Virtual Office includes a custom mobile app, unlimited calling, and business app integration and is suitable for most small to medium sized businesses.



Highlights
40,000 customers
Options of metered, unlimited or global extensions
Integration features

Key Features
Presence
Web conferencing
Call recording
Internet fax
Instant messaging
Online call management


Conclusion

8×8 offers two feature rich business solutions that can enhance collaboration, conference and improve mobility all at affordable prices. 




Jive Logo

Jive

Editor Rating:

Price (per user/per month): $19.95 – $29.95

Deployment Options: Hosted (Cloud)

Jive offers enterprise standard VoIP at a tiered pricing plan based on the number of users you need. The monthly charges range from $29.95 for 1-4 users to $19.95 for 50 – 100 users. Features as standard on all tiers include fax to email transcription, find me/follow me functionality, 3-way conferencing and auto attendant.



Highlights
Enterprise-grade system
Established private and public sector clients
Delivered on a proprietary, purpose-built cloud

Key Features
Integrate with Salesforce, Oracle and Chrome
Advanced analytics
Call recording
Conference bridge function



Conclusion

Jive offers enterprise-grade systems. It is a fully-featured system across all price points, offering the same extensive solution to small businesses that corporates use.




ShoreTel Logo

Shoretel

Editor Rating:

Price (per user/per month): Not available

Deployment Options: Hosted (Cloud)

Shoretel offer business solutions in the form of hosted VoIP services under the Shoretel Sky brand. Services offered include extensive features for collaboration and mobility, as well as high quality voice services.

ShoreTel Sky offers premium, robust VoIP plans that include over 90 enterprise-level phone features, 3rd-party app integrations to enhance your VoIP service, call metrics and data monitoring.

The company customizes their pricing based on the individual customer’s needs, but on average each client pays around $35 per month, per user.



Highlights
All-in-one cloud phone solution
Advanced application integration


Key Features
Reservationless conferencing
Presence
Call recording
Integration with CRM systems
Mobility application
Voice messages to text



Conclusion

As a pioneer in the hosted VoIP market Shoretel is a supplier that offers fully integrated solutions including hardware, software and could based services. The company focuses on small to medium sized businesses. 




Corvisa Logo

Corvisa

Editor Rating:

Price (per user/per month): $25.00 – $55.00

Deployment Options: Hosted (Cloud)

Corvisa offers two price plans – Business Phone Standard and Business Phone Premier. The standard plan incorporates a mobile app, voicemail to email, 3-way conferencing and call recording.



Highlights
Visual voicemail
Call handling facilities
Contact center functionality

Key Features
Call recording
Auto attendant
Integration with business applications
Queue-based routing
Ring strategies
Dashboards and widgets



Conclusion

Corvisa provide hosted VoIP and virtual contact center solutions. The brand’s experience in contact center technology means that its hosted VoIP solutions offer number of advanced features.



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Bright Pattern Logo

Bright Pattern

Editor Rating:

Price (per user/per month): Not available

Deployment Options: Hosted (Cloud)

Bright Pattern offers hosted cloud contact center solutions that incorporate features such as blended video, multimedia contact and web chat. Bright Pattern’s business solutions offer many of the basic solutions that will allow your organization to establish an efficient communications process.



Highlights
Web-based agent desktop
Support for multiple contact channels


Key Features
Email processing
Rich multimedia contact for mobile customers
Blended solution for simultaneous communications



Conclusion

Bright Patterns hosted cloud contact center solutions support multichannel communications that reflect customers’ calling preferences.




Five9 Logo

Five 9

Editor Rating:

Price (per user/per month): $300 for solution

Deployment Options: Hosted (Cloud)

Five 9 offer hosted cloud-based contact center solutions, including monthly fees starting from $300. The company’s solutions are 100% VoIP and integrate comprehensive call center functions that can be run virtually from a PC and other external devices.



Highlights
Centralized management from a PC
IVR, ACD and CRM functionality in a simple system

Key Features
Predictive Dialer
Remote Agent Capabilities
Skills-based Routing
Call recording
Real-time reporting



Conclusion

Five 9 claim to be the only virtual contact center supplier offering 100% VoIP. This allows the company to offer sophisticated capabilities in a simple to manage system at an affordable price points.




Line2 Logo

Line 2

Editor Rating:

Price (per user/per month): $14.95

Deployment Options: Hosted (Cloud)

Line 2’s Pro Plan hosted VoIP service is designed for mobile phones. It provides an affordable fully-featured solution for VoIP and offers many great features for mobile workers.



Highlights
Mobile office with business-grade features
500 minutes and unlimited texts

Key Features
Auto attendant
Group conferencing
Visual voicemail
Call forwarding



Conclusion

Line 2 Pro Plan is an ideal solution for mobile workers who want to enjoy the full benefits of a VoIP service when they are away from their desks or working in the field.




ESI Logo

ESI

Editor Rating:

Price (per user/per month): $14.95

Deployment Options: Hosted (Cloud)

ESI Cloud PBX is an integrated system that includes deskphones as well as a hosting service. The service includes a wide range of useful features that include a web-based dashboard as well as mobility, presence and call recording.



Highlights
Unlimited calling plans
Supports three devices per line
Web-based user dashboard

Key Features
Call recording
Mobility
Presence
Visual voicemail
Conference bridge
Personalized call routing



Conclusion

This integrated system provides a fully-featured VoIP service that is purpose-designed to work with the company’s own deskphones. It provides the user with real-time information on their communications.




Avaya Logo

Avaya

Editor Rating:

Price (per user/per month): $19.00

Deployment Options: Hosted (Cloud)

Avaya Live Connect is a fully-featured communications solution designed for small and medium businesses from a major supplier of enterprise VoIP products and services



Highlights
Customized collaboration tools
Option to include Avaya VoIP phones


Key Features
Personalized auto attendant
Ring group functions
Mobility
Meet-me conferencing
Voicemail to email



Conclusion

Avaya is a well-known supplier to the VoIP market and offers a small to medium business solution that shares performance and functionality with its proven enterprise services.




Phone.com Logo

Phone.com

Editor Rating:

Price (per user/per month): $9.99

Deployment Options: Hosted (Cloud)

Phone.com offers hosted VoIP services for small businesses with solutions that incorporate around 50 customizable features including HD-quality voice.



Highlights
Flat rate nationwide
HD quality voice
25,000 customers


Key Features
Enhanced Mobility
Auto attendant
Chat calls
IVR menu


Conclusion

Phone.com offers an attractive affordable package for small businesses with more than 50 features and the ability to use any type of phone.




Toshiba Logo

Toshiba

Editor Rating:

Price (per user/per month): Not available

Deployment Options: Hosted (Cloud)

Toshiba’s VIPedge hosted VoIP system is based on its award-winning IPedge premise-based solution and offers the same features and performance without the need for infrastructure investment.



Highlights
Based on IPedge premise system
Ability to migrate to premise system

Key Features
Voicemail
Mobility
Web collaboration
Audio and video conferencing



Conclusion

This hosted system provides the functionality and benefits of a proven premise based system. Customers who choose to migrate to an on-premises IPedge system in the future can reuse the same Toshiba endpoints.



how-does-voip-work-headerWhat Exactly is VoIP & How Does it Work?

VoIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol, and is a system for making phone calls over the Internet instead of the traditional telephone network (known as the PSTN, or publicly switched telephone network).  VoIP has the potential to dramatically improve your business’ telecommunications plan. If you’re new to VoIP, the concept is relatively simple.

The technology takes analogue audio signals (which are what allow phone conversations to take place) and converts them into digital data. From here, they’re sent out over the internet, effectively creating an online phone call with the following illustration laying out how a phone network looks with VoIP incorporated.


what is voip


 

Why is this a big deal? VoIP customers enjoy a robust suite of benefits, but its biggest advantage over traditional phone plans is savings. It is a low cost yet feature packed solution which offers businesses greater flexibility and control. Cloud based phone systems allow your business to make, receive and manage calls not just from your desk phones, but also through your laptop, mobile and other devices.

Traditional business and residential phone systems have been transformed in recent years and that is impart down to the impact that VoIP has had. Although mobile phones now play a huge role in our everyday personal lives, their reliability and tendency for distraction and the occasional dropped call mean businesses still rely on dedicated phone systems, and more often than not they are now VoIP services.

As nearly all if not all modern businesses now rely heavily on internet connection for everyday tasks, VoIP takes advantage of this to deliver low cost phone services that now provide the same levels of reliability as traditional phone systems.

The added advantage of low cost quality makes VoIP an excellent choice for small businesses while the straightforward setup and installation attached to the service means installation and ongoing and maintenance fees can be bypassed.


VoIP benefitsBenefits of VoIP for Business

As already outlined above, there are a number of key advantages for businesses looking to install a VoIP phone system. The 3 main benefits are:

 Find Me/Follow Me – An established feature of VoIP phone systems, this  benefit allows users to do away with separate numbers for office, home office and other additional extensions. Instead when someone is trying to reach you the call is passed from one system to another automatically reaching you wherever you are and ensuring no important calls are missed.

 Advanced Messaging Options – As the forms and type of communications we use in both our personal and business lives continue to expand and grow VoIP allows you to keep up with this trend in many ways. Voicemail transcripts mean you can now receive messages left on your answer phone in the form of messages to read on the move while VoIP can also modernize the way we send faxes as well by doing so virtually.

  Multiple and Local Numbers – Many VoIP providers will offer multiple numbers depending on the needs of your business. If you operate a contact center this will be necessity and allow your organization to grow quickly.

 



Five Ways VoIP Will Save You Money

1. Lower monthly rates and fees: Customers typically report savings of 60-90% on their monthly telephony costs after switching to a business VoIP service.

Because VoIP uses your Internet connection for sending and receiving call data, it essentially bypasses the need for traditional (and relatively expensive) dedicated phone lines altogether. This is the main key to VoIP’s saving potential for businesses.

To unpack this a little further, consider that the traditional analogue phone system could only send one signal – one call – per line at a time. So for large or very busy businesses that fielded a lot of external calls, they would need a huge number of external lines available to make and receive these calls. Because of the way the telephony industry billing system had developed over the last century, they would have to pay for each of those external lines individually – and often at a premium ‘business’ rate.

voip-saves-your-business-money2. All-inclusive call plans with greatly reduced long-distance charges: Charges for calls made over traditional phone systems are based in part on the physical distance between the caller and receiver, with international calls incurring the highest costs. With VoIP,  business calls over any distance, including international calls, are either free or significantly cheaper than over the PSTN. When your business PBX (private branch exchange: the hub through which your internal business calls are routed) is hosted in the cloud rather than being a physical unit installed at your headquarters, you can call anyone, anywhere for the same cost as calling a phone down the hall. Effectively, all calls become local calls.

Costs come in two parts: total length of the call in minutes, and the calling service category i.e. whether the call is local, intralata (LATA is the Local Access and Transport Area), intrastate, interstate or international. The government will also levy fees and surcharges on each telephone line according to the distance category of a call. Except for local calling (which may be unlimited anyway with your service plan), using VoIP can reduce or completely eliminate the charges of long-distance and international calls.

3. Reduced complexity of on-premise equipment leads to reduced maintenance, repair and replacement costs: With VoIP telephone systems becoming just another channel of data in a business’s computer network, overall equipment and technical maintenance costs are greatly reduced as you’re literally dealing with one system instead of two.

VoIP systems can be further streamlined by selecting what’s known as a hosted service, where the service provider manages the hardware and software requirements of your phone system on their own server in the cloud. With a hosted service you get all the same advantages as a basic VoIP system but with even less installation and maintenance involved at your end.

4. Access to ‘premium’ features as standard: VoIP phones and and services often include the kinds of advanced features and functionality that was not even possible with conventional phone services, such as voicemail transcriptions, auto-attendants, video and unified communications capabilities. See further down for a more detailed look at the key features of VoIP phones and systems [link].

5. Convenience, Flexibility & Scalability: With VoIP services, systems packages are built around your specific requirements. Because much of the system design revolves around software rather than fixed hardware equipment, it can be easily and inexpensively expanded as your business grows.



What Equipment Is Needed in Order to Use VoIP?

Now that you have looked at factors that need to considered when choosing a VoIP provider as well as the benefits on offer the next step is to explore what structures and equipment are needed to effectively implement VoIP.

Which specific equipment you invest in for your VoIP phone system will depend largely on the unique requirements of your business: for example, how many employees, managers and customers the system will need to serve, and how flexible you want the system to be for future expansion and diversification.

Network

The first stage is to make sure that you have the network capability to support VoIP. This is important because it relies on the internet to route calls. Internet connections must be fast, reliable and provide sufficient bandwidth to operate properly. While this is not usually a problem for a larger business, smaller companies sometimes struggle because they may have to upgrade their internet connections to ensure that the solution operates as it should.

Hardware

One of the main benefits of a VoIP solution is that businesses no longer have to maintain PBX boxes. However, this does not mean that VoIP doesn’t require any equipment. Even if a business opts for a hosted VoIP, the organization will need to purchase IP handsets or an adapter if they don’t already have them so existing telephones can be used with VoIP.

IP phones are desktop phone units designed specifically to work with modern digital VoIP systems. Basic operations are conducted in exactly the same way as traditional analogue phones, but  these models are also equipped with a host of additional features that take advantage of VoIPs digital networking flexibility and features.

Basic IP phones look essentially like traditional analogue phones, with a keypad and a few other buttons for transferring calls, holding, conference calling and other basic VoIP functions.

More advanced IP phone models can look quite different, often featuring a large LCD screen to display dial buttons, call and contact information and video conferencing capability. As these higher-end IP phones are two to three times more expensive than the basic models, small businesses will quite often order several basic IP phones and one phone with the more advanced features to be used by the person who will act as the administrator for receiving, transferring and setting up conference calls.


 Do I have to buy the equipment?

Some service providers will provide you with hardware like hardphones and ATAs that have been tested and recommended for operation with their software and IP-PBX cloud systems. Some providers offer this equipment on a rental basis for the length of your service contract; others will sell you the necessary hardware equipment outright. Of course if you already have or choose to purchase your own VoIP hardware you can ask the service provider to take this into account when they begin specifying the other elements of your VoIP service solution.



Softphones

The simplest form of VoIP operation doesn’t require a separate phone unit at all – your computer becomes a virtual phone, operated using an on-screen software interface and a headset with headphones and a microphone. There are designs of headsets suitable for any usage situation, including wired or wireless versions, larger padded headsets for noisier environments where sound-isolation/noice-cancellation is a consideration, or smaller light-weight designs for extended or more discreet use.

One of the great advantages of VoIP is that it uses the same IP networks used by many kinds of digital devices such as laptops, tablets and desktop PCs. Therefore, to connect one of these devices to your VoIP network, all you’ll need to do is install the appropriate softphone app that is bundled with your VoIP service package and either connect a headset or use the mobile devices built-in earpiece and microphone. Employees smartphones can be easily integrated into a business’s VoIP phone system, a practice known as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), allowing calls to office numbers to be routed to any device regardless of your actual location.

Backups

In order to operate successfully a VoIP relies on both internet and electricity. Without these the phone system will not function. Some businesses assume that VoIP systems will continue to work even when there is a power or connection outage, the same as regular telephones but they don’t. Therefore, you will need to factor in the necessary power and internet backup systems if either one or both goes down. In terms of the internet, some businesses have a backup which automatically switches to another line if the internet connection is lost. When it comes to powering the phones, this is slightly more complex. Sometimes it may be as simple as connecting the VoIP to the backup generator.

It may seem quite complex to set up multiple backup systems but they are necessary if you want to continue working with VoIP during a power or internet outage.

 


what to ask voip providers10 Questions To Ask Prospective VoIP Providers

1. What are the actual startup costs?

Many providers will waive or include setup, activation and porting fees as part of their complete solution, but not all of them. Different providers will also offer varying levels of support for things like installation and in-person or video training, all of which will come at a corresponding variety of price points.

You will need to know how many people are using how many phones over how many lines and extensions to get accurate costings here – you’ll then be able to determine whether to lease or buy the necessary handsets, and whether to do so directly from your provider or a third-party retailer (and if you buy your handsets and other equipment from a retailer, make sure you’ll have someone in your business who can get them set up correctly with the system).

2. What are the cancellation costs?

If you decide some way down the road that the provider you opted for isn’t the right fit, for whatever reason, it can really help to have gathered the necessary information beforehand about the cancellation or transferal procedures of the provider in question.

Try to find out things like how much it would cost to return equipment after the typical 30-day free trial or money back guarantee (note, they are not necessarily the same thing), and whether or not you get to keep the ported numbers the provider set up for you.

3. What are the minimum ongoing costs?

Every phone system, even the least expensive and free services such as Skype have certain unavoidable costs associated – you still have to own a computer or other device to run a free service on, for example, and you still have to pay for the electricity to power this device. The least expensive VoIP service still have taxes applied and fees for emergency E911 functionality.

Many of these ‘invisible’ costs will not be immediately apparent before you have been using the service for a while, even though they are not ‘hidden’ either. Reading reviews from existing customers of your prospective providers can give you some useful insight into the real-world costs others have experienced and prepare you for a realistic minimum cost appraisal.

4. Can I integrate my old phones or do I have to replace them?

You may have the option to connect old phones to your new system with ATAs (Analogue Telephone Adapters). It could be better to invest upfront in some new IP phones that can be used to make the most of the VoIP features you’ll have access to as part of your service. Alternatively, your service provider might lease you the appropriate handsets until you’re ready to buy your own at a later point.

5. Is the mobile app compatible with my smartphone?

Do check that your providers mobile VoIP app supports your mobile platform: in majority of cases, at least one of the two most popular platforms – Apple’s iPhone OS and Google’s Android OS – will be supported. There is also the Blackberry OS, and newer platforms such as Windows Mobile 8. In some scenarios, it might be better to change your company phone(s) to match your favoured provider rather than the other way around.

evaluate VoIP service providers 6. Is the service ‘Bring Your Own Device’ compatible?

The concept of Bring Your Own Device or BYOD is one of flexibility for employees, allowing them to use their personal mobile devices – laptops, tablets, phones – to easily connect to the office phone system regardless of where they are. This is another good reason to know what devices and platforms your provider’s mobile app will run on. Find out if the phone system will be operable over Wi-Fi and 4G mobile networks, and check how you might connect to the office in particular scenarios like from a hotel room or your local coffee shop.

7. Do I keep my existing numbers or get new ones?

Depending on your provider, much of the number allocation will be up to you. This kind of flexibility is one of the great strengths of VoIP systems.

As long as you are staying in the same geographical location or area, your VoIP provider is obliged to let you keep your local phone number – assuming you want it. It’s possible with VoIP to set up numbers from outside your geographic area code for your business to use. In the future, you can usually take these ‘virtual number’s with you should you switch providers later. You can also use toll-free or 800 numbers with VoIP, but whether you can take these with you when switching will be specific to your particular providers policies and fee system.

8. What kind of tech support is provided?

Each provider will offer different levels and types of tech support, each with corresponding price levels. Find out whether you will be getting 24/7 access to remote support, or whether it’s more of an emails and forum posting kind of level – and if you have specific support requirements that aren’t included as standard, how much will these additions cost?

9. What are the costs of porting old numbers, and how quickly will these numbers be ported?

Porting your old numbers to the new system can potentially be done in a single business day, but that doesn’t mean this is always the case. Plan for it taking longer, during which time two phones have the same number: find out if you can arrange to use the old number while you wait.

10. How reliable is the service, and what are the redundancies?

Again, this is where existing VoIP user reviews can giver you some valuable insight into the realities of a particular provider’s service. You can also look back at the providers Twitter feed to get an idea of how often technical difficulties have been reported and resolved.

Redundancy capability is when a computer server or related system is backed up by a standby or ‘redundant’ system, which the system can switch to without service interruption should the primary server suffer a failure or abnormal termination. Redundancy is one reason why VoIP services stay active even when the legacy analogue phone network is down.