The 13 Best Business VoIP Providers in 2018
What is VoIP? Switching to a Voice over Internet Protocol business phone system could save you up to 75%—if you know what you’re looking for. Business.org reviews some of the best small business VoIP providers.
Your office probably has an e-graveyard—a dusty side room filled with outdated electronics and computer gear that the business has long outgrown.
A VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) business phone system will soon add another wing to that room, if it hasn’t already. VoIP services have become increasingly attractive to small business owners because of their simplicity, wide range of features, and—most of all—inexpensive pricing, compared to traditional telephone line systems. They can also eliminate a lot of on-site hardware, so it might be time to deal with that e-graveyard.
VoIP transforms a voice call into a digital signal and sends it through the Internet, converting it to a standard telephone signal to reach a non-VoIP number. Through VoIP, you can call directly from a computer, a VoIP phone, or a regular phone that’s hooked up to a VoIP adapter, as well as wirelessly through mobile hotspots.
If it isn’t obvious yet, a VoIP business phone system requires a reliable high-speed internet connection of DSL quality or above, in addition to some specialized software and hardware. But your service choices aren’t limited to a handful of local legacy telephone companies, as VoIP is cloud-based and ubiquitous (the sheer amount of VoIP business phone system providers is staggering; we’ve included as many as we could here).
Best VoIP providers for small business
Data effective 04/24/18. At publishing time, pricing and features are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.
What you should know about VoIP
Since VoIP is a relatively new technology that differs from traditional copper-line telephone systems, there may be a bit of a learning curve before you dive into adopting it for your business. Here are a few elemental points to get started.
Basic features to expect
Just as a smartphone can do more than a landline phone, VoIP phone systems can perform all the expected tasks of standard phone systems and then some. They’re a great choice for small businesses that need full functionality, and the VoIP systems we’ve reviewed include most, if not all, of the following features:
- Web-based system administration
- Mobile management (Android/iOS)
- Auto attendant
- Hold music
- Call forwarding
- Conference bridging
- Conference calling
- Caller ID
- Call blocking
- Call waiting
- Call transferring
- Find Me/Follow Me
- Ring groups
- One-line sharing on multiple phones/devices
- Video conferencing
- Voicemail to Email (as audio file)
- Voicemail to Text
- Fax to Text (as PDF)
A private branch exchange (PBX) is the closed telephone network within a business, which employees share for outbound, inbound, and interoffice phone calls. VoIP systems manage PBXs off-site through cloud hosting, eliminating the need for costly (and space-hogging) on-premise equipment and maintenance.
A SIP (session initiation protocol) trunk carries voice, data, and video through a “trunk” that replaces copper telephone connections through the conventional PSTN (public switched telephone network), consolidating phone and internet service into a single digital line. VoIP works best with a SIP trunk, which is scalable for future growth.
If you’ll be switching to a VoIP system, will you want to keep your current phone number? Most VoIP services offer number porting, which lets you transfer—or port—your number to a new service. Check for number porting in a VoIP service’s features; some will apply it for free, while others may charge a one-time fee.
“Bring your own device” (BYOD) refers to employees conducting company business on personal laptops, tablets, and phones instead of on company-owned gear. Most VoIP companies offer BYOD features and solutions within their plans, either included or at additional cost. However, extra IT security layers and company guidelines for BYOD are on you.
Power outage vulnerability
As mentioned earlier, VoIP is entirely reliant on a high-speed internet connection—and is also entirely at the mercy of power outages. Telephone lines may be archaic, but they still work in a blackout—internet equipment and connections, not so much. If your business requires 24/7 uptime, make sure backup power sources are in place.
Unlike traditional telephone lines, VoIP numbers can’t be traced by 911 operators. This doesn’t mean you’d be helpless in case of a natural disaster or Sasquatch attack, however. Upon initial setup at a location, you simply need to enter your info manually through the system’s E911 (Enhanced 911) feature, which will attach a physical address to your VoIP number.
Is one of these VoIP systems a good choice for your business? Check the pros and cons:
- Budget-friendly rates
- Multi-locale scalability
- Confusing pricing
- Expensive international calling
You don’t want to cheap out on your business’s VoIP plan, but . . . admit it, you sort of want to cheap out on your business’s VoIP plan. Nextiva, a company based in Scottsdale, Arizona, offers an impressive balance of pricing and features that could assuage any guilt over saving a few bucks. Also, their online management platform makes it simple to juggle multiple lines and employees in different locales.
Nextiva VoIP plans
|Office Pro||$19.95||View Plans|
|Office Pro Plus||$22.95||View Plans|
|Office Enterprise||$29.95||View Plans|
Nextiva’s pricing can be a little misleading—you’ll want to click those question mark prompts and read the fine print. The basic Office Pro plan is only $19.95 a month if you have 100 or more users and sign a 36-month contract. For one to four employees and no contract, it’s $34.95 a month. Mid-level plan Office Pro Plus starts at $22.95 for the same high employee count and contract, but it climbs to $37.95 a month with the smaller employee base and a month-to-month agreement. With the full-blown bells-and-whistles plan Office Enterprise, it’s the same deal: $29.95 a month with the high count and contract, $44.95 without.
Still, with all the features and functionality Nextiva includes, the fact that no plan exceeds 50 bucks a month is notable. A micro-sized office could get by easily with the bare-bones Office Pro setup, but the advanced features of Office Pro Plus and Office Enterprise are tempting for a few dollars more: the Nextiva mobile voice and video app and the Team Presence status indicator (both included in Office Pro Plus) are useful upgrades, as are call recording and the number-meshing Nextiva Anywhere app (Office Enterprise).
Nextiva VoIP service does a whole lot for very little—and that’s not even mentioning that its customer support is handled completely in-house with no overseas outsourcing. As with Jive, Nextiva is not recommended for heavy international calling, but for a small business on a tight budget, Nextiva could be a simple answer.
- Wide feature range
- Generous toll-free minutes
- Costlier rates
- Outsourced customer service
RingCentral isn’t an instantly recognizable name with a lot of VoIP advertising hype behind it, but the San Mateo, California, company has been in the small-business telephone game since 1999. With network backbones in the US, Europe, and Asia, its reliability is well established. RingCentral’s VoIP service also isn’t the most inexpensive out there, but it includes features that others charge extra for (such as generous toll-free minutes and unlimited video conferencing), so it kind of evens out.
RingCentral VoIP plans
For small to midsize businesses, RingCentral’s Premium plan ($34.99 a month) would cover most office phone needs more than adequately. Features include unlimited users, a toll-free or local number, 2,500 toll-free monthly minutes, unlimited internet faxing, inbound caller ID, automatic call recording, and 50-person video conferencing (which sounds like professional—if not sensory—overload, but it’s available).
On the customer service front, RingCentral receives mostly positive reviews, offering phone assistance during standard work hours, 24/7 online chat service, and ticket service, in addition to weekly webinars and an extensive online knowledge base. Businesses of 20 users or fewer should note, however, that RingCentral favors larger enterprises for US-based support and outsources smaller-office support overseas.
If you’re looking for a feature-loaded, easy-to-implement VoIP system that you won’t have to think about too much, RingCentral is a proven player that does it all. If you’re OK with paying a little more for the comfort, that is.
- Full-service connections
- Mobile solutions
- Higher prices
- Limited fiber-optics
You know Verizon; everybody knows Verizon. It’s a mobile leader, and its ultra-fast Fios (fiber-optic internet) service is expanding rapidly—so of course it’s also in the VoIP business. Verizon has built-in BYOD solutions, as well as the internet connections (both fiber-optic and DSL) to support a reliable VoIP business service. Consolidation of all your business’s telecommunication needs into a single bill could be easily accomplished with New York–established Verizon. It would be more convenient than cheap, however.
Verizon VoIP plans
|Business Digital Voice 1–10||$35||View Plans|
|Business Digital Voice 11–20||$30||View Plans|
|Business Digital Voice 21+||$25||View Plans|
Verizon’s Business Digital Voice VoIP plans start high but come down in price as more users are added. For under 10 employees, it’s $35 a month; 11 to 20, $30 a month; and 21 or more, $25 a month. It’s a sliding-scale illusion that would end up costing about the same no matter the number of people in your enterprise. But Verizon isn’t a budget choice for small businesses: it’s a reliability choice.
If you’re located in one of the 21 states currently serviced by Verizon Fios—which are mostly in the northeast—you’ll have access to one the fastest internet connections available, which is perfect for VoIP. If you’re in DSL-only country, the speed will be slower, but uptime is still guaranteed at 99.95%. Either internet option will support steady VoIP service and, if your business is more medium-sized than small, Verizon could add up to a better value in the long run (especially if you’re in Fios territory).
Since Verizon is a massive company, customer service ratings are in line with what you’d usually read in the comments section—meaning, people are far more motivated to complain than praise. Navigating Verizon’s bundling plans for businesses may be like a choose-your-own-adventure odyssey, but its support lines are segregated well, with separate contacts for small, medium, and larger businesses. Verizon also offers competitive SLAs (service level agreements) for quality and service and 24/7 support via phone, email, and tickets.
Verizon Business Digital Voice isn’t necessarily budget friendly for a smaller business, but the upper-tier plans should be attractive to medium and larger outfits that demand reliable uptime, or at least prefer an all-in-one telecom provider.
- Inexpensive international calling
- Crowdsourced customer service
- Limited mobile access
- Closed API
San Jose–based 8×8 is one of the earliest VoIP providers, launched in 2002 and now serving over a million businesses. And it keeps it simple: 8×8 has only three VoIP plans, but they’re loaded with features, and small companies conducting international business should be especially interested in what they have to offer. Additionally, 8×8 is set up to integrate with many a useful third-party business app, including Salesforce, Zendesk, Netsuite, and Microsoft Dynamics.
8x8 VoIP plans
|Virtual Office X2 Edition||$25||View Plans|
|Virtual Office X5 Edition||$35||View Plans|
|Virtual Office X8 Edition||$55||View Plans|
The 8×8 plans have all of the expected VoIP features and then some, and the calling zones are inexpensively expansive: the basic Virtual Office X2 Edition can put your business in touch with Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK—as well as the US and Canada—for $25 a month. The X5 plan adds 18 more countries for $35 a month, while X8 beefs up that reach by 14 for a total of 46 countries at just $55 a month. Mobile, special, and premium number access is limited in some countries, but 8×8’s coverage versus cost is still impressive.
Even if your business doesn’t make many calls outside of the US and Canada, 8×8 is a solid VoIP choice in terms of service and features.
It’s relatively easy to set up and get started with 8×8, and its multi-channel 24/7 customer support and online knowledge base are on point. Plus, 8×8 offers an additional, unique help solution in a form of crowdsourcing, wherein certified, established customers provide assistance and firsthand know-how to newcomers for rewards. So you can become a helpful 8×8 consultant for warm fuzzies and cold cash.
Even if your business doesn’t make many calls outside of the US and Canada, 8×8 is a solid VoIP choice in terms of service and features. For regular international callers, it’s a practically unbeatable value.
- Feature parity
- Sliding-scale pricing
- Expensive international calling
- Limited video conferencing
Should you trust a company called Jive? The reviews say yes: Jive has nearly as many glowing critical quotes as the Radiohead discography, minus the pretentious lyricism. The Orem, Utah, VoIP provider has established a positive industry reputation since its launch in 2006, thanks mostly to its interface simplicity, focus on small business, and large array of telephone features that are available to all pricing tiers.
Like Verizon, Jive’s monthly per-user rates come down as employee count goes up. But the Tier 1 plan (1 to 4 users) at $29.95 a month is just 10 bucks more than the Tier 5 plan (50 or more users) at $19.95—not a huge bump in costs, which are already quite inexpensive. Also, Jive includes the same 75+ VoIP features across all of their tiers, with a handful of extra-charge exceptions (like international calling and number porting).
Jive VoIP is a simple setup if you buy their preconfigured phones—which come from recognized names like Cisco, VTech, and Panasonic, so quality isn’t an issue. Jive’s customer service is US-based, with 24/7 phone, live chat, and email options, as well as specific lines for small businesses, larger businesses, government entities, and education clients. Jive also hosts an exhaustive YouTube channel dedicated to understanding phone systems and features.
For a smaller company conducting business within the US, Jive is a simple and feature-loaded VoIP that could be hooked up and running immediately for little money and no long-term contracts. Companies planning on extensive international calling, however, might want to look elsewhere.
Jive VoIP plans
|Tier 1||$29.95||View Plans|
|Tier 2||$25.95||View Plans|
|Tier 3||$23.95||View Plans|
|Tier 4||$21.95||View Plans|
|Tier 5||$19.95||View Plans|
8 more VoIP providers reviewed by Business.org:
Copper phone lines are almost a thing of the past—like it or not, VoIP systems may soon be your only business phone choice. Fortunately, there are plenty of VoIP choices to be had, with more digital features and price-point variations than the telephone companies of ye olden days could have ever provided. It’s an increasingly competitive market—do your homework before settling on a small-business VoIP.
Do you have any experiences with a VoIP provider above, good or bad? Or do you prefer one we didn’t review? Let us know in the comments below.
At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don’t guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.