Is there a free VoIP service?

Get to know more about free VoIP service features, it's free.
An entrepreneur using free VoIP service in her new business

The short answer: yes. There are free VoIP software and applications available which you can use to make and receive calls—even video calls!— over the internet. 

Some of the best free VoIP services on the market include WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Google Duo and Hangouts, Skype, and Viber.

Of course, if you’re running a business, then the bigger question is whether these are enough to meet your communication needs. Would you be better off with a relatively cheap VoIP service that brings more to the table?

Before we answer that question, let’s find out what you’re getting with existing free VoIP applications:

What are the advantages of free VoIP service?

Even though they’re free, these VoIP applications do have some benefits that you can’t get from regular landlines.

Anyone can sign up

Getting a free VoIP service is so easy, anyone can do it.

For one thing, there are so many providers to choose from. You can simply Google them or search your app store (Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store) on your mobile app. From there, just download the app and register.

In most cases, you only need a valid email address (or a Facebook or Twitter account) to create an account. After registration and some general verification and validation steps, you’re ready to make VoIP calls!

They include chat, group chat, and easy sharing options

Aside from letting you make VoIP calls, most free VoIP apps have messaging options too. You can even create group chats with multiple users. As a bonus, you can also use these applications to share links, photos, videos, and files to other people either individually or in a group chat.

You can make video calls

Some free VoIP services also let you make video calls. Facebook Messenger, Skype, and most other free VoIP services use your computer or mobile device’s camera, speaker, and mic to make video calls over the internet. That’s definitely something that you can’t do with regular landlines.

They can accommodate conference calling and video conferencing

If you need to host VoIP calls for multiple parties, there are free VoIP services that let you do that too. Just create a group and start a call from there. Voila! You’ve just started a conference call. You could even level it up by doing a video conference call instead of a regular group audio VoIP call. It’s super convenient for people who can’t be in the same room, but need to be on the same page.

What are the limitations of free VoIP services?

Even with these advantages, there are still some things free VoIP apps aren’t able to do. And for businesses, these limitations can be pretty significant. It makes these apps unrealistic permanent substitutes for regular landline phones.

For example, here are some of the biggest limitations of most free solutions:

Unless people are using the same VoIP App, they can’t talk to each other

The main limitation of these free apps is that they only work when the person calling and the person being called are both on the same app. For example: people on Viber can’t call WhatsApp users and vice versa (unless they have both apps downloaded). That’s pretty limiting, especially if you need to call prospects or customers who aren’t using the same apps as you.

They can’t dial phone numbers (for free)

Most of these services are only able to make calls within the application, which means you can’t call phone numbers directly. Of course, Viber and Skype do have that function—but you’d need to buy call minutes to use them, which makes the service paid and not free.

You can’t get a phone number (for free)

Another big disadvantage of free VoIP apps is that you can’t really connect a phone number to the VoIP phone service. Remember how the app can’t call landlines? Well there’s also no way to make calls from landlines to the free VoIP—unless you’re willing to pay, of course. Skype can assign you a temporary telephone number from different countries but, again, it’s an extra charge that negates the “free” aspect of the service.

They’re highly dependent on the quality of internet connection

All VoIP services, paid or not, need an internet connection to work. But the quality of the calls for free VoIP apps is more easily affected by the quality of internet connection used—by both the person calling and the person being called.

With paid versions, specifically the ones catering to businesses, the service requires less internet bandwidth to get a quality call. This is because it uses high-quality codecs to compress your voice.

Think of it as putting your documents into a zip file so it’s easier to send them through email. The codec converts your voice into a smaller file size so it can travel faster over the internet. Before signing you on as a customer, VoIP providers for business usually test the speed and quality of your company’s internet connection to see if it can handle VoIP calls. They also use QoS (Quality of Service) routers that prioritize internet-based phone calls over other internet traffic.

There’s no VoIP E-911 feature

The thing with VoIP is that you can attach a phone number to the service, but it doesn’t have to reflect your actual area code. That is to say: you can use a number that makes you seem like you’re from another state or even another country without actually being there.

That’s why federal law requires business VoIP providers to register the address of the VoIP customer. This is so that first responders know where to send help during emergencies. And another thing—since it only works within the app’s network of users and has no business phone number, it won’t have the ability to call 911 during emergencies. That’s a pretty serious issue.

Do I need a free VoIP service?

That depends on what you plan to use VoIP for. If you only need a service that lets you connect with family and friends, then a free VoIP service is more than enough to help you keep connected.

If, however, you need a home phone that can replace your traditional phone or landline, then free VoIP services may not be adequate because, again, it doesn’t let you communicate with people who don’t use the service’s app.

Calls coming from landline phones or even other VoIP apps won’t work. You’d be better off getting a residential VoIP service, since it’s at least designed to mimic general landline functions for a much lower price.

If you’re a business, both free VoIP services and residential VoIP probably won’t be enough. (Even regular landlines won’t cut it for most businesses.)

If you get a decent number of phone calls, you should look into getting an advanced VoIP-based business phone system with advanced call management features, which makes sure that your business doesn’t miss any calls.

For example, this could include an auto-attendant that answers all your incoming calls and a PBX component that routes calls to the right department or extension. This would be on top of the VoIP service that allows your team to make and receive calls from anywhere, as long as you have internet connection.

What is the best VoIP service for business?

The best VoIP service for your business should be judged based on a few qualities:

  1. Mobility – The main advantage of VoIP is that it can be used from anywhere as long as there is an internet connection. Check with your provider to see if they allow you to access the VoIP service through computers, mobile devices, and personal networks as well as a physical VoIP phone at the office.
  2. Scalability – There should be options for your business to not only scale up as it grows, but also scale down when it streamlines. Check how easy it is to add, delete, or reassign phone numbers and extensions. See if the same business phone system can be used across multiple locations. Are there commitments and contracts within your current plan? Are you allowed to upgrade or downgrade your plan during a contract period? These are just a few of the questions it’s important to know the answers to.
  3. Usability – How easy is it to manage, configure, and use your phone service? Today, VoIP phone systems are slowly but surely moving towards “unified communications.” This is where every type of communication, like voice, SMS, fax, voicemail, and video meetings, can be accessed from one dashboard or platform.
  4. Security – Ask your provider about the security measures they use to protect their VoIP system. Look for a multi-faceted approach that combines high-level security measures like encryption (basically hiding information from unauthorized users) with best practices against cyberattacks and fraud.
  5. Reliability – It’s all about redundancy when it comes to cloud-hosted business phone systems. Redundancy is when a service is hosted on multiple servers in data centers based in multiple locations. This way, when one server or data center goes down, others can take over. RingCentral, for example, is hosted in bi-coastal data centers and has a 99.999% SLA, which means that customers are pretty much guaranteed that the phone system is always up and running.

Interested in seeing what a VoIP-based unified communications solution can do for your business? Why not try RingCentral for free? For more information, you can check plans and pricing below.

RingCentral MVP™* plans for your small business

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Standard

Message, Video, Phone
$27.99 off
$27.99
/user/month **
Everything in Essentials, PLUS
  • No limit on number of users
  • Business phone numbers in over 100 countries
  • Unlimited internet fax
  • Unlimited audio conferencing
  • Video meetings with up to 100 participants
  • Up to 24-hour meeting duration
  • Quality-of-service reports
  • Popular integrations including
    Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, Slack,
    and more
  • 24/7 support
Best value

Premium

Message, Video, Phone, Open API

$34.99 off
$34.99
/user/month **
Everything in Standard, PLUS
  • Automatic call recording
  • Single Sign-on
  • Multi-site admin and management
  • Up to 8-digit extensions with site codes
  • Hot desking
  • Advanced call handling including whisper, barge, and more
  • Video meetings with up to 200 participants
  • Real-time analytics
  • Popular CRM integrations with Salesforce, Zendesk, and more
  • Industry-specific integrations with Canvas, Smarsh, and more
  • Developer platform and custom integrations

Ultimate

Message, Video, Phone, Open API
$49.99 off
$49.99
/user/month **
Everything in Premium, PLUS
  • Device status reports
  • Device status alerts
  • Unlimited storage***

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Pricing
Annually: $19.99/user/mo
Monthly: $29.99/user/mo
Annually: $27.99/user/mo
Monthly: $37.99/user/mo
Annually: $34.99/user/mo
Monthly: $44.99/user/mo
Annually: $49.99/user/mo
Monthly: $59.99/user/mo
Business phone or toll-free numbers
One phone number for calling, team messaging, and video meetings access.
Each user gets a dedicated phone number at no additional cost. Essentials edition doesn't include video meetings.
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Toll-free minutes
Inbound Toll-free minutes
Included minute allotment varies by tier. Toll-free minutes are pooled across the account, regardless of number of lines. Additional minutes available for purchase.
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Included minute allotment varies by tier. Toll-free minutes are pooled across the account, regardless of number of lines. Additional minutes available for purchase.
Learn more
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Unlimited calls within the US/Canada**
Unlimited calling/phone calls within the US and CA. Plus, choose from affordable and convenient international calling plans that fit your business. Terms and conditions may apply.
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Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Enhanced Business SMS
Designed to meet latest carrier requirements and improve deliverability. Included SMS allotment varies by tier. Additional SMS available for purchase. Available upon request.
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Voicemail-to-text
Automatically convert voicemail messages into text form so users can screen messages easily and respond to the most important call first.
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Visual voicemail and voicemail-to-email
Access voicemail messages from your desk and mobile phones, email, desktop app, and online account.
Learn more
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Team messaging
Collaborate more effectively with colleagues, clients, and contractors with team messaging, task assignment, calendar sharing, and more. Also, utilize out-of-the-box integrations with Jira, Asana, Box, Google Drive, OneDrive, and more.
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Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Document sharing
Access documents and files stored on your computer or your Google Drive, Box, OneDrive, and Dropbox accounts and easily share them with your team members.
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Call management and phone system
administration
Sophisticated call management, enabling you to configure your phone system across the entire company, regardless of location or device. Optimize communication with custom admin and user configurations online or using the mobile app.
Call management features include:
  • Answering rules
  • Call forwarding
  • Call transfer
  • Call screening
  • Call flip
  • Call logs
  • Presence
  • Notifications
  • Shared lines*
  • Call park
  • Intercom*
  • Paging*
*Not available with Essentials.
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Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Mobile apps for iOS and Android
Whether you're an Apple or Android user, you can use your smartphones and tablets to make and receive calls, join and host meetings, team message coworkers and partners, send and receive faxes and texts, set up and join conferences, and configure phone system settings, notifications, and voicemail.
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Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
High-definition (HD) voice
To consistently deliver the highest HD quality possible, RingCentral utilizes the Opus Interactive codec for audio and video, as well as the G.722 codec for audio.
Learn more
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Call log reports
Get a complete record of all your inbound and outbound calls and faxes. View the name of the caller, the number or extension dialed, as well as the time, date, and duration of the call.
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Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Phone rental options: desk and
conference phones
Rent any desk phone or conference phone for a low monthly price.
Contact sales for details and pricing.
Learn more
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Add Video Pro and Video Pro+ users
Administrators can add Video Pro and Video Pro+ users from within MVP.
Available as an add-on
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Unlimited internet fax
Send and receive faxes from your computer, mobile device, Microsoft Outlook, cloud storage providers (such as Dropbox), and more.
Learn more
Available as an add-on
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Unlimited audio conferencing
Host an unlimited number of audio conference calls, with up to 1,000 attendees per conference. Each user gets unique host and participant access codes.
Available as an add-on
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Video meetings and participants
Hold video meetings with screen sharing, in-meeting public and private chat capabilities—anytime, anywhere, on any device.
Maximum number of participants varies by the video platform:
Premium with RingCentral Video (up to 200)
Standard with RingCentral Video (up to 100)
Available as an add-on
Up to 100 people
per video meeting
Up to 200 people
per video meeting
Up to 200 people
per video meeting
High-definition (HD) video
RingCentral delivers crystal-clear HD quality video and voice.
Learn more
Available as an add-on
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Quality-of-service reports
Gain the ability to proactively review overall RingCentral system health and diagnose quality issues impacting users. A holistic overview of quality measured by location, endpoint, codec, ISP, and more enables easier monitoring and faster troubleshooting.
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Available as an add-on
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Popular integrations including Microsoft 365,
Google Workspace, Slack, and more
RingCentral offers the largest ecosystem of integration apps in the communications and collaboration space to maximize productivity and efficiency. Get integrations for bots, AI, analytics, archiving, automation, productivity, and more.
Learn more
Available as an add-on
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
24/7 support
Unlimited chat and phone support.
Available as an add-on
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Multi-level auto attendant
Answer callers automatically with customized greetings, and ensure every call is directed to the right employee or department.
Learn more
Auto-attendant is a virtual receptionist service that greets your callers and routes them to employees, departments, or to any phone in the world (i.e. an employee's mobile phone, an office deskphone, or a virtual phone on the RingCentral app).
With the multi-level auto attendant feature, you can create rules to handle incoming calls for multiple office locations or language selections. For example:
“Press 1 for our New York office. 2 for Chicago office. 3 for Los Angeles office.” OR
“Press 1 for English. Marque 2 para Español.”
Available as an add-on
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Professional implementation
Get the most out of RingCentral with a portfolio of professional and personalized services, ranging from planning, designing, and implementation to project management, ongoing support, and consulting.
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Available as an add-on
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Call recording
Automatic call recording: Set your RingCentral phone system to automatically record inbound and outbound calls for individual users or inbound calls for departments.
On-demand call recording: Allows Users to manually record phone calls anytime using an IP Phone provisioned with RingCentral, Forwarding Number, or RingCentral Phone for Mobile.
Learn more
Available as an add-on
On-demand
Automatic
Automatic
Compatible with RingCentral Rooms™ (add-on)
Turn any space into a conference room.
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Available as an add-on
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Compatible with RingCentral Room Connector (add-on)
Room Connector allows room conferencing systems on legacy hardware with SIP-based endpoints (third party endpoints) to connect and access video meetings on RingCentral.
Learn more
Available as an add-on
Included in plan
Included in plan
Included in plan
Single Sign-on
Users can log in to RingCentral automatically with their corporate credentials. Reduce the IT cost of assisting in password recovery and benefit from a central authentication point that securely accesses your RingCentral service from any device.
Learn more
Available as an add-on
Available as an add-on
Included in plan
Included in plan
Multi-site admin and management
Get the flexibility to manage and support your branch offices based on their unique operational needs.
Learn more
Available as an add-on
Available as an add-on
Included in plan
Included in plan
Up to 8-digit extensions with site codes
Simplified intra-site dialing for large multi-site customers.
Available as an add-on
Available as an add-on
Included in plan
Included in plan
Hot desking
Allows users to log in to shared phones to access their own RingCentral extensions, voicemail and greetings, and other features.
Hot desking lets employees share office desk phones while keeping their separate extensions, greetings and voicemail access.
It enables companies to save costs of desk phones while still letting their employees remain productive.
Available as an add-on
Available as an add-on
Included in plan
Included in plan
Advanced call handling including whisper, barge, and more
Advanced call management controls (monitor, whisper, barge, takeover) to allow authorized users to listen in on employee calls with clients to monitor the conversation, provide coaching, and facilitate discussion.
Other features include overflow call queues, user groups, and role-based access control with customized roles/permissions.
Available as an add-on
Available as an add-on
Included in plan
Included in plan
Real-time analytics
Gain real-time insights into your RingCentral system and gather business-relevant data, alerts, and reporting metrics.
Available as an add-on
Available as an add-on
Included in plan
Included in plan
Popular CRM integrations with Salesforce, Zendesk, and more
Bring the functions and features of RingCentral MVP into your business apps such as Salesforce, Zendesk, Microsoft Dynamics, ServiceNow, etc.
Learn more
Available as an add-on
Available as an add-on
Included in plan
Included in plan
Industry-specific integrations with Canvas, Smarsh, and more
Bring the functions and features of RingCentral MVP into your vertical's business apps such as Canvas, Smarsh, etc.
Learn more
Available as an add-on
Available as an add-on
Included in plan
Included in plan
Developer platform and custom integrations
RingCentral APIs let you create your own custom applications and seamlessly integrate business communications into your key business processes, so you can automate workflows, drive efficiency, and gain valuable insight from communications data.
Visit Developer Portal
Available as an add-on
Available as an add-on
Included in plan
Included in plan
Device status reports
Monitor hard phone registration status globally and gain visibility into your devices' history.
Available as an add-on
Available as an add-on
Available as an add-on
Included in plan
Device status alerts
Set up automated monitoring rules and receive notifications when devices are offline.
Available as an add-on
Available as an add-on
Available as an add-on
Included in plan
Unlimited storage***
Store an unlimited* amount of documents, spreadsheets, presentation files, contracts, invoices, images, videos, and recordings.
*Retention period applies.
Store an unlimited* amount of content within your RingCentral app. This could be documents, spreadsheets, presentation files, contracts, invoices, images, or videos that you send as attachments within messages; or these could be the recordings of your video meetings.
*Retention period applies.
Available as an add-on
Available as an add-on
Available as an add-on
Included in plan
Important details and disclaimers
Spring Promotion:
25% RingCentral MVP for SMB’s
*Void where prohibited. The Offer is valid between May 15, 2022 and June 30, 2022. To qualify for SMB Spring promotional offer (“Offer”) you must: purchase a RingCentral MVP plan of any tier; (2) between one and ninety-nine  digital lines; (3)  be located in the US and Canada only ; and (4) be 18 years of age or older; when purchasing the RingCentral MVP plan (the “Qualifying Conditions”). The Offer includes: (1) a 25% discount off the standard list price of qualifying any RingCentral Office plans. Promotional price discount applies to base monthly rate only and excludes fees, taxes, additional or premium services and other charges. These terms are subject to change at any time without prior notice. You agree that the final discount Offer price is determined by RingCentral’s sole discretion, in compliance with these terms and any applicable laws. RingCentral reserves right to terminate this offer at any time. RingCentral Terms of Service apply. Early termination or other changes to the customer’s RingCentral MVP plan, may be subject to additional fees, subject to the Qualifying Conditions.