VoIP Phone Service - How It Works for Your Business

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What is VoIP?

A brief introduction to Voice over Internet Protocol.

Voice over Internet Protocol refers to the technology that allows us to make and receive phone calls over the Internet in real time. It is a set of protocols working together to deliver internet telephony functions similar to regular phone lines or PSTN (public switched telephone network). The difference is that VoIP phone service provides flexibility and mobility that is not possible with traditional telephony. By delivering voice calling functions over internet connections, it allows anyone to use Voice over IP from anywhere via their laptops, desktops, or smart devices.

VoIP technology and internet telephony hardware
Voice over IP calls using desktop computer and mobile device

Comprehensive VoIP services from RingCentral

RingCentral VoIP is part of a secure and reliable virtual phone service that also leverages cloud PBX solution. Aside from voice calls, you also get online meetings, SMS, team messaging, and advanced call management features that can help your organization communicate better. More than just a replacement for traditional landlines, RingCentral offers a complete cloud communications platform.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of VoIP services against traditional telephony?

Traditional phone services

  • Pay thousands of dollars for on-site hardware

  • No free calls-long distance and international calls are costly and paid per minute

  • Business features come with extra cost

  • Requires additional physical cable lines for expansion

  • Can remain active during outages

VoIP

  • No expensive hardware required, so you save money up front

  • Free VoIP calls-long distance calls, if not entirely free, only require nominal fees

  • Comes with standard business features like call forwarding, voicemail, and others

  • Additional extensions require a few clicks or taps on admin control panel

  • Needs the internet to deliver service

Box finds simplicity, cost savings and innovation with RingCentral

,,
As we grow and scale our business, RingCentral offers a solution that allows us to run our enterprise communications on a single platform while delivering a very high standard of reliability, security, and quality.

Paul Chapman

CIO, Box

box
60-70%
Cost savings over legacy solutions

RingCentral is the industry-leading provider of VoIP services

Made for business

The modern VoIP system not only provides a reliable and unlimited telephony solution but it also includes features like caller ID, video conferencing, SMS, and even faxing to help businesses communicate better.

Easy and simple setup

No complicated installations needed. RingCentral can easily be configured based on the communication needs of your organization. Have your virtual phone service up and running in a day or less.

Mobile and flexible VoIP system

The best part about IP-based virtual phone service is that it leverages the internet by letting you make calls, host and join conferences, and send and receive fax and SMS from anywhere.

No hardware needed

Unlike on-premise systems that require expensive hardware like servers and PBX boxes, RingCentral only needs internet-connected devices like computers, laptops, and mobile devices to work. Just log in to your RingCentral account and you are ready to go.

24/7 customer support

From implementation to technical support, RingCentral stands by your business with our award-winning customer support team 24/7. This is not just for problems and technical issues-your business can look to us for consultations and best-practice recommendations.

Robust phone service plans

Get the most advanced unified communications solution in the industry for your business. Your single (affordable!) RingCentral plan includes VoIP, cloud PBX, conferencing and more features for your business.

All-inclusive virtual phone service features in one phone plan

Different online phone service features in mobile and desktop software

No separate phone bills for different phone service functionalities

RingCentral’s VoIP solution is part of an all-inclusive virtual phone system that includes internet fax, voice, text, conferencing and more. With transparent VoIP plans and pricing, you can expect no surprises on your next bill. No hidden fees or extra premium charges for additional features.

VoIP telephone service working with virtual PBX

VoIP Telephone Service with Virtual PBX

Get advanced routing capabilities through a hosted PBX system. This way, all incoming calls are automatically routed to the right person or department, giving your business a more professional image.

Inbound call management on computers and cellphones

Premium inbound call management features

Aside from advanced call routing capabilities, RingCentral also offers different call management features to help you communicate more effectively. Customize how incoming calls are handled during and after business hours, set up a dial-by-name directory, and use a multi-level auto attendant. All this makes it easier for callers to reach your business.

RingCentral account dashboard for VoIP PBX customization

Customizable user experience

End-users are also able to personalize how they receive their calls, which includes customizing call screening to identify callers, forwarding calls to multiple phone numbers simultaneously or chronologically, and setting up notifications for missed calls, SMS, voicemail, and online faxing.

Secure, reliable, and easy-to-manage virtual phone service

VoIP security across countries

A secure VoIP service

RingCentral employs a comprehensive security strategy to protect its virtual phone service and its users. Aside from high-level encryption that protects VoIP phone calls, there are other measures employed including regular data center audits, multi-factor authentication and single-sign-on for account protection, and advanced account management and administration.

Multiple data centers for redundancy and reliability

Hosted in multiple data centers for superior redundancy and reliability

To ensure consistent high quality of service for all users, RingCentral hosts its cloud phone service in multiple data centers with multiple servers in different locations across the US. In the event that one server or data center encounters some issues, then others can step up and take over.

With online dashboard for easy VoIP phone service access and management from anywhere

Access and manage RingCentral through an online dashboard on your computer or mobile phones. From there, you can add and delete business phone numbers and virtual extensions, grant admin and user roles and permissions, and even check call logs to get insights on how your company is using the system. No need to hire specialized manpower to manage your VoIP phone system.

Manage office VoIP rules and accessibility with an online dashboard

VoIP Phones, Devices, and Equipment

Landline and analog phones

Maximize VoIP services with top-of-the-line IP desk phones

To make the most out of your VoIP telephone services, RingCentral offers high-quality desktop VoIP phones that utilize standard SIP protocols and integrate seamlessly with your cloud communications solutions. Choose from different IP phone models from trusted brands like Cisco and Polycom. No complicated setup, just PLUG AND RING®.

IP desk phones for internet calling

Use analog phones to make VoIP calls

If you want to use your existing phone to make internet calls, you can do that as well. You just need an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA), which digitizes analog voice data so that it can be transmitted over the Internet.

RingCentral App for PC or MAC

No IP desk phones? Use your PC or MAC as a softphone

Turn your PC or MAC into your own phone. Download the RingCentral Desktop App to make and receive VoIP calls from your personal computer or laptop. In addition, you can also send a virtual fax or SMS and even start or join an audio or video conference.

RingCentral App for iPhone or Android

Make and receive calls using your iPhone or Android Phone

Don’t be tied to your desk. Enjoy your freedom and take your phone service with you anywhere you go. As usual, you can make long-distance and international calls. You can also access RingCentral through your iPhone or Android phone with a unified mobile app and stay connected to your growing business wherever you are.

RingCentral plans for your small business

PAY ANNUALLY AND SAVE UP TO 33%.

Monthly
Annually
save up to 33%
Number of users
1
2-20
21-50
51-99
100-999+
Need more users?
Call:
Not available
Essentials

Message, Phone

$29.99
$19.99
/user/month *
Try free
Buy now
  • Up to 20 users only
  • Business phone or toll-free numbers
  • Unlimited calls within the US/CA*
  • Unlimited business SMS
  • Voicemail-to-text
  • Team messaging
  • Document sharing
Show all benefits
Standard
Message, Video, Phone
$34.99
$24.99
/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
    Office 365, G Suite, Slack,
    and more
  • 24/7 support
Show all benefits
Ultimate
Message, Video, Phone, Open Platform
$59.99
$49.99
/user/month *
Everything in Premium PLUS
  • Device status reports
  • Device status alerts
  • Unlimited storage**
Show all benefits
Compare plans

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.
Toll-free minutes
Toll-free minutes are per account regardless of number of lines. Additional minutes are always available for automatic purchase, which bill at 3.9¢/min.
Learn more
100
1,000
2,500
10,000

Unlimited calls within the US/CA*

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.
Learn more

Unlimited Business SMS

Use your business phone number to send unlimited one-to-one or group SMS/MMS.
Voicemail-to-text
Automatically convert voicemail messages into text form so users can screen messages easily and respond to the most important call first.

Visual voicemail and voicemail-to-email

Access voicemail messages from your desk and mobile phones, email, desktop app, and online account.
Learn more

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.
Learn more
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.

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.
Learn more
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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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.
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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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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

Unlimited internet fax

Send and receive faxes from your computer, mobile device, Microsoft Outlook, cloud storage providers (such as Dropbox), and more.
Learn more

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.

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)
Premium with RingCentral Meetings (up to 100)
Standard with RingCentral Video (up to 100)
Standard with RingCentral Meetings (up to 4)
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
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.
Learn more
Popular integrations including Office 365,
G Suite, 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.
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24/7 support
Unlimited chat and phone support.

Multi-level auto attendant

Answer callers automatically with customized greetings, and ensure every call is directed to the right employee or department.
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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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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
On-demand
Automatic
Automatic
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.
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Multi-site admin and management
Get the flexibility to manage and support your branch offices based on their unique operational needs.
Learn more
Up to 8-digit extensions with site codes
Simplified intra-site dialing for large multi-site customers.
Hot desking
Allows users to log in to shared phones to access their own RingCentral extensions, voicemail and greetings, and other features.
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.
Real-time analytics
Gain real-time insights into your RingCentral system and gather business-relevant data, alerts, and reporting metrics.
Popular CRM integrations with Salesforce, Zendesk, and more
Bring the functions and features of RingCentral Office into your business apps such as Salesforce, Zendesk, Microsoft Dynamics, ServiceNow, etc.
Learn more
Industry-specific integrations with Canvas, Smarsh, and more
Bring the functions and features of RingCentral Office into your vertical's business apps such as Canvas, Smarsh, etc.
Learn more

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
Device status reports
Monitor hard phone registration status globally and gain visibility into your devices' history.
Device status alerts
Set up automated monitoring rules and receive notifications when devices are offline.
Unlimited storage**
Store an unlimited** amount of documents, spreadsheets, presentation files, contracts, invoices, images, videos, and recordings. **Retention period applies.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about VoIP Phone Services

What is the best VoIP phone service?

What makes the best VoIP phone service is not only about facilitating calls over the internet. It is also about providing users the best communications experience possible. As an industry leader in unified communications, RingCentral is not just a means to call over the internet. They provide a seamless cloud communications solution where users can call, text, fax, live chat, and even host and join video meetings from one unified platform.

How much does VoIP service cost?

A typical hosted VoIP phone system generally cost between $20 and $45 per user. Of course, it will depend on the features, capabilities, and the VoIP provider itself. You can check the RingCentral plans and pricing section above to see which plan fits your business needs. Whether you are a small business, a mid-sized business, or big enterprise, you will find that RingCentral can seamlessly fit into how your organization operates. Plus, more than just a VoIP service that allows for unlimited calling across North America (US and CA), RingCental offers an industry-leading unified communications solution that not only gives you a calling plan, but also provides you with a central hub for both communications and collaboration.

What is the best VoIP service for home-based and telecommuting employees?

If you have employees that work away from the business’ home base, the top VoIP phone service for them would be the one that allows them to feel connected to the company even if they are not physically in the office. With the RingCentral App,  telecommuting employees no longer have to use their home phones for work. , Also, it provides your workforce a central communications hub where team collaboration is encouraged through voice, fax, text messaging, live chat, and even online meetings.

Does VoIP require a service provider?

Any business can technically implement their own VoIP phone solution with the right combination of IT infrastructure to support it and the skills and knowledge to make it happen. Unfortunately, the amount of capital investment needed to do that is staggering. Cloud communication providers like RingCentral are able to offer businesses VoIP services with advanced features like cloud PBX, automated-attendant, answering rules, call forwarding, hold music, caller ID, call blocking, and more with flexible plans and pricing by hosting the services on their own secure, multi-tiered, and redundant cloud IT infrastructure and leveraging the internet for delivery of service.

Is there a free VoIP service?

There are direct-to-consumer VoIP services that do not require payment. WhatsApp, Viber, and even Facebook Messenger are basic mobile VoIP apps that facilitate calls over the Internet. These apps, however, are more for personal use and not suited for business communications. If you want to project a professional image, a VoIP phone system is the way to go, especially with its advanced features that are designed to help organizations communicate better with their customer base. It is not free, but RingCentral’s flexible VoIP plans and pricing will allow your business to have one bill to cover your communications needs with predictable fees and no surprise costs.

What is VoIP used for?

Most contact centers and call centers leverage VoIP technology as their telephony component because of its more affordable price when compared to traditional carriers. Aside from facilitating calls over the internet, VoIP is also used as the audio component for most video conference calling solutions. While there are other technologies at work for video calls and video conferencing, VoIP is usually the one responsible for allowing participants to actually talk with each other.

Can VoIP be used for Fax?

VoIP has paved the way for other means of leveraging the internet to send digital files over IP transmissions. Virtual fax is one of those. While VoIP itself is not used to send fax over the internet, the concepts are pretty similar. The main difference is that the transmission is one way and the payload is a soft or hard copy of documents. The same goes for other modern systems that use IP transmissions like home security systems. Similar to virtual fax and VoIP, home security cameras use IP transmission to remotely transmit footage to cellphones and other streaming devices. The possibilities are virtually endless.

How VoIP Works

How VoIP Works

VoIP and Internet Telephony Basics: Important terms and concepts

Voice over Internet Protocol is a set of protocols working together to provide telephony service that’s similar to regular landlines.

Before we go over the end-to-end process of how Voice over IP works, it is important that you familiarize yourself with some basic concepts that will help you understand how the technology works as a whole.

IP Packets for VoIP Transmission

Voice and data are encapsulated here. During a VoIP call, the voice or audio is captured and segmented into tiny samples which are then carried as payloads. These samples are attached to IP packets that will be transmitted between different networks, both public and private.

Codecs for conversion of analog voice data

Also known as codec-decoder, it converts analog voice signals (like your voice) into digital voice formats that are ready to be transmitted over the Internet. It also converts the digital form back to analog for the human ear.

Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) vs. User Datagram Protocol (UDP) for VoIP delivery

These are the two most common methods for delivering VoIP protocols over the Internet.

  • TCP-IP: packets sent using this method guarantees that data is delivered; and if it’s lost, it will be transmitted. Think quality over speed.
  • UDP-IP: packets are sent over the networks with no guarantee it will be received. Think speed over quality.

Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP) for carrying VoIP audio stream

This protocol is responsible for carrying audio and video streams during VoIP transmissions. It carries the information about the file, including its format and media type.

Session Initiated Protocol (SIP) and SIP Servers for VoIP signaling

SIP is the protocol that is responsible for mimicking regular telephony. It is a standard signaling protocol that establishes, manages, and terminates real-time communications over IP networks.

SIP servers, on the other hand, accept SIP requests and respond to them. There are many types of SIP servers, with the Proxy server being the most known (since it facilitates connections to establish Voice over IP). Other SIP servers include Registration Server, Presence Server, and Redirect Server.

End-to-end process of VoIP

Using what we learned, here is an example of how a VoIP call works, with each step showing what is going on in the background for every action taken.

  • Person A calls Person B (the calling party uses the SIP signal to try to establish a connection via the Proxy server--RingCentral uses TCP to deliver SIP)
  • Person B answers the call (the called party accepts the request from Proxy Server using SIP)
  • Person A and Person B talk (IP packet containing voice data is delivered  via UDP or TCP; RTP transmits the voice data, while Codecs convert analog voice to digital format and vice-versa. All these are happening in real-time.)
  • Person A or Person B ends the call (the SIP signal is used to terminate the connection)

Making VoIP calls to regular phone lines or PSTN through VoIP gateways

VoIP gateways are used to convert traditional telephony connections into VoIP connections and vice-versa.

What happens is that when calls are initiated from a traditional landline phone, the gateway will translate the multiplexed voice into packetized voice sample. It will then follow the same call process discussed above.

While there’s more to hosted VoIP transmissions than what is discussed here, this should give you a general idea of how the technology works.

How to choose the right Business VoIP Provider

How to Choose the Right Business VoIP Provider

Prices don’t always define a good VoIP phone service

While cost is always a factor when considering a provider or supplier, it should not be the be-all and end-all of your decision-making.

Take VoIP phone providers, for example. If you choose the cheapest provider for your business communications, there’s a good chance that you will also get the cheapest call quality.

In the end, it can lead to damaged customer relationships which will eventually lead to lost money.

That is why it is important to look at each offering to see if they are worth the price they are charging.

To help you out, here are some factors you should consider when choosing a Voice over IP provider:

Reputable VoIP service providers do not neglect security and reliability

The first thing you should consider when choosing a VoIP provider is security and reliability. Would they be able to keep the service up at all times? Would they be able to protect your calls and other data during transmissions?

RingCentral hosts its virtual phone system in multiple data centers to ensure redundancy and keep their service up at all times. It also employs several security measures like encryption, data center audits, multi-factor authentication, and advanced account administration to protect the system and its users.

Top-tier internet telephone systems are loaded with features

Most VoIP services for business are attached to a more comprehensive phone system, which is equipped with different call features to help you manage your calls. In some cases, providers require their subscribers to pay extra for premium features to be included in their packages.

RingCentral, though, offers more than that. Its VoIP services provide not only a business phone system for calling and managing incoming calls, but actually delivers a unified communications solution that also includes team collaboration and HD video meetings in one platform with no separate billings.

Superior customer support is a must for VoIP phone service providers

Most think of customer support as something that happens when something went wrong. While that is true, customer support is more than that.

Customer support is about assisting customers not only when there is something wrong, but also to prevent major issues. That is why true customer service starts when a customer subscribes.

RingCentral is with you from day one, assisting you in setting up and configuring the VoIP system to your own network. After which, its award-winning customer service is available for technical support, consultations, and best-practice recommendations.

Exceptional VoIP phone services mean high trust ratings

Good VoIP companies have a reputation for excellent service. To evaluate this, you can look at trust indicators like positive reviews of the company.

RingCentral, as the industry leader in cloud communications, is trusted by more than 350,000 businesses across the country. You can look at the different success stories through testimonials and case studies from actual businesses.

There is more to choosing a VoIP provider than just looking at price. Look at these factors and carefully weigh your options before deciding on the top VoIP phone company on your list.

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