Choose the best VoIP phone service solution for your business
First, what’s a VoIP phone service?
A VoIP (Voice over IP) phone service is a type of communications service that allows you to make and receive calls over the internet. Unlike traditional phone systems, it tends to be more flexible, scalable, and cost-effective.
There are tons of VoIP services out there. You could try a free or cheap VoIP service (and you should!)—just don’t expect it to have all the features you may want. On the other hand, you could go for a more expensive service, but make sure to choose something flexible that fits your unique needs.
Need a little help? Here are a few things to look for when you’re searching for the right internet calling tool for your business.
Hosting your business VoIP: What are your options?
Shopping for business VoIP can get confusing, with so many providers in the market. (It also doesn’t help that many tend to use a ton of jargon to explain their products.)
As if that’s not confusing enough, you still have to decide how to host your phone system before you even start looking for a service. You have three options:
How are they different from each other? Which one can get your company the fastest return on investment?
Let’s break them down.
On-premise VoIP is exactly what it sounds like: a VoIP phone system hosted in-house, or in your office.
In this setup, the private branch exchange (PBX, a physical or virtual switch mechanism that’s responsible for routing calls) and IP phones are connected to your office LAN (local area network) and can only be used on-site. You own and manage the entire infrastructure in this scenario. Yes, it’s a lot of responsibility.
- You have full control over your phone system (including records, messages, etc). Depending on your security protocols, there may be less chance of data breach.
- You don’t need to call a third-party provider when things go wrong. Your own IT specialists (if you’ve hired a few) can address problems as they come.
- You don’t have to worry about any price hikes by a provider.
- You have to purchase everything, from the PBX hardware and servers to the software and VoIP phones. In other words, you’re spending a lot of money upfront.
- You’ll need your own IT team to manage and maintain the entire infrastructure. For many businesses, this is considered a luxury—even large enterprises would typically rather focus their IT staff on other initiatives.
- You’ll handle the installation, repairs, and upgrades, which all take time and money. Worse, it can disrupt your everyday operations.
Who is this for?: Large, highly established enterprises that can afford to build their own VoIP phone system and hire a team with specialized skills to manage it are more likely to choose on-premise VoIP.
Get all the features and capabilities of on-premise VoIP without having to worry about the upkeep—that’s the biggest draw of a hosted VoIP service.
In this setup, the PBX and servers are in the cloud and managed remotely by a third-party provider. You typically only need to purchase VoIP devices like IP phones, routers, and network switches (physical devices that connect computers within a network).
Hosted VoIP is so popular now that many people automatically think of it when they think of business VoIP.
- The initial cost is low because you don’t have to purchase expensive hardware or pay for installation services.
- Get up and running in a few hours! You can use your VoIP phone system as soon as you sign up.
- VoIP providers typically use the pay-as-you-go monthly subscription model, which means you only pay for what you use. Without lock-in or long-term contracts, costs usually stay predictable and manageable.
- Depending on your provider, a hosted solution could offer more advanced features like enhanced call routing and improved voicemail options.
- Since hosted VoIP is easy to deploy and may offer more features, you’ll be able to see the benefits of efficient communication and collaboration faster (meaning you can see savings and earn back your VoIP investment sooner).
- You can easily add and remove phone numbers and extensions yourself.
- Upgrades and updates to the system are free.
- With all the maintenance work delegated to a third-party provider, you can focus on more important aspects of your business.
- Providers may not be immediately available for support, since you’re not their only client. This can be easily avoided if you choose a good VoIP provider that offers round-the-clock customer service, though.
- Like with on-premise and hybrid VoIP, you may experience quality problems if the system isn’t set up correctly. Again, a good provider will make sure that doesn’t happen.
- Records and messages are kept on the provider’s servers, so the risk of a data breach may be higher (look for providers with a proven track record of top-tier security).
Who is this for?: The flexibility, scalability, and convenience offered by hosted VoIP make it a great choice for businesses of all sizes
Are you ready to migrate to VoIP—but not willing to give up your existing phone system just yet? That’s understandable. After all, the PBX, wiring, and handsets didn’t come cheap.
Luckily for you, there’s hybrid VoIP. For this setup, you’ll need a VoIP gateway, which is a physical device that connects your traditional phone lines and handsets to your VoIP phone system.
And that’s not the only way you can use hybrid VoIP. You can also try hosting some components in-house (like the PBX) and outsourcing VoIP services (like video conferencing, voicemail, etc.) from a third-party provider.
- The initial cost is minimal because you’re using your existing PBX phone system.
- You can enjoy lower costs per call, which is true for all types of VoIP systems.
- The PBX system can be complicated to maintain. You’ll still need a dedicated IT team to handle it.
- You may have little or no access to IT support, depending on your provider. Keep in mind that time lost from repairs can mean hours, days, or weeks of lost revenue.
- You won’t be able to use some features that are usually found in a VoIP phone (like a touchscreen display).
Who is this for?: Hybrid VoIP generally appeals to companies with an existing PBX system and are looking to slowly transition to VoIP. They typically use it as a stepping stone towards getting hosted solutions.
What makes a good business VoIP phone service?
Trick question! A good VoIP phone service is one that makes the most sense for your business.
Is it able to address your needs? Are the rates reasonable for your budget? There are lots of things you need to take into account. Here are some factors you might want to consider when looking for a VoIP phone solution or service provider.
- Advanced features - What features do you need? Look at useful features like call transfer, smart routing, conference calling, online fax, and virtual extensions.
- Reliability - Service timeouts can really put a dent on productivity. There are companies (like RingCentral) that guarantee nearly 100% uptime—this means their service is down for only a few minutes tops each year.
- Excellent customer support - Issues can come up at any time of the day or night. If you want that peace of mind, make sure your provider has a team of specialists that can deliver support 24/7.
- Affordability - A service may be able to address all your business needs. But do you have enough budget for it? Make sure the costs and your resources line up.
The options can be overwhelming when you’re looking for a VoIP phone service—but if you do a few searches, you’ll find that certain names just keep coming up. Like RingCentral! (Okay, we may be a little biased, but we’ve been a long-time leader in creating an innovative all-around VoIP product and have received awards along the way—can you blame us?)
Do you already have a VoIP phone service in mind? Why not give RingCentral a try?
RingCentral Business Communications plans for your small business
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