VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol and refers to the technology that allows routing of voice and multimedia data across the internet. You might already know VoIP phone systems as Voice over IP, Voice over Network (VoN), Voice over Broadband (VoB), or Internet Telephony. Whichever name you use, they are all the same.
But why would you want to use a phone system such as this?
VoIP allows users to make low-cost or even free cloud phone calls using their broadband connection to any phone in almost any country. Therefore, providing a communication method to help businesses save money and work more efficiently.
Top 11 VoIP providers
Not every VoIP phone system has its prices published online. Instead, the providers prefer you to contact their agents. Below is a quick price comparison of the top 11 best business telephone system providers in the USA that publish their products’ prices online.
|Cheapest Plan (User/month)
|Most expensive Plan (User/month)
* Prices are correct at the time of writing (August 2021), and we have sourced them from the official VoIP provider’s company website. However, prices may have changed since. Keep in mind that not all prices may be a like-for-like comparison as each VoIP solution may differ in offerings. You should also know that most VoIP system providers offer discounts for annual billing.
Please, use this guide as a starting point for your own research.
There are four tiers from this provider, with prices ranging from $19.99 to $49.99/user/month, which will suit many businesses, big or small.
Avaya is a voice-over-IP company that provides plans that suit a variety of business models. If you’re a small company, you should try the Essentials plan, with many free offers. In comparison, larger businesses can choose plans with many more features.
The next tier up, The Ultimate plan, offers enough features to satisfy larger customers. It has many features and integrations to help run your day-to-day operations and has multiple digital channels to reduce contact center costs.
Overall, you can regard Avaya as the company that provides just about everything that a modern company needs.
Look on Avaya’s website for more information.
DialPad is a “small business” VoIP company. It uses the Google Cloud Platform; therefore, all information gets stored by Google. As a bonus, you can integrate the system with Google and Microsoft 365.
The system is scalable and includes the following features:
- Video conferencing.
- Online faxing.
- Virtual receptionist routes all calls to the correct receiver.
- It has a built-in voice recognition to transcribe voicemail to text.
The company offers three tiers:
- The standard plan costs $20/user/month for the basic package, software integration, and voice-to-text.
- The Pro plan costs $30/user/month and includes the previous tiers’ features plus more software integration and 24/7 customer service.
- DialPad doesn’t advertise the Enterprise plan’s prices, so you have to contact the company directly. However, this plan offers advanced analytics and more third-party software integration.
For further information, look on the DialPad website.
This company has supplied business VoIP telephony since 2018. The system is an entirely scalable and cost-effective business communications system and is suitable for all-sized companies.
It uses a cloud-based system, so there’s no need for hardware on your premises. The company provides three tiers:
- The basic plan starting at $21/user/month, offers unlimited extensions, call forwarding, conferencing (limited to four participants), and team message chat.
- The standard plan starts at $20/user/month, dependent on the number of users in your company. It provides the features found in the lower tiers plus unlimited conferencing duration, e-fax, allows 150 participants in the conferences, and gives 24/7 customer support. You can also make international calls to more than 50 countries on GoToConnect’s list, but additional countries cost extra, and are charged per minute. This is the most popular plan offered by this company.
- The premium plan starts at $30/user/month (dependent on the number of users). For this, you get the previous tiers’ features plus call monitoring, supervisor view, and call analytics.
For more information, visit the GoToConnect website.
Grasshopper provides three different tiers:
- One number and three extensions for $26/month.
- Three numbers and six extensions for $44/month.
- Five numbers and unlimited extensions for $80/month.
They also provide:
- Business SMS
- Customized greetings.
- Unlimited minutes.
- Call forwarding.
- WiFi calls.
This provider has one of the best VoIP systems and is ideal for a small company or a sole contractor, as the system relies on mobile phones rather than landlines. But the system doesn’t scale up well, so keep it small.
For more information, look on the Grasshopper website.
One of the best things about Jive’s plans is the comprehensive list of valuable features. Furthermore, each tier builds on the features of the previous one, just like their competitors. Not only do they have more than 80 features, but they have a pricing incentive too. More users equate to lower prices. However, typically, the prices range from $19.95/user/month to $29.95/user/month (for 1 to 99 users).
- Virtual receptionists (Auto attendants).
- Local and toll-free numbers.
- Cloud PBX telephone system.
- Call forwarding and routing.
- Voicemail to email or text.
- Call recording
- Call queueing.
However, Jive’s international calling rates are higher than other providers.
For more information, look on the Jive website.
Mitel provides low-cost VoIP phone services for small to medium-sized businesses, especially for teams who work remotely, as they have a built-in collaboration feature called MiTeam.
The pricing is affordable, too, with competitive VoIP rates. The plans have three tiers.
- The Essentials plan starts at $20.99/user/month.
- Premier starts at $26.59/user/month.
- Elite starts at $38.49/user/month.
Included in their comprehensive VoIP features, you’ll find:
- Call recording.
- Features you’d typically find in a PBX system.
- CRM Integration.
For more information, look on the Mitel website.
Nextiva’s products are ideal for businesses as they have valuable features, an affordable pricing range, and excellent customer service. Granted, they’re not the cheapest business VoIP out there. But for the features they offer, the costs are fair.
Costs range from $18.95/user/month for the Essential Plan, $22.95/user/month for the Professional Plan, $32.95/user/month for the popular Enterprise Plan, and $57.95/user/month for the Ultimate Plan.
However, Nextiva expects its customers to sign up for three-year contracts, and the prices listed online are for at least 100 users. So, if you’re a small business, you might get reeled in by the excellent value before you realize that you need to be a larger company.
The plans’ features include:
- CRM (Customer Relationship Management) to keep all your customer contact and sales details handy.
- Chat software.
For more information, look over the Nextiva website.
Ooma provides both VoIP telephone and internet packages for business use. It has two packages on offer; Ooma Office is the cheaper plan at $19.95/user/month, while Ooma Office Pro costs slightly more at $24.95/user/month. There is a one-time hardware fee of around $250 for the base station and two wireless devices, followed by only a low-cost monthly subscription from then on. Moreover, the good thing about Ooma is that its packages carry the basics, not heaps of features that you might never use. So, that’s why it’s so affordable. Furthermore, the system can connect to both analog and digital
Ring Central offers VoIP solutions incorporated in four separate tiers:
- Essentials plan costs $29.99/user/month when paying monthly. This package offers unlimited business calls and SMS. However, the plan is limited to a maximum of 20 users.
- The Standard plan costs $34.99/user/month when paying monthly. It also provides everything in Essentials plus video conferencing. This plan accepts unlimited users.
- Premium plan costs $44.99/user/month with monthly billing. It also includes everything in the lower tiers plus offers a customizable platform, automatic call recording. You can also manage the system remotely.
- The Ultimate plan costs $59.99/user/month when paying monthly. It also adds unlimited data storage and device status reports specifically for IT administrators onto the previous features. This plan also comes with 30 days free trial for up to 5 users.
There is a range of different features available with the plans, and some you can add on for extra costs.
- Unlimited domestic calls.
- Other international calling plans cost extra.
- Voicemail to email and text.
- HiDef call volume.
- Call log.
For more information, visit the RingCentral website.
Vonage has a long history as it provided residential and business VoIP way back in 2004. It has its HQ in New Jersey but provides communications worldwide to businesses of all sizes.
Its three plans are as follows:
- The Mobile plan costs $19.99/user/month, provides unlimited calling and SMS, and uses mobile and desktop apps.
- Premium plan costs $29.99/user/month, provides video conferencing, CRM integrations, and a multilevel virtual receptionist.
- The advanced plan costs $39.99/user/month, includes call recording, and voicemail transcription to email or text.
The available features are too numerous to mention here. However, here are just a few:
- Multiple devices on one extension.
- Do not disturb.
- Call logs.
- Directory assistance.
Visit the Vonage website for more information.
8X8 is a VoIP company providing video conferencing, audio phone calls, and messaging. It is US-based but provides services worldwide in more than 160 countries.
The company’s Express plan aims at businesses with fewer than ten employees and costs $12/user/month. Furthermore, new customers have 30 days free trial.
Express contains the following features:
- Company chat.
- Video conferencing.
Higher tier plans provide additional features:
- Voicemail to email or text.
- Message transcription.
- There is unlimited calling in North America (the US and Canada) at lower tiers, and other countries at higher tiers.
- Unlimited fax facilities.
- Call records.
- CRM integration.
At even higher tiers, you have call center options allowing supervisors to listen to customer conversations and customer service calls.
8X8 is an excellent choice for small companies wanting an affordable plan with basic features. Alternatively, choose the higher tiers if you want VoIP phone systems for medium businesses or larger companies making lots of international calls.
For more information, visit the 8X8 website.
How Do VoIP Phones Work?
Most people know that computers and internet technology use digital data packets to communicate with each other. These same people also know that the human voice and, therefore, the telephone is analog data.
So how can we send analog data through the digital internet?
This is where VoIP comes in. The technology converts analog voice data into digital data.
Now, that’s clever.
Therefore, it’s now possible for you to speak into a VoIP phone and have the tech convert it to digital data. Then, send the data packets along a phone line or across the internet to be decoded at the other end.
How Much Does a VoIP Phone System Cost?
VoIP pricing depends on various up-front and running costs for hardware and software. If you’re looking for a VoIP system, you should inspect all the packages on offer to ensure they’re suitable for your business.
Firstly, VoIP phone systems prices vary depending on the number of users and, therefore, the size of your business. You also have to take into account the price of the equipment and the subscription to the software.
If you own a small business, you can use a KSU-less system providing decentralized phones. This system communicates without having a central switchboard or cabinet. Furthermore, many plans offer as few as two lines, costing as little as $30.
If yours is a mid-sized company with up to 40 users, you can choose a Key Telephone System (KTS). A KTS is a phone system that converts a public switched telephone network (PSTN), the single line that physically enters your building, into many internal business lines. This system also allows users to communicate with other phones connected to the internal network from their single desktop telephone. Usually, KTS phones are sophisticated enough to allow internal conference calls, access contact lists from a PC, and many more tasks that a basic telephone couldn’t do. These cost between $300 and $1000 per extension.
If your company is a large corporate with more than 40 users, a PBX system will probably be the best choice. A PBX, or Private Branch Exchange System, is a fully private network used within the company.
Users with PBX access communicate internally with other employees and the outside world. Furthermore, PBX phones can use different communication methods such as VoIP, ISDN, or analog. The typical cost of a PBX VoIP phone ranges from $1000 to $4000. Furthermore, services range from $9.99 to $100. This system is a lot more expensive than other phone systems, but the extra features available on each device will probably make it worthwhile.
VoIP Phone System Cost Factors
For the average person to understand how much VoIP systems cost to install, maintain and use, they need to consider a few factors:
These are the costs of managing and maintaining the VoIP network.
Typically, this includes:
- Staff compensation for internal employees (usually your IT team) who oversee the VoIP system.
- The cost of a managed service provider (MSP) to manage your VoIP system.
- Additional running costs for power and cooling.
If you want to host your own VoIP, you have to pay from $500 to $1000 per user. However, if you buy a hosted plan, it can cost as little as $20 per user.
VoIP Installation costs
Many VoIP providers charge customers for setting up a system and training their employees on using it. Although the costs vary between the providers, they can be $1000 to $5000 per IT employee. Usually, it’s these employees who then pass on the training to the end-user. However, many providers do this free of charge. Make sure you know whether your provider charges a fee or not.
VoIP costs per user
Most providers set their charges depending on the number of users. Therefore, consider how many employees you want connecting to the system.
You will need VoIP compatible handsets, headphones, softphones. These sell at different prices, so choose wisely.
Usually, VoIP providers offer several subscription tiers with different features and cost varying prices. The cheaper VoIP rates tend to be the most basic and usually have the core features such as:
- Unlimited VoIP calls
- Limited landline calls.
- Call holding and forwarding.
- Customer support during limited hours, usually daytime, and during a five-day working week.
In comparison, the more expensive plans offer the core features already mentioned plus:
- CRM Integration.
- Unlimited international and landline calls.
- Voicemail-to-SMS message.
- Voicemail to email.
- Data analytics of each call.
- Automatic call back.
- More comprehensive customer support, such as 24/7.
Consider which of these features you need before signing on the dotted line. Otherwise, you might pay for unnecessary gimmicks.
It makes sense to ensure you have a good broadband connection if you intend spending money on a VoIP communications system. The condition of your internet connection determines the clarity and reliability of your calls. Therefore, if you have poor internet in your building, consider an upgrade.
Length of agreement
Most VoIP providers offer contracts lasting 12 or 24 months. However, many VoIP providers can work out a personalized deal if you want one. Generally, a long contract will be cheaper than a short deal, and your monthly payments will be correspondingly less. However, if this is the first time you’ve used VoIP, it might be better to choose a short contract until you’ve found your feet and know which features you use the most.
VoIP System Features
We’ve already mentioned basic features such as voicemail, toll-free numbers, call waiting, and forwarding. But, there are many other features that many small businesses might not be aware of. There are, in fact, many other features that can help to run your business more efficiently.
Voicemail to email or SMS
This feature transcribes your voicemail message and sends it as an email or text to your chosen inbox. Usually, extracting information from a voicemail involves frantically scribbling contact and message details before the message times out. However, with this option, the software sends the transcript to you, formatted as an email or SMS text message to study in your own time.
Find me/follow me call routing
For mobile employees who might be in one of many different places, this feature is ideal. You program a list of numbers into the phone. Then, when you receive a call, the system tries each number in turn before sending the call to voicemail. Moreover, you can include mobile numbers as well, if your employee is away from the premises. Probably, one of the best functions of this feature is that if you want to work remotely from home, you can divert calls directly to your mobile, without the customer being aware.
Music on hold
Although most companies don’t like to put callers on-hold, sometimes it’s a necessity. If you’ve been put on-hold, you’ve probably had to put up with appalling “elevator music,” or maybe complete silence. The “music-on-hold” feature allows you to choose what your customers listen to while they wait for the call to be answered.
Call screening is a valuable feature that users often overlook. When the phone rings, you can look at the display and see who is on the other end. Then, you can choose whether to answer the call there and then (if it’s a customer), divert it to your mobile (if it’s a private call) or refuse the call (if it’s a spam caller).
Suppose you have a new employee who needs advice on how to deal with a customer. You can either wait until the call has ended. Or, better still, use the “barge and whisper” features to advise during the call.
Using “barge” allows you to listen in on a conversation without interrupting. You can either alert the employee to this or not, as you prefer. Then, use the “whisper” feature to advise your employee on the best way to handle the customer while they’re on the phone. But, without the customer being aware of it.
Most of your employees probably know about conferencing when many people interact on the same call. But, how many of them know the full range of tools they have available? Many conference call features allow you to set up a call monitor.
This allows you to:
- Manage invitations.
- Watch “hand raises.”
- Mute conference phones.
- And many more tools.
Although these tools can be handy when conferencing, they can also be challenging to use correctly and efficiently. So, ensure your employees know how to use this feature and train them accordingly.
This feature is often part of many premium VoIP packages. But, few people use it properly. The tool allows customers to listen to a recorded message and use a menu to choose a particular extension. This electronic receptionist immediately makes your business seem professional and guarantees to impress your callers.
Do not disturb
Many people don’t realize that VoIP systems allow you to choose whether to prevent calls from interrupting you temporarily. This might be very useful if you’re in the middle of an important meeting, at a conference, or even more important, having lunch. However, this isn’t the same as just turning off your phone. Instead, you can program the phone to divert the customer to your voicemail or send the caller to another phone.
Business vs. personal phone numbers
It’s always a good idea to keep business, and personal phone numbers separate. That way, you can divert business calls to voicemail outside working hours while still using your smartphone for personal calls.
How To Compare VoIP Plans & Costs
Suppose you’ve decided to take the plunge and choose a VoIP system for your business. You now have the problem of searching through the available information and choosing the best VoIP plans to suit your company. However, sometimes it’s tough to compare the various plans and costs because providers offer features that aren’t like-for-like, or this month’s special offer doesn’t include every feature you want for your company. Moreover, some providers give quotes based on the number of users, while others quote depending on the features you choose.
The biggest mistake that many customers make is to concentrate on the monthly package price. Just because one provider charges $10 per month while another charges $20 doesn’t mean that $10 is the cheapest. This is when you must look at what the price offers. For example, suppose that the $10 provider doesn’t offer voicemail transcription or call recording, and these are essential in your business. In that case, it makes sense to choose the provider who does offer those.
Therefore, when choosing your provider and the most suitable plan, look at all the features and the costs.
- Single costs, such as setup and training. Also, buying hardware such as VoIP phones, headsets, or softphone apps.
- Recurring costs, for example, monthly plan subscriptions. Also, take into account call costs (per minute) and costs per user.
- Long-term costs, such as hardware maintenance and replacement. Also, as your company grows, you might consider a different plan that’s probably more expensive. You will also need additional lines and phone numbers.
- What features will your company use and which aren’t needed?
- Cost of upgrading your internet.
- Cost of upgrading network equipment.
Questions To Ask Your VoIP Provider
Here is a list of questions to ask a potential VoIP supplier:
- What are the startup and recurring costs? We’ve already covered these in this article. But, they are essential things to know.
- Have you a money-back guarantee if the system doesn’t operate as promised?
- We already have our company phone number. Can we port it to the new system, and how much does this cost?
- I assume there’s a contract. But, are there cancellation fees, and how difficult is it to cancel?
- Are there any hidden fees that I should know about?
- Which features does my plan include? And, can I add extra features? How much are they?
- Are we able to call internationally? Is this included in the package, or is it extra?
- What customer support do you offer?
- Does your system offer E911? If so, does this cost extra, or is it included?
- Do you have a mobile app, or are we tied to the landline system?
Changing your company’s communication system over to VoIP is cost-effective. It makes your business run efficiently and gives a professional appearance to prospective customers. But, comparing the VoIP costs and available plans can be very difficult. If you want professional help, complete the form on this page, and you’ll receive quotes from companies that know what they’re talking about.