We have evolved past the need for landlines. Welcome to the era of VoIP. At its simplest, a VoIP (also known as Voice over Internet Protocol) is a way of making phone calls through the internet rather than having to rely on a regular landline or your cell phone. Think of it kind of like FaceTime or Skype but typically far more advanced and specialized than those services.
While many VoIP services involve a subscription fee, don’t let the dollar signs fool you: they often end up saving you money and can prove to be cheaper than using a standard phone line. That’s particularly the case when dealing with long-distance calls or business conferences. Such services are also typically far more reliable, which is crucial for certain scenarios. And as more of the world moves online and businesses shift to more remote work, being able to stay connected and in contact anywhere is increasingly important.
Keep on reading and we’ll explain all when it comes to the wonders of VoIP and take a look at the best VoIPs, no matter what your situation is.
Why are VoIPs important?
VoIPs are important for many different people. For businesses, it can be hugely beneficial to have crisp and clear calls, no matter where you’re calling from. Most companies can’t settle for static and spotty signals when it comes to important conference calls and daily communications. VoIPs provide a steady connection and crystal clear call quality as long as you have an internet connection.
For those people with relatives around the world, they can enjoy cheap phone calls that remain high in quality and aren’t dependent on anything other than a regular landline for the relative. That’s particularly useful when dealing with friends or family who aren’t tech-savvy. You’ll save on those international charges that can add up in a hurry and spend more time talking about what is important to you rather than doing tech support for those on the other end of the line.
In all cases, the big benefit is the reduced costs. Regular calls and international calls cost a lot over time. Businesses have the additional expense of needing to pay for features like toll-free numbers or automatic call recording. These can all come as standard with certain VoIP services.
How do VoIPs work, exactly?
VoIP systems are much simpler than you might imagine. Put simply, they are a way to make calls over your internet connection instead of your landline or mobile network.
To get a little more technical, VoIP systems let you connect to a server that allows you to place calls to other telephone networks across your internet connection. It converts your analog voice signal — the kind that is used when placing a standard phone call — into a digital signal by your VoIP service provider and transmitted over your internet connection.
The result is an experience identical to placing a call over a landline or mobile network, except the call quality is better and the cost is typically cheaper.
What to look for when buying a VoIP service
There are dozens of different VoIP services out there, so it’s important to know what you are looking for and what will best serve your needs.
Think about why you are considering a VoIP service in the first place. If you’re looking to call relatives at a lower price, then you don’t need to worry about business features like toll-free numbers, fax, or automatic call recording. However, you do want to make sure the calls are crisp and high-quality, and voicemail features could be useful.
If you’re a small business, you don’t have to worry about conference call support for dozens of users, but you could probably do with some flexibility to expand the plan as your business grows. You also want to check that you can port your old number across if customers are used to that number from before.
And if you’re a larger business, you’re going to want to take a look at the full suite of features. Conference calling might become essential, especially if your workforce is becoming more remote-friendly. Fax services, as well as toll-friendly numbers and answering machine features are also likely to need some consideration.
In all cases, it’s vital to know what your budget is so you can keep to it accordingly.
Is a residential VoIP or a business VoIP better?
Most VoIP services offer features that benefit both residential homes and businesses. Neither is particularly better — it all depends on what you’re looking for.
Want unified communication among your family and friends and a way to share messages, calls, and files easily? You’ll want to go with a residential VoIP. Need a virtual receptionist to answer and screen calls for you? A business VoIP will likely offer more options for you. Do you just want cheap calls with high quality? Or are you looking for more extravagant features like automatic call recording and voicemail? A business VoIP will generally provide more features, but don’t write off a residential VoIP until you’re clear on what you need.
Read on to discover our picks for the best VoIPs.