The Best Hosted VoIP Providers of 2020
See our in-depth guide over the best-Hosted VoIP providers in 2020. See how Business VoIP can help you grow going into the new year.
What is Hosted VoIP?
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is today and tomorrow’s alternative to traditional phone service.
Instead of using phone lines, VoIP uses your internet connection to make phone calls. That’s the “internet protocol” part of the VoIP label.
Traditional business phone systems included an on-site PBX (Private Branch Exchange) that connected your voice phone calls to the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network). In other words, your office had its own voice network that connected to the rest of the world.
Of course, businesses were on the hook for the capital costs of hardware and infrastructure. And the entire process was complex and slow-moving.
Today, companies are moving toward hosted VoIP systems for their voice calls. Not only is it cheaper and more flexible, but service providers are able to bundle countless additional features with their VoIP service. And forget about technicians climbing up phone poles and laying cable. Hosted VoIP couldn’t be easier to set up.
How Does a Hosted VoIP Solution Work?
Today’s communication solutions can seem a bit complex, so we’ll break it down. Remember your PBX, your office phone system that used onsite technology to connect your office to the world?
Hosted VoIP moves that onsite PBX to the cloud. It’s also called hosted PBX. Then, your provider connects your PBX to the rest of the world, usually using SIP (Session Initiated Protocol) technology.
SIP connects one user to another and can handle not just voice but also video and other kinds of data. This allows you to take advantage of Unified Communications solutions.
Don’t get too hung up on the acronyms, though. Communications is full of them. If you go with a trusted provider, you don’t need to worry about the alphabet soup of communications.
Businesses need hosted VoIP to manage their voice communications. Your phones connect to your hosted PBX and then go out to the world. You can use special phones if you want to. Or you can connect wirelessly through your cell phone. Or you can use softphones or desktop apps to make calls.
Hosted VoIP gives you the ability to leverage the countless features your provider offers while your provider maintains your system on the cloud.
Benefits of a Hosted Business VoIP Solution
How can hosted VoIP help you with your business needs? Here are some of the key advantages of getting a virtual PBX provider:
With hosted VoIP, capital costs are next to nothing compared to an onsite PBX. First, you save on installation, maintenance, and equipment.
Even if you have an existing onsite PBX, you can still benefit from the cost savings of moving your PBX to the cloud. You’ll avoid ongoing maintenance fees and won’t need IT staff to provide that maintenance.
Many providers bundle hosted PBX with SIP trunking to deliver unified communications solutions for a monthly subscription fee. This means you’ll get access to advanced features at reasonable prices.
Of course, all savings will vary based on the plan and provider you choose.
Limited Hardware Requirements
Because hosted VoIP uses the cloud, you don’t need complicated and expensive telephone equipment and lines. However, you will need a fast internet connection and devices that can get your voice to the internet.
Once you have that internet connection and cloud PBX, you can use your existing desk phones. Or you can buy specialized IP phones. And more and more businesses are switching to softphones.
And of course, you can connect to your hosted VoIP using an iPhone or Android device. Just make sure your mobile phones are charged and your wi-fi connection is strong enough!
Plus, you can add new phone lines with a few clicks instead of intensive, expensive service calls.
Call From Anywhere
Remember when your landline was attached to the wall and you had to actually be near the phone jack to talk to your BFF? Cordless phones and cell phones have made that a thing of the past.
Hosted VoIP gives your entire business that same mobility. Locate your call center wherever you need to. Move your data center across the country or across the world. Call on mobile devices or have incoming calls directed to your virtual office.
Because hosted Voice Over IP is part of a universal communication system, you can leverage a spectrum of advanced features. And new features and functionality are launching all the time.
Some of the most value-added features include integrations with your CRM or other business technology stack. The possibilities here are endless.
What to Look for in A Hosted VoIP Provider
When you’re looking for hosted VoIP providers, here are some key features to look for:
Ease of Use
If your system is hard to use, you’re losing money. It’s that simple. So look for easy installation at the outset.
Then you’ll want an intuitive interface and workflow so you can find and use those all-important features. Even better if you can access comprehensive online help resources.
And when all else fails, you’ll want stellar Customer Support. Make sure that support is available during the work hours of all of your stakeholders.
Today, a quick Google search is all you need to find reviews of any company. You want to deal with a company getting consistently high marks over time.
And pay close attention to any downward trends. Communications is a fast-changing field. Poor recent reviews may indicate that the company couldn’t keep up.
Of course, any company that’s been around for any length of time will have a few bad reviews. It’s just part of doing business these days. Go with a company whose positives far outweigh its negatives.
Basic Phone Features
You don’t want to sacrifice basic phone service just to place calls over the internet. Look for providers who offer all the basic business phone features you’re used to:
- Local and Toll-Free Phone Numbers
- Calling to US and Canada
- Long-Distance Available
- Auto Attendant
- Interactive Tools Such as IVR
- Call Waiting
- Call Parking
- Call Routing & Call Queuing
- Call Forwarding
- Call Recording
- Voice Conferencing
- After Hours Call Management
Of course, you also want some of those advanced features we were talking about earlier. Common advanced features may be available. Many providers charge extra for these features.
- SMS Messaging
- Long Distance Calling Included
- Conference Calling
- Desktop Sharing
- Video Conferencing
- Voicemail to Text
- Basic Analytics
- Advanced & Real-time Analytics
- Basic Integrations
- Advanced Integrations
- Mobile & Desktop Apps
- International Calling
- Call Center or Contact Center Tools
What are the Differences in Hosted VoIP Providers?
Right now, there are so many PBX service providers offering hosted VoIP solutions. When each has its own way of explaining features and structuring plans, it’s difficult to compare one to another.
Here are some key points of comparison to look at. Of course, each business is unique, and the solutions that work for one might not work for another.
Call Volume & Location
How much are where your calls are coming from and going to make all the difference in what plan will work for you. What each provider gives you might get buried beneath an attractive price. Here’s what to look for.
Providers typically structure minutes in one of two ways: Unlimited and metered. Unlimited plans give you the freedom to make and receive as many calls as you need each month. Although these are subject to fair usage limits, you can basically call as much as you want.
Metered plans charge you by the minute. In some cases, your plan will come with a limited number of “free” minutes and then you pay by the minute for anything over that.
If you don’t have a high call volume, metered plans can offer significant price savings. But you must understand your call volume before you commit to any of these plans. Unlimited plans are often easier to understand, don’t require the upfront research, and allow you to grow quickly without increased pricing.
Just as important as how much you’re calling is where you’re calling. In most cases, you’ll get unlimited or metered calls to the US and Canada. International calls are billed at a different rate. And those rates vary by country.
If you make international calls, make sure to find a provider who offers international calling in line with your needs. Make sure they offer as many minutes as you need to the countries you need to call at rates you can afford.
Number of Users
Your number of users is a major factor for any VoIP provider. Here are the most common ways your number of users factors into your service.
- Per-User Pricing: Many provider’s prices are based on a per user per month model. In that case, you pay a flat fee for each user. Keep your number of users in mind as you calculate your monthly costs.
- Volume Discounts: Other providers offer volume discounts, making your price per user less the more users you have. This can offer significant cost savings if you have multiple users. However, if you just have one or two users, this is a discount you may never see.
- Capacity: Some plans can only accommodate a limited number of users. If you exceed that number, you may outgrow your solution. Make sure your plan meets your needs today and offers you room to expand.
Uptime & Call Quality
Let’s face it. Your communication system is your business, so it needs to be reliable. Provider downtime and outages cost you time, money, and customers. Nobody should pay for that.
So it’s important to select a provider with a solid uptime record. The best providers will promise high levels of uptime and back those promises with a guarantee. However, if they can’t keep their word, all the promises and guarantees in the world can’t help you.
Before you buy, check out DownDetector to see each provider’s record. Similarly, research call quality. You can’t close the deal if your customers can hear you.
Contracts & Payment Schedules
Each provider structures contracts in their own way. There are a few key concerns in this area.
For providers requiring a contract, review their contract length and cancellation policy. You’ll often see price incentives related to contracts.
However, some businesses prefer the flexibility of a month to month structure. Then you can easily switch providers. Check before you buy to ensure that the price you want isn’t tied to a contract.
Hardware & Devices
Phone systems often come down to the phones, even when your calls are going through an IP PBX. Here are some things to consider.
Many providers offer compatible desk phones to go along with your telephone system. The prices will vary a lot from provider to provider.
Many providers allow you to use your own equipment with their system. That can mean using your own desk phones or mobile phones. Check and see if any additional equipment is required to connect your devices to their service.
Finally, some providers don’t require phones at all. These softphones allow you to place calls with any device with a speaker and microphone. Placing a call can be as easy as opening your laptop.
We’ve already discussed the various basic and advanced features available from VoIP providers. However, each provider and even each plan will have a different set of features.
You’ll want to consider how many features each plan and provider offers. Make sure you’re getting the features you need. And then make sure you’ll use the features you’ll be paying extra for.
Here are some general guidelines around common basic and advanced features. Of course, each provider may use a unique language to describe each feature. And they may have other features not listed here.
9 Best Hosted VoIP Providers
Based on the above criteria, we’ve reviewed the top 9 hosted VoIP providers for 2020. We’ve evaluated their plans and prices as well as basic and advanced features. Take a look at what they have to offer. Then carefully consider which is right for you.
All plans benefit from a full suite of features. These include unlimited calling in the US and Canada, basic business phone service, voicemail, and Auto Attendant. Plus, Nextiva includes faxing on all plans while many competitors feature it as an add-on.
And Nextiva offers over 100 advanced features, with the most expensive plan topping out at under $60. That’s a whole lot of value for a small price. These advanced features include voice and video conferencing, voicemail to text, and advanced call management. Also, look for advanced integrations and analytics.
And Nextiva reviews speak for themselves. With stellar customer support resources and 24/7 help available, Nextiva has your business communications covered.
Pricing plans start at $20-$30 per user per month. However, their pricing tiers are based on the volume of users. This is a cost-effective advantage going forward since your per-user rates will go down as you grow. Just make sure you fully understand your starting price point.
Jive specializes in advanced features and flexible pricing. In fact, unlimited calling and their full range of features are available to all users at any price point.
Jive’s features include all basic calling features. They also offer desktop and mobile apps to enhance ease of use. You can customize call routing and timing as well as access all features.
However, video conferencing is offered as a separate offering. And International Calling comes at an additional cost, that could certainly add up and offset their reasonable prices.
Pricing ranges from $19.95-$29.95 per user per month depending on the number of users you have. You get tiered pricing up to 99 uses and custom pricing over 100 users. So, as your team grows, your cost per user decreases. You can choose month-to-month pricing or get the best deals with longer contracts.
8×8 provides a range of plans for any size business. However, they specialize in international calling. If that’s important to you, this might be the right choice for you.
All plans offer unlimited calling within the US and Canada. Their features include call handling, voicemail, voice and video conferencing, limited integrations, SMS messaging, and mobile and desktop apps.
While their international calling game is strong, 8×8’s interface lacks in some areas. And you may run into problems with mobile access.
8×8 plans start at $12-$110 per user per month. Their premium plans offer international calling, enhanced features like voicemail transcription, call recording, routing, analytics, and advanced integrations. Their top tier gives you calling in 47 countries.
The high price of the top tier is balanced by the ability to customize the plan to the user starting at their X2 level.
Phone.com offers rock bottom pricing. In fact, the aptly named company can get your costs down to as low as $9.99 per user per month. If your call volume and other needs are low, your costs may be low as well.
With their other plans, you’ll get all the basic telephone features. You’ll also get unlimited local calling, call management, voicemail, voice to text, and voice conferencing.
However, you’ll pay extra for advanced features. These include call recording, international calling, custom numbers, and CRM integrations, video conferencing, and analytics.
Although pricing does start at $9.99 per user per month, you won’t get unlimited calling or other key features. And you’ll have to pay annually to leverage the savings. However, their other plans range from $24.99-$54.99 per user per month and include unlimited calling and robust features.
MegaPath is a solid choice for unlimited local calling and a range of features. And their no-contract pricing makes them attractive to some businesses.
You can expect more than fifty features with their basic service. These include voicemail, hold music and call forwarding. Also look for more functionality with video conferencing, visual voicemail,
However, many features standard with other providers is add-ons under MegaPath’s plans. These include Toll-Free numbers, Auto Attendant, and basic integrations. And you’ll pay extra for unified communications solutions like video conferencing and SMS messaging.
Pricing for their plans starts from $19.99-$44.95 per user per month. You can pay extra for premium features for call centers and advanced integration with Salesforce.
1-VoIP offers metered plans that let you only pay for what you use. This is very attractive for small businesses or those with lower call volumes looking to keep costs down.
All plans come with over 40 basic features. These include Auto Attendant, voicemail, voicemail to email, call recording, call forwarding, and call waiting. They also include faxing, which is often an add-on feature.
Pricing for 1-VoIP ranges from plans started at $14.97-$29.97. The first two plans have no minimum commitment. The top plan includes your phone in the cost, although does require a long-term commitment.
Ooma offers great basic service at a single price point. If you’re looking for a no-frills approach, Ooma may be for you. And no-contract plans may set your mind at ease.
Ooma Office comes with a range of features. You’ll get unlimited calling in the US and Canada. Ooma Office also includes number porting and Toll-Free numbers are included.
You can use your existing equipment or you can purchase it from Ooma. Unfortunately, unlike some other providers, Ooma does not include the cost of equipment. And Ooma doesn’t currently have a softphone offering.
Ooma’s only plan offering is Ooma Office. Ooma Office starts at $19.99 per user per month. And all users have access to the features listed above and more. However, if you are looking for CRM integration or other services, contact them for a custom enterprise solution.
Line 2 offers a great entry-level price point for small businesses. They even offer call center services suited to up to 10 lines. So if you’re looking for a cost-effective solution with a call center option, Line2 might be an attractive choice.
Line2 offers unlimited calling on up to 99 lines. All plans offer all-inclusive calling in the US and Canada. They also include number porting, call forwarding and group calling.
However, Line2 is available through an app for iOS and Android devices or on your Mac or PC. You can also use a web-based app if you prefer.
Line2 offers three plans starting from $9.95 to 19.95 per user per month. The most basic plan comes with the features listed above. And not all plans include Toll-Free numbers, international rates, Auto Attendant, and after-hours call handling. Features like faxing and Live Chat support are only offered with their premium plan.
Dialpad looks to the future, honing in on softphone technology. If you’re all about your desk phone, you may want to move on. But if you’re looking for feature-rich plans from an innovative provider, keep reading.
All business phone customers enjoy a range of features. These include unlimited calling in the US and Canada, basic integrations, local and Toll-Free numbers, and business phone features. You’ll even get call conferencing, video calling, faxing, and analytics on the basic plan.
All plans come with self-service and chat support, but if you want telephone support, you’ll need to level up.
Pricing plans start at $20-$30 per user per month. The basic plan includes the features listed above. For a $10 more per user per month, you’ll get international calling, voicemail transcription, and more advanced integrations.
Which Hosted VoIP Provider is Right For You?
Hosted VoIP phone services offer so many benefits to businesses. Moving to a hosted PBX should save you money and reduce overhead costs.
As you can see, the market is rich with hosted VoIP service providers. There are so many solutions for small businesses and large businesses alike.
Be sure to choose the solution that suits your needs for today and tomorrow.