Businesses traditionally used to operate with an in-house PBX that served all of their phone and voice needs. Over the past decade, however, there has been a definite transition away from hardware-based PBXs (private branch exchanges) to software-based services and cloud-based or cloud-hosted systems.
That trend has been accelerated of late. The pandemic caused many still on in-house PBXs to move to voice over IP (VoIP) as a way to keep employees connected, able to access their extensions, and retrieve their voicemails. The idea is to be able to access voice communications from a central web console no matter the location or device.
Today, most systems go beyond basic voice features to also offer video conferencing, team collaboration, and sometimes a lot more. These features are often structured with subscription-based pricing that is cheaper than an old on-premises PBX.
VoIP has suffered from plenty of quality issues over its history, but the level of quality is generally good enough for most business uses. The number of complaints about dropped calls or other issues are generally on a par with cellular networks.
Decision Time for VoIP in the Enterprise
During the pandemic, some organizations adopted a temporary VoIP solution. With many now returning to work, these organizations face the decision of whether to return to an on-premises PBX, shift the status of any temporary VoIP arrangements into a more permanent relationship, or find a new VoIP provider.
The good news is that there are plenty of VoIP options out there. Some services are relatively basic. Others have grand monikers such as Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and operate as cloud-based, virtual PBXs with a whole lot of advanced functionality. In some cases, this might include CRM integration, global call capabilities, and integration with a Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) gateway or other legacy phone system functions.
Also read: Unified Communications Security Considerations and Solutions
Key Features of Business VoIP Solutions
There can be a tremendous variety of features offered among the VoIP providers. This largely depends on their roots. Those who began in physical PBXs or software PBXs provide different capabilities compared to those who grew up in the cloud. Similarly, some gravitate to the SMB segment, others cater more to large enterprises, and quite a few attempt to serve all needs.
Thus, the feature set, pricing, and breadth of offerings can be wildly different. That said, most vendors should provide the bulk of the following features:
- Centralized device management to easily manage all voice and related features without the need for complex administrative tasks.
- Unified communications and mobile app integration so all employees can easily collaborate from their preferred device.
- Call routing.
- Call recording.
- Call queuing
- Caller ID
- Additional features such as call transfer, call hold, 3-way calling, music on hold, paging, intercom, Spam call blocking/tagging, 911 admin notification, voicemail-to-email transcription, depending on needs. Some providers bundle all of these for one price, others have tiers of service that provide more of such functions if required.
- Phone system reliability without outages, downtime, or low call quality.
Top Enterprise VoIP Providers and Platforms
Here are Enterprise Networking Planet’s top business VoIP providers and solutions in no particular order.
Nextiva Business Phone System manages calls, whether you are using a desk phone or the Nextiva App. It addresses business communications problems with one set of tools that are said to be simple to use and don’t require in-depth IT know-how. The network’s reliability has attracted many business customers who now make more than 200 million calls every month on the Nextiva network.
- Contact Center as a Service is integrated with Nextiva Business Phone System to make it easier for office-based, hybrid, and distributed organizations to better serve their customers.
- Nextiva is said to boast the most reliable network in the industry.
- Meets security standards set by the ISO/IEC 27001 certification.
- Sign up, set up, and start taking calls in a matter of minutes.
- Scales up as the business grows.
- Won Best Business Phone Service from U.S. News and World Report for two consecutive years.
- Named a Customer’s Choice in Gartner Peer I.
GoToConnect provides VoIP calling, automatic rollover, caller engagement, unlimited extensions, lines for each device, visual plan editor, video conferencing, and cloud PBX on top of the basic features that users expect from any VoIP service. In fact, it comes packed with more than 100 features across cloud VoIP and web, audio and video conferencing, and contact center. It is part of the LogMeIn portfolio of business services.
- This hosted VoIP is a cloud-based service where the equipment for connecting VoIP calls is managed by a third-party provider.
- Many data centers are distributed worldwide, providing redundant service.
- Uptimes of 99.995%.
- Is said to have lower bandwidth requirements than major competitors.
- Free international calling, unlimited domestic calls.
- Conversations and confidential data secured by encryption, meeting lock with password protection, and security standards like SOC 2 Type II and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).
- Integrated business communications, with video conferencing included.
- As a product in LogMeIn’s larger portfolio, it integrates with GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, Rescue, GoToAssist, and LastPass.
Intermedia Unite is an all-in-one communications platform. Unite combines a 90+ feature VoIP/hosted PBX system with video conferencing, chat, contact center, file sharing and backup, creating a tightly integrated communications and collaboration solution. Users receive all of this for a price that is competitive to a standalone VoIP system.
- Either purchase new VoIP phones for employees or use existing phones.
- Keep your same phone numbers.
- Businesses receive voice, video conferencing, chat, contact center, file sharing.
- 99.999% uptime service level agreements.
- J.D. Power-certified 24/7 technical support.
8×8’s business phone service uses the all-in-one 8×8 Work cloud-based app, bringing together business telephony, video meetings, and team messaging to a desktop PC, smartphone, or web browser. Employees can communicate and collaborate with co-workers, customers, and suppliers securely.
- Unlimited global calling to anywhere from 14 to 47 countries, depending on the plan.
- Utilize a dedicated direct inward dialing number for each extension.
- View call quality details of the other party in addition to the user’s call quality status.
- Protect calls from eavesdropping with TLS/SRTP secure voice encryption.
- SLA for uptime and voice quality over the public internet that is financially backed and end to end.
- Works with 25+ PSTN carriers to provide global coverage and redundancy.
- Automatic localized signaling and voice to reduce latency and improve end-user experience.
- View and listen to recordings on desk phone, computer, or mobile device.
- Transcribes voicemail to text and sends an email with it included.
- Enterprise-grade cloud PBX with unlimited calling, multi-level auto-attendant, flexible call flows, and global coverage.
- Analytics with performance and usage dashboards, plus reporting options for valuable insights and sentiments.
- 35 data centers across the world.
- 8×8 Voice for Microsoft Teams delivers direct routing capabilities that allow Teams users to make and receive calls on the PSTN natively from any Teams endpoint.
Cox Business offers a fully hosted business phone service that integrates existing equipment and devices. Its portfolio of business phone offerings deliver many advanced features and are designed to improve and simplify communications, particularly for companies that lack sufficient IT resources.
- Many different phone bundles available.
- Works with existing phones.
- 24/7 Customer Support.
- Caller ID and blocking.
- Call waiting.
- Last number redial.
- Email notifications for missed calls or new voicemails.
- Call forwarding, holding, and speed dialing.
- Three-way calling.
- No need to install hardware.
The Dialpad cloud communications platform has talk, messaging, meetings, and contact center in one app. It delivers AI across every employee and customer experience through real-time transcriptions, live agent coaching, and sentiment analysis. More than 73,000 businesses use it, including Domo, Motorola Solutions, Netflix, Splunk, T-Mobile, Twitter, Uber and WeWork.
- This unified communications platform connects teams through voice, video, messages, and online meetings.
- Fast setup, hassle-free deployment, and the ability to provision and manage users with efficiency.
- Web Portal for administrators to set up and manage the platform, and individual users to control their own settings and profile.
- Dialpad’s APIs and webhooks provide call data and additional user management functionality.
- Syncs with Google G Suite or Office 365.
- Dialpad’s Chrome extension offers a Chrome dialer that lets users make calls from a web browser.
- Call analytics in Dialpad optimize call center performance to meet KPIs.
- A hosted contact center service is available.
- Features such as call queue, call center recording, interactive voice response, quality management, computer telephony integration, and call history.
RingCentral VoIP is part of a secure cloud communications platform that eliminates the need for on-premises PBX hardware. With mobile apps, online meetings, and business SMS, all business communications can be managed with a computer or mobile device from any location. RingCentral provides simplified billing, free onboarding services, and 24/7 customer support as part of the service plan.
- RingCentral VoIP service is encrypted with secure voice between desk phones, RingCentral for Desktop, and, with VoIP calling enabled, the RingCentral mobile app.
- Protection from service interruption threats such as natural disasters, power outages, and malicious attacks.
- Carrier-grade reliability and security.
- Tier 1 network centers and 24/7 monitoring to ensure your service isn’t disrupted.
- Geographically dispersed data centers provide redundant layers of security — at the perimeter, at the service delivery layer, and with SSL-encoded web applications.
- Tools to check internet connection speed as well as instructions on how to configure routers properly.
Vonage Business Communications (VBC) activates conversations worldwide across voice, SMS, team messaging, fax, social, video meetings, and more. Available for desktop and mobile, it also enables users to schedule meetings from their calendars. The company offers training and webinars. Users can record and share meetings.
- 99.999% uptime reliability and Quality of Service (QoS).
- 50+ business phone features within a flexible small-business phone system that runs on the internet.
- Supported in 40 + countries.
- Paperless fax.
- Call monitoring.
- Local or geographic number.
- Call flip.
- Virtual receptionist.
Read next: Maximizing the Benefits of UCaaS