Small Business VOIP Service: Who Is The Best?

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To find out who’s the best small business VoIP service, we tried all the top providers and compared them based on price, features, reliability, ease of use and customer support.

Best Small Business VoIP Provider: Nextiva

Our choice for the best small business VoIP phone provider for 2015 is Nextiva. We chose Nextiva for their excellent customer support, ease of set up, company stability and risk free 30 day money-back guarantee.

best small business VoIP

Best Small Business VoIP Provider: Nextiva vs. RingCental vs. Phone.com Summary Table

 

Nextiva
4 Stars

RingCentral
3.5 Stars

Phone.com
3.5 Stars

Free Trial?

30 Day Money back Guarantee

Free 30 Day Trial

Free 30 Day Trial

Monthly Contact
Basic Pricing For 5 Employees incl. taxes. Learn More

$232.92 / month
($46.58 / user)

$298.63 / month
($59.73 / user)

$158.53 / month
($31.70 / user)

Yearly Contact
Basic Pricing For 5
Employees Incl. Taxes. Learn More

$219.32 / month
($43.86 / user)

Paid Monthly

$232.25 / month
($46.45 / user)

Must Pay All 12 Months Upfront

$145.34 / month
($29.27 / user)

Must Pay All 12 Months Upfront

Unlimited US Calls?

Yes

Yes

Yes

800 Number?

Yes

Yes

Yes

Mobile apps to receive & make calls
from business #

iOS, Android, Window Phones

iOS, Android

iOS, Android, Blackberry

Online Fax

Yes

Yes W/ Digital Signature


Yes

Voicemail-to-text Transcription

Available as an Add-on

No


Available as an Add-on

Customer Service

US Based Phone, Email, & Chat

Not Solely US Based By Phone, Email, and Chat

24 Hour Support, US Based

Learn More

www.nextiva.com

www.ringcentral.com

www.phone.com


Note: The exact amount you pay in taxes and fees will vary depending on location. Some states, counties and cities will charge more than others. The prices in this example reflect the taxes in New York City.

Why We Recommend Nextiva’s Small Business VoIP Phone Service

nextiva logo medium

We recommend Nextiva because of their reliability, top-notch customer service, and stability in a rapidly changing industry. Between the physical hardware and back-end software, business phone systems can be a challenge to set up. Nextiva is the only provider to give small business clients a personal U.S. based account representative to talk them through the process. This, as well as the free professionally recorded phone greeting, are just a few examples of the conveniences you get from Nextiva.

Nextiva provides US based customer support and answers 95% of all calls within two rings or less. Its major competitor, RingCentral only guarantees US based customer service to larger companies, those paying for more than 20 lines.

Nextiva is a rapidly growing company, which recently added several hundred employees. Unfortunately, it does not appear that Phone.com is growing nearly as rapidly. Given the enormous benefits of scale in providing VoIP services, it’s likely that many smaller providers will merge with larger ones or go out of business. For a company doesn’t want to have worry about the stability of its service provider, Nextiva is a better choice than smaller competitors.

Visit Nextiva 

When to use Phone.com

phone.com logo medium

One of the key benefits of Phone.com is the price. You can purchase a comparable plan for $10-$15/user/month less than Nextiva. There’s also a pay-per-minute option, which can save you even more money if your employees speak on the phone less than several hours per month.

Phone.com is also the best at international calling. With an unlimited plan, you can make free outgoing calls to landlines in Canada, France, Germany Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Puerto Rico and United Kingdom and rates for other countries are low compared to competitors. Phone.com even gives you the option to purchase an international phone number for as little as $5/month, so you can avoid international fees if you make a lot of calls to a particular country.

With Phone.com, you have the option of using a mobile phone or desktop softphone app instead of a VoIP handset. This means a tech-savvy user could theoretically get up and running in minutes. The downside is you don’t get a setup specialist like you do with Nextiva and the customer support is not as effective. For small business owners who aren’t as tech-savvy, we recommend using Nextiva.

Visit Phone.com 

When to use RingCentral

ringcentral logo medium

RingCentral is the “luxury” VoIP service for businesses who can afford the higher price tag. It has a top-notch interface for setting up the auto attendant and for users to check their voicemail or customize call forwarding settings. It has by far the best mobile app, which lets you make calls over the internet or over your mobile network using your business phone number, and even switch between the two mid-conversation. Thanks to RingCentral integrations, you can even make calls within Salesforce, Zendesk, Desk.com and other business applications.

Where RingCentral falls short is their customer service, which prioritizes larger businesses. U.S. based support is only available to 20+ user accounts. Likewise, while small businesses do get a setup specialist similar to Nextiva, this is non-US based unless you have over 10 users.

Visit Ringcentral

When to use a provider besides Nextiva, Phone.com or RingCentral

If you need a phone system that can integrate with your CRM or Help Desk software, but want a more affordable option than RingCentral, check out 8×8. For about $30-$40/user/month, you get a high-powered phone system with unlimited minutes that integrates with Salesforce, SugarCRM, Netsuite, Zendesk, eAgent and other business software.

If you prioritize good customer service and reliability of phone service, but want a more affordable option than Nextiva, check out Jive. We found Jive to be one of the most reliable phone services, having few reports of technical issues like dropped calls, outages or poor voice quality. They also have highly-praised customer service.

We reviewed two other VoIP providers, Ooma Office and Grasshopper, but did not find them worth recommending. Ooma Office has by far the lowest pricing, yet the highest number of technical issues reported by users, with many noting poor sound quality in particular. It also has a steep one-time hardware fee of $250 and a not-so-clear pricing policy that has caused many businesses to pay more than they expected. Grasshopper, while also inexpensive, does not actually provide phone service. You can use it to set up a professional call forwarding system, but to talk, you must use cell phones, landlines, or Skype accounts. This is something Phone.com can also do, but for cheaper.

Small Business VoIP Costs

 
1 User
(price per month,
monthly contract)
5 Users
(price per month,
monthly contract)
25 Users
(price per month,
monthly contract)
$43
$159
$622
$72
$299
$1396
$53
$233
$1002

Pricing for small business VoIP can be very confusing. The pricing plans quoted above are all for unlimited US and Canada calling minutes. If your company doesn’t receive or make many calls (under 500 minutes per month per user), you might be much better off with a pay per minute plan. While Nextiva don’t offer such a plan, Phone.com and RingCentral do, charging 3.9 and 4.9 cents per minute, respectively.

All the companies above offer a free 30 day trial or money back guarantee. However, you may be able to negotiate with your account executive for an extra free month. A cost not mentioned in the table above is the cost of the phone handsets themselves, which can range from $50 to $200 per handset.

Each provider also charges $5/month for additional phone numbers. Nextiva and RingCentral include a unique 10-digit number for each user with the base price. Phone.com, however, does not. Instead you have to pay $5/month for additional phone numbers. Although, as an alternative, you can give each user a unique extension at no extra cost.

phone.comPhone.com is by far the cheapest provider for both the monthly and annual contracts at $159 for 5 users on the monthly contract and $145 per month for an annual contract. There’s also pay-per-minute plans. If you have 5 employees who talk an average of 5 hours per month (or 1,500 minutes), you could pay as little as $84 total per month.

The downside is that each user does not get a unique 10-digit number.This costs an additional $5/user/month. Also, you also have to pay more for advanced features like automatic call recording ($5/month for 300 minutes) voicemail-to-text transcription ($1.50 per extension) or caller analytics ($2/month).

A fully-loaded Phone.com package would come out to $207 for 5 users on the monthly contract – still a little cheaper than Nextiva, and much cheaper than RingCentral. Visit Website

rc logoRingCentral monthly pricing ($299 for 5 users) is the most expensive of all the providers we reviewed. The price radically drops, however ($232) with an annual contract, although you have to pay for the entire year upfront.

While you get unlimited outbound calling, RingCentral is also the only provider to charge for incoming toll-free calls. With a mid-tier “Premium” edition account, each user gets 2,500 toll free minutes, which is over 41 hours. After that, you must pay 3.9 cents a minute. Visit Website

nextivaAt $234 for 5 users on a monthly contract and $219 annually, Nextiva falls in in the middle. We calculated pricing based on the “Office Pro Plus” edition, which includes all the key features as well as call conferencing and a mobile app. For an additional $7/user, you get premium features like call recording and monitoring. There’s also a basic “Office Pro” plan that gives you just the essential features at a slightly lower cost. Visit Website

Standard Features of Small Business VoIP Phone Service

All three of these VoIP providers will enable you and your employees to make and receive calls anywhere in the United States with high quality audio for free. Here are some basic features which are standard with all three providers.

  • Each employee and / or department can have their own unique phone number, phone greeting, and voicemail box. RingCentral and Nextiva give each user a unique 10-digit number for free. Phone.com charges an additional $5/month per number.
  • Each company can use local phone numbers, have an 800 number or a combination of the two. Phone.com and RingCentral also offer international numbers for some countries.
  • An auto-attendant can direct callers to the right department or you can give callers the options of dial by name directory. For the phone greeting, Nextiva lets you send in a script to be professionally recorded by their production team at no extra cost.
  • You can set rules for how calls are handled. For example, sales calls can ring on multiple lines at once or roll from one person to another if calls aren’t picked up. Nextiva and RingCentral give you the most options for call routing.
  • Employees can make and receive call on their personal smartphone, using their business phone number. RingCentral had by far the best mobile app.
  • You can send and receive electronic faxes (e-faxing).
  • All services will help you port / transfer your existing number to your new phone service.

Small Business VoIP Provider Mobile App Comparison

Each of these providers also offers a mobile app for iOS and Android which you can use to check your voicemail, update your account settings and make or recieve calls. The key benefit to using the mobile app vs. your regular cell dialer is you can make outgoing calls using your business number. This way you can reach clients outside the office without “giving out” your personal number.

All 3 providers offer this functionality, although they differ in how well they work and in their additional features. In a nutshell, RingCentral has a killer mobile app while Nextiva’s is not quite up to par. Phone.com is in between.

phone.comPhone.com’s mobile app lets you manage your voicemail, fax and SMS inbox, view call logs, open your address book and more. You can make outgoing calls using your business number, but you have to be connected to the internet. The call itself, however, goes out over your mobile network, so the call quality will not be affected by your internet connection. It will, however, count as cell minutes.

rc logoUnlike Phone.com, RingCentral lets you choose between placing calls over the internet (WiFi/4G) or your mobile network. If you have a strong enough signal and can place the call over the internet, you get loads of in-call tools – with a single click you can begin recording the conversation, put the caller on hold or transfer the call. If the signal is getting weak, you can transfer the call to your cell network without the caller being interrupted.

If you don’t have a strong wifi signal or are connected to 3G / 4G instead, you can still place calls using your business number. The call, however, will go out over your mobile network instead of VoIP. This means the call will count as cell minutes. Also, you do not get the same tools (record call, transfer call, hold caller, etc.) that you get with a VoIP call.

Like Phone.com, you can also check your inbox and change user settings.

nextivaCompared to the others, the Nextiva app is fairly primitive. You can’t check voicemail messages or change user settings like call forwarding. You also don’t the advanced in-call tools you’ll find with RingCentral.

You can make outgoing calls that display your business number, but you need to be connected to the internet and select “VoIP” after dialing. If you select “mobile” instead, it will go over your mobile network and display your personal mobile number to callers. If you aren’t connected to the internet, then you won’t be able to make a VoIP call.

Because the call is routed over the internet, you don’t have to use your cell minutes. Based on our personal experience, however, we noticed the call quality was rather poor.

Note: The mobile app is only available on an Office Pro Plus Edition ($33/month) or higher.

Best Small Business VoIP Providers Customer Service

nextivaNextiva provides all US based customer support by phone, email, and chat. However, the hours are limited to 5 AM – 6 PM MST during weekdays and 9 AM – 1 PM MST on Saturday. Based on user reviews and our personal experience, we found Nextiva customer service to be among the best, boasting fast response times and knowledgeability.

phone.comPhone.com has 24 hour US phone and chat support. While response times are fairly quick, some users have noted trouble getting answers to more technical questions or troubleshooting their system. I can confirm this based on my personal experience.

rc logoRingCentral offers 24 hour support, with a mix of US and non-US based support and onboarding for those that have less than 20 phone users. Users are generally very content with RingCentral’s customer service, although large businesses do get preference over smaller clients.

Best Small Business VoIP Service Provider - The Bottom Line

After reviewing all the top players, we chose Nextiva as the best small business VoIP phone company based on their superior customer service, ease of setup, and stability in a constantly changing industry.

Visit Nextiva 

Comments

  1. Tommy says

    When I opened my design firm I received a word of mouth recommendation to use Celerity telecom. I’ve been with this provider for 3 years now and I only pay $22.99 for my line. I get all the call center type features at no extra charge although maybe Nextiva offers the same thing. I may look into their services if I have any issues with my provider.

    • says

      Hi Clint.

      MegaPath offers a lot of different communications/networking products. It looks like cloud hosted VoIP is just one of many packages, so they may not have the best-developed user interface or the most attentive customer service.

      Broadview seems more comparable to the other services we reviewed. Unfortunately they do not publicly share pricing (nor does MegaPath), but if you do get a quote from them I would compare it to Nextiva and Phone.com.

      Hope that helps!

      Best,
      Jeremy

  2. Manny says

    Keep in mind, you get what you pay for.
    Sadly, security is not a concern until it is a problem and by then it is too late.
    Also, the financial stability of these companies are always in the dark and what some business user don’t realize is that if the provider goes under, their number is tided up in the mess and they might not get a single call for weeks until some other provider is able to pick up the number and begin providing service again.
    Let’s not forget that the quality of the service/call is only as good as the internet circuit and QOS which is set up and you are at the mercy of the local internet provider.

  3. says

    The problem with most VoIP systems is that they aren’t necessarily ‘plug and play’. Additionally, they’re ‘over the top’ or BYOB (bring your own bandwidth) solutions. Here are 4 things you should also know about these boutique VoIP provider’s services:

    1) You sign up for the service, the phones and central switch/router are shipped to you in a box, and then you have to do the installation yourself, which isn’t a simple task, especially for those that are less tech savvy.
    2) The service is only as good as your Internet connection. The more phones you have in use, the more bandwidth you need to avoid any ‘digital garbage’ (broken words, sentences, etc) during conversation.
    3) When VoIP calls and data traffic are competing for the same bandwidth, there is no ‘quality of service’ (QoS). In other words, your office mate listening to Pandora or watching a YouTube video can have a very negative effect on your phone call, since both the data and VoIP packets are competing for the same Internet connection.
    4) You need to also factor in the Internet costs into your total monthly costs, which the above examples don’t include the cost of bandwidth.

    Comcast’s Business Voice Edge is a fully hosted, fully installed VoIP service with a 60 day money back guarantee. Comcast will come to your place of business and fully install, test and activate your service., And then spend 90 minutes training you how to best use the system.

    Comcast provides a dedicated data circuit, separate from your Internet circuit, to move all of your VoIP traffic over their data backbone and out to the PSTN (public switched telephone network). These VoIP packets do not traverse the public Internet and compete for bandwidth with your data traffic. This means you get true QoS, since the phone and Internet traffic travel on completely different circuits.

    You also get the benefit of a fully integrated Unified Communications solution. Features such as a mobile smart phone app allows you to make and answer business calls away from the office. You can even travel abroad and still be connected to your office wherever you have an Internet connection with your laptop.

    If you’d like to learn more about Business Voice Edge, please email me at: james_milward@cable.comcast.com or call me at 503-207-3364.

    • says

      Normally, we don’t let sales pitch in the comments area as we think it leads to a lower quality of discussion. As you at least provide some info along with the sales pitch, we let this one go. However, please keep your sales pitches shorter for future comments. Best regards, Marc

    • anthony says

      nightmare experience with comcast. Voice quality was no better with comcast than with ringcentral over att. Their customer service gets very poor rating for sound reasons unfortunately.

      Although att says they give me only 12 mbps and comcast claimed 45 megs, my quality of internet access and phone is better with att so far. I am looking at upgrading our att speed if they’ll come down in price soon :-)

      One very bad problem with comcast software that made it a no-go for us, was their software limit on blocked numbers. Used to be only 12. If you are ok with getting tons of unwanted calls, no problem, but i don’t have time. Ringcentral allows as many blocked numbers as I need so far.

      ringcentral’s customer service has gone downhill lately but pain of switching keeps me there for now. I might test out ooma one day but based on what you said, their quality might not be that good? Any more data on ooma? They seem to get a lot of good reviews from some users.

      • anthony says

        One other problem with comcast. They are awful in sneaking higher pricing after 12 months of use. They like to get you in with an offer, then jack their prices up dramatically.

      • Jonathan says

        I have recent experience with Ooma Office, Nextiva, and as of today RingCentral. I can’t recommend Ooma Office. Their servers were down earlier this week for a whole day and again for a bit another day. Which means my Ooma base station was down. When that happens you can’t use your phone system at all, even online manager was down. You are dependent on their servers and if they go down you are toast. Also I find that their calling features aren’t as comprehensive as other companies. No mobile calling app where you can make calls on your cell phone using your business number. Canceling next week.

        Prior to Ooma I tried Nextiva. Fantastic customer support, fantastic desktop and mobile software. Negative is that the interface is so complicated and convoluted, I have no time to go through many awkward steps just to enable an off hours auto attendant. Even when finally set up it still didn’t do what I needed it to do. It took at least 2 calls to support totaling a couple hours and I threw in the towel finally. Stellar support, just way too complicated desktop interface.

        I just signed up for RingCentral today and the interface seems very intuitive and isn’t complicated. I called support twice regarding activation of my existing VOIP phone and they were able to remotely log on to my PC and get it all set up. The main feature I like so far is ability to send calls straight to voicemail after hours. No need to make callers press an extension to get sent to voicemail unlike Ooma. So for now RingCentral looks like the keeper for me.

  4. Syed Rizvi says

    Hi Marc, just tumbled on your informative article. I have been using vinage, but having sound, or quality problems. We are a 2 man company, but are adding a few sales people and wondered if you could offer some advice. With vonage, there are 60 countries to where you can call for free. Is the issue because of the normal phones that we are using.? Shall u get VoIP phones to try vonage.

    • says

      Hi Syed,

      Using a regular non-digital phone means you have to go through an adapter. This can sometimes cause static or buzzing. It’s no guarantee, but if you are getting sound quality problems similar to the ones described here, using a VoIP phone could resolve the issue.

      Also, you may want to check out Phone.com, which also has free international calling to Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United Kingdom, USA and iNUM global numbers. They’re priced much lower than Vonage Business.

    • says

      Hi Syed,

      The problem may not be with your phones but with your business not having enough bandwidth to maintain high call quality. I would start by doing http://fitsmallbusiness.com/voip-speed-test/ to see if you might need to upgrade your internet connection.

      However, the issue might be with your phones. Some carriers are willing to provide free voip phones – IF YOU REQUEST THEM. They might particularly be inclined if you let them know that you about to add a couple lines.

      Have you been using Vonage’s consumer or retail plans? I did a quick look at Vonage Business international rates and there seemed to be charges for most countries. Most voip carriers provide free calling to Canada.

      Good luck, Marc

  5. Mikiel says

    I see there can be low-cost OUTGOING international calls. Is there any service that provides INCOMING low-cost calls from clients in, say, France or UK who call our company in the USA?

      • Mikiel says

        Yes, cheapest and best quality for toll-free calls FROM France TO our office in USA. I have only seen mentions of services enabling calls going TO foreign countries. (Apart from AT&T international 800 numbers, of course, which is very pricey.)

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