Grasshopper vs Phone.com Comparison

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Company Information

Grasshopper

Grasshopper is a virtual telephone system operator that is based in Needham MA in the USA. Grasshopper’s target market is the solo entrepreneur or the small business market, typically those with between 1-25 telephone users. As such Grasshopper is primarily a virtual telephone service with the typical voice features that you would expect from a business telephone system.

When Grasshopper first started out it was distinctive because it used a PSTN overlay model this required that you had to have an existing phone service (landline or mobile) in which to operate and to forward calls over. 

In recent years Grasshopper has shifted away from the PSTN overlay model towards being a cloud PBX utilizing VoIP over the internet. What this means is you can now make, receive and forward calls using VoIP on Wi-Fi or over a Mobile data connection using a smartphone or a PC with a softphone app. This has significantly improved the features and flexibility of the Grasshopper system. For example, users can now make outbound calls using VoIP over the internet from a mobile app. But, at the same time, the move has reduced what was its significant advantage, which was its previous guaranteed voice quality and reliability as these factors were due to the underlying PSTN network.

Phone.com

Phone.com was founded in 2007 as a virtual telephone service for entrepreneurs and small companies. Their virtual phone service was designed from the beginning to be built on VoIP in order to deliver a complete virtual telephone service that could provide small businesses with access to an online enterprise-grade unified communication system at affordable small business prices.

Phone.com markets its product as being, “the modern, work-from-anywhere solution for today’s agile, mobile, and always-on entrepreneurs and growing businesses.”

To that end Phone.com has built a cloud based virtual phone system that sits upon a flexible and robust business-communications platform that is accessible from anywhere there is an internet connection and that is designed to grow alongside of your business. By utilizing their in-house VoIP experience Phone.com has designed a virtual phone system that boasts over 40 valuable VoIP features and with price and service plans to suit the needs of all sorts of small businesses. Phone.com seamlessly connects all of your communication devices via a cloud-based virtual PBX platform to deliver a unified phone presence wherever your company or your employees are located.

Comparing Grasshopper vs. Phone.com

When it comes to comparing vendors’ products in the virtual telephone systems marketplace it is essential to make sure that we are comparing comparable systems. What this means is that we must select and compare service and price plans aimed at the same market sector, such as for small office-home office (SoHo) or small medium businesses (SMB), or small to medium enterprises (SME).

As a result we have chosen to compare Grasshopper’s Solo, Partner and SMB service plans against Phone.com’s basic small business plans. What we do need to bear in mind is that this is a like for like comparison as both Grasshopper and Phone.com are targeting the entrepreneur and small business market sector.

Pricing Models

Grasshopper

Grasshopper uses a pricing model based upon the number of virtual business numbers used and the number of extensions. With Grasshopper the entry level service is called Solo ($29 per month) and as you would expect this is designed to support a single user with one number and 3 extensions on a per month basis. Moving up the scale there is the popular Partner service plan ($49) that is designed to support up to 5 users with 3 numbers and 3 extensions. At the top end there is the Small Business ($89) service plan which can scale to around 25 users with 5 numbers and unlimited extensions. Across all the plans there are no activation fees, contract needed or cancellation fees involved but local taxes will apply.

Phone.com

Phone.com has three basic small business plans as well as an enterprise plan, which we will only touch briefly upon here as a possible upgrade path. Instead we will concentrate on a like for like comparison with Grasshopper’s Solo, Partner and Small Business service plans.

The service plans that Phone.com uses to target the same entrepreneur and small business market-segment as Grasshopper come in two distinct offerings – 1) a pay per minute set of plans and 2 an unlimited minutes set of plans. Regardless of whether the plans are pay for minute or unlimited the feature sets are the same.

 Pay Per Minute

  • Base plan – $12.99 per user per month ($9.99 if paid annually in advance),
  • 300 Monthly Minutes
  • Unlimited User Extensions
  • 1 Local or Toll-Free Number
  • 5,000 SMS Messages4
  • 40+ Standard Features including Call Queuing, Voicemail to Email,
  • Plus Plan – $19.99 per user per month
  • 500 Monthly Minutes
  • Unlimited User Extensions
  • 2 Local or Toll-Free Numbers
  • 10,000 SMS Messages
  • Everything in Base Plan plus Automated Voicemail to Text and Premium Hold Music,
  • Pro Plan – $29.99 per user per month.
  • 1,000 Monthly Minutes
  • Unlimited User Extensions
  • 3 Local or Toll-Free Numbers
  • 20,000 SMS Messages
  • Everything in Plus Plan plus Call Analytics, 300 call recording minutes, HD Video Conferencing,

Unlimited Minutes

  • Base plan – $29.99 per user per month ($9.99 if paid annually in advance),
  • Unlimited Monthly Minutes
  • Unlimited User Extensions
  • 1 Local or Toll-Free Number
  • 5,000 SMS Messages4
  • 300 Bonus Included Minutes
  • 40+ Standard Features including Call Queuing, Voicemail to Email,
  • Call Forwarding
  • Plus Plan – $37.99 per user per month
  • Unlimited Monthly Minutes
  • Unlimited User Extensions
  • 2 Local or Toll-Free Numbers
  • 10,000 SMS Messages4
  • 500 Bonus Included Minutes
  • Everything in Base Plan
  • Premium Hold Music
  • Pro Plan – $59.99 per user per month.
  • Unlimited Monthly Minutes
  • Unlimited User Extensions
  • 3 Local or Toll-Free Numbers
  • 20,000 SMS Messages4
  • 1,000 Bonus Included Minutes
  • Everything in Plus Plan
  • Call Analytics & HD Video Conferencing
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Grasshopper Features

Grasshopper despite its move to being a cloud PBX is still fundamentally only an incoming call handing service. What that means is that Grasshopper is an inbound call answering service that does not provide users with a dial-tone so no outbound calls are possible. Grasshopper works by using an auto-attendant to answer incoming calls to the virtual business number. The incoming calls to virtual business numbers are duly answered 24/7 with a professional customized greeting. The users can make their own greeting using Grasshopper studio or have a professional voice actor record the greeting for them. After the greeting has been played to the caller, the auto-attendant will present them with a menu of user configurable options – such as press 1 for Sales, 2 for Support, 3 for Billing. When customizing the menu the user can construct the menu so that it is made up of a hierarchy of departments or extensions that reflect the organizations structure. Moreover each extension can be redirected to a different phone or user. A handy thing is any number of real phones can be linked to the virtual extension number, which can ring in sequence (call hunt) or ring simultaneously (call blast). Therefore, the user could set up the sequence to have their mobile as the first number and their house phone as the second, this way they can ensure that they would not miss an important call.

There are also voicemail and voicemail-to-email features. Voicemail is a standard feature which will kick in after a configurable number of unanswered rings. On the other hand, Voicemail-to-email is a transcription service which sends a copy to the user’s email inbox so that it can be read rather than listened too.

Business calling and SMS, which use the virtual business number as the caller ID are again standard features across the plans. Both services allow the mobile or desktop app to substitute the virtual business number for the devices real mobile number as the caller ID which is good as it prevents the personal phone number of the mobile phone being visible to the person receiving the call or text.

Quality and reliability are built into Grasshopper by default as it operates on top of the PSTN network which guarantees call quality and high-availability. Nonetheless, Grasshopper can also use your mobile minutes or shift to VoIP on Wi-Fi when a strong signal is available. This can be easily setup on the mobile or desktop apps which comes with the service.

Other notable Grasshopper features are:

  • Fax Support (incoming)
  • Conference Calling (3-way or more if subscribing to Join.Me)
  • International Calls – charged at International call rates
  • Mobile app for iOS and Android
  • Toll-Free, Local or Vanity number
  • Softphone for Windows or Mac
  • Caller ID/Screening
  • Call transfer
  • Call blocking
  • Call Forwarding
  • Call Blasting

Additional/Supplementary Apps

Grasshopper is focused on being a basic, reliable and high quality telephone service hence its lack of multi-channel, collaboration, productivity and call center tools. However, Grasshopper does have complementary tools that deliver some of these functions. The two services in question that bring some advanced features to the basic Grasshopper voice service are; 1) Grasshopper Connect, which brings contact sharing and email integration and 2) Join.me, which provides much needed support for video and audio conferencing as well as desktop/screen sharing.

Grasshopper Connect

Grasshopper Connect can be used as a standalone product or as a supplement to Grasshopper Solo. However it is priced at $29.99, which brings it to parity with Ring Central’s Essentials service plan at $29.99 billed annually for a single user. This dilutes much of Grasshopper’s price advantage. Nonetheless, in return you will get a contact-sharing feature on the mobile app as well as email integration for Google Gmail accounts. These are handy but basic functions that most of Grasshopper’s competitors deliver as part of the basic feature set.

Join.me

Grasshopper is pushing a partnership with Join.me as a supplement to its own basic virtual voice service. What Join.me brings to the table are collaboration and productivity tools such as video conferencing, video team meetings and desktop or screen sharing. These are excellent additional features to Grasshopper but they come not via mutual integration but as an extra subscription. The point being that to get features, such as video conferencing, above Grasshoppers basic feature-set is going to cost extra and this has to be taken into consideration when planning for the service.

Phone.com Features

Phone.com’s three basic service plans all come with 40+ inbuilt VoIP features in addition to all the unlimited or free minutes for each plan. What is noticeable is that even though Phone.com is targeting the same market sector for virtual phone systems they have added considerably more features to their service plans.

All of the three service plans share over 40+ VoIP voice orientated features such as:

Nonetheless, some advanced features are available in only some of the more expensive plans. For example although voicemail-to-text is available in the basic plan, automated voicemail-to-text is available in the Plus and Pro service Plans. Similarly, HD video conferencing is only available with the Pro Plan. However we should realize that these features are not available as standard with any of the Grasshopper plans. Indeed to get HD conferencing or indeed any video functionality with Grasshopper you would need to subscribe to Join.me.

As can be seen you get a lot of features as standard with Phone.com. Indeed these features cover not just basic voice calls – call transfer, call forwarding, call screening, but also contact center functionality such as queues, call notification and location based routing. Moreover, there are also collaboration and productivity tools that come as standard such as HD Video or HD audio conferencing, and voicemail-to-email.

Phone.com comes with an impressive array of features made more impressive as it is targeting the small business market sector. This makes Phone.com extremely competitive as it comprehensively out guns its rivals, in this case Grasshopper.

Mobile & Desktop Apps

Grasshopper

Grasshopper is dependent upon having good mobile phone support as it is one of its biggest selling points. For example Grasshopper is attractive to small businesses that have users that are on the move and typically working from their mobile devices. Consequently, Grasshopper has developed a mobile app for both Android and iOS for smartphones. For desktops and Laptops there is also a softphone application that can be downloaded and configured as an extension. The pre-requisite for a softphone being that the computer, laptop or tablets has a headset and microphone.

The mobile app provides the opportunity to select whether to use VoIP or the carrier network, for example 4G to make calls. The user can select the default through the mobile apps setup. This means remembering to switch over to the carrier network when you leave the Wi-Fi network in the house or office.

Phone.com

The Phone.com mobile app delivers a fully functional Phone.com extension to your smartphone. The free to download app supports both Android and iOS and there is also a desktop application – called communicator – available for Windows and Apple PCs. This is a fully functional extension that can be run on any windows or Mac devices however there is an additional monthly charge of $4.99 per month per softphone extension.

Using the Phone.com mobile app allows you to make outbound calls through Phone.com using your business number as the caller ID. You can choose to use either your mobile phone’s network connection or either a Wi-Fi or a mobile data connection for VoIP. When you are using the mobile app you can also access your Phone.com address book, contacts, call logs, Inbox, conference calling and SMS functions.

Setting up the mobile app to receive and send calls using VoIP is easy and you can also navigate to m.phone.com using your mobile browser to access many of the other Phone.com features that are available on standard extensions. However, if you want to convert an existing extension to a mobile extension you will need to go through customer support.

Types of Numbers Available

An important consideration when choosing a virtual telephone service is whether the vendor can supply the type of business number that you need. There are several types of virtual telephone numbers available;

  • Local Number that matches your location or desired location or virtual business presence.
  • Toll-Free Numbers
  • Vanity Numbers
  • International Numbers
  • Existing Business Number

Almost all virtual telephone service vendors will support these types of numbers the difference is whether they charge for them or not.

Grasshopper

The Grasshopper service supports Local, Vanity and Toll Free. You can also port an existing number over to your Grasshopper account. All of the grasshopper features are attached to the virtual business number you choose such as business SMS, Confirmation Texts and outgoing caller ID use the business number even on a smartphone. The price of the virtual numbers is included within the plan, so for example you can have 1 number in Solo, 3 in Partner and 5 in Small Business. Additional numbers are charged at $5 per number per month. Also there are set monthly charges for features that use these numbers such as:

  • $5 per month for each additional Grasshopper number above the amount included in your pricing plan
  • $5 per month for each Canadian number that you transfer to Grasshopper
  • $10 per month if Call Blasting is activated
  • $10 per month if Read Your Voicemail is activated
  • $10 per month, per phone number with Grasshopper Business SMS (Texting) activated

Phone.com

Phone.com supports Local, Toll-Free, Vanity numbers as well as allowing you to port over an existing business number. There are also custom local numbers that you can choose to deploy to raise your businesses profile and gain an advantage over your competitors. Custom local numbers look like this; (212) 888-TECH.  Custom Phone Numbers can be purchased on a one-time fee starting at $100 but raising to thousands for rare numbers this is in addition to Phone.com’s standard monthly number fee ($4.99).

With regards vanity numbers Phone.com offers businesses two types:

  • Vanity Local: These numbers use local area codes and the customer calling the number will pay for the call minutes.
  • Vanity Toll-free: These numbers use toll-free prefixes like 800 or 888, and customers calling these numbers are not charged.

Support

An important factor when comparing vendor virtual telephone solutions is Customer Service. Each vendor approaches this area differently with some more focused on online material such as FAQ, Podcasts, and Blogs as well as website training videos. Whereas others aim for the personal contact via telephone, email or web forms. Whichever channel you prefer should be available to you from the vendor.

Another important factor is where the Support service is based. Generally a few years ago vendors took advantage of offshoring contact centers to Asia and other places to take advantage of lower costs. Unfortunately this often backfired resulting in poor customer experience and so recently there has been a shift back to on shoring Contact Centers in the USA.

Grasshopper

Grasshoppers support is 24/7 and based in the USA.

Grasshopper supports the following channels:

  • Telephone – 24/7
  • Live Support – Chat
  • Ticket System – Online Forms
  • Email
  • FAQ and online documentation

Phone.com

Phone.com support is 24/7 and based in the USA.

Phone.com supports the following channels:

  • Telephone – 24/7
  • Live Support – Chat
  • Ticket System – Online Forms
  • Email
  • FAQ and online documentation

Phone.com also has bilingual support in English and Spanish

Regional Availability

Grasshopper

Grasshopper used to be available in the USA/Canada as well as in the UK. However, now Grasshopper is only available in the USA and Canada. The lack of international local numbers is also a major constraint for businesses that work out with the USA and Canada.

Phone.com

As Phone.com is a cloud based virtual PBX it can support diverse geographical locations thereby providing enhanced mobility by allowing companies to choose local phone numbers in other countries and regions. With Phone.com your virtual business number can be chosen or customized to specific regional preferences. Phone.com also offers international virtual business numbers as well as having an international dialing rates plan by country.

Cancelling the Service

A very important factor to consider is how you end the contract if things just don’t work out. After all no matter how affordable and well delivered a telephone service may be it just might not fit with your own business model or direction. Therefore you should be aware of any potential cancellation fees or contractual obligations before you subscribe to the vendor’s service.

Grasshopper

This is the ideal model for small businesses as there simply is no contract involved as you pay on an ongoing month to month basis in advance. Therefore if you don’t like the service you simply stop paying for it. This is the simplest and easiest way to terminate the service. Alternatively you could call up their support and ask them to terminate the service but you will not be reimbursed for part of a month.

Phone.com

Cancelling the Phone.com service is very easy as all you are required to do to cancel your Phone.com service is to call their Customer Loyalty Department. Alternatively you could simply log into your Phone.com account: Then look for and click on Configure à Manage Settings. Then scroll down t0 the bottom of the menu and click Cancel Account.

One thing to beware of though is once you cancel your account you will automatically lose access to any stored data. This means you can no long access your Inbox for voicemail, call logs, SMS messages or faxes. You will also lose access to any customized greeting and uploaded hold-music files. You must download these prior to cancelling the service.

Summary

When comparing Phone.com with Grasshopper it is relatively straight forward as they both target the same customer demographic. This means that we can ideally compare prices and features on an equal basis.

Grasshopper is a basic no-frills virtual telephone system available only in the USA and Canada. The virtual telephone service targets the entrepreneur, young startup or small business that functions best on mobile devices. Grasshopper delivers all the basic voice functions a small business requires but lacks many of the features such as multi-channel support as well as the collaboration and productivity tools that have become increasingly necessary in modern businesses. Nonetheless Grasshopper is an affordable, simple to use and reliable service especially when using mobile phones.

Phone.com is also a cloud based virtual phone system that is affordable but it offers services out with the USA and Canada and has far greater international scope. Despite being targeted at the same entrepreneur and small business market – less than 25 employees – as Grasshopper, Phone.com has an extensive set of features covering voice, video, call handling, collaboration and productivity.

In short if you are a small business with less than 25 telephone users and you only need voice and text communication at an affordable price then Grasshopper may well be for you. On the other hand if you are a growing SMB with international ambitions or are based outside the USA and Canada and are willing to pay for the added-value features then Phone.com is a very attractive service.

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