In an earlier article on the top 5 business hosted PBX services, we discussed those services targeted at Small and Medium sized Business (SMB). However, most of those services such as RingCentral Office and Vonage Business are a bit over the top for the smaller solo or home business person. So, in this article we will concentrate on the best 5 virtual telephone services suitable for the home business person.
What we are taking into consideration here is whether the telephone services will provide standard business value and utility, such as a business number, an auto attendant to answer incoming calls, configurable call transfers to landlines, mobiles or other VoIP extensions, some basic three way conferencing but without any of unified communication channel support such as the call center style call queuing, recording and monitoring commonly found now in SMB virtual PBX services.
The criteria that are considered for each vendor are based on the following:
- Price to operate
- How easy to initially setup and use
- The call handling and management features such as an auto-attendants
- System reliability and overall quality of service
- The available Customer support options
Again in this article we have taken the top 5 ranked systems in PC magazines 2020 survey as being the recognized top 5 performers in the residential and home business marketplace.
The Top 5 ranked services are:
- Ooma Telo
Skype is by far the best known of all VoIP products for the home and small business markets. Its voice and video services have been free for over a decade and service has gradually improved as both its technology and architecture has evolved and so too has our broadband internet connections. Skype is perfect for the home or the home business as calls are free to other computers and mobile apps, or just about any device you can think of. Skype though is very powerful and its voice, video and messaging platforms are excellent with call quality and reliability vastly improved. Additionally Skype is easily extended by paying for some add-ons, such as free calling to landline and mobile networks for a monthly fee or by paying as you go through buying Skype credits. The one weakness with Skype is that it was always seen more as an outbound calling service, as there was no way for a standard telephone, either a mobile or landline to place a call to a Skype address. However that has since been resolved and for an annual fee of around $60 you can get a Skype number to use for incoming calls. There still isn’t any call routing, transferring or standard telephone style call management features, but that doesn’t really matter for a home business, where calls don’t need to be transferred to colleagues or other departments. Instead, Skype comes with a fantastic set of video and messaging tools and if you are willing to pay a bit extra a very competent home business telephone solution.
3. Ooma Telo
Ooma Telo takes a different approach to home VoIP by selling you a tabletop box that you connect a standard telephone. The Ooma Telo then converts the analogue signal to a digital signal to be transferred across the internet. The Ooma provides great call quality, easy set-up, and a built in loudspeaker so that you can listen to voicemails. The beauty of this table-top box approach is that there are no subsequent monthly charges. That means that any calls in the US are free. Well, that’s not quite true, because there are some taxes, but if you want cheap calls in the US it doesn’t get cheaper than this. If you want to make calls outside the US you can buy the World Plan at around $18 per month and that gives you unlimited minutes to 61 countries. However as an incoming telephone system Ooma Telo lets you choose on set-up from a list of number for your area, or any area you wish to be located in – or you can port your existing business number. Ooma therefore gives great incoming and outgoing service, using standard telephone handsets and provides very cheap calls and that is a boon for any home business.
Jive Communications provide a suitable small business IP PBX similar to RingCentral’s in feature set and functionality. It has all the standard business features an SMB would need plus some of the call enter capabilities such as call recording, call monitoring, call barge, and advanced call queuing techniques. Jive also comes with a desktop and mobile application so that you can leave the office but still be on the company switchboard and receive and make business calls. In addition, Jive also has excellent call reporting tools and reports, which makes administering the system very easy. However, it does need to put as much thought into system administration as it has with reporting as bulk handling of user accounts can be tedious. Despite this Jive has an excellent reputation with customers who like their online self-help features and tutorials.