VoIP buying guide for small business

Ready to throw Ma Bell from the train? Allow us to lend you a hand. We discuss the pros and cons of VoIP, and offer a look at options.

By Brad Chacos, PC World |  Unified Communications, voip

Vocalocity is a good example of a VoIP service designed for the needs of larger small businesses. Services at this level are more expensive than the types of plans that RingCentral has to offer, but Vocalocity's plans include additional features such as 911 emergency-response support, as well as even more powerful options.

Hardware: Other than SIP-enabled phones, no hardware is required. The company strongly suggests using the plug-and-play certified IP phones that it sells directly, which start at $75 each, but you'll find unofficial support for a number of other SIP-enabled phones, too.

Price per user: Vocalocity offers a trio of plans, which you can mix and match for your various extensions. An unlimited extension costs $40 per month for unlimited U.S and Canadian calling. A metered extension costs $15 per month plus $0.03 per minute, and is intended for infrequently used lines. Finally, a $15 virtual extension with unlimited minutes is available for people who need VoIP only on their mobile phones, versus a landline or softphone.

Standard features:

  • Unlimited U.S. and Canadian calling
  • 411/911 calling
  • Voicemail, available via Web interface or sent to email as an MP3 file
  • Caller ID
  • Three-way calling
  • Virtual receptionist for each extension, with support for music on hold and dial by name
  • Free mobile apps and a desktop client with plug-in-based integration for several services and programs, including Outlook, Microsoft Dynamics, SugarCRM, and LinkedIn
  • Advanced call forwarding, screening, logging, transferring, and parking options

The optional add-on features are too numerous to outline here, but you can find the entire list on Vocalocity's site. Highlights include the ability to add a paperless fax line ($15 per month), call bridging for 30-person conference calls ($15 per month plus $0.03 per minute), voicemail transcription, call recording, and call group and queue support.

A Complex Product

If you want the highest level of control and security for your business's telecommunications, consider a self-hosted VoIP product using an IP-PBX. Here's a look at one example, the Snom One Mini.

Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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