How to choose the right VOIP provider - Our guide

In this guide we’ll take a look into what makes a great VOIP provider, how you should choose the right one for your requirements and a brief summary of the best options currently available on the market.

Whether you’re looking for a new VOIP phone system for your business, also known as a hosted phone system, or a full hosted call centre solution, this article will help identify your key considerations when choosing a provider.

So, what is a VOIP provider anyway?

Well, first things first, VOIP stands for “Voice Over Internet Protocol”. It comprises software-based technology that allows a business to dispense with traditional landlines. In a nutshell, VOIP providers supply a service which utilises an IP network, such as the Internet, to create a virtual phone line.

Whilst the landline isn’t quite dead, VOIP and cloud hosted solutions are becoming more and more popular. This is thanks to the ease of set-up, an ever increasing array of features and the effortless scalability of the systems.

There are a few different types of VOIP protocol (rules and conventions) for the handsets to work with, that you should be aware of. The most common of which is SIP or Session Initiation Protocol.

SIP can be used for both the phone line piece of the system and the side which communicates the VOIP phone to the hosted PBX in a data centre.

Features to look for in a provider:

As mentioned, VOIP providers are now able to offer far more in the way of telephone services and features. Gone are the days of simply connecting a couple of devices.

VOIP systems can handle complex phone set-ups including full call centre environments, through to remote-working solutions.

Some of the key features you can benefit from include:

  • Voicemail that’s easy to use. You’ll be able to record messages and also listen to any voicemails left for you by callers, using a mobile app. No matter where you are, you’ll be able to access your “landline” voicemails, meaning your less likely to miss urgent messages.
  • A large range of phones. It’s always nice to be able to pick from a number of available handsets. A bit like when you’re buying a new mobile phone! Unlike traditional phone systems, you won’t be restricted to certain models of phone when you choose a good VOIP provider.
  • Multiple extensions. That’s right, with a VOIP solution each user can have a number of different extensions. This could be ideal if your team deals with different geographies and needs local lines for certain services. You can also track the amount of calls coming into each extension which can help with future business planning.
  • Remote possibilities. The workplace is developing a need for added flexibility. A VOIP system is ideal for users who need access to their “landline” whilst out and about or working remotely.
  • ​Unparalleled functionality. VOIP providers can offer all the applications you’d expect from a great phone system. With additional functionality including conference calls, out of office messages and hold functions, if you choose a VOIP solution you won’t miss out on any important features.

VOIP providers for business

With so many entrants into the VOIP market recently, we’ve picked out some of the most popular, along with some new entrants looking to make an impact. If you’re looking for a VOIP provider, you should definitely check these ones out:

CircleLoop

A relatively new kid on the block, CircleLoop has grown very popular, very quickly. It’s easy to see why too. They’re based in the UK and have zero reliance on third-party platforms, for a start.

The firm prides itself on delivering an excellent VOIP solution, without bamboozling businesses with a ton of jargon. They even offer a 7-day free trial, that doesn’t require your credit card details!

Key highlights include:

  • IOS (Apple) and Android apps, plus a desktop app for further integration
  • Cloud-based call recording
  • Prices starting from very cheap; you can begin with CircleLoop from just ÂŁ5 per month
  • Call analytics included for free
  • UK calls included and you can also add-on international calls too

Gamma Horizon

Gamma are a well known name in the communications industry. Their Horizon hosted phone system, combined with the state-of-the-art Gamma Connect unified communications system, has received plenty of industry praise. 

A mix of fair pricing and excellent features, ensures Gamma is a popular choice for businesses looking to install a VOIP solution.

Key highlights include:

  • Unified communications
  • Scalable system that can grow with your business
  • Excellent reputation as a market-leader
  • Conference calls, call holding, call monitoring and call recording
  • A one-stop-shop for your communication requirements

BT Business

We couldn’t exactly leave BT off the list, could we? Their business phone systems have been evolving and the VOIP offering they have is very strong indeed.

They have a wide range of systems ranging from single devices through to integrated mobile and office systems suitable for upwards of 20 users.

Key highlights include:

  • You can choose regional phone numbers for enhanced localisation
  • Call-forwarding and routing
  • Call monitoring and call recording, plus full CRM system integration
  • Voice and video conferencing
  • Fully scalable to suit your business needs

Gradwell

This is another business with a good name in the market. Gradwell has been operating for upwards of 20 years and they offer flexible VOIP solutions on both short-term and long-term contracts.

In fact, as recent as 2016 they were nominated for three Comms National Awards; ISP, hosted platform and SME cloud solution.

Key highlights include:

  • Hunt groups so you never miss a call
  • Enhanced hold functions including hold music
  • Multiple numbers and number porting
  • All users benefit from individual extension numbers
  • Call forwarding and conference call solutions

SKYPE for Business

Founded in 2003 and becoming part of the Microsoft family in 2011 has seen SKYPE go from strength to strength.

SKYPE for Business is designed to improve on the consumer version to allow easy use and more functionality for more users.

Online meetings and enhanced connectivity between co-workers are two great reasons it makes our list.

Key highlights include:

  • HD quality video calls
  • Heightened security with encryption to keep data and confidential conversations safe
  • SKYPE apps are available for all types of phone and tablet
  • Easy integration with Office 365 and other Windows packages
  • Instant messaging service between SKYPE clients

VoiceHost

One of the fastest growing VOIP providers in the UK, VoiceHost have built their own network from the ground up.

They promise to provide the best in customer service, a platform that grows with your business and affordable pricing.

They offer unified communications through their Softphone app which sends calls and message through your smartphone.

Key highlights include:

  • 24/7 support included for free
  • Instant set-up options meaning you can scale services up and down easily
  • Optional encryption to make calls and videos more secure
  • The Softphone app means you’ll never miss an important call
  • All important functionality including voicemail, call recording, call transfer etc.

SIPgate

Similar to CircleLoop, albeit around for over a decade longer, SIPgate handle everything themselves with no need for outsourced third-party platforms.

As an efficient, German, business, they also operate a 24/7 service centre, meaning should anything go wrong, at any time of day, you’ll be able to benefit from their excellent support.

Key highlights include:

  • Individual and group voicemail services
  • Virtual conferencing
  • Excellent integration with G-Suite applications
  • Easy online set-up and full online archives for call, text and fax tracking
  • Features include call waiting, call holding, transfer and pick-ups

Anything else to consider?

Good reviews are a fantastic indicator of how good an IP phone provider is. By reading the reviews people have left online you’ll be able to assess the experiences of like-minded business owners.

Whether the reviews are from people new to VOIP, or from those who have switched providers for some reason, their opinions could prove crucial to your decision making process. Make sure you check that the reviews have been verified though before making up your mind.

Most people who use an IP telephone service will be happy to leave reviews and share their thoughts, so you’re likely to pick up some very useful insight.

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