Differences in VoIP Providers
Beyond the calling plans and monthly rates, VoIP providers differ in multiple important areas, such as:
- International call rates
- Included equipment
- Additional features
- Technical support
International Call Rates
International call rates vary depending on which country you are calling. VoIP service providers may include a limited amount of international minutes in the calling plan or have a separate plan for international calls. If you make a lot of international calls or call specific countries often, you will want to compare the international rates of your preferred VoIP providers to find the best rate.
Compare, for instance, the rates to India for three different providers:
- Viatalk: $.011 per minute
- Voipo: $.02 per minute
- 8x8: $.059 per minute
Residential service is easy to set up and does not require a lot of equipment—usually just an analog telephone adapter. The adapter may be loaned to you when you sign up for service, billed additionally as a set up fee, or you may be able to purchase/supply your own device (a feature called Bring Your Own Device).
IP phones are recommended for VoIP business solutions because they are specifically built for VoIP applications and they have multi-line functionality. Business VoIP providers don't often supply these phones, but many have partnered with hardware providers to sell the phones at a discount to customers. You can also usually find a great deal by searching Amazon.com or NewEgg.com if the provider doesn't sell equipment.
All VoIP providers include a basic set of features with their service plans, but advanced features like faxing and auto attendants will be sold for an additional fee. Check out our VoIP Call Features article to familiarize yourself with what's available.
Technical support is a useful resource, and you'll want to be aware of how it operates for your preferred providers. Check to see if they provide:
- 24/7 coverage or limited availability
- US-based centers
- User forums
- A variety of contact methods (chat, email, phone calls) for your convenience
A major benefit of VoIP service is that most providers don't make you sign a contract to implement service. However, VoIP providers like Phone Power sweeten the deal when you do have to sign a contract by offering a free second year when you prepay for the first year. Customer satisfaction is also guaranteed with a 30-day money back clause on most contracts.
Choosing VoIP Providers: Reviews Are Insightful
Identifying a provider that will meet your calling needs is an important step to acquiring VoIP service. The first step in your provider selection strategy is to identify which call features you will need for your system. Find providers that include as many of your desired features in the monthly rate or have the best prices on additional features.
Next, it's important to research the quality of customer service and support a provider offers. Reading through the providers' websites will explain what they offer, and reading VoIP providers' reviews will illustrate how satisfied customers are, or are not, with a service provider.