VoIP usage is steadily increasing in business settings and in home and in personal environments as well. Consequently, it has become more prudent than ever for potential customers to ascertain what options are available in terms of VoIP service providers, as well as to gauge the plethora of features and specific applications which their services enable>
Vonage is one of the most longstanding VoIP service providers still active in the market today. The company is often touted for its array of features, some of which are included and some of which are in addition to its monthly rate plans, which may be as low as $24.99 for residential customers and as low as $40 a month for businesses. Standard features include caller ID, call waiting, weather alerts, visual voice mail (in which voice messages are transcribed and sent via email or text), as well as unlimited virtual phone numbers in several area codes and local access numbers with which callers can dial customers from long distances without incurring long-distance charges.
Conveniently, it’s also possible to transfer current phone numbers to Vonage, as well as to deploy emergency call forwarding. Technical support and quality of calls may not always be as effective as needed.
Ooma is largely revered in the VoIP industry because its basic service, which includes unlimited domestic calls, good call quality and a host of features such as caller ID, voice mail, as well as a virtual second line (which enables two people to make calls simultaneously) are free—except for taxes and fees. However, consumers must pay for the initial hardware, which is at least $225 for the core set that comes with an adaptor for one extension (each additional extension necessitaes an additional adaptor that costs at least $70), while other hardware options include the Ooma Telo model for $235, which gives improved call quality and requires $50 headsets instead of adaptors. Advanced features such as voicemail forwarding and three-way can be obtained with a package that costs approximately $10 per month.
Google’s VoIP service, Voice Calls from Gmail, allows calls to be made from computers in the United States to any landline or mobile phone domestically or in Canada for free, and doesn’t require the person receiving the call to have any equipment other than a typical phone. Calls may also be received via the means of a Google Voice Number, which is also available for free and can ring on a number of phones in addition to Gmail, while there is a fee for international calls to areas other than Canada.
Features include the ability to click-and-call Gmail contacts from within Gmail, the consolidation of voicemail and the transcription of voicemails to text and email (with varying effectiveness). However, it is not possible to dial 911 or to place a VoIP call from Gmail on a mobile phone.