How to Compare VoIP Carriers

By Neil Zawacki
Updated: February 25, 2011

The number of VoIP carriers has greatly increased over the last few years. If your business is thinking of switching to the service, there are several important criteria that you should consider when looking at the assorted vendors.

You should start by checking the monthly prices of the different companies. Most VoIP carriers charge somewhere between $9.95 per month and $24.95 per month. Prepayment may be required before you get started, but this is normally not the case.

You should then determine whether the service plans offers fixed minutes or unlimited calling. The lower monthly plans tend to have a fixed number of minutes, so this may not be sufficient for businesses that make a large number of phone calls. The more expensive plans tend to allow you to make as many outgoing phone calls as you need.

The next step is to see what features the VoIP carriers have available. Do they provide caller ID, call recording, and anonymous call rejection? Do they have three-way calling and advanced voice mail? If your business needs any of these features to operate, you can probably ignore the ones that do not provide the service. This is also where the greatest variance between providers generally exists.

You may then want to compare the technical support options that are offered by the different carriers. Some companies only provide customers with telephone support, while others have live chat and email support. The hours might vary between a Monday through Friday schedule and 24/7 technical support.

After this, you should determine whether the carrier requires your business to have a computer and software in order to function. Most of the time, this will not be the case due to the nature of hosted phone services. There are VoIP providers like NetZero and Skype that do need some sort of infrastructure in place, however.

You should also compare the discretionary options that can be added to your service plan. The company might let you add an extra phone number for a small monthly fee. They may also have an enhanced 411 service that provides local and national directory assistance, or a priority technical support line with its own dedicated team.

Another factor to consider are the special promotions that are going on at the moment. One VoIP carrier might provide new customers the first month for free, while another will give you a free headset and adapter. Others might waive the normal setup fee or offer phone rebates that help to lower the overall cost of the system. There may also be a ‘Buy the first year, get the second year free’ promotion which can save your company money but lock you into a long term contract.

One final criteria is whether the company offers a money back guarantee for their services. Most VoIP carriers include one when you sign up, so this probably won't be an issue, though there may be hidden limitations written into the contract (such as you only get the money back if your equipment turns out to be faulty).

Featured Research
  • 8 Ways Business Travelers Can Save with VoIP

    Do you or any part of your workforce travel for work, or even telecommute? If that answer is yes, then you should be utilizing mobile VoIP. With VoIP, businesses have been found to save as much as 40% on local calls and a whopping 90% on international calling expenses. more

  • Phone System Showdown

    When it comes time to select your new phone system, one of the biggest questions that you will face is whether to go with the hot, new VoIP system or the steady and secure PBX network. There are pros and cons to each of these phone systems, and before making any purchase we highly suggest that you take the time to download and read our latest guide: Phone System Showdown: VoIP vs. PBX. more

  • Signals Your Company is Ready For Unified Communications

    Efficient and effective business collaboration is essential to company success and as you grow your business, you'll discover all the different communication methods that you NEED to stay connected with partners and customers. Implementing a Unified Communications (UC) system can save your company upwards of $920,000 a year due to increased efficiency amongst company employees. more

  • Phone System Implementation Expectations

    Providers would have you believe that implementing a new phone system is as easy as counting to three. However, while the process may not be difficult, there are steps that need to be taken to ensure that your new VoIP system is installed and implemented smoothly. Luckily, the challenges associated with upgrading your system tend to be fairly predictable. Most businesses run into the same set of problems that many others have faced before them, meaning avoiding or overcoming them is as easy as preparing ahead of time. more

  • Your Phone System and Your Bottom Line

    Businesses have been using phones to drive increases to their bottom lines for almost a century now. Telephony, much like the rest of the business world, has seen drastic changes with the increase in technological advancement. Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), has enabled companies to connect with consumers at levels that have been seen as unheard of before. And trust us when we say this, it is doing wonders for the bottom line. more