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).

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