Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a popular way to save money on your telephone bill, without having to forego top-quality sound and service.
The main benefit of VoIP is that it is typically much cheaper than a traditional landline, and you pay a flat fee per month regardless of how much you use the phone. The best residential VoIP providers will lower your costs by as much as 70 percent compared to traditional phone lines. The savings are largely due to the fact that with a residential VoIP, you don't need a subscription with your local landline provider.
Many companies also provide either cheap or free long distance calls and competitive rates on international calls.
If you run your VoIP system solely through your laptop and/or mobile devices, you could get by without having a home telephone at all. And since most VoIP providers allow their service to be used on a mobile device, you can stay reachable almost anywhere, and also save money on your cellular plan as well.
What are the prices? That depends on the company you chose and the package of features, minutes, and/or international minutes you’d like to include with your plan. With Grasshopper, plans range in price from $29/month to $49/month, and on RingCentral , the plans start at $19.99/month for the essentials plan, up to $49.99/month for the “ultimate” plan. The main difference between the plans involves the number of minutes and the number of people who can take part in a conversation.
Other companies—like 8x8—charge significantly more if you would like to add certain integrations or features. On 8x8, the Virtual Office X2 plan costs $25 per month per user, while the most expensive plan—Virtual Office X8—costs $55 per month per user. In addition to more storage, more countries covered by unlimited calling, and conferencing participants, the X8 plan also comes with Salesforce analytics, contact center reporting and analytics, and more.
What is Residential VoIP?
Like business VoIP, residential VoIP lets you make phone calls via a broadband connection for all of your home phone calls, allowing you to say farewell to the traditional landline. The VoIP converts your voice into data which is sent onto the internet and repackaged as high-quality audio.
This allows you to get high quality telecommunications service without paying as much in monthly fees as you would with a landline.
Many residential VoIP providers will also allow you to use your current telephone to make and receive calls, so you can limit the amount of equipment you need. If not, you will need to check that your phone can accommodate a VoIP line. You will need a high-speed broadband connection which can handle you calls and help you maintain call quality.
No Extra Cords and No Extra Cost
Your traditional phone providers will often give you a lot of cords and what not to set up a phone line. That becomes a fire hazard. This is one of the reasons a lot of business owners have made the switch to VoIP. For homeowners, however, you have the added benefit of mobility. You can take it anywhere you go. If you're a home office business owner, you can take it with you when traveling.
A traditional phone line cannot compare to the wealth of features offered by most residential VoIP providers.
While regular phone companies come with limited options and charge extra for basic features, even the most pedestrian VoIP companies include dozens of standard features in even their introductory plans.
These include features like voicemail to email (and/or fax to email) which will automatically take your voicemail messages and send them as audio files to your email, making you much less likely to miss important messages. Many companies can also provide you with voicemail transcription to text, which will automatically convert the messages to text in an email, saving you even more time.
Like the rest of us, you probably don't like to get hassled with unwanted phone calls when you’re at home. You can also implement “enhanced call forwarding” to reroute and block the numbers that you specify, without the caller having any idea. You also can set up your phone to block international and directory assistance calls, so they don’t bother you at home.
VoIP companies can supply you with a toll-free number or a virtual number which allows people to call you for free, and a dedicated fax line which will allow you to send faxes without worrying about tying up the phone line.
You can also set up your VoIP account to integrate with programs like Microsoft Office, Google, Box, and Salesforce, which can help you stay organized if you’re running a small business out of your homes.
Now, business VoIP companies supply a number of features that you probably don’t need for your home VoIP system - such as the ability to video conference with dozens of people at the same time.
Nonetheless, for residential users the list of available features is quite impressive, and makes VoIP that much more appealing than the old landline you’ve been using.
A lot of consumers looking for the best residential VoIP want flexibility as one of the benefits. When using a VoIP at home you can actually install a converter that will allow you to use the VoIP services on your regular phone.
And since most residential VoIP programs can be mobile optimized, you can access them from anywhere, meaning that you won’t have to pay crazy roaming fees when you travel.
Another thing to look at with your residential VoIP plan is scalability. You’ll want to have the flexibility to add more extensions to your residential VoIP if need be. In addition, you may find that you need a larger package of international calling minutes and full-free minutes, so it’s a good idea to search for a deal that you can update readily and which doesn’t lock you into the same rigid service plan for a long time.
A Closer Look at the Savings
To get a better picture of the savings of VoIP for home use, here's a more practical example. When giant telecommunications corporations offer long distance calls for $25, they have already added that as an extra charge. It adds up to $50 total every month. For those same features with VoIP, you can get them for as little as $10 a month. That means $400 in savings every year.
International calling plans are often included as part of the base features for even the most introductory plans. These plans can either mean that you pay a low per minute rate, or that you get a package each month with a certain amount of minutes included. In some of the most extensive plans, you can get unlimited calls to landlines and mobile phones in dozens of countries across the world.
While AT&T offers landlines with unlimited phone calls for $33.99/month, with RingCentral you can get the Essentials plan, which includes unlimited phone calls starting at just $19.99 per person per month, and you can also enjoy a more extensive list of features. On Grasshopper, the introductory plan costs $29/month, but that includes three extensions.
With residential VoIP, you have a bundle of features you couldn't find with traditional landlines. Also, because of technology's continual advancements, the features continue to improve every year without a sharp rise in costs. VoIP for home use makes sense because you derive so much more value than what the traditional phone companies of today are offering.
How to choose the best residential VoIP for your needs:
Do you have the right connection?
Not every internet connection is VoIP ready, so before you sign up, make sure that your line will provide you with the level of VoIP speed and service you need. You can easily find resources online for checking the speed and call quality of your connection.
What do you need?
Unless you’re running a major business out of your house, chances are you won’t need or be interested in the ability to do video conferencing with dozens of people at the same time. The same goes for an auto attendant and business software integrations. First decide which features are priorities for you (unlimited calling, voicemail to email, international calling plans, etc.) and then take a look at what each company offers.
What’s your budget?
Figure out how much you’re willing to spend on your VoIP and this will help you better hone in on the company that’s right for you. Your residential VoIP should cost less than your current landline, but it’s still smart to do some price comparison and see which companies offer special deals (for instance, many companies will offer you a better rate if you sign up for a year plan rather than a month-to-month plan). Take a look at your monthly phone bill and the features you’re paying for, and compare that side-by-side with what you’d be signing up for with a VoIP plan.
Is it flexible?
Few things in life are set in stone, and the same should be true of your VoIP plan. It’s wise to find a plan that is scalable and which you can easily expand if need be. You’ll want to know if you can break your contract early if you find a better deal elsewhere, or if you can easily switch plans with the same company in order to advantage of more features, or to get rid of some you don’t need.
What about the money-back guarantee and customer service?
Sometimes things don’t go exactly according to plan and it’s good to have all your bases covered. Check if the company you’re signing with has a money-back guarantee and to what extent they back up their promises. You should also favor one that has multiple avenues for customer service—around the clock if possible—and read online reviews about the customer service the company provides.
The Call Is In Your Court
A residential VoIP plan is a proven way to save some money on your monthly phone bill and enjoy more extensive features than what you’re used to. Now that you’ve read about how it works, take some time to compare some of the industry leaders and in no time you should find the company that’s best for you.