Best VoIP providers
With traditional copper wire landlines going out of style, Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, is becoming the norm for making phone calls. By tapping into your high-speed internet connection, VoIP services make it possible for you to bypass your local phone company altogether, and instead use your phone or a discrete adapter box to convert analog signals to digital.
For over a decade now, consumers have been dumping landlines in favor of mobile phones en masse. Some folks, however, insist on keeping a landline, perhaps for a home business, in order to achieve better reception and experience fewer dropped calls. Other people hang onto their landlines as backups for when their comparatively high-tech smartphone batteries dwindle. Regardless of why you’re still using a landline phone in 2018, there’s a case to be heard for making the move to VoIP.
The thing is, you might be overwhelmed by the myriad options in the VoIP arena. Determining the best VoIP provider for your needs comes down to cost, support for other services such as e911, the required equipment and your international calling needs. To narrow down the selection, let’s take a look at some of the top VoIP providers currently out there based on our testing.
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An established player with the subscriber count to prove it
For those who are nervous about giving up their copper phone line to head into this newfangled world of internet telephony, Vonage is a great choice, as the company is quite well-established, and offers a variety of plans to choose from, with plenty of support.
The lowest tier plan, Vonage US & Canada 400, starts at $12.99 (£10) per month, and offers a modest 400 minutes monthly for calling in the two countries mentioned in the plan’s name, with included free shipping and activation.
The next tier up, Vonage North America, includes unlimited calling to the US, Canada and Mexico, with a no-contract price of $24.99 (£19), which makes a good argument for the annual contract that brings the cost down to $14.99 (£11.50) per month (for the first six months of that year-long subscription).
Finally, the Vonage World plan costs $14.99 per month for six months as well, should you sign a contract for an entire year. After the first six months, the price of the Vonage North America and Vonage World plans bounces up to $24.99 (£19) and $27.99 (£21) respectively.
The (kind of) free home service
Ooma uses its box to provide a VoIP service, and offers an affordable option. The firm includes such useful features as HD Voice for better voice quality, encrypted phone calls, prioritization of voice data on your network, and advanced voice compression to decrease bandwidth usage by 60% compared to other VoIP services.
The basic box is the Ooma Telo, which is $99 (£76) and requires a wired connection. The upgraded box is the Ooma Telo Air, which costs $129 (£99), and allows wireless use.
There are two tiers: Basic, which is free except for the required monthly landline taxes and fees, and Premier, which costs $9.99 (£7.60) a month or $99.99 (£76) – plus taxes and fees – annually, though the company does offer a two-month free trial.
While both plans have unlimited calling, the higher tier includes such nifty features as Amazon Echo connectivity, a mobile app for inbound and outbound calling, and call blocking.
Affordable pricing, primo features
1-VoIP is a value VoIP provider that offers a solid feature set at an affordable price, and the hardware is included. Its US & Canada Unlimited calling plan offers unlimited incoming and outgoing calls throughout North America at an affordable $17.97 (£14) per month, without requiring a monthly subscription, with the hardware included as mentioned – and no commitment.
The provider also offers a lower budget tier that starts at $8.97 (£7) monthly, which has 500 outgoing minutes, but still boasts unlimited incoming minutes, as well as the hardware and the same premium features of the higher tiers.
The firm also provides a compelling premium feature set, which includes sending PDF documents as virtual faxes, voicemails that get forwarded via email as an audio attachment, automatic rejection of anonymous phone calls, and a digital softphone that allows you to use your service from a computer or smartphone via an app. 1-VoIP has also partnered with Normorobo to filter out those truly annoying telemarketers and robocalls.
A decent feature set at a reasonable price
At first blush, Lingo doesn’t seem to distinguish itself much from the competition. But while its feature set may be middle-of-the-road, so is its pricing, and that may be exactly what you are looking for in your phone service.
The Lingo America Essential plan starts at $11.95 (£9) per month for 500 minutes of calling time within the US and Canada without a contract, plus taxes, fees and a shipping charge for the required adapter. The step-up offering is the Lingo America Unlimited plan that includes unlimited calling and costs $24.95 (£19) per month without a contract (and the first month is free). Otherwise, you can pay $175 (£134) per year, monthly fees and all.
Included in both plans are over 20 calling features, including enhanced 911, anonymous call rejection, three-way calling and directory assistance.
The bulk discount approach to calling
Taking the ‘price club’ approach to VoIP calling plans is Voipo. Rather than selling the service month-to-month, the company pushes it as a two-year deal for $149 (£113), which then works out at a dirt cheap $6.21 (£4.70) per month for an unlimited amount of minutes.
For those who are commitment-phobic in terms of a longer contract, a 30-day money-back guarantee does offer reassurance. Sweetening the deal further are the 40+ premium features, including online voicemail, telemarketer blocking, softphone access, a free rollover line, and even 60 minutes of included international calling monthly.
Unlike some rival services, Voipo also lets you use your existing hardware. This means that while you do have to commit to a two-year contract, you don’t have to commit to buying a new phone.
Additionally, Voipo offers free phone number transfers to its service, so you won’t have to get in touch with all of your sure-to-be-apathetic contacts to let them know that you’ve switched VoIP providers. And if you’re disappointed for whatever reason, Voipo will send you a full refund so long as you file a dispute within 30 days of signing up.