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Old PBX (Private Branch Exchange) hardware is now being increasingly replaced by cloud-based phone systems, which can offer a much more versatile performance while including a rich range of features as standard.
Better still, pricing works out as much more efficient as you are paying for what you use, rather than having to invest in expensive on-premises hardware.
What is even better is that with cloud-based phone systems small and medium businesses can now access features and services through VoIP services that were previously only available to deep-pocket enterprises.
The result is that a small business can have a cloud-based phone system that also provides Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), for keeping all messaging, calls, and video conferencing working from the same platform.
On top of this, small businesses can even use cloud-based contact centers by utilizing Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) provisions which are sometimes built into existing cloud-based phone systems.
Overall, cloud services have been transforming and revolutionizing the telecoms industry and the range of services that can be provided and made accessible. As we move into 2020, here we'll feature the best in cloud phone systems.
- We've also highlighted the best business computers
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Best cloud business phone systems - at a glance
- RingCentral Office
- Ooma Office
- 8x8 X series
- Vonage Business Cloud
- Avaya OneCloud
Unlimited telephone and video calls, RingCentral ticks all the boxes
RingCentral is a provider of cloud-based communications and collaboration solutions. It was founded in 1999.
The solution includes all PBX administration functions, Android and iOS apps and unlimited calling.
There is a comprehensive set of features included as standard, including call logging, monitoring, recording, and online faxing. It also offers HD voice and audioconferencing through mobile devices, as well as team collaboration through screen sharing and HD video for both tasks as well as video conferencing.
RingCentral offer several pricing tiers for small businesses. These range from $19.99 for the ‘Essentials’ package to $49.99 for the ‘Ultimate’ package. All plans include unlimited phone calls, unlimited business SMS and mobile apps. They also offer unlimited video and audio meetings with screen sharing on both the desktop and mobile apps. However, the number of screen-sharing users is limited by the package you choose.
For enterprise business, subscribers can request a demo and a quote by filling out a form on the website.
Ooma Office is a cloud-based business VoIP solution aimed at providing enterprise-level features and service for small business customers.
Even better is that Ooma doesn't lock you into a contract, meaning you can set up and stay with them only as long as you want, with no penalties.
There are a number of features available to help ensure your business phone service sounds professional to customers, such as extensions, a multi-level virtual receptionist and call transfers, as well as conferencing features.
Additionally there is a mobile app for use on smartphones so that you and your staff can use the Ooma phone system while on the go out of the office.
Ooma is compatible with a number of existing VoIP protocols, but new customers can buy a specially-built base station with range extenders. Existing businesses should be able to use their existing VoIP equipment, but additional phones and bundles are available if required.
Another advantage of Ooma is that it has a single flat-rate fee for small businesses of $19.95 per user, which is a lot cheaper than many other providers, making it particularly price-competitive.
Comprehensive cross platform cloud-calling for those who can afford it
The 8x8 X Series cloud-powered business phone system offers a feature-packed bundle that means even with the most basic plan, you still have a comprehensive set of services as you'd expect with a ful-blown business PBX system.
There's a comprehensive range of features in the start X Series X 2 plan, including all aspects of call handling, auto-attendant, as well as audio and video conferencing with screen sharing supported.
Team messaging and SMS is also included, as is voicemail services which includes voicemail transcriptions. Integrations include Office 365 and G Suite.
All this comes in at $25 per user per month, which makes for a competitive service that could very much appeal to small and medium businesses.
After that, for $45 per user per month, the X Series X4 plan adds an operator switchboard, analytics, and call quality reporting, as well as extending unlimited calling from 14 to 47 countries.
There are more advanced X6 and X8 plans aimed at enterprises, with pricing starting from $110 per user per month.
Keep your switchboard in the cloud without breaking the bank
Vonage is an internet telephony service which provides business and residential telecommunication services. They were founded in 2001.
Vonage Business Cloud provides users with video conferencing and online collaboration. The solution offers businesses access to a web-based console. Users can view extension numbers, the number porting tool and setup guide.
Subscribers have access to a variety of plug-ins as well as services. Some plug-ins are free such as integration with Clio, ConnectWise, Google G Suite and Microsoft Dynamics.
The plans are priced depending on the number of lines required. For example, the Mobile Plan covers 1-4 lines and costs $19.99 per line per month, and offers unlimited calls and SMS, mobile and desktop apps, and team messaging.
The Premium plan at $29.99 per month per line adds video conferencing, messaging, and file-sharing for up to 100 people, as well as a a multi-level auto-attendant, and CRM integrations with Salesforce, Office 365, and Zoho.
Vonage offer a 14-day free trial for all packages.
Some users have claimed that calls can disconnect at times.
A powerful cloud phone system
Avaya OneCloud aims to create a truly scaleable business phone solution that can work for every size of business, whether small business or enterprise.
For small and medium-sized businesses Avaya OneCloud operates through Google cloud, meaning that you receive continuous service and don't have to concern yourself with software upgrades or IT buy-ins.
For enterprise companies that already have a private or hybrid cloud service, a customized solution can be set up under the OneCloud ReadyNow service. There's the option of setting up any required server hardware on premises, or else host it in one of Avaya's datacenters.
Of course, Avaya OneCloud is more than just calls, and as a unified communications solution it means integrating all communications channels into a single system.
Avaya have a solid track record in their expanded VoIP and UC service provisions, and the sheer scaleability of the OneCloud solution has to be attractive.
Other cloud phone systems and PBX options to consider
We've only scratched the surface in terms of cloud-hosted phone and PBX providers with considering for your business. Here's we'll look at some additional options which are well worth a look:
aircall is one of the more innovative cloud-based phone providers for business. Not only is it entirely cloud-based, making it an excellent choice for those with mobile devices, it also comes with a ton of standard features. Even better, it comes not just with analytics, but with a huge number of integrations, such as SalesForce, Zendesk, Zoho, Freshdesk, and Shopify.
Jiveby Login is another company that offers a hosted cloud VoIP system which combines both voice and video, making it ideal for use on mobile devices such as cell phones. It also comes with a lot of standard features, including analytics, and of course video conferencing. Although it starts from $29.95 per user for up to 4 users, the cost-per-user decreases the more users you sign up.
Dialpad is another big cloud-hosted PBX worth looking at. Dialpad runs using Google's Cloud, and as above includes both voice and video conferencing as standard. It also offers AI to work through your logs to offer actionable insights to help improve business efficiency, customer retention, and profitability. It's also cheap at $20 per user, though costs more to unlock more features.
Microsoft Phone System is part of the Microsoft Teams stable, which not only offers cloud-hosting calling, conferencing, and chat, but also promises full integration with the Office 365 office software suite. However, if you don't want to move to the cloud you can use your existing PBX hardware.
MiCloud Connect is the hosted PBX solution by one of the world's biggest specialist VoIP providers. Although it looks geared more to enterprise, it's also accessible to smaller business, with a range of scales available according to need. It also comes with CRM options and a host of other features to improve business operations.