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Best UCaaS in 2021: Unified Communications as a Service providers

Best UCaaS: Unified Communications as a Service providers
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PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

The best Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) providers offer a simple and easy to manage communications platform to integrate with your business.

UCaaS is all about combining all the different communications channels available to a business in a single unified platform. While in the past businesses might have had to rely on a wide range of hardware, advances in digital technology mean that cloud computing services can now deliver this as a service such as our top choice Ring Central.

In the past unified communications would mean making sure VoIP for internal and external calls could be combined into one system, but these days it also means adding other communication options such as chat/instant messaging, email, video conferencing, and even sometimes social media content.

While a number of companies are described as providing UCaaS, sometimes this has the practical experience of being more like many applications using a Single Sign On (SSO) to give the appearance of a unified platform. For this buying guide, we'll instead focus on those companies that deliver a true UCaaS experience by allowing all communications to be managed via a single application.

Here we'll feature the providers we think will deliver the best overall UCaaS experience.


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(Image credit: RingCentral)

1. RingCentral Office

The leading UCaaS provider

Reasons to buy
+Very accessible+Comprehensive features+Integrations

RingCentral Office offers a complete unified communications solution that combines HD VoIP, messaging, conferencing, contact center, and fax, in a single application.

What's especially good about RingCentral Office is its total accessibility and scaleability, allowing anywhere from a single user to over a 1,000 employees to sign up for the service, meaning that it can truly serve anything from the smallest business to enterprises.

Different features are available according to different payment plans, but even the most basic Essentials plan offers a comprehensive range, including unlimited calls within the US and Canada, as well as unlimited SMS and MMS, and also mobile apps for use with iOS and Android for mobile use. Other features include visual voicemail, voicemail-to-email, as well as full call management and phone system administration which includes call recording on demand.

The Standard service plan adds reporting, a multi-level auto attendant, as well as internet fax features, along with unlimited audio and video conferencing for up to four people.

The Premium plan allows conferencing for up to 100 people, automatic call recording, as well as multi-site support, Single Sign On (SSO), and introduces integrations with SalesForce and Zendesk.

All plans also offer integrations with Microsoft, Google, and Box.

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(Image credit: 8x8)

2. 8x8 All-in-One

A leading UCaaS provider

Reasons to buy
+Comprehensive features+CRM integration
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive plans

8x8 All-in-One offers cloud communication software that acts as a full UCaaS platform, with even the most basic plan offering a good range of communication channels options and collaboration opportunities. For the security conscious, the service is also compliant with HIPAA and GDPR standards.

The platform is provided in four distinct service tiers, starting with the 8x8 Express option which includes all the basic features you'd expect, such as secure HD audio, call handling,  auto-attendant, voicemail, team messaging, video meetings and screen sharing, as well as integrations for Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) and Microsoft 365.

The next pricing tier, X Series X2, adds call recordings and automated transcription, Single Sign On (SSO), as well as unlimited internet fax and additional team features. After that, the X Series plans go through X4, X6, to X8, each tier adding increased functionality that better service enterprise interests, especially in terms of admin and management on top of improved call minutes and country calling options.

Even still, the more basic 8x8 Express does deliver a strong entry-level plan with a comprehensive range of features that could be attractive to small businesses and start-ups, though the higher tiers may not be so price-competitive as alternatives.

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(Image credit: LogMeIn)

3. GoToConnect

The challenger UCaaS

Reasons to buy
+VoIP platform+Conferencing platform+Single affordable plan

GoToConnect represents the merger of LogMeIn's Jive VoIP platform and their GoTo conferencing platform into a single service offering that provides a comprehensive range of features.

This, of course, includes unified communications through the bringing together of VoIP calls and messaging, as well as web, audio and video conferencing, helping to create a complete package.

General features include custom call routing, team-based call distribution, as well as time-based and geolocation routing to ensure that calls are picked up fast. Screen sharing and personal meeting rooms are a standard part of the package, and users can easily join in with a single click rather than wait around or have to generate a PIN.

What's even better is that rather than have differently priced plan levels with an increasing range of unlocked features, GoToConnect has a single pricing system based on the number of users. This could be especially welcome to small and medium-sized businesses who can enjoy all of the same features as an enterprise would, but without having to pay extra for the privilege.

Altogether, GoToConnect advertises itself as a unified communications and collaboration platform, that will surely work well for a lot of business set ups.

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(Image credit: Dialpad)

4. Dialpad Talk

The visionary UCaaS provider

Reasons to buy
+Comprehensive features+Great for integration+Affordable
Reasons to avoid
-Video separate

Dialpad made Gartner Magic Quadrant as one of the visionary UCaaS providers, and it's easy to see with the feature range available at the most basic level for Dialpad Talk.

Even the basic Standard tier offers unlimited calling across the US and Canada, as well as international service in 50+ countries. There are also local and toll-free numbers included, as well as unlimited SMS, MMS, and group texting. 

Call handing and forward are included as standard, including operator routing, custom hold music, and call summaries available to share.

Group messaging, chat, call history, and analytics are also included in the Standard tier, as well as SSO, integration with Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) and Microsoft 365. Pricing is extremely competitive. 

The Pro tier adds real-time call transcriptions, more advanced analytics, as well as integrations with SalesForce, Zendesk, Slack, and Hubspot - among others. An Enterprise version is available, though this requires a custom quote for a bespoke service. 

All in all, though, Dialpad really offers value for money, but where it lets itself down is by providing video conferencing as a separate service. While there is a free tier, it's limited to 45 minutes, and  the surprise is that it isn't bundled with its Talk offering for a full UCaaS experience. However, it's possible that some small businesses may actually regard this as a plus if not required.

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(Image credit: Mitel)

5. MiCloud Connect

The established UCaaS provider

Reasons to buy
+Reliable platform+Good basic package
Reasons to avoid
-Contact Center separate

MiCloud Connect is the cloud unified communications platform that aims to provide an all-in-one communications, collaboration and contact center. Delivered through Google Cloud, Mitel Connect aims to provide UCaaS for all SME's.

All of the different plans available offer PBX telephony features, as well as audio conferencing, video collaboration, as well as desktop sharing. Mobile apps are also provided, and instant messaging is covered, too. Integrations include Outlook and Google Workspace, as well as connect telephony for Microsoft. 

This forms the basis of the basic Essentials package, available with conferencing limits of up to 8 people. The more expensive Premier plan increases conferencing limits to 25 users, and also adds on-demand call recording, voice transcription, as well as integrations for SalesForce and other CRMs.

The one negative is that rather than bundle everything under MiCloud Connect, the website suggests that the contact center is a separate product that requires a custom quote. While the contact center does necessarily deliver a lot of advanced features, it would be better to see greater service integration to make it more attractive to SME's. 

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