One of the best VOIP providers for businesses and homes is Ooma. When choosing Ooma, you’ll receive excellent call quality over VoIP, as well as many features and services. However, when going with Ooma, you’re required to cover the upfront cost for hardware. You’ll also face limitations with extensions, as Ooma can only support five, and some users have complained about lack of customer service. As a result, you may be looking for ooma telo alternatives. If so, here are the leading alternatives, and what they provide in comparison to Ooma.
Most people today have heard of Vonage, as it’s probably one of the most well-known VoIP companies. What draws people to Vonage is its mobile app. Through its app, Vonage uses a virtual extension that lets you use your smartphone, but doesn’t use mobile minutes.
However, because its name is so recognizable, Vonage can get away with charging more than its competitors. Regardless, Vonage is a top-notch VoIP alternative to Ooma. Setup is easy, and features are competitive.
Your startup kit includes the Vonage VoIP service, telephone number porting, and a hardware adapter. The nice thing about the adapter is that it means you don’t have to have your laptop on all the time in order to get phone service.
Once you sign up for your account, you’ll set up your security information, along with your mobile number so you can forward calls. You’ll receive a text with the Vonage app download link so you can select your number, choose your area and exchange.
Setting up Vonage is simple and straightforward. Basically, you plug the phone into the port that has a phone icon, connect your Ethernet to the port with the globe, and run the power to the outlet. Once you receive all your hardware and get it set up, you’ll be able to pick up the receiver and make phone calls, just like you did with your landline.
You’ll get clear calls and great quality with Vonage’s VoIP system. Included in the starter kit are two phone jacks; however, you can only use one to start. If you want to add a second jack, you’ll have to pay the full price for another subscription line. Unfortunately, Vonage requires a hardwire to your router, and will not work via wifi.
With the Vonage mobile app, you can take advantage of its IP-based phone calls and not use any minutes from your mobile service plan. Vonage offers both iOS and Android mobile applications, and you can tell it to enable voice calling via wifi or over 3G/4G. One neat feature with the Vonage app is that you can enable your Caller ID so that it shows up as your Vonage number instead of your cell phone.
With an iOS device, you’ll get a few more features than you would with Android. On an Apple device, Vonage has made it easier to receive and make calls with its CallKit. Through CallKit, users can receive calls like any other call, with native, full-screen capabilities. It also provides access to controls you have during a call like a call waiting and mute.
Additionally, the mobile application integrates Siri to allow users to initiate a VoIP call to anyone in your contact list via voice command. It logs calls automatically into the iOS recent calls list and gives users the ability to use the one-touch callback feature.
Selective CallBack and Boomerang
A new feature Vonage has recently added to its service is called Selective Call Block. This feature is used to block unwanted calls. The user can go into the block call list and swipe to block incoming calls from specific numbers. It will also keep the phone from ringing if those numbers are forwarded from your cell phone. Many other VoIP companies already have this feature, and it would appear Vonage it trying to make up for it.
An additional feature you’ll get with Vonage is called Boomerang. Boomerang is designed to provide better international communication. It gives users a “Boomerang” list, which can include up to 10 contacts that you call on a regular basis. Vonage connects the two parties by using its customer number and giving users low international calling rates.
A Boomerang call has a unique ringtone which rings both the Extensions app and the Vonage home phone. You have the ability to add and remove contacts from your Boomerang list as needed, and it works with other Vonage features like call forwarding and calls waiting. This feature is available for Vonage customers in Canada, the US, and the UK.
Accessing your Vonage account online gives you the ability to view all your features. These include call waiting, call forwarding, call blocking, block caller ID, do not disturb, and more. Via the website, you can download and listen to your voicemails. You can also set up your voicemail to be automatically directed to an email account and have Vonage provide an audio to the text file.
Using Vonage Business gives you an additional 40 more features, including the ability to set an Administrator Portal. This feature lets you managing rules for additional users, set up a conference bridge, record and monitor calls, and dynamic caller ID. Some features cost more, so be sure to check the price list prior to using them. Generally, however, you’ll at least be provided with unlimited conferencing, and integration with some of the more popular cloud services available for today’s small businesses.
Is Vonage the Way to Go?
Ideally, using Vonage as your VoIP solution would replace your landline service. Unfortunately, you wouldn’t get some of the features available with other services, like video conferencing, group calling, or text messaging. Vonage also requires you to create an extra account to use its mobile application.
However, if all you need it a landline replacement, Vonage is a fair alternative to some of the offers available through a traditional landline or cable companies. If you choose to go with Vonage, you’re getting a well-recognized name with reliable VoIP service. Call quality is fantastic, and the setup is easy. But before deciding whether or not to go with Vonage, let’s look at a few other options.
If you’re a mid-sized business and in the market for a VoIP telephone system, 8×8 might be the perfect fit for you. It is well-designed, provides a robust set of core features that most organizations need, and offers additional features in pricing bundles, so you can purchase them as needed. 8×8 delivers a variety of calling plans and integrates with many third-party software like Sugar CRM and SalesForce.
Configuration and Setup
8×8 configuration is very easy. Once you sign up with 8×8, the company sends two desk phones. The phones aren’t required for the service, but you can use them if you don’t have other devices available. They are nice to have though, especially if you’re a small or medium-sized business. You’ll also get an introductory email which includes your username and password information, along with some basic documentation for getting set up.
Once completed, you’ll set up a one hour call with technical service which walks you through the system and answers any questions you have about 8×8. Keep in mind that the call isn’t to set up your system. It’s a courtesy call to help you understand what the features are and how to use or configure them. If you do run into issues further down the road, 8×8 does have a separate technical support team that will help guide you through them.
Setup is quick and easy as the phones come pre-configured and ready to connect as soon as they arrive. You’ll have to log into your portal to get them fully operational, which will provide an activation code so the service can hook to your account information.
After your handsets are activated, you’ll have the ability to manage your features via the Account Management portal online. You can assign phone numbers and/or extensions to each handset, and select specific users for each phone. Additionally, you can manage many of the available advanced features, like ring groups, call recording, and auto-attendant.
Users receive a dedicated number along with an extension which allows them to access that line from their desk. They can also access it via a web browser, a desktop application, or a mobile app which can be found on both the Android and iOS platforms. All of these methods allow users to receive and place voice calls, check their voicemail, and create and conduct online meetings and conferences.
Once the phones are set up, you’re far enough along that you’ll have basic functionality provided by 8×8. There are additional advanced options that come in the previously mentioned bundles which add more features. You can add toll-free numbers, virtual numbers, and many more options, though they will cost extra.
Call quality with each Polycom handset is clear, and the activation process on the Account Management portal was flawless. Internal calls handled behind the firewall were perfect, as were calls from internal to external numbers. Even calls made to other VoIP providers were made without a problem. If needed, 8×8 does supply its clients with a free network scanning tool, which allows your IT team track issues that may occur.
You can find the mobile application for 8×8 on both Android and iOS platforms. The app allows users to access their desk phone through their smartphone. Through the smartphone app, you can receive and make calls, record calls, check voicemail, and a variety of other features.
One neat thing behind 8×8’s Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, is that when you make a phone call through its mobile application, the recipient sees the office number, not your smartphone number. If you find you’re in a situation where you need to switch between your mobile device and your desk phone, you can simply hit *88, and the change is made without interruption.
8×8 provides excellent integration with a variety of third-party apps. Straight out of the box, you can expect the software to work with Netsuite, Zendesk, and Salesforce. There are also limited capabilities available with Microsoft Outlook, primarily sending alert emails and scheduling.
Unfortunately, 8×8 does have an open API, so you won’t be able to custom build any integrations of your own. This is a bit of a drawback since there are other VoIP solutions available that offer this functionality.
Is 8×8 Worth It?
From an overall perspective, 8×8 is an excellent VoIP with plenty of features. If all you need are the basic features, 8×8 delivers those for a reasonable monthly price, and you’ll get the options you need to run a successful business. Included in the basic bundle are your mobile and desktop applications, along with unlimited calling in the United States and Canada.
If your needs are more advanced, 8×8 provides packages that offer more features. You can add bundles that include web video conferencing and call recording, along with a variety of additional collaboration and video features.
Desktop phones come with every plan, but if you need additional hardware, you can reach out to 8×8 for current promotional pricing. 8×8 offers plenty of pricing flexibility, which is another feature in its cap. If you’re looking for a solid, reliable VoIP company, 8×8 is well worth checking out.
Like Vonage, Skype is a well-known online communications tool that allows its users to chat and call one another easily. For all its advantages, Skype focuses more on consumer VoIP capabilities, and less on the business side. Microsoft is looking to close this gap with its Microsoft Skype for Business platform.
If you remember Microsoft’s old office communication tool Lync, then you know that Skype has a similar interface. You would be hard-pressed to consider Skype a full-fledged business VoIP system; however, what Skype lacks in business features, it makes up for in consumer options.
Skype for consumers allows users to have a video chat with up to 10 other users, and it free with Skype Meetings. It also offers remote desktop capabilities, along with the ability to access your account and features via a mobile application.
You’ll discover other neat features as well, like a web-based version of Skype, along with Skype Translator (which unfortunately is not currently available with Skype for Business). Skype for consumers also supports screen sharing and conference calls, but only at a surface level. For more in-depth controls, you’ll have to use Skype for Business.
Skype for Business
There are several pricing plans available with Skype for Business, but it can be a little confusing navigating through them. For starters, you can purchase a standalone version of Skype for Business which requires an annual fee. The standalone version, called Business Essentials, comes with group IM, video and audio calling, and additional online features.
If you sign up with a business-grade plan, you’ll receive Microsoft Office, SharePoint, and Exchange. Going with an upgraded plan is a little more useful, as it supports audio/video recording, desktop and application sharing, and HD video calls. Upgrading also gives you fully installable version of all Microsoft Office apps, the ability to join meetings via a web browser, and remote control capabilities over attendee desktops.
If you’re looking for a full-fledged VoIP system, then you’ll want to take a look at Microsoft Skype for Business Server. You’ll get E911, dial-in audio conferencing, call forwarding, and a bevy of other features not available with the typical Skype for Business bundles.
With Skype for Business Server, you install the software on your own server, set up the gateway and SIP interoperability with the PBX, then work with Microsoft for licensing and software as needed. You are responsible for your own hardware; however, Microsoft provides plenty of support if needed. If you’re worried about bandwidth, it might be a good idea to have a dedicated server for Microsoft Skype for Business Server.
For those who used Lync, you’ll recognize the UI. It’s professional and clean, with your username placed along the top and a status indicating your presence which allows others to know whether you’re available or not. The icons across the top indicate contacts, conversations, voicemail, and scheduled meetings.
The beauty of Skype for Business is that it lets you use its UI like a conferencing tool. You can invite users to meetings, or choose the “Meet Now” feature and start a meeting instantly, without the need to create a meeting maker first. Skype calls either your phone or launches a session on your desktop, allowing you to join the meeting. You can include up to 250 additional participants to take part in the meeting.
Using the Skype for Business interface make it simple and easy to have a conference call. You don’t have to mess around with your phone to get multiple users on the same call, and don’t have to worry about accidentally hanging up on someone as you try to navigate adding someone to an existing conversation.
Integration and Compatibility
Microsoft built Skype for Business to work well with computers, as well as iOS and Android mobile devices. As expected, Skype for Business supports all Windows PCs. It also supports Mac OS as well. Just like on Windows, you can use Skype for Business as your VoIP tool on a Mac, which allows you to call up to four users at the same time.
Useful VoIP, But Not Enterprise Quality
If you’re looking for an enterprise level VoIP platform, Skype for Business just isn’t the choice for you. However, if you’re part of a small or medium-sized business, it’s a solid VoIP option with a decent amount of features. Skype for Business provides all the audio and video needs of a company that isn’t looking for an enterprise solution.
Both Skype for Business and Skype for consumers provide a solid VoIP option for conference calls, video conferences, and one-on-one conversations. It’s simple, easy to setup and use, and most users are already familiar with it on some level. For individual consumers or small/medium businesses, Skype is a great VoIP option.
Vonage, 8×8, and Skype are all great alternatives to Ooma you should consider giving a try. Now that we’ve discussed these three VoIP services let’s take a look at how they stack up against one another, as well as how they compare to what Ooma has to offer.
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As you can see from the comparison chart, and from the review of the VoIP alternatives to Ooma, there are plenty of viable options available on the market. If you’re looking for a solid VoIP choice, you can choose any of the three listed here, or do some research and find a different platform that better suits your needs.
Whether you’re looking for a VoIP system as a consumer, or as a business, there is no shortage of reliable, robust platforms. Some provide companies with more features, while others will lend themselves more toward the consumer market. No matter which category you fall into, take a look at Vonage, 8×8, or Skype for your VoIP needs.
Further read, NetTalk Duo vs Ooma Telo: Which Is Best For You?
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