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Business Phone Systems

by Chad BrooksLast Modified: May 2, 2018

Intro
Best Picks
Pricing
Reviews
Choosing a System
Methodology
State of the Industry
Common Business Phone System Questions & Answers
Map
Services
Compare Quotes

The Best Business Phone Systems of 2018

Businesses have more choices than ever when it comes to phone systems. Whether they want a landline, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), on-premises, cloud-hosted or completely virtual system, businesses now have hundreds of options. With this vast selection, finding a phone system that is right for your business can often be a difficult undertaking.    

The first questions to answer are what type of phone connection you want – landline, VoIP or virtual – and whether you want the system hosted on premises or in the cloud. You then need to consider features, mobility access, cost and customer service before settling on which system is best for you. With so much to consider, we want to help you narrow down your choices.    

Besides highlighting how each type of system differs and providing a rundown of the different business phone system costs structures, this guide also offers our recommendations on the systems we think fit best for various needs. Specifically, 8x8, RingCentral, Cisco, Ooma Office, Nextiva, Avaya, Grasshopper, Mitel, Jive and Vonage are the systems we think are best for different types of businesses. You can read more about each, and the types of organizations we think they are best for, below.    

If none of our recommendations work for you, scroll down even further to see a comprehensive listing of business phone systems.

Best Picks

Phone Service
Small Business
Enterprises
Multiple Locations
Very Small Businesses
On-Premises
Virtual
Call Center
Features and Tools
Mobile App
Growing Businesses
RingCentral

Best Business Phone Service

RingCentral

RingCentral Office is one of the best business phone services because of its wealth of features, ease of use and multiple price points. The VoIP service is hosted in the cloud and requires no special equipment or wiring to install. All businesses need is the required bandwidth to support their call volume and a router that prioritizes their voice traffic.

Once the service has been activated and IP phones are plugged into Ethernet ports, your business can start making and receiving calls. The entire system is controlled via an online portal, from which administrators can assign employees phone numbers and extensions, configure the auto-receptionist, and set up answering rules.

8x8

Best Business Phone System for Small Businesses

8x8

8x8 is a cloud-hosted VoIP phone system that's a top option for small businesses because it is easy to use, has a wide variety of valuable features and offers excellent customer service.

Since the system is hosted in the cloud, there is no expensive equipment to install or maintain. All that's needed is a properly configured router and enough bandwidth to handle your expected call volume.

Cisco

Best Business Phone System for Enterprises

Cisco

Cisco offers both on-premises and cloud-hosted business phone systems, making it an ideal solution for enterprise organizations. These systems can support thousands of employees and are specially configured with the exact calling, mobility and collaboration features each business wants.

While Cisco offers several different solutions, we looked specifically at the Business Edition 6000 systems. The on-premises version is a VoIP system designed for businesses with up to 1,000 employees. With the Cisco BE6000, businesses can pick and choose the specific applications they want for the system, such as mobility, voicemail, automated attendants, instant messaging, videoconferencing and contact center services.

Nextiva

Best Business Phone System for Multiple Locations

Nextiva

Nextiva Office is a cloud-based VoIP phone system whose service can be spread throughout multiple offices or stores. This setup is ideal for businesses with multiple locations, because all you need to get the system up and running is to plug the IP phones into an Ethernet port at each location. The system then automatically syncs all of the locations and allows them to be managed from the same online platform.

Within the online portal, administrators can add employees into the system, assign phone numbers and user IDs, record automated greetings, create call queue routes and priorities, and designate which features each employee can access.

Ooma

Best Business Phone System for Very Small Businesses

Ooma

Ooma Office is a phone system designed specifically for very small businesses. Even though Ooma Office is an on-premises VoIP system, someone without IT expertise can still install it in just a few minutes.

The main piece of equipment is the base station, which is a router that prioritizes voice data to ensure reliable service. If you are using analog phones, you also need the system's Linx devices, which wirelessly connect the phones to the base station. The base station can connect to up to four Linx devices.

Avaya

Best On-Premises Business Phone System

Avaya

Avaya is a top on-premises phone system because it offers businesses several different platforms that can be customized for your organization's needs. The systems can serve thousands of employees and offer all the features businesses would want in a phone system.

The Avaya system we researched in depth was the Office IP platform, which supports up to 3,000 users. When choosing Avaya, businesses start with a two-rack platform unit and then pick specific add-ons, such as mobility or call center services.

Grasshopper

Best Virtual Business Phone System

Grasshopper

Grasshopper is a virtual phone system that doesn't require any special equipment or phones, making it ideal for a remote workforce. Instead of being grounded in an office, Grasshopper offers a sophisticated call-forwarding service that works in conjunction with mobile and home phones.

With this system, customers who call a business are automatically routed to an employee's mobile or home phone, instead of their office line. When a customer calls, the system's automated attendant answers the call and then forwards it to the employee or department they are trying to reach. Employees designate the phone numbers they want their calls forwarded to. This could be a mobile device, a home phone or any other phone of the employee's choosing.

Mitel

Best Business Phone System for Call Centers

Mitel

Mitel is the best phone system for call centers because it can be hosted several different ways, is available in multiple service plans and includes all the features businesses expect in a contact center solution.

Mitel offers cloud-hosted, on-premises and hybrid solutions. There are also multiple service plans available for both the main phone system and contact center services, which differ by price and features. Employers can mix and match service plans based on the features and tools each employee needs.

Jive

Best Business Phone Systems for Features and Tools

Jive

Jive is one of the best VoIP business phone systems because of its array of included features and tools. For example, the service has several call monitoring methods that other providers charge extra for, like spy, whisper and barge modes.

Jive's cloud-based VoIP system, which has 11 servers to ensure top-notch reliability, has an impressive set of more than 80 features and tools. Some of the more valuable ones are auto-attendants, call recording, three-way conference calling, custom on-hold music, voicemail and voicemail-to-email. Jive also offers video conferencing.

Dialpad

Best Business Phone System for Mobile App

Dialpad

Dialpad was built with the desktop and mobile app in mind, not the desk phone. The system's desktop app and iOS/Android mobile apps are some of the best-designed business VoIP applications, making Dialpad an excellent option for businesses that don't have or want office phones.

This cloud-based system that allows employees to work from anywhere. With the apps, employees can make and receive calls, video chat, and send instant messages to co-workers. Other features Dialpad offers include three-way calling, reply by text, visual voicemail, do not disturb, online faxing, call recording, call screening and simultaneous ringing.

Vonage

Best Business Phone System for Growing Businesses

Vonage

Vonage is an excellent phone system for growing businesses because it can continue to suit your needs as your business expands. Whether you are starting out with just a handful of employees and growing to three times that, or if you are starting out with a few hundred and expanding to several thousand, Vonage has two different platforms that can fit your needs.

Vonage Business Cloud is designed for small businesses. The systems includes more than 50 calling, collaboration and mobile tools, including virtual receptionists, audio and video conferencing and mobile app that allows you to make and receive calls from your business line from your cell phone.

Pricing

Business phone systems have a variety of price points and structures. The hosting method – on-premises or cloud – is the determining factor in how your cost will be structured. The costs of on-premises system are mostly one-time, upfront expenses, while cloud-hosted phone systems costs revolve around monthly fees.

The prices for each type of system vary based on the provider, how many users you have and how many features you want access to. Cloud-based phone systems typically cost between $10 and $75 per user, per month. Since the system is housed in the cloud, there usually aren't any large installation or set up costs.  

On-premises systems cost anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars per user. In addition, since all associated equipment is housed within your business, there are large installation and set-up charges. At a minimum, you can expect to pay a few thousand dollars for this.  

There are also some smaller monthly fees with on-premises phone system. To connect to a dial tone, on-premises system users have to pay for SIP trunking or PRI circuits.  

The other major expense with either system is for IP phones. Phones typically cost anywhere between $50 and $400 each. If you have a cloud system, some providers will rent you phones for as little as $5 each per month.

Editor's Note: Looking for a business phone system? We can help you choose the one that’s right for you. Use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

 

 

Negotiation

Whether you go with an on-premises or cloud-hosted system, you should take several steps to get the best deal possible:     

  • For cloud-hosted systems, see if there are any discounts for signing long-term contracts, or for paying for a year in advance, instead of in monthly installments.
  • For a hosted system, ask if the vendor is willing to give cheaper per-line costs if you commit to expanding your service in the future.     
  • For either hosting option, shop around and get several quotes. If the system you like best isn't the cheapest, see if that vendor would be willing to match the lower price.

Read all the details carefully before signing a contract with a phone system vendor. Make sure the terms of the contract are what you negotiated and that there are no hidden charges. You should also ask what taxes or surcharges will be tacked on to your monthly service. It's important to know what your full bill will be and not only what the service charges are.    

You should also know the cancellation policy. Are there any cancellation fees? Do you have to provide advance notice? These are questions you want answered before agreeing to a contract.

Reviews

Below are all of our reviews for business phone systems and related categories. Our coverage includes reviews of the best small business phone systems, business phone services and PBX phones and systems. See all of our reviews below.

Choosing a System

Landline  

Until recently, all businesses were using traditional analog landline telephone systems. These systems were connected to the Public Switched Telephone Network and ran on the telephone company's copper wiring.  

While these phone systems were extremely reliable, they required expensive equipment that was hard to install and maintain. Besides the copper wiring that had to be run through the business, landline systems also required a costly private branch exchange (PBX). The PBX is what was used to switch calls between the business and the telephone network. It's also what was needed to offer various calling features, such as voicemail, conference calling and automated attendants.  

Today, traditional analog landline systems are becoming obsolete. Telephone companies aren't developing new analog systems and are no longer providing updates to the systems they used to offer. Finding IT professionals with the skills to keep these systems up and running is also increasingly difficult. Telephone companies have largely shifted their attention to VoIP technology.  

VoIP  

Nearly all new business phone systems use VoIP. Instead of running on copper wiring like landline systems did, VoIP systems run on an internet connection. It's the same connection most businesses already use to get online. Tapping into an existing data connection saves you the trouble and expense of installing and maintaining phone lines throughout your offices or stores.  

In addition, VoIP systems work in conjunction with cheaper and less bulky PBX equipment. This allows small businesses to access a host of calling features they previously couldn't afford, like automated attendants, conference calling and call recording. VoIP systems also easily integrate with computers, which lets employees make calls from their machines and have voicemails sent directly to their email, among other things. It can also be beneficial for businesses using customer relationship management (CRM) programs.  

When VoIP was first introduced, there was much concern over the call quality. Many felt calls sounded staticky, and others had problems with calls dropping off. As the technology has improved, so has the quality of the calls. In fact, the connection quality difference between VoIP and landline is now so insignificant that most users have no idea when they are using VoIP and when they are on a landline connection.  

The only businesses that can't take advantage of VoIP phone systems are those in communities without access to high-speed internet service or with unreliable internet service.  

Unlike landline phone systems, which require all equipment to be housed and maintained inside the business, VoIP systems offer the option of hosting everything on the premises or in the cloud.  

On-Premise  

Similar to landline systems, on-premises VoIP systems have all the PBX equipment installed and housed on location in each business. With this option, you are in total control of your system. You aren't relying on anyone else to make sure it is running, and you can configure it to your exact specifications. However, since it is located at your place of business, your IT staff is responsible for all repairs or upgrades. On-premises systems also need to be professionally installed.  

Another difference is security. On-premises systems don't have the same security concerns as cloud-hosted solutions, since all the data is stored within your business. Experts say businesses with serious concerns about keeping their calls and phone system data private are best served by on-premises systems. This option allows businesses to configure their firewalls exactly as desired to protect the phone system from any type of intrusion.  

Other businesses well-suited for on-premises phone systems are large corporations that can afford the upfront costs, and businesses that want a system they can customize.  

Cloud  

Cloud-hosted phone systems are becoming popular among small businesses. With this type of phone system, all the equipment is housed and maintained in the cloud by your phone system provider, which handles all maintenance and upgrades. The only equipment the business needs is the phones themselves.  

Most cloud systems are essentially plug-and-play. Once you activate your service and receive your phones, they can be plugged into any Ethernet port, and calls are ready to be made and received.  

The downside to cloud-hosted solutions is that businesses are at the mercy of the phone system provider to keep their service up and running. To ensure this happens, most of the top vendors have several redundancies built into their systems. This includes having multiple data centers so that if one goes down, the data can be transferred seamlessly to another to ensure the continuation of service.  

Cloud-hosted systems are ideal for small businesses because they have few upfront costs and consistent monthly charges that can fit easily into a budget, and don't require trained IT experts to keep them up and running.

Methodology

To determine the best business phone systems, we started by looking at a comprehensive list of more than 70 phone system providers. To narrow that list down, we separated all the vendors that had a good online reputation, such as those services that were consistently ranked highly by other websites.  

We also, at periodic intervals, queried business owners to see which services they use. If we got multiple business owners raving about the vendor they use, they were also added to the final list of contenders.  

Finally, we went through and visited each company's website. If a company stood out to us, we added them to the final list. We also eliminated most companies that only served businesses in their local region.  

We ultimately settled narrowed down our pool to: 8x8, Avaya, Booth, Cisco, Dialpad, Digium, ESI, EVoice, FreedomVoice, Grasshopper, Jive, Mitel, Nextiva, OnSip, Ooma Office, Phone.com, RingByName, RingCentral, and Vonage.  

Next, we researched each provider by investigating its services, watching tutorials and how-to videos, and reading user comments. We also contacted each company's customer service department and posed as business owners to gauge the type of support each provider offers its users. In all, we analyzed each system based on the following factors:

  • Deployment options  
  • Level of service
  • Reliability
  • Customer service
  • Calling features
  • Collaboration tools
  • Mobility options
  • Cost
  • Better Business Bureau accreditation, ratings and complaints

State of the Industry

Today's business phone systems provide much more than just a way for employees to talk with customers and clients. From instant messaging with co-workers to holding video and online meetings, business phone systems now offer a whole new range of functionality.  

Part of this expansion in services has been the introduction of VoIP and cloud-hosted phone systems. Previously, all businesses used landline systems that operated on copper wire connections, and required large, expensive equipment to install and maintain on the premises. Now, landline systems are being pushed out the door in favor of VoIP systems, which operate on the same internet connection businesses are already using to get online.    

Soon, nearly all U.S. phone users will be using VoIP. Research projects show that by the end of 2018, just 6 percent of U.S. phone users will still be using landline systems. In turn, the VoIP market is expected to grow by more than 10 percent a year through 2021.     

Unlike landline systems, VoIP systems can be hosted either on premises or in the cloud. Since they don't require any expensive upfront costs, cloud-hosted business phone systems are growing in popularity. Research from Information Week revealed that 70 percent of organizations have deployed, or are planning to deploy, their communications systems in the cloud.    

Cost is a huge reason many organizations are jumping to the cloud. On-premises systems require major capital expenditures upfront, but cloud-hosted solutions charge a lower monthly per-user fee. The only upfront purchases businesses might have to make with cloud-hosted phone systems are IP phones. Research from Telzio revealed that businesses can save as much as 75 percent on their phone system costs when switching to VoIP.    

In addition to traditional phone systems, some businesses, especially those with a remote workforce, opt for a virtual solution. Virtual phone systems are essentially extensive call-forwarding systems. Businesses have a main number, with each employee receiving their own extension. However, instead of transferring customers to an employee's office phone, the virtual systems transfer those calls to mobile and home phones.

Common Business Phone System Questions & Answers

Have a business phone system question of your own?

Farzad, There's a number of great solutions out there. As with all things, the answer is as complex as your needs are. The company I work with has a fantastic VoIP platform that is very cost-effective and delivers great value... for the right customer segment. Every technology provider has certain markets and/or verticals that they service better than others. It's important that the company you work with do a full needs-assessment. Sadly, many companies will represent themselves...

Read More ▼

Many small businesses today are making the switch over to VoIP business phone systems. There are plenty of advantages to using such a service, but a lot of small business owners are overlooking some of the most valuable features. Beyond options like voicemail, call waiting, toll free numbers, call forwarding, and remote operation, you'll find a host of other features that can help your small business. 1: Door phone entry buzzer integration 2: Find me/follow me call routing 3: Voicemail to...

Read More ▼

Hi Paul, your question raises more questions. The answer is really not about one provider over another, it is about why your call quality is not up to par and not stable. VoIP is only as good as the connection the calls flow over. You can have a the Ferrari of VoIP providers but if they are driving on a pot-hole filled road, your ride will stink. I would suggest that attention needs to be paid to your connection to the provider as well as your internal networking. VoIP is very sensitive...

Read More ▼

Map

eVoice
6922 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
eVoice
Digium Switchvox
445 Jan Davis Drive NW
Huntsville, AL
Digium Switchvox
Windstream
4001 N Rodney Parham Rd
Little Rock, AR
Windstream
Vonage
23 Main St
Holmdel, NJ
Vonage
Avaya
4655 Great America Parkway
Santa Clara, CA
Avaya
8x8
2125 O'Nel Drive
San Jose, CA
8x8
Nextiva
8800 E Chaparral Road
Scottsdale, AZ
Nextiva
Cisco
2300 E President George Bush Hwy.
Richardson, TX
Cisco
Jive
1275 West 1600 North
Orem, UT
Jive
RingByName
7206 NW 31stStreet
Miami, FL
RingByName
Phone.com
211 Warren Street
Newark, NJ
Phone.com
Skype
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA
Skype
FluentStream
1028 Park Avenue West
Denver, CO
FluentStream
Dialpad
100 California Street
San Francisco, CA
Dialpad
OnSIPManhattan, NY
OnSIP
RingCentral
20 Davis Drive
Belmont, CA
RingCentral
Ooma
525 Almanor Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA
Ooma
Grasshopper
320 Summer St.
Boston, MA
Grasshopper
Mitel
350 Legget Drive
Kanata,
Mitel
Grandstream
126 Brookline Ave
Boston, MA
Grandstream
Elastix
4300 W Cypress Street
Tampa, FL
Elastix
Sangoma
100 Renfrew Drive
Markham, Ontario,
Sangoma
Audiocodes
27 World's Fair Drive,
Somerset, NJ
Audiocodes
Rhino
30928 San Clemente St
Hayward, CA
Rhino
ADTRAN
901 Explorer Blvd.
Huntsville, AL
ADTRAN
Xorcom
145 S Jefferson Ave
Cookeville, TN
Xorcom
CenturyLink
100 CenturyLink Drive
Monroe, LA
CenturyLink
Verizon
1095 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY
Verizon

Services

List of 31Business Phone Systems

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