VoIP Provider Reviews

8×8 Review: When Basic Features Just Won’t Do for Your Business

In 2016, the price for 8×8 stock rose by an astounding 27%. That’s because the revenues of this VoIP phone system provider were much higher than Wall Street exerts anticipated. Large business clients made up 53% of their clientele, and they keep renewing their contracts because they were utterly satisfied with the service 8×8 provided. Many consider 8×8 as their best VoIP service option.

The same is true for the 47% made up of small to midsize businesses that have found what they needed among the wide range of solutions and features offered by the VoIP company. Their hosted VoIP provider reviews have consistently labeled it as a recommended service.

Now it’s turning into a global giant, as their data centers have opened in Brazil, Singapore, and Amsterdam. So what accounts for the success of 8×8? A large part of their allure is that their VoIP platform can really provide you with the advantages you need, and even their basic bundles come with advanced features.

Features of 8×8

With their business VoIP phone system, you’re introduced to an eye-opening array of services that you don’t always find in other platforms. So aside from the usual, you have the following features:

  • Phone system. With the auto attendant feature, you now have an automated service that acts as a receptionist. Extension dialing lets you call anyone in your company just by dialing their extension number, even if they’re in a different location. Ring groups let a group of extensions share the load of incoming calls.
  • Business features. Nothing is missing here, as it includes Internet faxing if you have a Virtual Office Pro extension. There’s voicemail and the ever-convenient voicemail to email service. Group call pickup allows employees to answer incoming calls for other members of the group. There’s group intercom paging too, so you can send announcements to particular departments or teams.

Calls can be parked so other employees can pick up the call. Call transfers can allow the call to be announced or not to the person taking the call.

  • Collaboration. Here you can hold meetings online, and you can share content and use video for better teamwork. Instant messaging is part of the deal and you can also check the status of other employees with the “Presence” feature. With conference calling bridge, each extension can hold conversations with up to 15 participants.
  • Integrations. The 8×8 VoIP system integrates with a lot of other applications, from Google Calendar to Zendesk. There are 12 integrations listed here.

Aside from that, you also have a plethora of optional services so you can really customize your phone platform to match your needs and preferences.

  • Phone numbers. You can get toll-free numbers and virtual numbers are available for most area codes so people can call that number without long distance charges and the calls are directed to your primary phone line.
  • Additional business options. There’s a lot here, to be honest. There’s a switchboard app that lets you see employee presence status at a glance. The Barge Monitor Whisper feature lets you monitor phone conversations of employees with customers. There’s a Power Keys service, and the 4-Line Appearance feature enables your phone to take on 4 calls instead of 2 at once.
  • Professional installation. In case you don’t want to install the Virtual Office system yourself, even if it is easy.
  • Audio production store. This offers professional voice talent for all your audio recording needs.
  • Analytics. There are also several analytics services available, and that includes real-time info on endpoint statuses, and on the clarity and quality of calls.

Pros

It’s quite evident why so many consider 8×8 a terrific option for VoIP phone service.

  • The most notable advantage of 8×8 is that they offer friendly prices for feature-rich plans. The basic plan is very affordable, and yet it has such features as unlimited calls to the US and Canada, while other plans allot specific minutes. You also get mobile and desktop apps, a conference-calling bridge, and music on hold. The integrations are also ready right out of the box.

With other plans you can add video conferencing and call recording, and the international calls can be metered or unlimited.

  • They only offer 3rd-party hardware phones, but they constantly have discount pricing for some phones at different times. There’s also an Enterprise plan that allows you to pay a monthly fee for your phones, so that you own them outright after a couple of years.
  • It’s very easy to setup. You just need to make sure you have the necessary bandwidth for your call volume. Once you configure the priority setting of your voice traffic over all your other online needs, you can start using 8×8 by plugging in the phones.
  • It can be integrated with a fairly large number of popular 3rd party apps.
  • The customer support is also excellent. They offer a price quote that includes taxes. They respond to customer calls promptly and they’re very helpful with knowledgeable advice. There’s even a specialist that can guide you through the setup steps during a free 1-hour consultation.
  • It’s an accredited BBB member and they have an A+ rating.

Cons

There’s really very little to complain about 8×8, to be honest.

  • You will probably need some tech assistance at some point. About half of all customers call for assistance.
  • In some cases, firewalls may have to be tweaked so they will work properly with 8×8.
  • If you have an IT department that can build custom integrations, then you will be disappointed with the lack of an open API (application programming interface).

Verdict

Many of the VoIP platforms are geared towards small businesses only. However, 8×8 is earning a reputation for high quality service for businesses of all sizes. It’s pretty safe to say that your VoIP needs will be provided for, at reasonable rates, with reliable service, and with excellent customer support.

It’s a safe bet to go with 8×8. For businesses, the less risk, the better it is. That makes 8×8 a great choice among the phone systems for small business and large enterprise.

Axvoice Review: When Affordability is What You Need

It’s no secret that the VoIP industry has boomed over the last few years. More advanced equipment and features have been made available, and that’s all to the good for homeowners and small business owners who want a more affordable alternative for their landlines. However, prices have also rather increased as well as VoIP phone system features have become more advanced. Meanwhile, Axvoice has maintained its position as the best VoIP service for bargain hunters.

Read a lot of hosted VoIP provider reviews online, and you will find a multitude of advanced features that Axvoice doesn’t offer. The truth of the matter is that often these phone systems for small business owners bundle lots of features that you don’t use anyway. A prime example of this is Internet fax, which are rarely sent and received.

So Axvoice remains a voice of reason when it comes to pricing, and as you can see, there’s really nothing crucial lacking in the features they offer.

Features of Axvoice

Axvoice offers quite a few plans for their VoIP service, but they do share the vast majority of available Axvoice features. For residential clients, they have 3 different accounts, and they differ basically in the rates for outgoing and calls and call forwarding.

  • Pay As You Go. This is the most basic plan, and it’s geared towards users who don’t really make outgoing calls or use call forwarding. It costs only $4.99 a month, and for both outgoing calls and call forwarding minutes you pay 1.5¢ a minute.
  • US / Canada 200. This just costs a dollar more at $5.99 a month. This time, you have 200 minutes for outgoing calls and another 200 minutes for call forwarding. If you do exceed those limits, then the 1.5¢ a minute rate applies to the excess minutes.
  • Home Phone Service USA / Canada. This is their most expensive basic residential phone service, and yet it only costs $8.25 a month. This time, you have outgoing calls and call forwarding for free.

There are 2 plans for international calls, and here you don’t have to count the minutes. The Residential International plan costs $16.58 a month and the Residential International Plus version is for $29.99 a month. In the Plus version, you have more countries you can call and you can also call more cell service numbers in those foreign countries. Both plans allow for you to port your current numbers.

Finally, you have 2 different VoIP business plans. They have even more features like user to user in-network calls. However, toll-free numbers are optional and costs 4.99¢ per minute. You also have to pay 3.99 a month for the toll-free number for US coverage, and for Canadian coverage it’s $5.99 a month.

  • Home Office SOHO. The small office / home office (SOHO) plan with virtual PBX costs $14.99 a month. This comes with 200 minutes each for outgoing calls (US and Canada) and for call forwarding.
  • Small Business Plan. This costs $39.99 a month, although with the yearly plan it goes down to $29.99 a month. This time you get 1500 minutes each for outgoing calls and call forwarding. There’s also SIP trunking so more people can talk at the same time.

All these plans come with a long list of VoIP features. For outbound calls, you can block your phone number caller ID or have any number linked to your account appear on the outbound caller ID. There’s the crucial E911 service, plus you can block any calls going outside the US and Canada.

For incoming calls (which are unlimited), there’s caller ID, blacklist, rejection of anonymous calls, do not disturb, call filter, call waiting, conference calls, music on hold, and even a distinctive ring tone for each number on your account.

With call forwarding, you can particular calls (or unanswered incoming calls) to specified numbers. This can also happen if you have a power outage.

But there are still more features. You have call logs, enhanced voicemail, free calls to other Axvoice users, softphone support, and BYOD support. You can receive voicemail notices through email, and the voicemail may even be attached as a .wav file.

Pros

Right away you can notice how Axvoice stands out.

  • The main attraction of the Axvoice plans is that they’re all so affordable when you don’t ask for much. This means you can tailor the plan for your precise needs. If you don’t do a lot of outgoing calls, then you don’t have to pay for them.
  • At the same time, you get the VoIP features in even the cheapest Axvoice plans. All the features that make VoIP so appealing are right here, so you don’t really miss out on much.
  • You can use any hardware you want as long as it’s supported.
  • There’s enhanced 911, and that’s always a relief. Some other VoIP platforms don’t offer this. There’s a fee of $1.50for each 911 call, but you don’t really plan on making these calls that often anyway.
  • The Axvoice help options are good, as the FAQs and instructions are very clear and understandable.
  • It’s actually very reliable, so service interruptions are rare if they happen at all.

Cons

With plans this cheap, obviously there will be some issues.

  • It’s strange that some plans require minutes for call forwarding.
  • There’s no proper app.
  • Some other features, such as faxing, answering rules, and voicemail transcription, are missing.
  • You have to pay extra for toll-free numbers.
  • The money-back trial period is just for15 days, and it comes with lots of extremely strict conditions.
  • The customer support is woefully lacking. There’s no support over the phone, and the live chat doesn’t seem live all that often. The forum isn’t active. You have to submit a ticket if you need assistance and even the email service isn’t 24/7.

Verdict

So do you really need fax and voicemail transcription? If all you really need are basic features, then Axvoice is all you really need. It’s extremely affordable and the basic features are all there, and with its reliability it should be one of your options.

The Magicjack Review: Does Its VoIP Solutions Have the Real Magic?

Magicjack came into prominence when it first came out with its first VoIP adapter back in 2011. You plugged in the Magicjack adapter into your PC and it enabled you to get free calls over the Internet.

The company has evolved through the years, and it has launched more advanced technology since then. Today you have the Magicjack Express for home use and Magicjack Go for more portable use, but essentially they offer similar features. You can use the Internet for long distance calls, integrate your smartphone with the system, and pay astonishingly low prices.

But is it really all that magical? Here’s a closer examination of its features, so we can find out how it really works.

Features of Magicjack

So how does Magicjack work these days? Well, first you need to check that you have the necessary equipment already installed in your home. You will need an Apple computer or a PC with at least Windows XP. Then you will need a high speed Internet connection as well to meet the internet speed requirements.

Of course, you should also have a regular phone you can use. But you can also just use a headset or a mike and speakers connected to your PC.

Here’s what you need to do when you get your Magicjack adapter. You plug in your Ethernet cord (included in the purchase) into the adapter, and then you also connect your phone to the adapter. Plug the adapter in, and you’re off.

After the initial setup, you will find the basic features that you’d expect from any VoIP provider. You have caller ID, voicemail, call forwarding, call waiting, and 411. You also get unlimited local calls and calls to the US, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and Canada.

Then you can download the app, which enables your smartphone to ring when you get a call on your Magicjack number. You get a US phone number, unlimited texting to US mobile numbers, and unlimited calls to the US and Canada. You can use your smartphone to make international prepaid calls. In addition, you can call anyone in the world for free who also has the app or the Magicjack device.

With Express, you pay $29.95 for the device and for 3 months of service. With Go, you pay $35 and you get service for 12 months. If you want to use your current phone number, you have to pay for the number porting service for about $9.95. There’s even a free trial period of 30 days, so you can see for yourself how it performs.

 

After those initial months, you can get a 1-year plan for $35 (that’s less than $3 a month) or a 5-year plan for $99.75 (which boils down to $1.67 a month).

Pros

It’s easy enough to understand the lure of Magicjack when you compare its services to a landline or even to other VoIP services.

  • You don’t need much in terms of hardware, since in all probability you already the PC, broadband Internet, smartphone, and telephone in your home. So you don’t have to buy extra hardware.
  • It’s just so affordable. The hardware you do buy only costs around $30 or so, which is a bargain considering that its competitors can reach 3-digit price tags.
  • These devices also come with free months of service, and again that saves you a significant amount of money.
  • Afterwards when you do pay for service, the resulting monthly fee when you pay in advance amounts to very little. In fact, the more expensive $3 a month plan is actually cheaper than some “free” plans offered by other VoIP providers.

Cons

Not everyone is a fan. Here are some of the reasons why.

  • While the device is easy to set up (as we’ve already described), setting it up to connect to the Internet isn’t as easy. In fact, it can get frustratingly difficult. It gets even more frustrating when you’re trying to get your current number to use for your Magicjack number.
  • What compounds this setup difficulty is that the company isn’t exactly known for its excellent customer support. Actually, many customers find it lousy, and this poor customer support which is the most commonly cited reason for why people stay away from Magicjack altogether.

The customer support is via live chat only. Yet you also get this feeling that the customer support personnel are only quoting some FAQ solutions to certain problems. You may probably discover that you can get better support by using Google to find articles addressing your problems.

  • Another major gripe about this VoIP solution is the suspect call quality. Of course it matters if you have a really fast Internet connection. But even a Fiber connection won’t prevent occasional dropped calls. The calls that do go through aren’t all that clear either.

A frequent hack to this problem is to restart the unit, but then that’s inconvenient too.

Verdict

Compare this to a landline, and Magicjack surely seems like magic. You get so many features and you can integrate your smartphone, and the overall fees and monthly expense are basically negligible. It doesn’t seem possible, especially when you compare it to landline rates. International calls can now go on and on and you won’t have to pay an astronomical bill.

If you’re highest (or only) priority is low cost, then Magicjack deserves a look as well. You probably won’t find a cheaper VoIP service anywhere.

But that cheapness also applies to the quality of the calls and the service, and these are major problems. You can’t use these for business, since they’re unreliable. After going through the tedious setup and experiencing dropped calls and poor sound quality, you may end up regretting your choice to go with Magicjack. You may find that you don’t mind paying just a little bit more, just so these problems can go away.

With Magicjack, the magic is in the low price. It’s up to you whether that’s enough.

See What Your Landline Still Offers with This Ooma Review

Ooma Telo is, for and increasing number of people, the VoIP phone to get. VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, and basically it means that you can have a telephone conversation over the Internet instead of your traditional landline. Just a few years ago it was an esoteric bit of technology, but now it’s pretty much a very common way of using a phone. That’s because most households these days have a broadband connection.

From 2011 to 2015, the Ooma Telo has consistently ranked as the top phone service that provides the utmost user satisfaction. It’s the undisputed top seller in VoIP telephone routers.

So exactly what makes Ooma Telo so satisfying? Let’s take a closer look at its features to find out.

Features of the Ooma Telo

Before you can avail the Ooma Telo box, you must check that you have the requisite setup at home already. You should have a broadband connection, and the Ooma internet speed requirements include an upstream network speed of at least 180 kbps. You also have to buy your own corded or cordless VoIP phone.

When you get the Ooma Telo, you plug it into your broadband router and then your calls are routed over your Internet connection. You’re then able to use your current phone number for the Ooma service or you can also get a new number instead. After that, you can select either the “free” basic service or the premium monthly service.

This service is normally just for users based in the US and Canada. The free basic service isn’t really free, since states will impose some sort of monthly tax that usually totals a few measly dollars.

Still, the fees aren’t really much considering what you get in return. You get features like free domestic calls, call waiting, caller ID, 911 service, and toll-free calling nationwide. You can use the Ooma online dashboard and access your voicemail and call log history.

You can have a 10-minute phone conversation to Canada for just 14¢.That’s not the per-minute rate. That’s the cost of the 10-minute conversation. For China it’s 25¢, UK28¢, and Mexico 29¢.

You will notice that the HD voice call quality is superb. It’s clear and crisp, and you don’t suffer dropped calls as often as with other VoIP systems. That’s due to the PureVoice HD call technology that’s also protected by government-grade encryption technology.

With the premier service, you can really rock your new telephone setup. You now get a second number, plus features like do not disturb, caller name ID, blacklisting, and anonymous call blocking. There’s now 3-way conferencing. You also get more advanced voicemail features such as private voicemail, send to voicemail, and voicemail monitoring.

You can then download the Ooma app. This enables you to customize your preferences through the app. You can now also make free US calls with your smartphone using your Ooma phone number. You can also call friends in Mexico and Canada for free.

What’s more, your Ooma Telo service can also work seamlessly with your other home devices. Do you have Amazon Echo? If so, you can now just tell Alexa to dial a phone number or a name for you.

If you have Nest installed in your home, phone calls to your house can be automatically forwarded to your smartphone when you leave home. You’ll also get an automatic call if your smoke alarm detects something amiss.

Pros

It’s very easy to see why Ooma Telo scores well in popularity and in user satisfaction, now that we’ve taken a closer look at the features.

  • It’s very easy to set up, and it takes only about 10 minutes or so. You don’t have to be an actual techie to figure out how to plug in the Ethernet cable into your router.
  • It’s very affordable, and that’s a surprise considering how superior the service really is. Landlines cost more than the premier service and don’t offer as many features.
  • Even the calls are very cheap. If you have family that you talk with often (and for extended periods) in Canada or Mexico, then the premier service is your best option. It offers you free calls to those countries. Even the basic rates are cheap.
  • The quality of the sound is even better than traditional landline quality. The signal is also clean almost all the time, although this is dependent on how robust your Internet broadband connection is. However, you won’t have to suffer from dropped calls, and you can reliably forward the calls to your smartphone.
  • The app is also excellent, and it’s extremely reliable. It’s very convenient too, since your smartphone functions like an extra handset for your Ooma phone service.
  • The integrations are also very interesting. Aside from the voice-activated dialing, your Philips Hue or WeMo lights can alert you visually if you have a call.
  • If you have questions, problems, or issues, the live customer support is very dependable.

Cons

While excellent, there are some ways that Ooma can still improve.

  • They should probably stop calling it a “free” basic service, since you still have fees to pay to your state government.
  • The Telo has to be plugged in. You have to pay for Ooma Air and its wireless USB dongle if you want Wi-Fi capability.

Verdict

Many households get their VoIP these days via a bundle with their broadband connection and cable TV. But Ooma is here to tell you that you don’t have to settle for mediocre VoIP. Instead, with Ooma Telo you get higher quality hardware, superior service, and much better options.

So if you’re looking to improve your current VoIP setup or you’re looking for a standalone phone service, look no further than Ooma Telo. It’s a much better option than what you may find elsewhere, even if it’s not “free”. In fact, the premium service offers a lot of features, and you’ll still pay less than if you get a conventional landline from your local phone company.

RingCentral review

RingCentral logo

Many small business owners these days have heard about how much more affordable and more full-featured a VoIP phone system is, compared to the cost and benefits of a landline. That’s why many of these owners are switching their phone systems for small business, and they’re especially opting for hosted PBX (private branch exchange). In fact, quite a few of them are opting for RingCentral as their VoIP provider.

Many industry experts consider RingCentral as the best VoIP service in their hosted VoIP provider reviews, and many satisfied business owners agree. The veritable treasure chest of features it offers is quite remarkable.

Features of RingCentral

RingCentral offers 3 pricing options ranging from the Standard $24.99 per month per user plan to the Enterprise plan that costs $44.99 per month per user. The most popular option is the midrange Premium plan, which costs $34.99 per month per user.

With this Premium plan, you can then enjoy hosted VoIP with several key features. You can make unlimited calls to US and Canada, along with 2,500 toll-free minutes. You can also do conference calling, send business SMS messages, and even send and receive Internet fax.

You can do HD video conferencing with up to 25 people per meeting, and people can use both desktop and mobile devices to participate. With Glip for Team Collaboration, this feature integrates project and task management to a new level with shared calendars and real-time messaging.

You also have mobile apps for both iOS and Android devices. There’s also lots of possible integrations with the apps you currently use, including with Google, Microsoft, Box, Dropbox, Zendesk, Desk.com, and Salesforce.

The usual features are available, and these include call log reports, in bound caller ID name, and automatic call recording. You’ll never have to miss calls with features like call forwarding and message alerts. With call screening, you can also block specific callers or send them to voicemail.

There’s a paging feature that lets you make one-way announcements to various desk phones in real-time. There’s also an intercom feature as well.

You can also port your current phone numbers if you wish, or select your own vanity numbers. Even international numbers can be purchased as well so you can have a phone presence in countries you do business in.

Pros

RingCentral offers numerous benefits to its users, which explains the high regard it has received in the VoIP industry.

  • The setup and installation is made simpler due to the hosted nature of your PBX. You won’t have to deal with trunks and switches, since the infrastructure for the system is hosted in the cloud.
  • You can now set up your phone system in a way that best suits the way you do business. Now one phone system connects your office phones, mobile users, and remote employees. You can add new users easily, and multiple locations are supported with no problem. You can set up the rules for answering and forwarding phone calls and you can change these rules at any time.
  • The calls are all very clear and crisp, and the guaranteed high availability SLA means that you get dropped calls very rarely.
  • All the calls made to your office will be received no matter what, because you’re always connected to the phone system. Your clients and customers can reach you or your employees wherever you may be. You can also access your voicemail and fax messages from whatever location. 
  • With RingCentral and Glip, collaboration between you and your employees are much more efficient. Anyone in your team can virtually attend meetings with video conferencing. Audio conferencing is of course possible too. Glip also enables team members to work together more easily, so that their inboxes aren’t bloated and attached files are never hard to find.
  • Calls are also cheaper as well. As long as you use the system reasonably, you can make various calls to anywhere in the US and Canada, while calls to other countries cost only a few pennies per minute. With international numbers, people can also call you without having to pay exorbitant long distance rates.
  • You have your pick of phones to use as well. Some phones can be very affordable and basic, if you mostly use your PCs and mobile phones for video conferencing. But other phones are much more advanced and they may even feature a camera for easier video conferencing.
  • The analytics and reporting tools are also first rate. You can check your call log and see the volume for outbound and inbound calls, find info on missed and answered calls, and average calls per day per user. These reports can be accessed through your mobile app.
  • The integrations are great, as you can boost your productivity with your extra apps if you wish.
  • You have 30 days to try things out.

Cons

Even admitted RingCentral fans do acknowledge that perhaps some things can be improved.

  • Perhaps the most noticeable is that it can be a bit on the pricey side. That’s especially true if you go with the Enterprise plan. For some other VoIP providers, the most expensive plans are even more affordable than the midrange Premium plan. The only way you can reduce the monthly fees is if you get an annual payment plan.
  • You can’t try to lower your costs by picking only the features you want to use. The bundled features for each plan are fixed.
  • You also can rent your phones from RingCentral only if you have a multiyear contract. Otherwise, you have to use your existing phones or buy new ones.
  • The US implementation for your RingCentral phone system is only available if you have at least 16 users.
  • Yes there is US-based support. But that’s only available if your account has 20 or more users.

Verdict

This system is trusted by more than 300,000 users, and that should tell you something. It’s a very solid system that’s easy to set up and use, and you can tailor it to really match your needs. If your business has at least 20 users, them it’s hands down a great option. If you don’t have that many users, then you have to settle with non-US-based support, but that’s a small price to pay for the excellent features and terrific reliability.

Skype for business online review

skype-logo

Are you a small business owner? If so, then you may want to consider Skype for Business Online as your small business VoIP solution. It’s great for those who like to use Skype for calls and video chats but are looking for more advanced features such as video conferencing. It’s also an ideal solution if you don’t really need all the advanced features available in a in an expensive full-fledged enterprise-grade VoIP platform.

Basically, it’s a combination of the renowned Skype system along with Microsoft’s enterprise communications platform called Lync. So how does this combination really fare?

Features and FAQs

Skype for Business Online is a way for you to instantly communicate with others around the world, using the Internet as your alternative phone line instead of your landline or mobile phone service. With Skype, you can text chat, make a regular call, or open a video call.

What’s more, this service goes beyond Skype’s generic personal VoIP service. This offers lots more features that small businesses will appreciate. The kind of features you get depend on the plan you subscribe to, but even the most expensive plan costs only $15 a month if you don’t want to pay for a year in advance.

  • What are the features? It can take a while (and a much longer review) to list down all the features available in Skype for Business Online. However, even the most basic features are impressive. Audio and video calls can involve as many as 250 people. A Skype conference call can be recorded as well. With instant messaging for groups, you can transfer files instantly and easily. Participants can use their computers, tablets, and even smartphones to join in. They don’t even have to have Skype for Business Online themselves. During these calls, you can also share and cede control of PowerPoint presentations. You can share your whiteboard, or even your whole desktop. Of course, your usual Skype features are all available as well. You can access your Skype voicemail. Skype call forwarding and call blocking are also part of the deal.
  • Can you port your number? Yes The only caveat is that the phone number is from a supported provider. If that’s the case, then you can port your landline, mobile, toll and toll-free, and even your VoIP number.
  • Why do I need a phone number on Skype? If you’re provider isn’t supported by Skype for Business Online, then you will need a number from Skype. You can’t really use your own number for these either. You have to choose a number among the preselected range. You can, however, get as many 10 numbers. The advantage of this is that you can assign each number for a specific area code or country. People in that area code or country can call that particular number and it will be a local call.
  • How do I get a Skype phone number? That’s easy enough. You can just sign in to your account and then follow the instructions once you click the “get a Skype number” button. You can pay for the number in a variety of ways, and that includes paying by credit card or through PayPal.
  • What is the price of a Skype phone number? That really depends on which country you get the number from. For a UK number, it will cost you $18 for 3 months. However, this may change and discounts may be offered, so you’ll need to check current offers from Skype for Business Online.
  • Do I have to use the PC? With Skype for Business Online, you don’t really have to. You can have your conference calls through Skype compatible phones. There are many of these you can choose from.
  • Which is the best Skype ready phone? This is easy enough—you need to get the phone with a camera option. On the Skype for Business Online, you already have a list of Skype compatible phones. Find the Polycom VVX 600 or VVX 500, and then get the VVX camera designed for these phones. With this setup, you don’t need to fire up your PC, or disturb what you’re doing when you’re already busy on your computer.

Pros

There are a lot of nice things to be said for Skype for Business Online. Besides the features, let’s list some of them:

  • It’s actually very affordable. That’s not always a given when you’re dealing with Microsoft, but thankfully the Skype influence was benevolent when it comes to pricing. For small businesses, the top price of $15 is no big deal at all.
  • The features are also aimed at small businesses, so now if you’re using it you don’t have to be hobbled by the previous Skype limitations. With this ability to include up to 250 people, you can even hold video seminars and large meetings involving people around the world.
  • What’s really great is that the procedure to start a conference call is made much simpler than ever before. With other platforms, this can be a convoluted nightmare. Plenty of people accidentally hang up on people when they want to call someone else to join a current conversation.
  • You can also see meetings on your screens in various ways. You can have everyone’s videos shown in a gallery view, or only the presenter’s video can be featured. Even while the conference call is going on, you can also activate chat between users.

Cons

There are two main issues, however.

  • The pricing, as you delve deeper into Skype for Business Online, may become a bit confusing. First, you have several plans you can choose from. Then, you may have to pay for a Skype phone number. Then you may find that there are other extra fees you have to pay. There’s no simple page on the Skype for Business Online website that shows all the fees you will have to pay for each type of account.
  • It can be confusing to set up as well. So you need to read the Skype for Business Online FAQs, and the sheer size of that page will immediately tell you that it can get complicated in a hurry if you’re not careful.

Verdict

Yet despite the pricing and setup issues, plenty of small business owners will appreciate the apparent low cost and long list of helpful features. You have a tool that lets you have 1-on-1 and conference audio and video calls, files can easily be shared, and you can record the calls. For many business, that’s a list of services they can certainly use.