VOIP for small business - who do you recommend?

So, our company has a retail store which has an older Toshiba PBX phone system which uses ancient electronic phones set up around the building. We (meaning I) need to replace this current setup for the following reasons:

  1. Mitel / Toshiba is cutting off support for this phone system, which means that the company which services this system will follow suit.
  2. Our AT&T Centrex contract for 13 phone lines is expensive, and we no longer require more than 4 phone lines at most because…
  3. … the format of the store has changed and personnel has been reduced by about 75% overall, so we no longer need to have all that many extensions in place.
  4. The Centrex contract I mentioned above? It expires in mid-December.

For these reasons, I think that this store is ripe for the switchover to a VOIP solution that’s tailored for business customers. I’ve had some previous experience with Vonage Business, and I’m also looking at Ooma for Business, too. Both companies offer similar functionality at fairly competitive pricing. The packages they offer are feature-rich, but in this case we want to stick with the basics: voice with unlimited domestic long-distance, multiple extensions with ring groups and “all-call” paging, a couple of voice mail boxes for store managers and one for the store. (We’re not going to use SMS messaging, mobile phone support, etc…) Above all, we want to go with month-by-month invoicing since the long-term viability of the store is up in the air.

We have plenty of available ethernet ports and cabling throughout the store, so I plan to stick with using that rather than going wireless. We still have a fax machine that sees fairly regular use, but Vonage and Ooma both have the ability to support analog devices as needed. The store’s alarm system may or may not work over VOIP, but we can still pony up for a POTS line to take care of that without any issues.

As a courtesy, I’ve contacted our telecom service company to see what their recommendations might be for the store, but I think that we can be pretty comfortable using Ooma or Vonage in this situation.

So, do any of you have any long-term experience with these type of VOIP providers, and do you have any warnings or recommendations?


modhat: As no factual answer, lets try this in IMHO instead of GQ.

I was going to suggest Vonage even before I saw it was on your list. Like you say, they are competitive and established. You don’t really find VoIP solutions that are “simple” because so many of the former bells and whistles are just standard features of the technology.

RingCentral is a popular choice. I’m not as impressed with their technology, but I was looking at it primarily from an integration perspective, not as a standalone system.

There are also tons of regional providers, so you might see what’s in your area. The downside is a smaller company without the resources that might be a little more precarious. But you can also get more personalize service and support from them, so it’s a tradeoff.

Spot on! I should’ve known better.


Thanks for the input, TroutMan! I might follow your advice to see what local providers might be able to do for us, but I’m betting that they may be more likely to require a yearly service contract before they’ll even consider doing business with us. I’ll still take a look, though.