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The Best Business Phone Systems of 2021

By
Chad Brooks
,
Business News Daily Staff
| Updated
Oct 13, 2021

Here are the best business phone systems and services for small businesses in 2021, including solutions for remote employees and microbusinesses.
Best Business Phone System for Collaboration
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Cloud-hosted
Multiple service plans
Numerous integration options
Best Business Phone System for Remote Teams
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Cloud and on-premises options
Mobile and desktop apps
Suitable for IP and analog phones
Best Business Phone System for Microsoft Teams Integration
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Cloud-hosted
Integrates with Microsoft Teams
Multiple pricing plans
Best for Business Phone Systems for Small Businesses
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Cloud-hosted
Unlimited calling in U.S./Canada
35+ integrations
Best Business Phone System for CRM Integration
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Cloud-hosted
Built-in CRM
Multiple service plan options
Here are the best business phone systems and services for small businesses in 2021, including solutions for remote employees and microbusinesses.
Updated 10/13/21

This page has been updated with information on Dialpad Meetings, Dialpads rebranded video conferencing service.

 

The Best Business Phone Systems

Business phone systems no longer serve as a tool for making and receiving calls. The best unified communications systems allow employees to communicate by phone, video, and text, which gives businesses the flexibility to connect with customers and clients in any way they prefer. To help you choose the solution that best suits you, we analyzed more than 75 providers, looking at factors such as price, ease of use, and features and tools. Our best picks are below, as well as a comprehensive list of phone system and unified communications providers in case our choices don't fit your needs. To learn more, read our guide on choosing a business phone system.

Phone System Review Summary:

Number of Phone Systems Considered 10
Minimum Monthly Cost $12 per user
Maximum Monthly Cost $19.99 per user
Free Trial Available 30 day

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Reviews

RingCentral: Best Business Phone System for Collaboration

RingCentral can service the needs of businesses of all sizes.
The system has a reported 99.999% uptime.
RingCentral's cheapest plan only supports up to 10 users.
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RingCentral MVP's cloud-hosted VoIP unified communications system serves all types of businesses. This system is easy to install and use, and it has a vast array of calling, collaboration, and mobile features. It is available in multiple service plans that work for small, midsize or large organizations.

The cloud-hosted system requires access to a high-speed DSL, cable or fiber optic connection. RingCentral provides an implementation specialist who walks you through each step of the installation process, ensuring that your service works perfectly from the start.

Once it is up and running, RingCentral takes multiple steps to ensure it stays that way. The company recently acquired the technology and engineering teams from Kindite, which develops cryptographic technologies to reduce security risks in cloud-based applications. RingCentral maintains a 99.999% uptime.

What really sets RingCentral apart from competitors is its wide selection of features. Virtual receptionists, hold music, call forwarding, call recording, call screening, call logs, message alerts and answering rules are among the available call management features.

In addition to the calling features, RingCentral's collaboration tools make it a true unified communications system. It offers a conference bridge that can support calls with up to 1,000 callers and video conferencing services that allow each user to host video meetings, with up to 200 participants depending on your service plan, complete with screen sharing. There is also document sharing, online faxing, and team messaging that includes task assignment tools and calendar sharing.

RingCentral is working to boost its artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities with the acquisition of DeepAffects, a conversational intelligence company. The technology analyzes business conversations to identify meaningful insights. It can identify individual speakers and convert audio to text. The addition of these AI tools to RingCentral will add a lot of value to users.

Starting in the first quarter of 2022, RingCentral MVP users can take advantage of these AI tools. Specifically, they will have access to live transcriptions and auto-generated meeting summaries. The live transcription will automatically transcribe calls, which can be shared with those in attendance and those who were unable to make it. Additionally, meeting summaries, which include a synopsis of the call and video highlights, can also be shared with those who couldn't attend. These tools will allow participants to focus on the discussion, rather than taking to notes to ensure they don't miss anything.

Also available in early 2022 will be a whiteboard tool that will allow meeting participants to visually illustrate ideas through drawings, virtual sticky notes and content annotations.

RingCentral offers both desktop and mobile apps for employees who are regularly on the go. Using the apps, employees can make and receive calls from their business lines.

RingCentral is available in four service plans that vary based on price, included features and maximum number of users allowed. All of the plans include unlimited calling in the U.S. and Canada, local or toll-free numbers, unlimited SMS, voicemail-to-email, voicemail-to-text, HD voice, and call reports.

The Basic plan supports up to 10 users, while the other three plans can be used with an unlimited number of users. Prices fluctuate depending on the number of users and whether you want to pay annually or month to month. Costs range from $19.99 to $69.99 per user, per month.

Read RingCentral Review

Ooma: Best Business Phone System for Remote Teams

Users can connect to their business lines from anywhere using Ooma Office's mobile and desktop apps.
Ooma supports video conferencing for up to 25 participants at a time.
Ooma doesn't have all the features that some of its competitors offer.
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Ooma Office is a cloud-hosted business phone system that offers all of the communication tools remote teams need to be productive. It offers robust mobile and desktop apps that allow users to access their business phones from anywhere. With the apps, you can make and receive calls, use click-to-call, set up your configurations and send messages.

The platform also includes video conferencing services. The video conferencing services are included as part of the Ooma Office Pro plan; there is no additional cost for video conferencing. The service supports up to 25 participants simultaneously, and it supports screen sharing. You can join Ooma video conferences via any web browser or the Ooma desktop app. Having the freedom and functionality to use these tools from outside your office are what makes Ooma such an ideal phone system for businesses with remote teams.

Ooma provides small businesses with the features they will find most valuable, including voicemail, call transfer, call log, call park, music on hold, extension-to-extension calling and dial-by-name calling. Additionally, a virtual receptionist answers incoming calls, directing callers to the person or department they are trying to reach. Virtual extensions for remote workers, conference calling and ring groups are some other important features.

For those using Ooma within an office, the system is compatible with both IP and analog phones. With IP phones, all you need to do is plug them into an Ethernet port to use them. There is some additional equipment needed for analog phones. However, analog phones can easily be connected in just a few minutes. All you need to do is plug in the system's base unit, which is a router that prioritizes voice traffic over other online traffic, and then connect the base unit to a high-speed internet router.

Ooma Office provides good customer service, and its website has valuable resources to help businesses troubleshoot any problems they run into. With this level of support and resources, keeping this business phone system up and running without a full-time IT expert isn't a problem.

Ooma's service is available in two plans: Ooma Office and Ooma Office Pro. Ooma Office costs $19.95 per user, per month, while the Office Pro plan costs $24.95 per user, per month. Both plans include unlimited calling in the U.S. and Canada, access to the mobile app, a virtual receptionist, call parking, ring groups, music on hold, extension dialing, voicemail, conference calling, online faxing and SMS messaging.

The Office Pro plan has several added features, including access to the desktop app and video conferencing services. It also has call recording and voicemail transcription.

July 2021: Ooma recently upgraded its video conferencing platform with two new valuable features. The new Meeting Log allows users to track who is attending each video meeting and seeing how long they were in attendance. In addition, the Remote Control tool allows users to take control of the keyboard and mouse of another participant. This can be helpful when trying to solve an IT issue or when collaborating on a project.

June 2021: The Ooma Office desktop app now offers a new tool, Caller Info Match, that easily allows users to quickly ascertain details about a customer or contact who is calling them and, vice versa, a contact whom Ooma users are calling. Caller Info Match connects the Ooma platform to a CRM, online search engine or social network to quickly obtain in-depth caller profiles for both inbound and outbound callers. The feature is only available to Ooma Office Pro users.

Read Ooma Review

Vonage: Best Business Phone System for Microsoft Teams Integration

Vonage offers direct routing with Microsoft Teams, which allows users to make and receive calls from the Teams platform.
There are three service plans to choose from.
The Basic plan does not allow desktop phones to be connected.
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Vonage's robust cloud-hosted VoIP unified communications system meets all of the calling, collaboration and mobile needs of small businesses. This service can be especially valuable to businesses using Microsoft Teams. Vonage's deep integration with Microsoft Teams allows users to access all of Vonage's PBX functionality directly from the Teams platform.

Having this type of direct routing integration can boost productivity by ensuring employees are never flipping back and forth between the Vonage and Teams platform. They can stay in one place for all of their phone, messaging and conferencing needs. The integration also allows users to integrate up to 10 CRM vendors, which gives sales reps a more unified view of current and potential customers.

The Microsoft Teams integration can be implemented quickly without needing to purchase new equipment or download software.

Aside from the integration with Microsoft Teams, there is a lot to like about Vonage. The service offers more than 50 voice and collaboration features. This includes call flip, call forwarding, voicemail-to-email, virtual voicemail, call screening, call hold, do not disturb, call queues and click-to-call.

If you don't use Teams, you can use Vonage's video conferencing tool, Vonage Meetings. Users can host meetings with up to 100 participants at a time. It also allows for active speaker views, screen sharing and in-meeting messaging. Vonage also offers audio conferencing for up to 30 attendees at a time and team messaging.

For employees who work remotely or who come into the office part time, Vonage's mobile and desktop apps allow them to stay connected to the phone system. The mobile app, available on iOS and Android devices, lets you make and receive calls from your business line, instant message team members and see all of the messages sent to your business or private lines in one feed.

The desktop app offers much of the same functionality. Using a softphone, you can make and receive calls straight from your desktop or laptop computer. You can also send and receive text messages from your business line and message with colleagues.

Vonage is available in three pricing plans.

  • The Basic plan only connects with the mobile and desktop app. Prices start at $14.99 and range up to $19.99 per line, per month.

  • The Premium plan works with IP phones and includes video conferencing. It costs between $24.99 and $29.99 per line, per month.

  • The Advanced plan includes everything Vonage has to offer, including call recording, call groups and visual voicemail. This plan costs between $34.99 and $39.99 per line, per month.

Businesses with more than 100 users should contact Vonage directly for a custom quote.

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8x8: Best for Business Phone Systems for Small Businesses

8x8's business phone system is simple to install and maintain.
The service integrates with popular applications like Salesforce and Google Workspace.
8x8 has a low rating with the Better Business Bureau.
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<8x8 offers everything a small business needs in a phone system. This is a cloud-hosted VoIP-unified communications system that doesn't require expensive PBX hardware or a trained IT staff to set up or maintain. All it needs is high-speed internet access and IP phones. This makes setting up and maintaining the phone system easy for small businesses.

The service is among the most reliable we found. It uses redundant data centers around the world, so service isn't interrupted if one goes down. 8x8 boasts a 99.999% uptime, which means service is down for just a few minutes each year.

Another impressive aspect of 8x8 is its vast array of calling, collaboration and mobile tools. It has all of the features small businesses are looking for in a unified communications system, including three-way calling, call forwarding, call waiting, call transferring, online voicemail, automated attendants, ring groups and caller ID.

The company recently added several new features to its platform. Users can now switch between dark and light modes. (This setting can help prevent eye strain in low-light conditions.) There is also a flip call banner that can be used to seamlessly change devices while in the middle of a call. Other additions include support for multimedia attachments and the ability to decline a call with a preset message.

8x8 offers a conference calling bridge; an employee can host conference calls with up to 50 participants at a time, and its video conferencing service allows each user to host video meetings with up to 50 participants at a time. Internal online chat tools and presence features are also available.

The ability for employees to use their phone systems from outside the office is an important consideration for small businesses. The 8x8 mobile app ensures users have access to their business lines wherever they are. With the app, you can make and receive calls from your business line, as well as make video calls, record calls and check your voicemail.

Other factors that make 8x8 an excellent choice for small businesses are its integrations with numerous popular programs like Google Workspace, Office 365, and Salesforce and the company's top-notch customer support. The customer service was among the best we encountered during our evaluation of office phone systems for small businesses.

May 2021: 8x8 recently enhanced its Microsoft Teams integration. Specifically, users can now send text and multimedia messages directly from the Teams platform. In addition, while using Teams, you can listen to voicemail messages and log in and out of assigned call queues. All of this extends the integration capabilities 8x8 has with Microsoft Teams, which already allowed users to make and receive 8x8 calls while using Teams.

8x8 is available in several pricing plans. At $12 per user, per month, the Express plan is among the cheapest we found. It offers unlimited calling, as well as video conferencing, team chat and SMS on the same platform.

The other plans for small businesses, which range from $24 to $57 per user, per month, offer added capabilities, including international calling, CRM integrations, and some contact center tools. If you need full contact center solutions, 8x8 offers several combined plans.

Read 8x8 Review

Nextiva: Best Business Phone System for CRM Integration

Nextiva: Best Business Phone System for CRM Integration + Nextiva offers a built-in CRM solution that works with its phone system.
The service is extremely reliable and secure.
To get the cheapest prices, you have to commit to the service for three years and pay in advance.
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Nextiva is a cloud-hosted unified communications system that is a perfect solution for businesses looking to combine their phone system and CRM services into one platform. Nextiva has its own built-in CRM solution that can help both your sales and customer support teams. Most phone systems offer integrations with top CRM software (like Salesforce); Nextiva, which offers those integrations as well, sets itself apart by having proprietary software. With these options, businesses in need of CRM software have a choice between Nextiva's or a different program.

The built-in CRM offers valuable tools to help both sales and customer service representatives, including contact management, account history, sales pipeline management, case status, workflow automation and email case routing.

In addition to its CRM functionality, Nextiva offers excellent phone services. It has several valuable features that businesses of all sizes will find valuable. It offers HD voice, auto-attendants, voicemail-to-email, voicemail transcription, call recording and call groups.

It also has a number of collaboration tools, including audio conferencing, team messaging and online fax services. Nextiva has built-in video conferencing capable of supporting up to 250 participants. Additionally, Nextiva's Cospace offers a place for colleagues to work with one another. It includes task management and team calendars.

Part of what makes Nextiva such a solid unified communications system is its reliability. The network has data centers located throughout the United States; each data center is monitored 24/7. Having multiple data centers helps ensure continual service. Overall, Nextiva reports a 99.999% uptime. This means that service is typically only down for a few minutes each year.

Nextiva's business phone system is also extremely secure. Users have the option of using call encryption to protect call privacy. Additionally, Nextiva conducts regular audits to ensure its system isn't vulnerable to hackers. The company monitors each user's call history for irregular call activity to protect against fraudulent charges.

Nextiva is available in four service plans that vary in price and included features. Within each plan, the price can fluctuate based on the number of users; whether you commit to 12-, 24-, or 36-month contracts; and if you are willing to prepay for those lengthy contracts. The per-user price drops with the more users you have, the longer-term contract you are willing to sign and if you want to prepay.

Here is a breakdown of the range of costs for each plan:

  • Essential: $17.95-$30.95 per user, per month
  • Professional: $21.95-$35.95 per user, per month
  • Enterprise: $31.95-$45.95 per user, per month
  • Ultimate: $52.95-$75.95 per user, per month

Nextiva sells desk and conference phones that range between $75 and $1,100 each.

Read Nextiva Review

GoToConnect: Best Business Phone System for Features and Tools

GoToConnect has all of the most valuable calling and collaboration tools businesses need.
Employees can connect to the system anywhere through mobile and desktop apps.
The video conferencing only allows for 25 cameras to be on at one time.
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If you want a business phone system with extensive features and tools, GoToConnect is the choice for you. The system has more than 100 calling, collaboration, and mobile tools and features. You will be hard-pressed to find a feature you want that GoToConnect doesn't offer.

August 2021: Designed for IT administrators, GoToConnect recently unveiled a new administrative portal that provides a more streamlined approach to oversight of the system. From the new portal, IT administrators can view a system health dashboard that allows them to receive alerts on key metrics in order to preemptively address any problems that might be bubbling to the surface. There are also options for phone button customization and the ability to create custom roles and user groups.

The cloud-hosted VoIP system is packed with everything a small business needs from a unified communications system, and then some. From a PBX calling standpoint, GoToConnect has it all: call queues, auto-attendants, ring groups, hot desking, paging, intercoms, custom greetings and hold music, dial by name and extension, call screening, call hold, call forward and Find Me/Follow Me. The system also includes a number of voicemail options, including virtual voicemail, visual voicemail and voicemail-to-email.

From a collaboration standpoint, the system is comprehensive as well. Users have access to GoToMeeting, which is our choice as the best video conferencing service for very small businesses. Users can host meetings on demand or schedule them in advance. GoToMeeting's video conferencing platform allows for screen sharing and cloud recording. One potential downside is that you are limited to 25 webcams being on at one time. For small businesses, this likely isn't a huge concern, but it is a limitation to be aware of.

Besides video conferencing, GoToConnect offers audio conferencing, team messaging and team presence, which lets you see who is free and who is busy.

For employees who work outside the office, they can always connect to the system via mobile and desktop apps. The apps allow users to make and receive calls on their business line from their smartphones or using a softphone on their computer.

The system integrates with many popular programs that businesses use, including Microsoft Teams, Salesforce, Slack, Zoho, Google Workspace and Microsoft Outlook.

GoToConnect is available in three service plans that vary by included features and price. The pricing of some plans further varies depending on the number of users you have and whether you pay monthly or annually.

  • The Basic plan is limited to 20 users. It costs between $19 and $29 per user, per month.
  • The Standard plan is available to an unlimited number of users. It costs between $20 and $39 per user, per month.
  • The Premium plan also supports unlimited users. It costs between $30 and $49 per user, per month.

GoToConnect offers several bundled services that allow you to pair your unified communications system with its webinar services, password-management, contact center services and IT services.

Read GoToConnect Review

Dialpad: Best Business Phone System for Voice Intelligence

Dialpad uses artificial intelligence to provide in-call and post-call advice and summaries.
The system offers the same functionality whether you are on a mobile device, computer, or traditional desk phone.
Video conferencing, which is included with the service, is limited to 10 participants and 45-minute meetings.
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If you are looking for a phone system that will take your calling experience to the next level, Dialpad could be a fit for you. Layered throughout Dialpad is voice intelligence technology, which provides new insights into calls.

This technology studies your calls. It understands what is being said and by whom. Having AI working in the background can provide valuable benefits to users both during calls and afterward. During calls, Dialpad offers live coaching based on what is being said. For example, based on certain keywords and phrases that the voice intelligence technology detects, it can put you in touch with a sales rep or share tips about how to respond to something a caller said. It also offers sales and customer service reps key details that they might need during a call based on what is discussed.

When calls are over, Dialpad can provide transcripts, which can then be easily fed into CRM systems like Salesforce and HubSpot. Knowing that after-call summaries are being provided allows you to focus on the conversation, rather than trying to simultaneously follow the discussion while taking notes at the same time.

Other aspects of Dialpad are just as impressive. This business phone system works equally as well on mobile devices and computers as it does on IP phones. Features include unlimited calling and SMS messaging, custom voicemail greetings, multilevel auto-attendants, custom routing, contact syncing, ring groups and hold queues.

September 2021: Dialpad recently announced that it has rebranded its video conferencing service, which all Dialpad users have access to. Previously known as Uberconference, Dialpad Meetings' basic plan is included in all Dialpad business phone system plans. It lets users host conferences with up to 10 participants for 45 minutes. An upgraded plan is offered for $15 per user, per month that allows for meetings with up to 100 participants that can last up to five hours.

In addition, each user has access to Dialpad's video conferencing service, Uberconference. You can host conferences with up to 10 participants for 45 minutes. Businesses looking to expand those limits will need to purchase the Uberconference Business plan, which costs $15 per user, per month.

 Dialpad's phone service, Dialpad Talk, is available in three service plans. The plans vary by price and included features. The Standard plan costs $15 per user, per month, while the Pro plan costs $25 per user, per month. Prices for both plans increase by $5 per user if you pay month to month instead of annually. For pricing on the Enterprise plan, you will need to contact Dialpad directly for a customized quote.

Dialpad offers a 14-day free trial to new users.

Read Dialpad Review

Grasshopper: Best Virtual Phone System

With Grasshopper, businesses gain access to PBX features and tools without needing to spend money on a traditional cloud-hosted VoIP phone system.
Users create their own call routing system to ensure they never miss a call.
Grasshopper does not offer a traditional phone system; therefore, if your needs change and you require a traditional business phone system, you will need to switch providers.

Grasshopper is an ideal solution for businesses in need of a system that allows them to present a professional image at all times, regardless of where their employees are working from. Grasshopper enables that by connecting business phone lines to remote workers on their mobile and home phones.

The system gives your business a dedicated phone number and each employee their own extension. When a customer or client calls the main business line, they are greeted by an automated attendant, which then connects the caller to the employee they are trying to reach. Instead of connecting the call to an office phone, the system sends the caller to any phone of the employee's choosing. This could be a mobile phone, a home phone or any other number.

Employees have full control over where their callers are directed. They choose the numbers their calls will be forwarded to and the order in which those numbers will ring. From the caller's perspective, the experience is exactly the same as if you had a traditional phone system.

Grasshopper includes multiple other important features, such as voicemail, voicemail-to-email, voicemail transcription, on-hold music, a dial-by-name directory, call screening, online faxing and business texting. Each user can host conference calls with up to 10 participants at a time.

Grasshopper has a sophisticated mobile app that employees use to make and receive calls on their business lines and send and receive business text messages. This helps keep personal calls and texts separate from business calls and texts. Through the app, users can make and receive calls using an internet connection rather than relying on cell reception.

Users also have access to a desktop app, which works similarly to the mobile app. With the desktop app, you can make and receive VoIP calls, send and receive text messages, view voicemails, and review your call history all from your computer.

Grasshopper is available in three service plans that differ in the number of phone numbers and extensions you receive. Each plan includes all of the features Grasshopper offers. Here is a breakdown of the three pricing plans:

  • Solo: You will spend $26 per month billed annually or $29 per month if you pay month to month. This plan includes one phone number and three extensions.
  • Partner: This plan costs $44 per month if you pay annually or $49 per month if you pay month to month. This plan includes three phone numbers and six extensions.
  • Small Business: You will pay $80 per month if you opt for annual billing or $89 per month if you pay month to month. This plan includes five phone numbers and unlimited extensions.

Additional phone numbers for any of the plans are available for $10 per month.

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Windstream: Best Business Phone System for Midsize Businesses

Windstream can support up to 20,000 users.
Users can connect to the system via the WE Connect portal from anywhere outside the office.
Windstream does not post pricing on its website. You'll need to contact the company directly for pricing information.

Windstream's Office Suite UC is a cloud-hosted unified communications system that offers businesses of all sizes the tools they need to effectively communicate with those inside and outside of their organization.

The Office Suite UC platform is filled with valuable features, such as unlimited calling, auto-attendants, call groups, call history, click-to-call, do not disturb, hot desking, call routing, music on hold, 10-way calling, voicemail, voicemail-to-email and voicemail forwarding.

The platform provides a number of collaboration tools as well. Using Office Suite HD Meeting, you can host video conferences with up to 1,000 attendees. The service allows you to share individual applications or your entire desktop and record meetings.

Office Suite UC integrates with popular business programs so you get more out of the applications you use. Among the available integrations are those for Salesforce, Google Workspace, Slack, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Dynamics, Microsoft Teams, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, HubSpot, 1 CRM, Apptivo and Accelo.

With many businesses having employees who work remotely, it has become imperative to use a communication system that supports those needs. Windstream does just that. Using the WE Connect portal, you and your employees can take and make calls from any mobile device, tablet or computer. From the portal, you can also launch video meetings, send faxes, listen to voicemail messages, message colleagues, send business text messages and see the availability of co-workers. 

Besides its unified communications and video conferencing services, Windstream's other offerings may appeal to midsize businesses searching for solutions to complex, technical issues. Windstream offers business internet service, hybrid networking, LAN services, managed network security, firewall services, PCI compliance, DDoS mitigation, and it provides retail and business consulting.

You will need to contact Windstream directly for a customized price quote. The company has a 30-day free trial and, depending on whether you bundle some services, a rate-lock guarantee for the duration of your contract. Windstream offers a satisfaction guarantee that allows you to cancel service within the first year of your contract without incurring any penalties if you are not satisfied with the service.

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Zoom: Best Business Phone System Within a Video Conferencing Service

Zoom's phone service can be bundled with its popular video conferencing platform.
One of the phone-only plans is metered, which can provide savings for businesses that don't make a lot of calls.
The cheapest bundled plan is limited to nine users.

Over the past year, the number of businesses using Zoom to ensure their teams stayed connected as remote work became a staple skyrocketed. The ease of use and reliability were seen as huge benefits of the video conferencing solution. That familiarity and comfort with Zoom are why many businesses may find value in Zoom's cloud phone service.

The cloud-hosted phone system is available as a stand-alone product, or it can be bundled with Zoom's video conferencing services. Zoom Phone offers many of the valuable calling features and tools that its competitors offer. This includes HD call quality, voicemail transcription, an auto-attendant, call barge, call monitor, whisper mode, call recording and call parking.

The real benefit of Zoom Phone is having your phone service and video conferencing on the same platform. Depending on the plan you choose, you can host anywhere from 100 to 300 people at a time on a video call. It includes all the tools you need in a video conferencing service, including active speaker views, gallery views, the ability to mute participants, screen sharing, and options to message individual users and the entire group.

For users on the go, Zoom Phone offers both desktop apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux computers, as well as mobile apps for iOS and Android devices. The apps allow you to make and receive calls, attend video meetings, and send and receive chat messages.

Zoom offers both phone-only and bundled subscription plans. All of the plans vary based on the included features, tools and services. There are three phone-only plans.

  • U.S. and Canada Metered: This plan costs $120 per user, per year. You also pay a fee for each call, which is about 3 cents per minute in the U.S.
  • U.S. and Canada Unlimited: This plan offers unlimited calling in the U.S. and Canada for $180 per user, per year.

  • Pro Global Select: This option is designed for businesses outside of the U.S. It offers unlimited domestic calling in more the 40 countries for $240 per user, per year.

In addition to the phone-only plan, Zoom offers several phone and video conferencing bundled plans.

  • Zoom United Pro: In addition to unlimited calling in the U.S. and Canada, you host video conferences with up to 100 participants. With this plan, which costs $250 per user, per year, you are limited to nine user licenses.
  • Zoom United Business: This plan requires a minimum of 10 licenses. You can host meetings with up to 300 participants and receive recording transcripts. It costs $300 per user, per year.
  • Zoom United Enterprise: This plan requires at least 100 licenses and costs $360 per user, per year. In addition to everything in the United Business plan, you can host meetings with up to 500 users.

You can see a complete breakdown of each plan on the Zoom website.

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net2phone: Best Business Phone System for Growing Businesses

There are five service plans to choose from, which is helpful for businesses with expanding needs.
All of the plans include video conferencing for no additional charge.
net2phone doesn't offer in-house call center services. Instead, it partners with another provider for businesses that have those needs.

When your business is starting out, you might have only a few employees, and your needs might be basic. However, as your business grows, your needs also expand. Rather than having to switch phone systems at each stage of your business, you want a system that can grow with you, which is what net2phone offers.

Businesses can choose from five plans. All of net2phone's plans include unlimited calling and access to Huddle, its video conferencing solution. 

Unlike some of its competitors, net2phone offers a virtual-only plan, a great option for businesses that are operating remotely and don't need a traditional phone system. This plan works as an extensive call routing system. Customers and clients call a main business number, and those calls are then routed to an employee's mobile or home phone. The virtual plan also includes ring groups, reporting and analytics, on-hold options and voicemail. In addition, users can make and receive calls from their web browsers without have to buy any additional hardware. This plan costs between $15.99 and $18.99 per user, per month depending on how many employees you have.

As your business grows, you can easily switch to more sophisticated plans that have more advanced features and tools. Here is a breakdown of the other plans:

  • Essential Plus: This option, which costs between $19.99 and $22.99 per user, per month, includes everything in the virtual plan, as well as international calling to more than 40 countries, an active directory, a single sign-on option, intercom capabilities and online fax service.

  • Professional Plus: This package, which costs $26.99 to $29.99 per user, per month, includes everything in the Essentials Plus plan, as well as call recording, call storage, skills-based routing, call queues and voicemail transcription.

  • Ultimate Plus: For $29.99 to $32.99 per user, per month, the Ultimate Plus plan comes with integrations with Microsoft Teams, Slack and Zoho, custom API capabilities and a receptionist console.

  • Ultimate CRM: This package, which costs between $31.99 and $34.99 per user, per month, gives you everything in the Ultimate Plus plan, and you get Salesforce integration.

net2phone offers SIP trunking and contact center services through Five9.

The company offers a number of support options, including the ability to contact representatives by phone and email. Additionally, an extensive knowledgebase on its website offers answers to frequently asked questions, as well as guides on how to use the system.

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Unified Communications

Today's unified communications systems give employees the freedom to communicate by phone, video and text. The best systems are easy to use, with a wide range of calling, collaboration and mobile features that give users the flexibility to connect with customers in any way they prefer. To help in the search process for system that works for your business, we researched and analyzed more than 75 options. Our best picks are below, as well as a comprehensive list of phone system and unified communications providers in case our choices don't fit your needs.

Unified Communications

Today's business phone systems offer much more than a way to make and receive phone calls. Many of today's solutions, including some of our best picks, are unified communications systems.

Instead of focusing solely on a business's calling needs, unified communications systems support all of the ways employees now communicate with customers, clients and co-workers. This encompasses traditional phone calls, audio conferencing, video conferencing, instant messaging, online faxing and text messaging.

Many of these components used to be provided by different vendors. For example, a business might have had one provider for its phone system, another for conference calling and a third for video conferencing. Unified communications systems tie all of that into one platform.

These are the main components of a unified communications system:

  • Phone calls: This is a traditional phone service that allows employees to make and receive calls. Most providers offer a local and toll-free number.

  • Conference calling: Unified communications systems include a conference bridge that allows each user to host their own conference calls. The number of people who can be on a call at one time depends on the provider. Some systems support five to 10 people, while others allow for hundreds of people at one time.

  • Video/web conferencing: You and your employees can host video meetings with video conferencing hardware, or through a computer equipped with a camera and microphone. Most of these services allow for screen sharing, which lets everyone in the meeting view documents or presentations. The number of participants who can be on a video call at one time varies by provider. It could be just a handful or as many as 100.

  • Instant messaging: Many unified communications systems have instant messaging. You and your employees can send messages back and forth to ask questions and collaborate on projects.
  • Text messaging: Since texting has become so popular, some solutions allow you to send text messages from your business line. This allows you and your employees to send text messages to customers without them seeing your personal numbers.

  • Faxing: These systems allow you to send online faxes rather than using a dedicated fax machine. You can send a fax to a recipient's email or fax machine from the platform.

Having all of these tools on one platform can make communication much easier for employees, making them more productive in turn.

Cloud-hosted systems have really driven the expansion of unified communications systems. Instead of paying tens of thousands of dollars for an on-premises system that houses all of these features, you can get all of this through a cloud-hosted service for a low monthly, per-user fee.

How to Choose a Business Phone System

There are multiple factors to consider when choosing a business phone system provider. First and foremost, you want to ensure the system has all

There are multiple factors to consider when choosing a business phone system provider. First and foremost, you want to ensure the system has all of the functions and features your business needs. Can it support the number of employees who need the service? Does it have all of the features your business relies on or would benefit from?

While some businesses only want standard calling features like caller ID and voicemail, others want added functions like ring groups, automated attendants and on-hold music. Also consider any other communication tools your business needs. Are you strictly looking for a system that allows you to talk over the phone, or are you in the market for more of a unified communications system that adds functions like video conferencing and instant messaging? Your answer to this question will guide you in your search for a new business phone system.

Another factor to consider is a business phone system's reliability. A phone system is of no use if it isn't up and running when you need it. This is especially important for a cloud-hosted solution. Ask each provider what its annual uptime percentage is. If it isn't 99.999%, find out what the company is doing to correct the issues. Also ask about its service-level agreements and if it has any uptime-related clauses. Many business phone system providers will reimburse customers if the system doesn't hit a certain uptime percentage.

If cloud-hosted systems aren't a good fit for your business, you need a phone provider that offers on-premises systems. With an on-premises system, instead of the PBX being hosted in the cloud, your business houses all the equipment. These systems have more upfront costs, but not many of the ongoing monthly fees that cloud-based systems do.

Very small businesses may want to consider whether they need a true phone system with on-site desk phones. Businesses that can get by with mobile phones may want to look into a virtual phone system. These systems connect a main business number to employees' mobile phones. When someone calls the main business number, they are greeted by an automated attendant that can transfer them to different employees or departments. The call is then transferred to the appropriate employee's mobile phone instead of a traditional office phone. Virtual systems are well suited for very small businesses, businesses with a large remote workforce and solopreneurs.

Finally, what type of customer support does the company offer? If you don't have a full-time IT manager or staff that can handle issues, you want a business phone system provider that will be available to answer questions when you have them, preferably through multiple channels and online resources.

Types of Business Phone Systems

Businesses in need of a multiline phone system have several options. The choices vary based on where equipment is housed, how connections are made and the cost structure, among other things. [Get more details on four-line phone systems.]

The equipment that provides the functionality to make and receive calls is a private branch exchange. PBX technology, whether it is housed on-site at a business or in the cloud, is what gives businesses all of the features and tools unified communications systems offer, like automated attendants, call queues, and ring groups.

Landline

Landline phone systems use traditional phone system connections and wiring provided by local and regional phone companies. These systems require onsite PBX equipment that your in-house IT team maintains and upgrades. These systems require a large upfront capital expenditure for all of the PBX equipment. Landline systems are falling by the wayside, as more and more phone system providers are no longer making equipment to support this type of business phone system.

VoIP

Instead of using traditional copper wiring connections like landline systems do, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems rely on internet connections to facilitate calls. This allows you to run your phone system from the same internet connection your company uses to go online. There are two different types of VoIP systems:

  • Cloud-hosted VoIP: Cloud-hosted systems house their PBX equipment in the cloud. This means that the phone system provider is responsible for maintaining and upgrading it. To use a cloud-hosted system, all you have to do is plug your business's configured IP phones into your local area network. These systems don't typically have any upfront costs. Instead, businesses pay a monthly per-user fee. Costs usually range from $15 to $60 per user, per month.

  • On-premises VoIP: These systems are similar to landline systems in that the PBX equipment is housed inside your business. You are required to handle all of the maintenance. The difference is that these systems still facilitate calls via internet connection rather than landline. This gives your business more control over how the phone system operates and allows you to install any security measures you want. On-premises VoIP systems require large upfront capital investment, as well as smaller monthly fees to cover the required connections for making and receiving calls.

Virtual Phone System

Another option businesses have is a virtual phone system. These systems don't require any equipment, not even phones. A virtual system works as an extensive call-forwarding tree. You set these systems up so that all of the calls to your main business number are automatically routed to your employees' mobile phones. You have total control over where calls are routed to and in what order. These systems only charge monthly fees.

Key Features of Business Phone Systems

Today's business phone systems offer dozens of valuable features for small businesses. This is perhaps the greatest benefit of cloud-hosted systems: They have opened the door for small businesses to access a multitude of features without spending a ton of money. Previously, only larger businesses could afford feature-rich systems because of the capital required to install the necessary equipment.  

Small businesses may benefit from these features, among others:

  • Unlimited calling: Many of today's cloud-hosted VoIP phone systems include unlimited domestic calling for no additional charge. This gives you a fixed cost for the monthly service that doesn't fluctuate based on how many calls your business makes and receives.

  • Automated attendants: An auto-attendant answers calls made to your business and routes calls to the proper employees or departments.

  • Ring groups: This feature allows you to group employees so that, if someone calls needing someone in that group, e.g., customer service, all of the employees' phones will ring. You can choose for phones to ring in a specific order or all at the same time.

  • Voicemail: In addition to traditional voicemail service, many business phone systems offer voicemail-to-email functionality. This feature sends audio recordings or transcriptions of voicemails to the person's email inbox, so they can read or listen to their messages even if they are away from the office.

  • Call recording: This gives phone systems users the ability to record their calls. Calls are then stored in the cloud or on their computers for playback later.

Other valuable features many business phone systems offer include extension dialing, call forwarding, call queues, and integrations with services like Microsoft Office and Google Workspace.

These systems also offer features that can boost a business's collaboration abilities, such as video conferencing, instant messaging, presence indicators and online meetings. 

Business Phone System FAQs

What kinds of businesses benefit most from a good phone system?

All businesses can benefit from a good system. That doesn't mean, however, that all businesses benefit from the same type of phone system. Communicating with your customers and clients in a professional manner is critical for businesses today. That's why relying strictly on mobile devices can cause problems for businesses. You want to make a great impression on your customers. A greeting from an automated attendant is a great first step; it shows that your business is a legitimate operation.

That's why businesses that don't need a traditional office phone system should consider investing in a virtual phone system. These systems allow businesses to present that professional image while still relying on their mobile devices as their main communication tools. Virtual systems include automated attendants and a host of other valuable features. In addition, when you make outbound calls, your business number, not your mobile number, is displayed to the person you are calling.

For larger businesses, business phone systems not only allow you to present a professional image to your customers, but also give your employees all of the communication tools they need to do their jobs. Access to mobile apps, which allow them to take their business lines with them wherever they go, and video conferencing services ensure your staff can connect with anyone, regardless of where they are and how they want to communicate.

What is unified communications?

Unified communications is the ability to access all of your communication tools from one platform. Many of today's business phone systems are unified communications systems. While these systems still offer traditional phone service, they include other communication tools that professionals now rely on.

The additional features in unified communications services include audio conferencing, video and web conferencing, instant messaging, and text messaging. Previously, in order to have all of these communication tools, organizations had to use a different service provider for each tool. Unified communications streamlines the process by allowing you to access all of these features from the same provider. This not only boosts production among employees, but it can also be a significant cost-saver for businesses.

What is the best business phone system?

Since every business is different, it is hard to say that one business phone system can fulfill everyone's needs. That's why our recommendations for the best business phone systems are based on different use cases, like best for small businesses, best for remote employees and best for call centers.

For each use case, we examined the functions and tools that different business types need from a phone system. We then compared and contrasted the various phone system providers based on those criteria.

You can read specifics on each selection in our in-depth reviews, and you can see more details on how we selected them below in our Methodology section.

When is the best time to invest in a good phone system for your business?

In today's highly competitive market, there isn't a bad time to invest in a business phone system. There are so many providers that are seeking customers that they are always offering a discount or incentive to sign up. This could be a few months of free service, free phones or discounted rates.

That being said, we have noticed a lot of providers seem to ramp up their incentives near the end of each quarter. As they close their books on the quarter, most providers want the best numbers possible, so they look for anything they can do to add some more clients before the month flips over. You might want to consider that timing before you start talking to providers.

What is the difference between a business phone service and a business phone system?

There aren't many differences between a business phone service and a business phone system. Both provide you with all the tools you need to effectively communicate with those inside and outside of your office. 

When you are evaluating which one is best for your business, you want to look at how well the system runs. Is the phone service reliable? This is especially important for cloud-hosted PBX systems. Traditionally, business phone services were all based on landlines. Reliability was rock-solid because everything was hardwired, and you weren't dealing with the internet. Today, as cloud-hosted PBX business phone systems become increasingly popular, finding a business phone service that offers the same reliability as a landline system has become crucial.  

One of the key factors to determine reliability is uptime statistics. Uptime is how often a cloud-based phone system is up and running. One of the most important elements of a business phone system is that you can pick up the phone and make a call whenever you need to and that whenever someone is calling you, they can get through. The best business phone services and systems have uptimes of 99.999%. This means that service is down for a handful of minutes each year. Some business phone service providers go as far as to guarantee their uptime – if it ever falls below a certain threshold, they will reimburse you.

What are the main differences between phone systems for small businesses and phone systems for large businesses?

What makes today's cloud-hosted unified communication systems so appealing to small businesses is that they provide the same functionality as systems that large businesses use.

Before the advent of VoIP and cloud-hosted solutions, large businesses were typically the only ones that could afford the expensive onsite equipment for a robust phone system with features like automated attendants, extension dialing and call queues.

VoIP, specifically cloud-hosted VoIP phone systems, have leveled the playing field. There is no longer an expensive point of entry required, so small businesses can easily implement these systems in the same way large businesses can.

One difference might be the service tiers small and large businesses choose. While small businesses might choose a lower-tiered plan that doesn't offer every feature under the sun, larger businesses may be able to afford the more expensive plans that give them access to everything the phone system provider offers.

How much does a phone system cost for small businesses?

The cost and the pricing structure of a small business phone system are determined by where the system will be hosted. If it is hosted in the cloud, all you have to worry about are ongoing monthly fees for each user. Prices are typically $10 to $60 a month per user, depending on how many features and tools you want.

If you want to host your business phone systems on-premises (inside your physical business location), you need to plan for one-time upfront costs. For all of the equipment and installation, you can expect to pay several thousand dollars. In addition, there will likely be recurring monthly payments for your actual calling services. 

How do you set up a small business phone system?

A huge benefit of today's business phone systems is how easy they are to set up. VoIP systems are completely managed from an online portal. Administrators can log in to the portal to assign business phone numbers and extensions, add new users, delete users, and turn features on or off for individual users. You can access this portal from anywhere with an internet connection.

Who benefits most from VoIP office systems?

Employees are the ones who can benefit most from a VoIP business phone system. These systems provide employees with tools to facilitate all of their communication and collaboration needs. Voicemail-to-email, call recording, instant messaging and call forwarding are some of the valuable tools employees can access.

Additionally, VoIP systems allow tons of mobility. Many offer their own mobile apps that give workers the freedom to make and answer calls to and from their business lines via their mobile devices. This helps ensure they never miss an important call.

Small business owners also are huge beneficiaries of VoIP office systems. These systems give small businesses access to features and tools that were previously only affordable for larger organizations. The ability to install these systems for a relatively low price is a huge advantage for small businesses.

Can you use a VoIP phone as a regular phone?

Technically, there are IP phones and analog phones. Most of today's VoIP phone systems use IP phones. These phones plug directly into your internet router and are essentially ready to start making and receiving calls at once.

In order to use an analog phone with many of today's VoIP systems, you need a special adapter that allows these phones to connect to your network.

Previous Best Picks

At Business News Daily, we are dedicated to finding the best products and services for small businesses. We know that your time is limited, and we invest hours into research and testing so you feel confident about our recommendations. 

Each year we update our best picks and use cases. We investigate changes and new companies in the industry, and we scrutinize new and existing products and services. Our process also involves revisiting companies we previously selected as best picks to evaluate whether they still are the best in their category. 

In addition to our business phone system recommendations this year, we have reviews of companies we previously selected as best picks:

Community Expert Insight

As part of our research, we reached out to unified communications system users to learn which systems they find most valuable and what they like about them.

The added features, especially those that allow users to stay connected while working from anywhere, is what attracted Trevor Rappleye, CEO of CorporateFilming.net, to Ooma Office.

"What is most important to us when choosing a phone system (especially during COVID) is, how simple can it be to transfer calls to their cell phone?" Rappleye said.

He said the ability to customize their ring tones and hold music were other appealing aspects of Ooma. "If you call our number, Ooma has allowed us to add a fun touch to what we do."

Mark Kay, business expert and content manager at GearTec, said price and reliability were the key criteria his company used when choosing a business phone system. This is why they also chose Ooma Office.

"It's a VoIP phone system that is very cost-effective and gives you unlimited lines," Kay said of Ooma. "Ooma also allows you to use the office desk phone at home or use a mobile app to make and receive calls."

Grant Aldrich, founder and CEO of OnlineDegree.com, said Nextiva offers the perfect entry-level business phone system. He pointed to the affordable price and the ease of routing calls from a business line to a home or mobile phone are why he likes Nextiva's service so much.

"With a small home office, this means that if I am spending time watching the kids, I can route incoming calls which I don't have time for to voicemail, or this [call] which I don't want to miss can be set into a three-minute holding pattern," Aldrich said. "This is the perfect amount of time I need to get my kids set up with a 30-minute task, and then I can get to the important call I don't want to miss."

Methodology

To help you find the right business phone system, we researched and analyzed dozens of options. Here is a roundup of our 2020 best picks for business phone systems and an explanation of how we chose them.

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Locating the Best Services

To determine the best business phone systems, we started by listing all of the vendors that have good reputations online (i.e., services that other websites have favorably and consistently reviewed). Next, we interviewed small business owners to learn which systems they use and like. If they named a new system not on our list, we added that company to our preliminary list. Overall, we considered nearly 80 different phone system providers. (See our full list of business phone systems and their websites below).

Choosing the Best Services

We settled on these 23 phone systems to consider as best picks: 8x8, AT&T, Avaya, Cisco, Comcast, Dialpad, Digium, ESI, eVoice, FluentStream, FreedomVoice, Grasshopper, Intermedia, Jive, Mitel, Nextiva, OnSIP, Ooma Office, Phone.com, RingByName, RingCentral and Vonage.

Researching Each Service

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, posing as business owners, to gauge the support each provider offers. Finally, we considered the pricing that was viewable on these services' websites or what they quoted to us in our customer service calls. We analyzed each system based on its deployment options, level of service, reliability, customer service, calling features, collaboration tools, mobility options, cost, and Better Business Bureau accreditation, ratings and complaints.

Chad Brooks
Chad Brooks
Business News Daily Staff
Chad Brooks is a writer and editor with more than 20 years of media of experience. He has been with Business News Daily and business.com for the past decade, having written and edited content focused specifically on small businesses and entrepreneurship. Chad spearheads coverage of small business communication services, including business phone systems, video conferencing services and conference call solutions. His work has appeared on The Huffington Post, CNBC.com, FoxBusiness.com, Live Science, IT Tech News Daily, Tech News Daily, Security News Daily and Laptop Mag. Chad's first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014.

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