Modern era telephone systems are a far cry from all that was available in the not so distant past. Systems that required expensive PBX hardware, involved a complex setup, in-depth training on how to use them and then, to add insult to injury, effectively being tethered to the desktop while doing so!

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems makes good sense for most small and medium-sized businesses. Recent research has found that almost one-third of all businesses are now using VoIP systems. With VoIP, voice data is sent digitally via an internet connection rather than old-style analog transmissions using conventional phone cables plugged into outlets and connected to a public switched telephone network (PSTN). VoIP first became available during the 1990s and went through many growing pains resulting from poor quality due to technology and bandwidth limitations.

Since those early days VoIP technology, alongside widespread availability of broadband access to the internet has transformed the appeal of VoIP based systems.

VoIP systems are now able to take advantage of advanced high-definition codecs that have vastly improved the voice quality, making modern VoIP networks sound-quality at least as good as landline networks. In addition to better sound quality, access to cloud-based services is also making VoIP a more viable option for small businesses. Rather than having to run special wiring and install special equipment, companies that choose a cloud-hosted VoIP phone solution don't need to purchase any equipment or employ an IT staff to install and maintain it.

The advancement of VoIP technology and its relatively low cost make VoIP an ideal choice for small and medium-sized business.

Best for small business:

Cloud-based Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems that don't require expensive PBX hardware or a trained IT staff to set up or maintain.

Best for small offices:

Systems which work best for businesses with up to 20 employees, can be set up in minutes and require no special wiring or phones. Inclusive of a variety of features that allow small offices to present themselves in a professional manner, such as an auto-receptionist, ring groups, and voicemail-to-email .

Best virtual systems:

Specifically designed for businesses with "on-the-go" employees. Services that connect business phone lines to remote workers on their mobile and home phones. Including a wide range of features – such as a mobile app and the use of a softphone on the employee's computer.

Best for call centers:

Phone systems with all the tools and features a business needs to run a professional call center. Systems that offer a wide range of flexibility in terms of hosting options – on-premises or cloud-based – and service plans. Call center services include a variety of call queue options, integrations with numerous CRM solutions and call recording. Also offered with a variety of valuable supervisor tools, including the ability to listen in on agent calls.