VOIP Providers?

bleggee
bleggee used Ask the Experts™
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Hi all - I am looking for alternatives to Vonage, just for a 1-line small business.
I am having a hard time:
#1 Finding alternatives, since when I Google for information, all I get is Vonage plus thousands of 1-page not-great--looking web pages that look like they are just reselling someone's VOIP service
AND
#2 Am wondering how it works ... Can I buy my own equipment and not use a "provider" ? Or if I must have a Provider, any recommendation?

Thanks all !
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Commented:
You always need a provider,  they are basically a broker between the internet and the phone network.  To deal direct with major phone networks requires big volume,  so often there is a layer or two between the end user and the actual phone network.

You can deal with more wholesale oriented companies instead of consumer oriented companies like Vonage.  With wholesale style connections your cost is tied to the usage and not so much to a set fixed package price.

Here's a couple of examples,

http://www.vitelity.com/pricing#voip

http://www.voip.ms/ 

You would need a sip phone of your own or a ATA (converts a voip connection to a standard analog line)  and you do need to do your own configuration.  No hand holding customer service but they will usually provide all the information you need to connect.

These are usually the type of company behind the 'not so great web pages'.

Depending on the amount of phone traffic you have and where you make calls to these pay by the minute arrangements can be quite inexpensive.  It is also typical that you can have multiple concurrent calls,  no extra charge.

Another option is hosted service.  Hosted is sort of the other end of the spectrum from wholesale style operators.  Cost is higher but they provide a very full feature set.  For small scale its a very easy way to get a big business feature set.  Here's and example,

http://www.virtualpbx.com/

Moving your number around can take a bit of time and costs a few bucks.  You could likely call forward it to a service to try it out.  You would need a standard SIP softphone or buy a SIP hardware phone.  Your Vonage device is very likely locked and cannot be used with another service.

http://www.telephonydepot.com/

http://www.zoiper.com/softphone/communicator/

http://www.counterpath.com/x-lite.html

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