Being stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected. With a residential VoIP service at your disposal, you can make and receive all the calls you want using the power of your internet connection. Whether you just want to save money on your phone bill or you’re looking for a way to run your business from home, the best residential VoIP providers can make it happen.
However, not every VoIP service is worth it. Here at VoIPVirtual, we have been reviewing VoIP systems to find the best ones and help you avoid the worst. Today we’ll take a closer look at residential VoIP, specifically. We’ve got 5 companies that specialize in residential VoIP service, so read on and find the one that’s right for you.
What Do VoIP Providers Do?
VoIP providers allow you to make and receive phone calls with your internet connection instead of a landline or mobile phone network. Their servers are constantly buzzing, connecting calls around the world and routing them to the phone number you dial. These providers have connections with phone lines down on the ground so that your call can go from the cloud to a real phone without requiring any additional technology on the part of the recipient.
You’ll get a VoIP phone number, which works just like a regular number. However, if you want to continue using an existing number, perhaps your home phone number, you can port it over to your new VoIP service. If your VoIP provider has an app, you can install it on your mobile phone to use your VoIP number there. Some providers also have desktop PC apps so that you can take calls from your computer instead of reaching for your phone.
With this number, you’ll get unlimited calling nationwide as well as unlimited SMS. Other features like voicemail to email or cheaper international calling are available too. VoIP providers can do everything your local phone company can and much more.
How Does Residential VoIP Differ From a Regular VoIP Service?
At a glance, residential VoIP doesn’t make a lot of sense. After all, the internet is the internet no matter where you are. With phones, you have landlines and mobile lines, home phones and cell phones. But with VoIP, what can a company do to differentiate their service for residential users? The best residential VoIP providers have figured it out.
Residential VoIP providers aim to replace your traditional phones or turn them into VoIP phones. This is the most significant distinction between residential VoIP service and regular VoIP providers. However, there are some other features that the best residential VoIP providers have up their sleeves to make your home phone a VoIP powerhouse.
Features for Residential VoIP Customers
Are you tired of spam calls? Residential VoIP providers help you filter those calls out with advanced call blocking features that you can customize instantly. Your regular home phone can’t do that on its own, but with a VoIP provider, you can just pull out your phone, log into your account through their app, and block any number that has called you recently.
Did your grandmother pass down her beautiful ebony rotary phone, and you just can’t bear to part with it? Don’t worry: residential VoIP providers have devices that let you turn your home phone network into a VoIP system in seconds. You don’t need to get all new phones to use VoIP at home, meaning you can still slam down the receiver when somebody is irritating you.
The best residential VoIP providers have modern equipment that syncs up with your smart home services, like Alexa or Google Home. With these, you can activate your phone with your voice or have your smart home system announce when a call is present. Some even link up with Philips Hue, changing the lighting in the room when someone is calling instead of blaring a harsh ringtone throughout the house.
Is VoIP Safe to Use at Home?
One of the biggest worries people have with VoIP is what they will do if their power goes out or if their internet service collapses and they need to make a call urgently. It’s true that if your internet service were to stop working, you wouldn’t be able to place any calls through your VoIP system. So, what can you do instead?
The best residential VoIP providers will let you configure a backup plan. This will route any incoming calls to your mobile phone or to any number you choose. If you keep a landline as a backup, they can also be set to use this instead in emergencies. However, if your goal is to cut the cord completely, what can you do?
One option is to invest in a UPS, which will provide power backup to your router and VoIP setup. Often when the power goes out your utilities keep working, as long as they can still get electricity from somewhere. And if you are worried about 911 calls, there are e911 services that work seamlessly with VoIP for less than $1 a month.
What Are the Best Residential VoIP Providers in 2021?
Let’s start with the OG of the residential VoIP industry. These guys were advertising for their residential VoIP service all the way back in the early aughts, before most homes even had a stable high-speed internet connection. Their solution involved using dongles to turn your landlines into VoIP lines. Today it’s a bit more elegant, but hasn’t changed much from its initial design.
You will receive a Vonage device that plugs into your internet router. You then connect this box to your phone line. You’ll need an adapter for each of your home phones that you want to connect to Vonage. These adapters connect to the phone jack in the wall and then to your phone. Essentially the Vonage box converts VoIP signals into signals your phone can process, you even hear a dial tone just like before!
Vonage has several home phone plans, ranging from cheap plans with limited minutes to unlimited plans that cover the US, Canada, and Mexico. They also have additional international add-on packages that you can sign up for if you frequently make or receive calls from abroad.
With Vonage, you can keep your old number or get a new one. You’ll definitely save compared to your existing phone service. But Vonage also has some great features that’ll make your life easier.
For example, you can use Vonage’s Extensions app to take your number with you on your smartphone. Just set up the app and any calls to your home number will also ring your mobile device! And if you want every device to ring, or just a few for certain calls, you can configure which phones to fire when you receive a call using their SimulRing service.
Vonage even has a voicemail to email service, which transcribes your voicemails and sends them to your inbox in an instant. Never deal with another painstaking dial-in menu ever again. They even have toll-free numbers for residential customers, which is great if you run a business from home and want to give people a way to call you for free.
Vonage does ask you to sign a contract for at least a year to get the best rates on its service. They have limited plans, like the US & Canada 400, which gives you 400 minutes to use for just $14.99 per month. This is great if you don’t make a lot of calls, as incoming calls are free. If you’re looking for unlimited calling, step up to Vonage North America, which is just $24.99 per month and gives you a $10 per month discount for the first 6 months.
If you make lots of international calls, check out the Vonage World package, which costs just $29.99 per month and has the same discount as the Vonage North America plan for the first six months. With this plan, you get unlimited calling to landlines in 60 countries! You also get all the calls you can make to mobile phones in 10 countries. It’s one of the best international calling plans out there.
Overall, Vonage provides an excellent service at a very reasonable price. Their call quality is fantastic and their network is extremely reliable. You can’t go wrong with them as a residential VoIP provider.
Ooma’s home VoIP service is one of the newest on the market and easily the most disruptive of any VoIP service we’ve ever covered. Instead of paying Ooma monthly for their VoIP service, you just buy their Ooma Telo home unit, plug it in, and use it to your heart’s content.
The Telo, like most other residential VoIP systems, plugs into your router and then routes your VoIP calls. However, unlike other solutions here, the idea with Ooma isn’t to necessarily retrofit your traditional phones. Instead, they aim to drive all your calls to your mobile device, which makes sense for modern millennial homes.
The Ooma Telo integrates with Google Home, Alexa, and much more. You can control everything from the app and your cell phone connects via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi if you have the Air model.
Ooma prides itself on two things: Customer service and call quality. Their Telo units are equipped with lightning-fast processors that help to purify your audio quality and remove any noise or interference. When it comes to customer support, Ooma is the top-ranked company according to several consumer magazines and online review sites.
If you’re worried about your internet service crashing and leaving you disconnected, they even have the Telo 4G, which can accept a SIM card from your mobile phone company to provide an internet connection at all times. This can be used as a backup or as the main connection if you desire.
You’ll also receive an IP phone: a desk phone that works with VoIP, in other words. But what really makes Ooma an interesting service is its pricing model. Believe it or not, it’s possible to pay $0 per month for your VoIP phone service.
Ooma has taken a very unique approach to pricing. Instead of paying a hefty monthly fee for your VoIP service, you simply buy the Telo unit and pay nothing from that point forward! How can that even be possible?
We should clarify that it’s not exactly free since you do have to pay local taxes that your government imposes upon you. However, you already pay these same amounts to your local telephone company if you have a landline at home. Ooma even has a tax lookup tool where you put in your ZIP code and get the exact amount you’ll have to pay per month. It’s usually not much more than $4 or $5.
So you buy the unit once and then enjoy your VoIP system for the rest of your days, paying a paltry sum to keep your service active. It’s easily one of the best systems we’ve come across and with its unique pricing model, you could save a lot of money. It pays for itself within a year and there are no contracts to sign either, making Ooma an awesome option for anyone looking for the best residential VoIP providers.
Axvoice must want to take an ax to the competition because it is slashing prices and scaring the industry. Their home VoIP system gives you unlimited calling and all the equipment you need to get started at a remarkably low price. Like Vonage, they convert your home phone network into a VoIP system using adapters for your touchtone phones.
You’ll get one adapter when you sign up, so you’ll either need a distributed wireless home phone with multiple receivers or some electrical work done if you intend to make your whole home a VoIP home. Or you can just buy more adapters. The service isn’t tied to your specific internet connection either, you can take your Axvoice unit with you, for instance to a hotel, and you’d be able to take calls on your VoIP number.
The one area where Axvoice is lacking is in the mobile app department. They do allow you to receive calls on your cell phone, but you have to configure call forwarding to do that. It won’t just automatically happen when you install an app since Axvoice works exclusively through its router device.
You get caller ID and voicemail to email, both important features that you come to expect from VoIP providers. Call forwarding is included, and you can even trigger three different phone numbers to ring whenever you receive a VoIP call. Everything is managed online, not through an app, so keep that in mind if mobile use matters to you.
You can also set up a “do not disturb” time, which is handy if you don’t want anyone to bother you while you’re sleeping. Of course, you can also choose certain phone numbers to bypass this rule. Aside from that, it’s your standard unlimited calling VoIP service.
Axvoice is one of the most affordable residential VoIP providers on the market. Their unlimited plan costs just $8.25 per month if you prepay the whole year, meaning you could have unlimited phone service at home for just about $100 a year. That also includes the cost of equipment, making Axvoice one of the industry’s best deals.
There are limited plans as well, such as the US/Canada 200 plan that gives you 200 minutes to use as you please for just $5.99 a month. You can add additional lines as well, meaning you could have one unlimited line and another limited one.
If cost savings are your top priority, give Axvoice a call. Their service can definitely save you money if you choose to drop your phone company for their VoIP solution.
Phone Power is another US-based residential VoIP provider that seems to have it all. They’ve got mobile apps to let you use their service with your cell phone, unlimited calling plans, and plenty of useful features.
They can do whatever your phone company can, with caller ID and call blocking features as standard. Their VoiceMail viewer lets you open voicemails as if you were in your inbox, and they have plenty of call routing and call forwarding options to help you direct your call to whatever device you desire.
You even get a free second line using the same number! That means that while you’re on the phone, someone else in your home can make or receive another call. This is a great option if you regularly field business calls and don’t want to tie up the home line.
Aside from those noteworthy features we mentioned already, Phone Power delivers basically everything you’d expect from a VoIP system. However, one thing that stands out is that they give you free international minutes! You can also opt for an international plan, but even if you don’t you’ll get a few hours of talk time overseas.
Like Vonage, you’ll set up your Phone Power system by connecting a device to your router and then linking that to your traditional phone. It’s extremely easy to set up and start using Phone Power in a matter of minutes.
Phone Power puts the power back in your pocket with their incredibly affordable plans. If you prepay the whole year, you get their service at just $8.33 per month, with one hour of free international calling and unlimited calls in the US and Canada. You’ll also get the mobile app and the free cloned second line so you can have two people making calls at once.
If you don’t want to prepay the whole year, Phone Power doesn’t gouge you. You can sign a one-year contract instead and pay $9.99 per month. It’s $19.99 without a contract, which makes it less appealing, but if you’re convinced Phone Power is for you then their 1-year deals are tough to beat.
They’ve even got Vonage on the ropes in the international calling department. For $24.95 you get unlimited calling to 75 countries, or you can save a bit and go for the Unlimited World plan at $19.95, which only gives you 28 countries. Both of these plans have no contracts and can be activated instantly for free.
We’ll ignore VoIPLy’s awkward use of upper and lower case letters and just focus on their product. They’re one of the best residential VoIP providers when it comes to pricing, and they bring Wi-Fi IP phones to your home to help you get connected fast.
VoIPLy uses a cloud-based network, and in general, you could say their tech is cutting edge. They started operations in 2012, and so their system is built around modern infrastructure and internet technology. To that end, they ship out wi-fi phones so you don’t need to run adapters to your landline devices anymore.
It’s going to be hard to beat VoIPLy’s incredible price. Prepay the whole year and you get their service for just $7.16 per month, which is the lowest deal we’ve come across so far. It has all the features you’d expect and unlimited calling in 50 countries.
That’s right people, VoIPLy gives you unlimited calls to landlines in 50 countries with their standard plan, for less than $8 a month. Looks like we’ve found a winner.
For more information on VoIP systems, check out our deeper reviews on individual providers or have a gander at our longer comparison articles. If you’re still unsure which type of system is right for you, have a look at our primers that explain everything you need to know about switching to VoIP in 2021.