Voip & Unified Communications f Robert Pepper hApril 08, 2014

Take a Closer Look at What the Big VoIP Companies Hide in Their Fine Print

When signing up with a VoIP provider, it's extremely important to know what you are getting into when you sign that agreement.

We called up 19 of the top names in business VoIP, gave them a sample business, and obtained actual quotes and agreements to take a deeper look at things. In our hypothetical business, we needed ten users (aka seats/extensions), one new phone number, and ten new phones. Whenever possible, we wanted to have the Polycom VVX500 as our phone, but many providers gave different models away as part of their package. We wanted to get the best deal possible, so we asked about possible discounts. We also combed through the fine print to find little details. As you'll see below, many providers limited their “unlimited” service to “fair use,” to prevent fraud and abuse. We also found warnings about emergency service, late payment penalties, and even how they handle serious legal liabilities. Our findings are below.

Nextiva 1) Nextiva - nextiva.com

$250/mo for a ten-user hosted PBX solution, plus collecting taxes and fees that bring the total up to $315/mo.

Nextiva does not offer pre-paid discounts, but they do give away free basic phones (the Yealink T20), so long as you are with them for three months. The VVX500 is $250/phone, and comes pre-provisioned. You can also get delayed billing, meaning you get 90 days before your first bill. Although they don't charge activation fees, they collect shipping and taxes, which brings the startup cost to $110.62.

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2) Jive Communications - Jive jive.com

$241.25/mo for a ten-user hosted PBX solution

They have lower upfront costs because they lock you into a long-term contract. For our phone, the Polycom VVX500, it costs $212.95 + 22.95 for a power supply, making the total $235.90. They do not offer service discounts, preferring simplified pricing models, but, if you find a cheaper phone than the ones they offer, they will assist you in provisioning the phones.

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Ringcentral 3) RingCentral - ringcentral.com

For their steepest discount, you have the option to both pre-pay for the year and sign a two-year contract, bringing to total down to $2,998.80, which comes to $249.90/mo

RingCentral offers a hefty, and unlisted, discount on the Polycom VVX500, selling it for $174 with their service. The hardware in our estimate comes to a total of $1,740. Polycom VVX500 or best price phone: $174 after discount.

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Vonage For Business 4) Vonage Business (Vocalocity) - vonagebusiness.com

$252.54/mo for a ten-user hosted PBX solution, including taxes and fees.

The Startup cost is $200 activation fee + $15 standard shipping, (express shipping is $10 more), and then following that, there is 50% off for both first and second month's bill, which in this case is $99.95. Vonage for Business sells the Polycom VVX500 for $234.99, or will help provision if you buy from another vendor. As of this writing, they are running a promotion where they will give you a free Yealink T20 (same as Nextiva).

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8x8 5) 8x8, Inc. - 8x8.com

$469.98/mo for a ten-user hosted PBX solution, the Startup cost: $725.38.

The incentive is free Polycom VVX500 phones with 2-yr contract, plus an add'l $500 rebate. Without the contract, you can buy the Polycom VVX500 for $249.99 which includes the power supply.

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Ringio 6) Ringio - ringio.com

They include Grandstream IP phones. The monthly cost is $250 for ten-user hosted PBX solution. Ringio has a no startup costs with a one-year contract.

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Phonebooth 7) Phonebooth (no longer in business) 

Their listed price is a flat $20/mo for all phone service, but the sales reps are authorized to go down to as low as $15.00 per month if you negotiate well enough. In either case, Phonebooth sales taxes and regulatory fees are $3 per user.

Phonebooth sells Yealink phones, the least expensive of which is T20 for $69.00, making the startup cost  $690.00 for ten phones.

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Switchvox Digium 8) Switchvox Cloud from Digium -  digium.com

Digium offers a ten-user hosted PBX solution for $350, but offer discounts with long-term contracts up to three years, which brings the price down to as low as $290. Taxes will bring that up about $85/mo.

Digium exclusively uses their in-house phones. The least expensive 2-line phone was the Digium D40, which is $140 each, or $1,400 for ten.

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VoIP.com/Phone Power 9) BroadVoice - broadvoice.com

VoIP.com includes a both a Cisco SPA303 lease and a specialized router in their price, which is $307.68 per month, for two years.

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10) Virtual PBX - virtualpbx.com

Virtual PBX has a pre-pay option, which discounts the recurring annual price to $3,137.89, the equivalent of $261.50/mo. The startup cost is $3232.79, which includes a free Polycom SoundPoint IP 331 in their annual plan.

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Megapath 11) MegaPath - megapath.com

MegaPath brings their startup fee all the way down to zero with the help of a 36-month contract. The monthly cost is $263.87, which includes a Polycom IP 335.

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Fonangle 12) Fonangle - fonangle.com

Fonangle's basic plan includes a second number. A ten phone plan is $206.00/mo, and that price includes the 911 service fee. The activation charge is $195.00. The best deal on phones was the Yealink T22P which was $89.95 after a $10 promotional discount. Fonangle is backed by an SLA.

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13) RingByName - ringbyname.comRing By Name

Ring By Name has a startup cost of $400.63, which includes shipping. Monthly costs are $230.63 for a ten-line PBX. You can also get free Ring By Name IP phones with a year-long contract.

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Ring Office 14) RingOffice - ringoffice.com

For ten users, the monthly cost for Ring Office is $250 before taxes, with a free system set-up with a two year contract. They sell VVX500 Polycom phones with AC adapters, with $35 to configure them.

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Verizon Hosted PBX 15) Verizon Enterprise - verizonenterprise.com

Verizon sells their Polycom VVX500 for $264.00, plus $61.35 shipping. There is an activation fee of $150, making the startup cost total $2,861.25. The monthly service is $350 for ten users.

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Fonality 16) Fonality - fonality.com

Fonality has a $500 startup fee, which you can have waived if you negotiate. You can get a discounted price of $30, which includes phones, if you agree to a 12-month contract. To get you started, there is a $50 shipping charge.

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17) Broadview - broadviewnet.comBroadview

Broadview uses in-house phones exclusively. You have your choice of leasing the phones, and be charged for both the phones and the service, or buying the phones and being charged for the service. Either way, the price you pay is related to the phones themselves. Our quote included nine slim phones for leased for $278.91 combined per month and one executive phone for $37.99 per month. The total per month for the lease was $316.90. Alternately, you can buy the phones for $891.00 combined for the slim phones and $199.00 for the executive phone. You still have to pay the activation charge, making the startup cost $1,190.00 The recurring total price in that plan is $261.00.

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Velocity Networks 18) Velocity Networks - vel.net

Velocity has 24 and 36 month contracts. For the maximum discount, a three year plan will waive the setup fee, and give you a 10% discount monthly compared to the two-year plan. A three year plan which includes auto-attendant, music on hold comes to $211.5/mo. The price of ten Polycom SoundPoint IP 550s, including shipping, is $2,700. Velocity Networks is backed by an SLA.

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Mitel 19) Mitel - mitel.com Mitel sells several in-house phones, and for this quote they recommended the Mitel 530e, which they sell for $280. There is a $4.99 one time fee for E-911, rather than a recurring fee, making the startup cost $2804. The monthly cost is $235.12 after taxes.

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Finding the right provider doesn't have to be exhausting. Generally, most providers charge between $20 and $30 per user. If you pay more, you get more, in terms of features, included hardware, or assurances of reliability. It's important that you read through the fine print, as we have done, to learn about fees, taxes, long-term contracts, activation fees, and so on. It may cost just as much to disconnect from a VoIP service as it does to connect, which is why you have to read the fine print.

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