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6 Types of VoIP Services

Updated: June 14, 2019

The strength of VoIP technology is its flexibility. VoIP calls can be made with traditional desk phones, mobile devices, and desktop computers thanks to its use of digital data and the internet. You can even convert a traditional landline phone to a VoIP phone with a special converter box. As a result, there are many different types of customers served by VoIP providers today, and many specialize in serving specific segments of the market.

In today's diverse VoIP service market, you can find several categories of providers:

  • Residential service
  • Mobile service
  • Phone-based service
  • Software-based service
  • Business service
  • Cloud-Hosted VoIP Service
beautiful living room of a modern home
Photo by Outsite Co on Unsplash

Residential VoIP Service

Residential VoIP service is aimed at serving households, tailoring themselves to serve only a few lines for account. Early on, residential VoIP services aimed at supplanting traditional landline phone service, but today they often compete head-to-head for customers. Residential services can take a couple different forms. Many cable and ISP companies bundle VoIP together with other services. Other residential providers sell converter boxes that let you make VoIP calls with a traditional home phone over an existing internet connection.

man holding a cell phone with voip phone service
Photo by Michael Weidemann on Unsplash

Mobile VoIP Service

With the advent of smartphones and tablets, many VoIP services have moved into the Android and Apple device markets aggressively. Some of these services are tied to larger platforms like Facebook's Messenger. Others are stand-alone brands like Skype and WhatsApp that serve both businesses and consumers using smartphones and desktop computers. The main difference between mobile VoIP and software-based VoIP is that mobile apps can use either a cellular internet service or a local Wi-Fi network to make and receive calls.

older cordless phone with voip phone service using an adapter
Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels

Phone-Based VoIP Service

Some VoIP providers like Ooma focus on selling converter boxes for their revenue rather than monthly service charges. These providers help customers to use an internet connection to make calls with their landline phone. The box connects to the internet and the phone to digitize and transmit voice calls through a VoIP provider.

Providers like Ooma can be a good solution for residential customers and small businesses that need to have uninterrupted phone service because they don't replace your existing landline. They instead let you use your landline number over the internet. If you suffer an internet or power outage, the converter box routes your calls over the landline.

Man holding a laptop and placing a voip phone through desktop softwware

Software-Based VoIP Service

Services like Skype and Google Talk fall into the software-based VoIP service category. These services are often part of a constellation of products offered by companies, and they can take the form of web apps or stand-alone desktop programs. The defining feature is that they provide the front-end software to make phone calls with a computer and the back-end infrastructure for assigning numbers and routing calls. What they don't provide is the hardware or internet service that you'll need.

large corporate office with many cubicles that contain voip phones

Business VoIP Service

Business VoIP services are designed to serve large numbers of users and traffic under a single account. Typically, they begin at 20 individual phone numbers and scale up to thousands for large organizations. VoIP is well-suited to the unique technical and cost problems that organizations encounter with traditional landlines. Not only does it quickly scale up and down when adding and subtracting users, but VoIP also eliminates international and long-distance toll charges.

IT staff inspecting cloud servers for a hosted voip service provider

Cloud-Hosted VoIP Service

Cloud-hosted VoIP services is the latest in VoIP technology. It’s also referred to as virtual PBX or IP PBX, but the technology is the same. This type of VoIP service removes the need for most on-premise hardware because your VoIP provider is “hosting” all of those functions using their hardware and servers.

The only real requirement is a few basic networking components (like a router and switches) and an internet connection - that’s it. The VoIP provider will usually take care of maintenance, troubleshooting, redundancy of services, and much more - taking the responsibility, and down-time, away from the business.

Cloud VoIP can also enhance business productivity with services like Unified Communications, video conferencing, intelligent call routing, and much more.

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