Top Internet Telephony Services

Google Voice has gotten all the press, but there are a number of services that allow you to forward calls to different phones and transcribe voice mails. Others can even serve as a virtual phone system for small businesses.

Let’s look at a few.

Google Voice

googlevoice

Formerly called GrandCentral, Google Voice is the most well known. Google Voice lets you have one number that you can hand out, and when people call it, it will ring your other phones — your office, home or mobilephone. But what’s especially powerful is you can set it so when certain people call it will ring the phone you want (so, when your family calls it rings your mobilephone, while unknown callers are forwarded to your office phone), or ring different phones based on the day of the week. And it does this all for free, but it is still invitation-only.

Google Voice transcribes your voice mails, so you can read them when you want and store them for reference later. Its SMS features are quite powerful, too. SMSs sent to your Google Voice number are forwarded to your mobile phone, so you can reply to them like normal. But they also show up in the Google Voice interface, so you can view and reply to them from the web.

Google Voice is a great option for individuals who want a better way to handle multiple phones and to store their voice mails and SMS messages, but it doesn’t have features that serve businesses.

3Jam

3jam

3Jam is a simple service like Google Voice. It lets you have one phone number that you can hand out to people, and when they call, it’s forwarded to any of your other phones, including Skype. It transcribes voice mail messages for you, and you can reply to SMS messages from within the web interface.

3Jam provides decent features, but its pricing are unreasonable. $4.99/month gets you only 50 minutes of forwarded calls, and 40 outgoing text messages. That’s a lot to pay for something Google is offering for free.

ViaTalk

viatalk

ViaTalk is a bit different. ViaTalk is a monthly (or yearly) service which is aimed at people with home phones. They supply their own phones, and the service. The service has similar features to Google Voice and 3Jam; you can check your voice mail online or by email, ring 2 different numbers when you receive a call, record calls, forward your phone number to SIP software, and block calls from specific numbers.

But it also does things they don’t, due to its focus on home phones. ViaTalk gives you 2 separate phone lines, will make reminder calls for either one-off or recurring events (like a wake-up call in hotels), or require “authentication” from anonymous callers.

It’s an interesting service, especially if you need a home phone line. The yearly service is $189 ($15.75 a month), and includes unlimited minutes.

Grasshopper

grasshopper

Grasshopper isn’t so much a competitor to Google Voice as a competitor to PBX phone systems. It is a web service that allows small businesses to set up departments and extensions for their employees, and forwards the calls to their different phones. Grasshopper users can purchase toll-free 800 numbers for $15. It also has unlimited call handling, so even if you’re receiving a deluge of calls, callers won’t hear a busy signal. This makes the business feel much more professional to anyone calling, and it’s managed through Grasshopper’s web interface, rather than a complicated and expensive hardware system.

Grasshopper also delivers voice mails and faxes via email, but unlike Google Voice and other services, Grasshopper sends voice mails as audio files rather than transcribe them.

The pricing of this service is a monthly plan based on how many minutes you use per month. Unfortunately, Grasshopper’s jump from a very limited 100 minute $9.95/month plan to a 2000 minute $49 plan, with no options in-between, is rather steep.

RingCentral

ringcentral

RingCentral is similar to Grasshopper, but provides some additional features. It has toll free and local numbers, call forwarding and voice mail support like Grasshopper. In addition to the virtual phone system features, RingCentral gives users a dial-by-name directory, which makes it much easier for callers to find the person they need to talk to.

RingCentral’s monthly plans provide more for the price than Grasshopper. RingCentral’s $49.99/month plan offers unlimited calling and faxing, as compared to Grasshopper’s 2000 minutes.

Closing

The internet has provided so many options in the area of phone calls and voicemail. Take some time to be sure that what you are currently using — and paying for — fits your needs and the needs of your business.


  • Tom

    What about Asterisk?

  • Ian

    GoogleVoice is hardly “one number to rule them all” given that it does not work at all for most people online. I suspect most if not all of the others fail to work for most people online. I am of course referring to people not in… you know which country.

    • http://web.appstorm.net Chris Bowler

      I feel the pain too, as I’m also not from “that country”.
      :)

  • http://cashflake.com Andrew Buonocore

    How many of those are US-only? I would love to use Google Voice in Europe

    • Ian

      I just noticed a UK flag on the Ring Central screenshot. It isn’t a GoogleVoice type of service as the post says, but it’s available with a UK number for anyone needing a call-redirection service.

      Two services I recommend to anyone in the UK to send messages to social networks or immediate transcription to email are Dial2Do and Jajah. They work very well together, another good one with a UK number is ReQall. Search for anyone these, I’m sure you’ll find them.

      • http://web.appstorm.net Chris Bowler

        Ah yes, ReQall is definitely worth a mention. A good option instead of Jott as well.

  • Jace

    Google Voice works best for individuals including freelancers & independents who prefer callers to reach them via direct dial. I think the transcription is a small value-added feature based on its varied quality. Still, you can’t beat free phone calls!

  • http://www.dasgrafik.co.uk Chris Dowson

    I use voipfone (.co.uk and .com depending where you are) for my system with a dedicated VOIP handset from Budgetone. It’s cheap, cheerful, feature packed and above all RELIABLE for an investment of £60 for the handset and £2 a month for the UK phone number.

    Also gives me features such as call forwarding, virtual extensions… so much better than just using my mobile.

    This list could be a little more comprehensive

  • http://newbloggertemplates.com/ NewBloggerTemplates

    This is an interesting suggestion and I previously did not know about the Internet Telephony Services…thank you for your advice..

  • http://www.peshphoto.com pesh

    I wanted to chime in on google voice, but on a separate feature that I use. I know that the transcription service is not as good as actually hearing the message but I do use it to have my thoughts emailed to me. If I am driving and an idea hits me, I have a notebook that I can jot it down in, and I have a voice recorder on my iPhone but I like having it end up in my notes on my computer. It works well for me to call my google voice number and leave a message. Within moments, it shows up in my email. I HAVE to speak slow and clear in order for it to really get all that I want but it works great for me this way !

  • http://www.twitter.com/mikevalera Mike

    Check out Voxtopia (http://www.myvoxtopia.com) for an international alternative.

  • http://i junaid

    i love in my country

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