I searched through service provider options for phones for several hours trying to select the perfect system. I have basic networking skills, but I did not know about office phones so I had to start with the basics. I researched business setups and learned about PBX systems. They are on-site hardware based phone systems that allow programming and routing within a business. There are also virtual PBX systems where the “hardware” is at a provider’s server. I also researched traditional and VOIP technology and then providers.
Providers like Windstream offer user friendly packages of internet and voice. They are slickly marketed and offer the same. The systems come setup for you, and the support is great from what I hear. The cost might be better with Windstream for you, but for me I get a little more value doing my internet separately from the VOIP. There are advantages for going with Windstream or a similar provider though.
Of the VOIP providers that do not provide internet, I started with the basics like Vonage. I found what appeared to be a decent deal with several companies, including 8×8 – which was probably who I would have gone with but for Toktumi. Eventually when researching Google Voice and number forwarding I ran across Toktumi, which has the perfect package for a small firm like mine.
The number forwarding in Toktumi can be setup easily from any computer. That means no programming phones manually when someone switches offices. You can also forward off the premises. I have my office number forwarded to my cell. I can program times when it goes directly to voicemail. There is also auto-attendant features (press 1 for x…). You can use computer voices or record your own. Toktumi offers unlimited minutes incoming and outgoing, subject to their fair use policy. This is only $15 a month. A fax number costs another $10 a month. I can easily add a phone line with an increased $15 a month. Since there are no contracts, I can pay for exactly the amount of phone I need. If I need more than 3-4 phone lines, or I have reliability issues I will look elsewhere and simply take my number with me. So far, so good, though. Note that some readers may wish to keep a landline for safety.
There are other features, but I need to run.