We look at a range of plans that can help small businesses save on their phone bills and benefit from advanced features.
In an earlier feature, we explained how a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service can significantly reduce your business's phone bills, as well as the connectivity options and traps to watch out for.
Now it’s time to look at some of the plans that are on the market.
We surveyed the market for two types of plans – one type that would cater for microbusinesses and the other for businesses with a small number of employees or that could benefit from more advanced features.
This is a sample of plans from a point in time – there are many other plans available and they are subject to change, so make sure you do your own homework too.
Plans for microbusinesses
If you run a microbusiness, a basic ‘residential’ VoIP service that provides the features of a regular phone line may be all you need.
Just be sure that your use is within the terms of service. For example, a "residential" plan may only mean that it comes with consumer-grade support that isn’t available 24/7. As long as the terms and conditions don’t use language such as “for personal use only” or “not for business use” you should be OK.
Basic VoIP plans compared
|Provider and plan||Price (month)||Local and national calls*||Mobile calls||Number portability?|
VoIP Mobile Saver
|$19.95||Unlimited||400 minutes included, then 15c per minute||No|
|$15.95||9c||17.9c per minute||Yes|
|$14.95||included||20c per minute||No|
Business Starter VoIP
|$0||12c||24c per minute||Yes|
|$49.95||200*||25c per minute||Yes|
|And just for comparison...|
|$22||30c and 28c per minute plus 52c (capped at $2 for up to one hour)||28c per minute plus 52c (capped at $2 for up to one hour)||Yes|
|$60||Included, and 80c||36c per minute plus 55c||Yes|
* Note that calls to 13 or 1300 numbers are typically charged separately and at higher rates than local and national calls – typically around 35c per call. Check each provider's website for details.
Notable features or restrictions:
- Engin: Includes ATA on a 12-month contract
- FaktorTel: Includes two lines and two numbers, and an ATA on a six-month contract
- Freshtel: Local and national calls limited to 2,500 minutes per month
- TalkUp: 200 local and national calls included, then 12c per call. Two lines and one number included
- Telstra: Calls to 019 numbers included.
Plans for small businesses
If your business is larger or more sophisticated than a microbusiness, VoIP providers offer business plans with all the facilities associated with a more complex phone system without having to install special equipment on your premises.
These features include the ability to pick up an incoming call from an unattended line, an automated attendant (“Press 1 for sales…”) and music on hold.
Advanced VoIP plans compared
|Provider||Price (month)||Lines*||Phone numbers||Local and national calls*||Mobile calls|
VoIP Hosted PBX
|$49.95||4||5||10c||18c per minute|
|Australian Phone Company
|$18.95||30||5||8c||10c per minute|
|CloudPBX||$29.90 per line||1||1||Unlimited||16c per minute|
Managed Hosted PBX
|$83.95||4||10||9c||17.9c per minute|
2 line plus
|$99||2||5||250 calls included, then 10c for local/national, 25c per minute for mobiles|
Hosted PBX 8
|$97.85||8||10||10c||17c per minute|
|Telecube||$0||Unlimited||$2.95 each per month||12.1c||13.2c per minute|
Business VoIP Package
|$29.99||3||3||Unlimited||39c plus 9.9c per minute|
* Note that 'lines' means the number of simultaneous calls that the system supports.
* Note that calls to 13 or 1300 numbers are typically charged separately and at higher rates than local and national calls - typically around 35c per call. Check each provider's website for details.
* All these providers support number portability.
Perhaps just as interesting as the pricing are the features the above plans offer:
- Ace Communications: Call parking/pickup/transfer, dial extensions, hunt group, voicemail, voicemail to email
- Australian Phone Company: Auto attendant, call forwarding/recording/transfer, conference calls, fax receive to email, voicemail, voicemail to email
- CloudPBX: Auto attendant, call hold/queue/transfer, follow me, hunt group, music on hold, voicemail, voicemail to email
- FaktorTel: Auto attendant, call forward/hold/park/pickup/recording/transfer, dial extensions, follow me, hunt groups, music on hold, send and receive faxes, voicemail, voicemail to email
- iiNet: Auto attendant, call forward/transfer/waiting call forward when unreachable, call park/pickup, hunt group (for a minimum of three lines), follow me, voicemail, voicemail to email. Handset rental included
- MyNetFone: Auto attendant, call hold/transfer/waiting, call park/pickup, hunt groups, dial extensions, divert to mobile, divert based on caller location, divert based on time of day, follow me, music on hold, voicemail, voicemail to email
- TalkUp: Auto attendant, call pickup/transfer, line hunt, voicemail, music on hold
- Telecube: Auto attendant, call pickup/transfer, music on hold, redirect on busy, voicemail (with email alert)
- TPG: Note that TPG Business VoIP Package is only available to TPG on-net broadband customers. Features include call barring/forwarding/waiting, extension dialling, voicemail, voicemail to email. Includes three handsets.
We've explained these features in more detail in part three of our series, How VoIP can make your business seem bigger. We have also looked at a range of IP phones that can help you get more out of these advanced VoIP features.
Please note that the listings above were compiled from information on the providers' websites on 30 June 2017. We have not reviewed or tested – and therefore do not necessarily endorse – any of the services listed here. The above lists of plans are by no means exhaustive. They are intended to be an introduction to services on offer, to give you an indication of the choices available.