Basic VoIP plans always include lots of special features. If you were using a traditional telephone service, you would end up paying extra to get the same features that you get for free with a VoIP service. For example, you would pay $34.95/month with Comcast’s Local With More plan to get a basic home phone service with only some of the features that are considered standard with VoIP service.
We’ve highlighted a few of the best VoIP features that you may be able to get with a VoIP service provider. Check a VoIP providers website for additional information about specific special features before buying.
Basic Included VoIP Features
Most VoIP providers will provide you with all of the following basic features, and usually some additional special features, for free:
- A second phone number
- Caller ID
- Call waiting
- 411 directory
- 911 service
- Call forwarding
- 3-way calling
- Call blocking
Highlighted VoIP Features
In addition to basic features, most VoIP providers will offer you a selection of special features. The features discussed below are some of the more interesting and unique ones that caught our attention.
Virtual Phone Number
Most VoIP services include a second phone number for free. With some VoIP services, you can choose a virtual number for your second number. A virtual number allows you to have local calling in a remote area. So if you have a lot of family somewhere else (say you’re in California and they’re in Idaho), you could get a virtual number in Idaho so that they can call you without spending a lot on long distance calling.
Choose Your Area Code
If you live in Chicago but you do a lot of business in New York, you can get a local New York area code so that your business associates don’t need to dial a long distance number when they need to reach you.
Check your voicemail from any place with Internet access. You can check your voicemail through your phone, computer, or email. You can also forward a voicemail to multiple parties.
Real Time Billing
Keep up with your bills in real time so that you don’t need to worry about remembering to pay a monthly bill. Check your billing and account information online at any time to make sure that all of your information and charges are correct.
Interactive Address Book
Choose a contact in your address book and call that person instantly. Some services allow you to integrate your online address book with email contacts.
Your VoIP service will recognize a call from a telemarketer and block the call before your phone rings.
Bring your home phone with you wherever you go. You get global access to your home or office phone system as long as you have access to an Internet connection.
Enhanced 911 service. When you call 911, your VoIP system will automatically send your address to the emergency services. This is an important feature because 911 operators can’t track a VoIP phone number to a physical location the way they can track traditional landline phone numbers. Remember to update your E911 program if you move.
Find Me Follow Me
With a Find Me Follow Me feature, you can have calls forwarded from one phone number to another. So you could set up a Find Me Follow Me feature in your home office so that if you were away from your office phone, you could have calls forwarded to your cell phone. This feature improves your mobility and allows you to keep up with your important calls.
Other VoIP Features
Here are some other VoIP features that you may see while looking through VoIP plans:
- Redial: Allows you to immediately redial a number from a recent call
- VoIP faxing: Programs for sending faxes over the Internet as email attachments or through a digitally connected fax machine
- Extra numbers: Some VoIP services will include a few extra phone numbers, or charge low monthly rates for extra phone numbers. This allows you to have extra phone numbers in your home or office. For example, you could have one number for your home and a second number for your home office
- Toll free numbers: Some VoIP providers will give you the option to have a toll free number. This is especially useful for businesses as toll free numbers can be great advertising tools
- Do Not Disturb: Your auto attendant can recognize your do not disturb signal and won’t send any calls through to you
- Call Transfer: You can transfer calls to another line or extension with the press of a button
- Customized Ring: Choose a personalized ring sound for your phone