Google Voice is a very cost-effective Internet-based telecom solution, but it has a few shortcomings. First, it's only available in the United States. Second, it uses your existing mobile phone plan, so you're restricted to the number of calling minutes, text messages, and mobile data on your plan. Third, it's mainly for person-to-person use, and isn't that great at handling multi-user functions such as conferencing and call routing. This makes it less suitable if you're running a business, for example.
If these downsides to Google Voice are getting you down, here are 8 services that are similar to Google Voice and may have the functionality that you're looking for.
Owned by Google rival Microsoft, Skype is a widely-used personal Internet telecom solution. It allows for free exchanges of text messages, computer files, phone calls, and even video chats between system users – even multiple people at once! And, like with Google Voice, you can add credit to your account in order to make paid calls to regular phones pretty much anywhere in the world. The main downside to Skype is that you have to pay to get a private number (though you don't necessarily need one to use Skype), whereas Google Voice gives you one for free. On the other hand, a big advantage of Skype over Google Voice is that you don't have to be from the United States to use it.
If you'd like a guided tour of Skype to see what it can do, be sure to visit our course on it.
Grasshopper is one of the most popular alternatives to Google Voice for entrepreneurs in the United States and the United Kingdom. It allows small businesses to pick a local or toll-free number with which to send and receive calls, as well as set up extensions for various departments and employees. Grasshopper contains many similar features to Google Voice, such as custom voicemail greetings, call screening, and transcription of voicemails and faxes to your email. However, it does cost money to use, though you do get a 30-day money back guarantee.
RingCentral is a popular Internet-based telecom solution that can be used by individuals or companies. The "Professional" version is meant for single users and small businesses, while the "Office" version is for larger corporations. RingCentral offers features like toll-free or local numbers for you or your business, free publishing of your business information in various directories, numerous call management controls, and a visual voicemail service. The "Office" version also has team collaboration tools, like video teleconferencing and business text message plans. You have to pay a monthly subscription fee to use RingCentral, like you do with Grasshopper, but some plans come with a free trial.
Line2 is a service like Google Voice that, like RingCentral, you can set up for personal or business use. With the "Personal" package, you get to pick virtually any number in the United States or Canada to use as a second number, or transfer your existing number at no charge (Google Voice charges you for this). Not only that, but you get a very generous phone call and text messaging plan, group communication features, enhanced call forwarding and voicemail, and much more. The "Business" plan adds even more features – including multiple phone lines, automated call routing, and an expanded phone number pool to choose from – to create a complete corporate telecom package. Line2 costs you a monthly or annual subscription fee, depending on how you want to use it, but you can get a free trial.
Telzio is one of the more unique websites like Google Voice. It offers a powerful but easy-to-manage telecom system for businesses that features mobile integration, automatic call routing, unlimited user/extension capabilities, and much more. It's one of the more expensive Google Voice alternatives on this list, but the upside is that it has a "pay as you go" model, so you only pay for the number of calling minutes and text messages that your company needs. You can also get a free trial for it.
Another virtual telecom system designed for businesses, Voiceably mimics Telzio's approach of having a comprehensive but simple-to-use interface for managing your company's calls and text messages. However, it includes some features in all of its plans that Telzio doesn't, such as an Internet-based fax system and voicemail transcription. It has other standard features, too, such as unlimited extensions, conferencing tools, call recording, and more. However, it, too, requires a paid monthly subscription to use; which one you choose depends on how many phone numbers and calling minutes your company needs. They all come with a week-long free trial, though.
Phonebooth positions itself among Google Voice competitors as "a Fortune 500 business phone service at a small business price." It gives your company a virtual telecom service with 2 free phone numbers, unlimited local and long-distance calling minutes within the United States, voicemail-to-text transcription, an easy-to-use custom call routing system, conference calling tools, and more. And your monthly bill is, for the most part, a flat rate of $20 per person in your company who uses the system. So if you're a small start-up company with few employees, Phonebooth can be a cost-effective telecom solution.
Rounding out our list of Google Voice alternatives is the aptly-named Phone.com. Another professional-oriented virtual telecom system, Phone.com has over 50 standard features, including unlimited system users and extensions, local or toll-free phone number selection, customizable call routing functions, Internet fax, and group calls. Its monthly plans are rather inexpensive, too, ranging between $10 and $30 depending on how many local and long-distance calling minutes your business needs. Be aware, however, that functions such as voicemail transcription, video conferencing, and call recording are considered "premium features" on Phone.com... and they're rather pricey add-ons, at that.
Whether you need an extra phone number (or an entire phone system) for personal or business use, these are 8 of the most highly-recommended sites and apps like Google Voice. If you decide to try any of them – or have already tried one or more of them – let us know how your experience went. We'd also love to hear recommendations of any other services like Google Voice that you come across or use!
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