In 2009, Mountain View, CA giant Google rocked the VoIP or virtual phone market by unveiling a service called Google Voice. In essence, the tool allowed Google account holders to make calls for free by providing a virtual number where calls can be forwarded to. The problem about the service was that it was only ideal for consumers or individual end-users. This predicament rendered the service unhelpful to organizations or businesses who want to take advantage of the product – more specifically to take advantage of its SMS capabilities. A consequence of this is that VoIP service providers have settled into the business realm.
Founded in 2007, Twilio is a cloud-based communications company that allows software developers to make and receive phone calls and text messages using its web-based APIs in a pay-as-you-go model. Currently, the startup boasts of having powered more or less 20,000 applications ranging from web-integrated call centers to bulk SMS systems through the efforts of developers who have modified and built new services around the Twilio API.
Perhaps one of the latest among the lot, this Y Combinator-backed call and messaging solution that wants to tap the sector of businesses and organizations with an emphasis on group messaging. Reportedly, it has a 10,000-user base for the business offering out of the 100,000 total users of the service. The company recently unveiled an Android app for its business users, apparently as an attempt to take on the big-name providers like RingCentral, which offers a similar business SMS service for free.
Literally speaking, Line2 functions as a second phone line for those who need it. It promises to add a new phone line to your mobile device, thereby allowing you to quit carrying two phones (ideally, your personal and your professional phone) when you’re up and about. With this service, you have the option to either get a new dedicated line to act as your business number or transfer and existing business number to your mobile device.
If you’re not after making voice calls as you’d normally do on Google Voice and you’re just after sending numerous text messages, then maybe it’s high time that you try textPlus. This chart-topping, cross-platform texting service is available on the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, Windows Phone, and Nokia phones. Making overseas calls using the app, while possible, will require the user to pay per-minute rates that vary from country to country. textPlus says it’s currently being used by over 110 million people around the globe.
Finally, there’s Phonebooth, a product of Bandwidth.com, a nationwide supplier of voice and data services to small and medium businesses in the United States. Its low-cost option, PhoneboothOnDemand, functions as a full VoIP service that starts with the price of $20 per month. The free version, aptly called Phonebooth Free, offers 50 voicemail transcriptions per month, a free local phone number with an initial 200 free minutes, and call routing capabilities. This is ideal for those businesses that don’t require a large volume of phone calls.
Nancy is a freelance writer who has worked with Techmaish.com, Ringcentral Phone Systems and other leading websites in their respective niches. She would love to hear from you through the comments section.