To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Best small business VoIP 2023: Internet telephone systems for small firms and startups

Get the best small business VoIP with our buying guide and recommended plans

An efficient, cost-effective communications system is a business essential, even when your business is tiny or brand new. The best VoIP systems for small businesses give startups, micro firms, and even sole traders, a way to engage with clients, stay in touch with suppliers, and create a good first impression for customers.

But why use VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), when you can make calls using a mobile phone or landline? VoIP – which now includes video and conference calling, as well as voice – is better value, more reliable, and more scalable than mobile. Furthermore, landlines (or at least the old-school analogue switching network) won’t be an option from 2025. So if you want future-proof business comms, you need a VoIP system.

Below, we’ll reveal the best VoIP plans that give startups, sole traders, and small businesses all the communication functions they need, without charging for the extras they don’t. All our recommended plans are easy to upgrade to more feature-rich packages as your business grows.

Skip down the page to go straight to our recommended best VoIP telephone systems for small businesses, or read on for our guide to choosing the best fit for your business.

Best small business VoIP: At a glance

Best VoIP for startupsRingCentral MVPCompare prices
Best VoIP for scaling up8×8Compare prices
Best cheap VoIPYay.comCompare prices

How to choose the best VoIP system for your small business

Why do I need a VoIP system?

A VoIP phone system will give your small business an affordable, scalable communications setup without the installation and maintenance hassles of a more traditional business telephone system.

Even the most affordable, entry-level VoIP business systems let you communicate with prospective clients far more cheaply than you would using landline or mobile. Internet voice and video calls between two or more devices are generally free – so communication between employees and departments costs nothing – while long-distance calls to landlines are excellent value. So a VoIP system will be a massive benefit to your bottom line.

READ NEXT: What is VoIP?

VoIP systems also come with all manner of extra features that can improve the productivity and profile of your small business. For example, you can host virtual meetings, conduct international phone conferences, and share important company documents; you can even use it to monitor when you get the most customer and client calls.

Importantly for small businesses, a VoIP system is relatively easy to scale. If you’re a new or growing business, it can be tricky to work out how many phone lines you’ll need, and this can create a lot of hassle and expense with traditional landline systems. But with a cloud-hosted VoIP package, you can add a new line as soon as you add a new staff member, or remove one when someone leaves – you only pay per user.

Do I have to buy specialist equipment for VoIP?

No. Most of our recommended business telephone systems are hosted in the cloud, with all calls taken and managed via an app. Your provider handles the VoIP and the equipment and configuration – including server, storage, and exchange – so you don’t have to provide any on-premises equipment other than a reliable broadband connection and mobile devices. Ideal for a small business, a startup, or a company whose workforce is based remotely.

If your business has been around for a while, and you’re reluctant to see your phone hardware and wireless headsets go to waste, then you may be able to find a VoIP system that works with your existing equipment, enhancing them with software applications such as remote conferencing and secure document sharing. Depending on the plan you go for, you can even add PABX (Private Automatic Branch eXchange) features such as customisable virtual receptionists.

READ NEXT: The best VoIP providers

Do I really need more features than voice calls?

If you really want to keep costs low, or if you’re not trading internationally and don’t need to conduct video chats with multiple colleagues or clients, then you could go for an entry-level VoIP plan – one that only offers voice calls, with basic voicemail, hold music, and call forwarding – for very low monthly rates. This may be all you need, and may work for you if you’d rather stick with familiar third-party tools – such as Zoom and Slack – for video conferencing and messaging. However, if you choose a VoIP plan that combines voice, video, and messaging, you’ll find you have a much more streamlined experience trying to communicate without the need to switch between platforms.

The number of features you’ll want in your VoIP system really depends on how, and how much, your business needs to communicate. Most VoIP systems offer more than just voice calls, and generally they will provide all the features you’d expect from a traditional office phone system – including voicemail, call forwarding and automatic responses – and some even include customisable virtual receptionists and full CRM integration, all hosted securely on the provider’s server. If you want to host virtual meetings, conduct international phone conferences and share important company documents, you can find these features – and more! – in some very reasonably-priced plans from the providers in our list below.

Most providers offer tiered pricing, with more advanced tools reserved for larger organisations signing up to more expensive plans.

How we test VoIP for small businesses

We ask VoIP providers to set up a minimum of two user accounts for us, so we can test their messaging, calling and file-sharing features – both within the system and between the system and external endpoints, such as regular phone numbers.

As most modern VoIP platforms go beyond providing voice calls and incoming numbers – with many also offering presence, video, messaging, and collaborative working – wherever any extra features are offered, we use them all extensively to test them fully.

We also ensure we have full administrator access on at least one of the supplied accounts in order to assess the back-end. We check how easy it is to set up users and to limit what they can do; whether it’s possible to perform certain actions en masse; how much control we have over tools such as call recording and automated messaging; and how easy it is to set up IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems, like the automated call handlers you’ll have encountered contacting your doctor’s surgery or your insurance provider.

Finally, we look at costs: how much to set up, how much to maintain the system month to month, and how much to make calls to both domestic and international numbers. As VoIP has become more important than ever for many small businesses, which, post-COVID-19, increasingly find themselves managing a mobile workforce, if a system doesn’t meet their needs at a price they can afford, it won’t score well.

Get a free quote for a VoIP telephone system today

Find out how much a VoIP system could cost you or your business by taking our quick survey below.

The best small business VoIP telephone systems in 2023

1. RingCentral MVP: Best VoIP telephone system for startups

Price when reviewed: from £8/mth | Check price at RingCentral

The user-friendly interface and functionality of RingCentral MVP (Message, Video, Phone) makes it one of the most popular VoIP providers on the market. Its ‘Essentials’ tier is a superb entry-level package with 100 bundled minutes as well as team messaging, document sharing, and call logging, plus a brilliantly easy setup process. At just £8 per user per month if you sign up for a year (£13 per month if you’d rather pay monthly), it’s excellent value for an outstanding service, which we scored five stars in our in-depth review.

As your business grows and you need more functions, such as video conferencing and business app integrations, you can upgrade easily to the ‘Standard’ tier (£15 per month paid annually; £19 per month paid monthly) or to the higher packages that are rich with advanced features.

Read our full RingCentral review for details

Key specs – Essentials plan call types: Voice, messaging; Essentials plan features include: Document sharing, call logs; Higher tier features include: Video conferencing, call recording, CRM integrations

Compare prices

2. 8×8: Best VoIP system for ambitious small businesses

Price when reviewed: from £10/mth | Check prices at 8×8

8×8’s ‘Express’ plan (£10 per user per month if paid annually) is similar to RingCentral’s Essentials, with a little more functionality for the slightly higher price. As well as mobile, desktop and web apps, voicemail, hold music, team messaging, and a basic auto attendant, you also get HD audio and video-conferencing and unlimited free UK calls. Express is capped at five users, but should offer everything a micro business needs.

8×8’s plans are particularly easy to scale through, making this provider a great choice for small businesses with ambitious growth plans. The second tier, X2 (£19 per user per month), is a feature-rich solution for SMEs with international customers, while the third tier, X4 (£47 per user per month), adds receptionist tools and more advanced analytics.

Read our full 8×8 review for details

Key specs – Express plan call types: Voice, video, messaging; Express plan features include: Unlimited free UK calls, auto attendant, HD conferencing; Higher tier features include: Call monitoring, virtual receptionist, CRM integrations

Compare prices

3. Best low-cost VoIP system for small businesses

Price when reviewed: from £5.39/mth | Check prices at

Yay’s ‘Starting Out’ plan has the price tag of a basic, no-strings phone plan, but you still get a wealth of features that’ll upgrade your business comms without breaking the bank or even denting it.

This fully-hosted VoIP plan gives you your own number, voicemail, hold music, and 100 minutes of calls that you can make through your browser, mobile app, or compatible desk phone. And after you’ve exhausted the 100 minutes, the charges remain low, at 1p per min to UK landlines and 9p per min to UK mobiles. You can also add more numbers for £2.15 per month, and port numbers if they’re already held elsewhere.

Read our full Yay review for details

Key specs – Starting Out plan call types: Voice, SMS, fax to email; Starting Out plan features include: Call forwarding, call logs, API; Higher tier features include: Video calling, interactive voice menus, CRM integrations

Compare prices

4. Localphone: Best VoIP system for voice only

Price when reviewed: from 75p/mth | Check prices at Localphone

Localphone is a bit different from the other providers we mention here: instead of a full-featured VoIP business telephone system, it gives you an incoming number for any area code in mainland Britain (and many countries besides), so you can make and receive UK and international calls.

Prices vary according to territory, but a UK geographic number will cost you 75p to set up and 75p per month to maintain the line. US numbers cost £2 and 75p respectively, and Australian lines are £3.25 for set up and per month.

Calling rates are reasonable, with calls to landlines in the UK or Germany costing 6p per minute, in France or Australia costing 1.1p per minute and India 1.8 per minute. And if you make a lot of calls every month, you can save money with a subscription calling package.

Unlike most VoIP providers, Localphone doesn’t reserve its best prices for those who sign up for a full year: the monthly price is the same even if you want to pay a month at a time.

Read our full Localphone review for details

Key specs – Call types: Voice; Features include: Low-cost local or international number, low calling rates

Compare prices

5. bOnline: Best VoIP system for customer service

Price when reviewed: from £7.20/mth | Check prices at bOnline

bOnline is designed specifically for smaller operations and offers 50+ features including a digital phone line, mobile app, pre-set call flows, unlimited reporting, and a reporting dashboard. Setup is quick and easy and, while the system is not designed for larger scale telecoms, small businesses can benefit greatly from bOnline’s ease of use and robust reporting.

bOnline doesn’t give you the option to pay month by month – you have to sign an annual contract – but they offer a 30-day free trial, and their customer service is outstanding. For micro businesses that just don’t have the resources to worry about technical issues, the comprehensive support from bOnline could make all the difference.

The ‘Starter’ plan (£6 per user per month plus VAT) isn’t particularly feature-rich, but you do get a digital phone line and number, call forwarding, voicemail, and mobile and desktop apps. And the apps have a useful reporting dashboard that can offer the kind of business insights you usually only get with premium plans. You can also add video conferencing for £5 per month without having to upgrade your plan.

Key specs – Starter plan call types: Voice, with video conferencing add-on option; Starter plan features include: Free training and support, extension dialling, voicemail-to-email; Higher tier features include: Call recording, HD video

Compare prices

6. Sipgate: Best VoIP system with virtual switchboard and reception

Price when reviewed: from £13/mth | Check prices at Sipgate

Sipgate is another VoIP provider that focuses on voice calls and offers very quick and easy setup. Though, unlike Localphone, it does lay on a wealth of switchboard-style business features, such as call groups and visual- and time-based call routing, as well as a free local number. You can add additional numbers and analytics for a flat fee, and port any numbers you already use.

The £13 per user per month price for the entry ‘S’ tier may look expensive, certainly compared with RingCentral and 8×8, but that’s because there’s no discount for paying annually. Their price is a flat per-month fee, with no pressure to commit to any longer.

The ‘L’ tier (£18 per month per user) is a good fit for growing firms with colleagues and clients based remotely, thanks to the addition of advanced business features – including CRM integrations, call queuing, IVR (Interactive Voice Response), and busy lamps – which let your team pick up colleagues’ unanswered calls.

Read our full Sipgate review for details

Key specs – S plan call types: Voice, conference, fax (receive for free, send for 39p); S plan features include: Free local number, event list, call groups, visual and time-based routing; Higher tier features include: IVR, call queueing, CRM integrations

Compare prices

Read more

Best Buys