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Written by
Katy Ratican
12 Dec 2022
16 minutes

VoIP cost: All your questions answered

Thinking of switching to VoIP? Read this detailed VoIP cost comparison before you select your provider
VoIP cost

Compared to traditional alternatives such as landlines and regular mobile phones, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) offers demonstrable advantages. But before you shift to the new technology, it’s important to understand the cost of VoIP.

With so many providers and plans to choose from, it can be difficult to understand what exactly is the right price for you. In this detailed guide to VoIP cost, we will explain the factors that affect the cost, how much you have to pay for installation and monthly charges and the key features most businesses require.


What you need to know about VoIP costs
How much does VoIP cost?

Why is VoIP more cost-effective than other phone services?

What about free VoIP?

Factors that can affect your VoIP implementation costs

How much does it cost to port your number?

What upfront installation costs can you expect?

Factors that can affect your monthly VoIP costs

How much does international calling cost?

How many users and numbers do you need?
Does the provider have call-minute plans?

What is the customer service support like?

What subscription plans are available?

Should you get a VoIP-specific phone?

Key VoIP features (most) businesses require

Is the cost of VoIP cheaper than a landline?

How do VoIP providers bill?

Chalkboard: Your business's phone solution

What you need to know about VoIP costs

Before getting to a detailed VoIP cost comparison, let’s first understand the need for it. Shifting to any new platform or solution will incur some costs. With traditional phones, this can get complex because there are more variables.

If you get a landline system for your office, your cost will depend on the number of users, the devices you need and the functionalities you require. These are the known variables. But there are certain other factors such as the floor on which your business is located and the distance between workstations that will also play a part in your costs.

This is the issue with computing costs for legacy systems. Since they depend on hardware for connections, several variables would influence the cost not just during installation but also maintenance. With VoIP cost, things are different.

You have fewer variables in VoIP cost.

The most important ones are the number of users you have and the features you require. You don’t have to worry about other unpredictable factors because you’re not technically buying the product. You’re merely subscribing to it. This significantly drives down costs because there’s no need for installation or maintenance.

With traditional phones, while you only get a phone number, you end up paying for a system. With VoIP, you get a system, while only paying for the number.

How much does VoIP cost?

VoIP costs significantly less than traditional on-site phone systems. However, you’re getting much more than just a new number. You’re getting a disruptive technology that’s structurally designed to be efficient, user-friendly and without any of the excesses of conventional phone systems.

A traditional PBX (Private Branch Exchange) will cost you thousands of pounds every year for devices, hardware, installation and maintenance. Importantly, no matter how small you want your system to be, several components of this cost are non-negotiable.

A VoIP comparison with PBX or landline shows the differences between the two. VoIP costs can be from £9 per user to £50 per user per month. This depends on the features and functionalities your business needs.

You can either opt for a VoIP-enabled device or get a virtual number. If you choose the former, you will have to buy the device or use an adapter that will turn analogue phones into VoIP-enabled devices. If you’re getting a virtual number from a cloud-based VoIP provider, you only have to download their app and pay a monthly fee per user.

Do keep in mind that different VoIP providers will have different fee structures. While some would charge you a monthly subscription fee inclusive of all features, others will charge you based on usage or minutes.

Why is VoIP more cost-effective than other phone services?

When you get a landline with on-site PBX, you have to pay for the devices and additional hardware. You also have to pay for its installation and maintenance. But this infrastructure is only useful where you set it up. You will have to use another phone to stay connected if you’re out of the office.

VoIP is significantly more cost-effective. You only have to download a cloud-based VoIP app to get started. You can use them on any existing device and there’s no need to buy additional smartphones for you or your employees.

Secondly, VoIP is a mobile business communication system. Since the technology uses the internet to connect callers, you can use your VoIP number wherever there’s an internet connection. It could be your office, residence – in fact, any public or private space.

If you want additional features on a landline, you will be charged extra. Top-rated VoIP providers such as Chalkboard offer these domain-specific benefits to business owners. You get several business tools as part of the package. You can organise your contacts into work and personal groups. You can make lists of your customers and broadcast marketing messages to whole groups.

VoIP users can also set customised voicemails and listen to those in their messages. With auto-reply, you can engage with missed calls through pre-written texts. Some VoIP providers also have advanced messaging that enables conversational marketing. Moreover, you can send audio, video, text and image files for more integrated communication.

What about free VoIP?

While doing a VoIP cost comparison, you will also come across free VoIP services. True, some providers such as Google Voice offer free VoIP. But these are intended for non-business users who don’t need any business features.

You might also get a free VoIP that’s ad-supported. As a business user, what you don’t want is a phone experience interrupted by ads. Free VoIP services are also plagued by non-existent customer support. Business users are likely to benefit much more from using a paid VoIP service.

Factors that can affect your VoIP implementation costs

There are primarily three components of VoIP costs in implementation.

Porting-related VoIP costs

Number porting is when you switch from another provider but keep the same number. With porting, you don’t have to print new marketing collateral or change your number on your website or digital platforms.

Some VoIP services allow free porting while others charge you for keeping your current number. The charges will be higher if you want to port multiple numbers. Porting charges could be up to £25 per number.

Installation-related VoIP costs

On-premise hosted systems have some unavoidable, upfront costs. You will have to invest in new hardware, phone devices and copper wiring. If you’re converting your current analogue phone into a VoIP, you will have to pay for an adapter. You will also have to pay for their installation, maintenance and IT support. Remember that should you decide to move to a new location or open a new office, you have to repeat these expenses.

You don’t have to worry about installation costs if you opt for a cloud-based VoIP system. With Chalkboard, for example, there’s no need to buy a new phone or any other device. Download the app on any device with an internet connection, select your new number or port your current number, choose your plan and start using your new business number.

Setup-related VoIP costs

Everyone’s comfortable making and receiving calls on their smartphones. Since VoIP can work on all connected devices, you may have to get used to doing the same on your laptop or tablet. For this, some users buy wired or wireless headsets with microphones.

You may need to buy such a headset if you plan to use VoIP on your laptop or tablet in your office. These may also be necessary for users working from home or in public spaces. Making or receiving a call on speakerphone can be distracting for others. A headset also gives you added privacy.

How much does it cost to port your number?

Sometimes, it might make sense to keep your current number when you shift to VoIP. As a small business, it’s not unusual for the owner not to keep a customer base with the contact details of their customers. In this case, it would be a challenge to contact the existing customers and inform them of the new number.

In such instances, it’s better to port your number. In most cases, you can keep your old number as your new VoIP number. This also applies to landline numbers except those with unique features, such as ISDN.

You can do it for free with some VoIP providers while others would charge you to keep your current number. The charges vary from provider to provider but are usually around £25 per number. Remember that every additional number will be charged separately.

What upfront installation costs can you expect?

On-premise hosted systems require you to pay for the devices, additional hardwire, copper wiring and installation.

You will also have to spend on its maintenance, repair and IT support. In some cases, you may also need to keep trained IT staff to maintain the system. These can run into thousands of pounds depending on the number of users you have.

Cloud-based VoIP is a different matter altogether. Since it’s just like downloading any other software, there’s no need to spend on any devices, hardware or network infrastructure. The VoIP provider will handle the system’s maintenance and upgrades.

Factors that can affect your monthly VoIP costs

Without a thorough VoIP cost comparison, you may not even know how expensive your bills are. These are the factors that affect monthly VoIP costs.

The number of lines

The primary factor that will decide how much you pay every month for VoIP costs is the number of users you have. Remember that you don’t need to get a VoIP plan for all the employees in your business.

Some providers charge you for the number of open lines rather than user profiles. Others, like Chalkboard, would allow number-sharing, with which multiple people would be able to use the same number. Similarly, in some cases, you will be able to connect multiple phones. Therefore, more than the number of users, you should identify the number of open lines you need in the system.

Subscription plans

Your VoIP monthly costs will depend on the subscription plan that you take. Usually, you get a discount if you opt for the annual plans of VoIP providers. Others might offer you more flexibility but their monthly charges could be higher.

While choosing subscription plans, it’s important to understand whether their features and pricing are meant for large enterprises or small businesses. If you’re a small business, no matter how attractive a discounted price might seem, you don’t want to end up with plans that will cost you more in the long run because you might have to upgrade to plans that have the features you want.

International calls

This is one area where VoIP costs are considerably lower than those of conventional phone systems including landlines and mobile phones. If your business makes regular long-distance or international calls, select a provider with lower rates for such calls.

Keep in mind that even if you don’t make international calls now, you might have to make them if you’re planning to have overseas suppliers or distributors, or if you plan to launch your product in other countries.

VoIP system features

VoIP service providers offer a wide variety of features for business communication. While choosing your service, look for the following main features:

Contact organisation: You should be able to import and separately organise your work and personal contacts.

Number sharing: This allows multiple team members to share a number.

Voicemail: Customised voicemail can convey your brand equity and make you look professional.

Auto-reply: Respond to missed calls with a pre-written text.

Multi-media messaging: Your VoIP service should enable you to share audio, video, text and other files.

Business texting: This is how you unleash the power of mass texting for your business.

Integrations: If you use project management or communication apps, they should seamlessly integrate with your VoIP service.

Understand your requirements before you select the features. As a small business, make sure that you don’t end up paying for features that you don’t need and won’t use.

Length of contract

While they usually charge monthly fees, some VoIP service providers would have binding long-term contracts. This is how traditional phone companies operate. With longer contracts, whether they’re for two or three years, you would get reduced monthly subscription fees.

But remember that it might take you time to figure out if the VoIP service you have chosen is the right one for your business. That’s why it makes sense to select providers who give you the freedom to exit without having to pay additional fees.

Internet charges

Since VoIP works over the internet, those charges should also be included when you compute your monthly VoIP costs. Depending on the number of users, you might need to enhance your internet connection with more bandwidth or prioritise VoIP calls over other services.

How much does international calling cost?

VoIP costs for international calls are substantially lower than those of legacy phone providers. These usually cost a few pence per minute. But they depend on the country you would be calling.

How many users and numbers do you need?

VoIP costs depend on the number of users. But that doesn’t mean that you need to take a number for every employee in the system. Instead of thinking in terms of users, it’s better to identify the different domains you have.

With number sharing and line extensions, multiple individuals can use the same number. So, you can have one number for customer support that different employees can have access to. Similarly, you can have another for lead generation.

The best VoIP providers would make it easy to scale. If your requirements change a few months down the line, they will allow you to easily add or remove users.

Does the provider have call-minute plans?

VoIP providers usually offer pay-as-you-go plans (also called metered plans) or subscription packages that are inclusive of all charges. If you’re a solopreneur or a small business that doesn’t have to make too many outgoing calls, pay-as-you-go plans should suit you. Your monthly bill would vary depending on your usage.

But if your business has two or more members and has to make a fairly large number of calls, you can choose a subscription plan. Your bills will be predictable and you get advanced features in the plan.

What is the customer service support like?

Without dedicated support, your phone service will face interruptions if you run into problems. Customers will be aggrieved when they can’t reach you with their queries and new leads won’t wait around for your number to be up and running.

This is another reason not to choose a free VoIP service since they have no credible customer service.

What subscription plans are available?

You would usually get pay-as-you-go and monthly packages from VoIP providers. If you’re starting out or if you’re a freelancer, pay-as-you-go might suit you better. Businesses should choose monthly plans since they have advanced features and predictable pricing.

Should you get a VoIP-specific phone?

You can get a desk IP phone, conference phone or receptionist IP phone that is VoIP-specific. But these involve initial expenses and importantly, limit you to a location. If you’re a small business, startup or freelancer, the better option is to go for a virtual number from a VoIP provider.

Simply by downloading an app, you can turn any connected device into a VoIP phone. It saves you money, makes you mobile and gives flexibility to your business.

Key VoIP features (most) businesses require

Call and text

Your VoIP service should empower you to make and receive calls without interruptions. With the power of business texting, you can give a new dimension to your marketing efforts while cutting down costs.

Easy setup and management

Without getting help from a technician, you should be able to install the VoIP application on all devices. You also need an easy-to-use interface to add and remove features and users, track performance and make the necessary changes.

Reliable customer support

If you’re a small business, it would be expensive to have trained IT technicians on your staff. That’s why your VoIP service needs to have dedicated customer support that’s reachable through multiple platforms.


Another factor to consider in VoIP cost comparison is flexibility. The VoIP service you choose should make it easy to add more lines and features or remove them without you having to pay exorbitant charges. The contracts should also make it easy to enter and exit.

Is the cost of VoIP cheaper than a landline?

VoIP costs are considerably cheaper than a landline due to the following reasons:

  1. You don’t have to buy a specific phone if you opt for cloud-based VoIP.

  2. There’s no need for hardware and a physical network.

  3. The call rates are low because VoIP uses the internet.

  4. Long-distance and international calls are especially cheaper.

  5. You can add users without having to buy new devices.

  6. You save on business texting and other features.

How do VoIP providers bill?

VoIP providers usually have two billing options. They either charge you for the calls you make every month or offer inclusive packages with additional features. With the pay-as-you-go model, your bills can vary depending on your usage. With monthly packs, your bills will be predictable and you can opt for more premium plans if necessary.

Chalkboard: Your business's phone solution

If you’re looking for a next-generation phone system that can reduce VoIP cost, it’s time to try Chalkboard. You get a second line for work at an affordable rate that’s designed for small businesses, startups and freelancers.

Chalkboard comes with number sharing to increase collaboration and external communication. You get group broadcast SMS to market to large groups of customers. And you can send audio, video or text messages with multi-media messaging.

There’s also advanced messaging to engage in conversational marketing. Stuck in traffic or spending time with your loved ones? Auto-reply can send pre-written messages to your missed calls.

Download Chalkboard and try it now. This VoIP phone will meet and exceed all your expectations. 📲

All information provided in this guide was believed to be correct at the time of publishing. However, please be aware of future changes.

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