Business Phone Service: Verizon vs. Comcast vs. Vonage

We’ve all been hearing a lot about VOIP recently (Voice Over Internet Protocol). As the name suggests, these next-generation phone lines use a computer network rather than a traditional phone network to relay your calls across the globe. The main benefit of VOIP is the elimination of long-distance fees, allowing you to make an infinite amount of calls across the country for one flat monthly fee.

Obviously, this is a great advantage for many homes and businesses – no doubt you know at least one person with a VOIP phone service. As interest and awareness in VOIP service continues to grow, phone providers are rushing to improve their programs and technology in an attempt to earn our business. One of the latest competitors to the game is Comcast. In an effort to steal back market share that their cable TV division has lost to Verizon FIOS, Comcast has begun to push their Business Digital Voice program.

So just how does Comcast’s service stack up to similar business VOIP packages? Let’s find out by comparing it to two of the most popular packages – Verizon Freedom Business and Vonage Small Business.

Features

All three of our competitors offer pretty similar calling features. Voice mail, call waiting, caller ID, call forwarding and 3-way conferencing are just a few of the most important. Verizon does offer several fancy features that aren’t offered by Comcast or Vonage. They also provide greater customization in the type of package you can purchase. However, it should be noted that these extra features require an additional fee. Also, features such as caller ID that come standard on Comcast and Vonage may require an additional charge depending on the Verizon Freedom business package you choose.

Audio Quality

Verizon and Vonage make use of traditional analog copper lines when it comes to transmitting your phone calls. Comcast, on the other hand, uses pure digital delivery. Because of this fact, Comcast’s service is technically known as cable voice service. The superior clarity of Comcast is noticeable, and can be likened to the difference between listening to an MP3 recording and a cassette tape. A study by Keynote Competitive Research backs up this fact, awarding Comcast with the highest audio quality when compared to seven competitors (including Vonage and Verizon).

Service and Installation

Business customers have given Comcast high marks when it comes to service. The cable provider offers 24/7 tech support for their Business Digital Voice Program. As expected, their techies can be contacted via toll-free telephone, though that may be an issue if your VOIP phone happens to be on the fritz. In such cases, they may also be reached via e-mail. Verizon offers similar services, but their track record for customer service lags considerably when compared to Comcast.

Vonage has done its best to come off as a customer-friendly company. Unfortunately, their lack of infrastructure handicaps their customer service when compared to Verizon and Comcast. Both of these big players have the manpower and localized tech support to actually come to your house or business and troubleshoot on-site. Additionally, installation is handled completely by a knowledgeable technician. Vonage, on the other hand, offers largely long-distance tech support and leaves the installation up to you (though a handy installation guide is provided).

Cost

Costs for each business phone plan can vary depending on your geographical location. However, you’ll likely find that Vonage is the least expensive option. Verizon and Comcast will probably be fairly competitive, so I advise getting a quote from each to see which one offers the better deal.

The Verdict

So is Comcast Business Digital Voice for you? If you are looking for a VOIP package with stellar customer support and voice quality, then the answer is probably “Yes.” If you want more customizable features and the ability to cherry-pick specific business solutions, then Verizon Freedom Business may be an all-around better option. Finally, if you are looking for the best deal for your small business, then Vonage may be able to satisfy your needs at a comparably lower rate.

Keep in mind that I’m making broad generalizations when it comes to this verdict. The unique needs of you and your business will ultimately dictate which provider offers the best package.

On The Horizon

Does the idea of pure digital voice quality have you sold on Comcast? Well if you currently (or plan to) have Verizon FIOS, you may want to hold off on your business phone needs. Verizon has announced a rollout of a FIOS-based Freedom phone package that should rival the quality of Comcast Business Digital Voice. The new program is currently available to limited customers in Virginia and Maryland. Verizon plans to expand service to all 14 states where FIOS TV and Internet services are currently available. Prices for the new service are expected to be on par with their current Freedom Business plans.

Comments

1  

David Clay

June 20, 2012 @ 4:42 pm

It seemed a simple thing to have a small business requiring 4 lines that roll over to the next available line when one is busy and a data line. With the 4 rollover lines, if all 4 lines the caller should be directed to a voice mail. I explained my needs to Comcast and they assured me that they could do this. I have been plagued with outages and problems since the beginning. We used the Comcast system to set up our voicemail. We kept getting calls and emails from our customers wondering what was wrong with our phones because either no one would answer or what they got was a generic answering of you have reached etc. This is a retail business that depends on good customer interaction and contact. Three months later we found the source of our problems was that the way that the installation occurred, with voice mail on all 4 lines) the lines were unable to roll over at all. When calling the loyalty and retention department of the Comcast company, I was informed that because cancellation did not occur within 30 days of installation, I would be required to fufill the 3 years of contract or $13,000. I am an extremely dissatisfied customer. Avoid comcast. Save yourself time, frustration and the loss of customers.

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