Best virtual landline providers 2023: guide for small businesses What are virtual phone numbers, why should you get one, and which are the best UK providers? Read our guide to find the virtual phone number that's perfect for you Written by Helena Young Updated on 27 October 2023 Our research To recommend the best phone systems for small businesses, our team of expert writers and researchers hone in on the most important factors. We rate providers on value for money – including initial setup costs, any equipment costs, and ongoing service fees; an ability to scale as your team grows; depth of features, plus the help and support options that are available. Written and reviewed by: Helena Young Lead Writer Our independent reviews are funded in part by affiliate commissions, at no extra cost to our readers. Our in-depth research finds the best virtual landline for SMEs is 8×8. Scoring an overall 4.7 out of 5 in our analysis, its sophisticated, easy-to-use softphone app has a generous range of features including call queue, call recording, and call forwarding – all of which can be managed without any devices or hardware.8×8 is one of the best VoIP services a business can choose. But it's important to research every market option. Exact fees and setup costs vary sharply depending on the provider; and your software budget is a crucial consideration in today's inflationary environment. Below, we compare some of the best virtual landline providers: Top 5 Virtual Landline Providers at a glance 8×8 – Best overall virtual landline provider for small businessesVonage – Best small businesses wanting a cheap, easy-to-use systembOnline – Best for flexibility of using out and aboutDialpad – Best for SMEs wanting access to a huge feature listRingCentral – Best option for customer helpline servicesDon't overspend – you can click any of the links above to begin comparing fees on virtual landline providers for your own business's size and needs. In today's hybrid world, virtual phone numbers are popular with businesses that aren't based in a physical office space, but still need a port of call for clients and customers. Amid a recession, the last thing you want to do is to waste time and money setting up a virtual landline system that won’t enable you to scale your business.The most important factor in these times of rising overheads is cost, and choosing the best value setup for your business is key. We’ve designed a free cost comparison tool to give you personalised virtual landline pricing quotes for your company. This service takes just minutes, there are zero obligations on your part, and it can save you money by helping you pick the best value provider for your needs. Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward BEST FOR SMES Best value plan: 8×8 Best value plan: Vonage Best value plan: bOnline Best value plan: Dialpad Best value plan: RingCentral Pricing from £19 per user per month (estimated) Pricing from £10 per user, per month Pricing from £7 per user per month (pay as you go) Pricing from £12 per user per month (billed annually) Pricing from £12.99 per user per month (paid annually) Free trial Free trial Free trial Free trial Free trial Want a closer look? Use our free online tool to learn more about how each provider compares. Compare Read on for a detailed breakdown of the best virtual landline providers, which we assessed based on cost, scalability, and inbound communication features. You'll also find an explainer on how virtual landlines work, and the benefits of a virtual landline system for businesses. The Big Switch Off: are you prepared? Be aware that by the end of 2025, all phone landlines will be phased out in the UK. Every small business will need to switch to a VoIP provider as part of the Big Switch Off. In this article, we cover: Top virtual phone service providers UK 2023 8x8 Vonage bOnline Dialpad Ring Central How did we find the best 5 virtual landline providers? How do virtual landlines work? What types of businesses are virtual landlines suitable for? What features should a virtual landline service have? Concluson and next steps for getting started FAQs What is a virtual landline?A virtual landline (also known as a virtual business number) is a cloud-based telephone service. It isn't associated with any device or hardware; as long as your device has an internet connection, your employees can log into one account that is managed by a voice over IP (VoIP) provider, like 8×8.Virtual landlines have become increasingly popular in recent years as businesses increasingly embrace remote and hybrid options. 16% of companies were fully remote in 2022, and many businesses now use their computers or mobiles to make virtual calls, rather than traditional landlines.A virtual landline is also cheaper and usually better quality. It allows businesses to have a professional and local presence that is hosted over a more stable internet connection, making and receiving calls using internet-enabled devices.If this sounds familiar, it's because it is. Any application in your everyday life that lets you make phone calls or send texts using Wi-Fi, data, or broadband internet is supported by VoIP. In the near future, VoIP will certainly be the only method for business communications, which is why firms need to jump on board now to stay ahead. Top virtual phone service providers UK 2023: an overviewOver the past three months, we’ve conducted a thorough examination into the top virtual landline providers for small businesses.The research has coincided with a huge increase in the cost of living and a surge in business overheads. More firms have been forced to cut back on resources – unfortunately sacrificing customer service as a result.In our research, we’ve emphasised value for money as one of our main judging criteria within the analysis. We’ve also focused on other, specific decision-making categories to build a curated list of the top five providers available in the UK.This includes automations, which McKinsey's latest customer care report shows more customer service providers are using to resolve high volumes of contact centre calls.Our chosen providers are 8×8, Vonage, bOnline, Dialpad, and RingCentral, and. Below is a general overview of each of them: 8×8: best virtual landline for established SMEs with lots of existing software to consider 4.7 out of 5 Customer support 5 Price 4.4 Inbound communications 4.6 Compare Costs We think 8×8 is the best virtual landline provider on this list. The small business plan, X2 costs £19 per user, per month, which is pricier than bOnline or Vonage, but 8×8's ultimate value comes from the huge amount of software integrations on offer. This crowns it with the highest overall score in our research, with a 4.7 out of 5. This means you won't have to pay extra to link your virtual landline to products like Salesforce – handy for startups that are already faced with high setup costs.This VoIP provider offers incredibly sophisticated phone system packages for its price. Its various packages include a virtual phone number, unlimited domestic calling, and branded video conferencing. Plus, there is the option to include phone system features, such as visual voicemail and personalised greetings.Businesses that opt for pricier packages could even benefit from contact centre integration, which is great for small customer-centric businesses wanting the potential to scale.Top three features:38 integrations across CRM, helpdesk and web conferencingNumber one for security – has 10 compliance certificationsMobile and desktop app availablePricing: from £19 per user, per month Pros Power dialer and predictive dialling available on higher tiers, great for sales teams further down the line. Huge scalability score of 4.9 out of 5. 8x8 can support your business no matter how large operations become Company hours (ability to automate when a phoneline opens or closes) is available on the lowest plan of £10 per user, per month Cons No spam prevention available on any plan - time-consuming to vet callers as they come in Average customer satisfaction score of 3.5 out of 5 - significantly behind rival software, bOnline (4.5 out of 5) Vonage: best for a cheap and easy-to-use virtual phone when running an online side hustle 4.6 out of 5 Customer support 4 Price 5 Inbound communications 4.3 Compare Costs In today's economy, side hustles are on the up. More and more of us are selling online but, just because your business is on the side, it doesn't mean your customers will wait for you.Micro-businesses, such as those running an Etsy shop, might still need a number for customers to contact should a parcel go missing, or for bespoke designs. Vonage is one of the cheapest virtual providers on our list with lots of low-cost features (it scored 5/5 for price versus 8×8's score of 4.4/5), such as free localised numbers to support those who operate on a smaller scale.There are, obviously, some drawbacks to this specialism we found from our testing. It's not built for large teams with no call conferencing option available, so you can't have an internal call with more than three people present. Still, for a lower price point, Vonage will provide an instant route for customers to contact you – that's a straightforward, fuss-free guarantee.Top three features:Costs as low as £10 per monthGood customer support score for those who are new to virtual landlinesCompany hours (good if you're only selling part time)Pricing: from £10 per user, per month Pros Our best score for price - Vonage will remain affordable even in the current slowdown, unlike pricier brands, like 8x8. You're unlikely to experience system crashes with Vonage's 99.99999% uptime guarantee Great for scalability. Vonage's higher tiers are jam-packed full of broader sales features for when your business takes off Cons Vonage is missing some touches that can make a customer experience that little bit better (eg. customisable greeting) Many of the platform's features (such as voicemail to text) can only be used for an additional charge bOnline: best virtual landline for teams needing a solution for short-term outreach 4.4 out of 5 Customer support 3 Price 5 Inbound communications 4.5 Compare Costs If you want to get set up with a virtual phone number quickly, bOnline is a good option. But if you're looking for a long-term VoIP solution, you will soon outgrow bOnline.Users that will get the most out of bOnline are those working to a deadline, such as marketing agencies running a campaign or survey. This is because bOnline offers a quick setup (onboarding is even available for those willing to pay an extra £7 per user) and gets full marks for inbound communications, beating our overall winner 8×8 by almost half a mark. bOnline also has stellar customer reviews, average a 4.5 out of 5 in our customer score category.However, bOnline lacks any real business development features. If you want to tailor the platform to become a powerful business landline, there are add-ons available for a fee (£5 for a CRM integration). However, we recommend that you keep bOnline for what it's best for: an inexpensive, practical virtual landline that's free of any bells and whistles.Top three features:Mobile app is available for teams that travel a lot, such as couriersOnboarding is available with bOnline UnlimitedUnlimited users across all plansPricing: from £7 per user, per month Pros Cheapest platform on our list with prices starting at just £6 per user, per month Unlimited domestic minutes permitted - generous in light of the platform's low cost Excellent customer satisfaction score of 4.5 out of 5, indicating that bOnline users are happy with the product and its current offering Cons Very few outbound communication tools available - bOnline is a poor choice for sales teams Lacks important security features such as multi-factor authentication While other providers often offer CRM integrations for free, it will cost you £5 on the Pay as Go and Unlimited Calling plans. Dialpad: best virtual landline for SMEs in professional services wanting access to a huge feature list 4.4 out of 5 Customer support 4.5 Price 4.7 Inbound communications 4.7 Compare Costs Dialpad is our number one landline provider for small businesses offering professional services. Its huge arsenal of inbound communication tools make it perfect for those wanting to offer a bespoke customer experience – for example, healthcare SMEs.Dialpad beats 8×8 in the price category, earning an impressive 4.7 out of 5. Despite the affordability of Dialpad, it doesn't compromise on features. Even Dialpad's lowest-priced tier (Dialpad Standard for £12 per user, per month) had eight out of the nine inbound features we tested for.One area Dialpad scores poorly on is its external connections (it scores a measly 2.4 out of 5). Sales teams will struggle with the poor number of integrations available with the software. But, if you're wanting a cheap and effective virtual receptionist, Dialpad is the best option available.Top three features:Converts voicemails into text Analytics and reporting on every planCall conferencing for unlimited number of usersPricing: from £12 per user, per month Pros Unlimited number of users at any level - 8x8 and Ring Central both restrict this feature on their lowest-tiered plans. Gets 4.7 out of 5 for feature allowances according to our research. Video conferencing, task management, and team messaging all available - great for internal collaboration. Cons Only one local number provided across all three plans - you'll need to pay extra for more Not the best option for ambitious startups - we gave it just 3.3 out of 5 for scalability due to the scarcity of available management tools. No uptime guarantee on the two lower-priced tiers, so you can't be assured against system crashes. Ring Central: best virtual landline for establishing a high-quality helpline for customers 3.9 out of 5 Customer support 5 Price 2.9 Inbound communications 5 Compare Costs RingCentral's unique set of functions makes it the ideal option for firms needing to provide lots of customer support. As well as coming third overall in our research for security, the platform also boasts outstanding collaboration features, which includes document sharing.If you're diagnosing an issue – particularly with a remote team – these features can help streamline resources to save time, making it a fantastic option for tech support teams, or those that need to help callers fix an issue. RingCentral is let down slightly by its pricing however – this is not an option for those with cash flow issues (2.9/5 versus 8×8's 4.4/5).As you would hope, our in-depth research sees RingCentral achieve a perfect score of 5 out of 5 for customer support. Live chat, 24/7 support, and email are all available for users to get support if they encounter an issue with the software.Top three features:Excellent security complianceTop for customer supportVirtual receptionist will free up resourcesPricing: from £12.99 per user, per month Pros Our number one choice for small business helpdesks, benefitting support firms such as IT consultancies Prices start from just £7.99 per user, per month (almost half the cost of Dialpad) Call forwarding available to redirect customers to business partners, if required Cons Very few integrations available, making it a costly platform if you have a lot of business software already Limited to 100 outbound minutes in the UK, which could be bad for larger teams How did we find the best 5 virtual landline providers?We wanted to find the five virtual landline providers that genuinely offer small businesses the best set of features, deals, and discounts for SMEs.Alongside an independent research team, the Startups experts spent three months researching the hugely competitive phone market to find the brands that rank the best for:Price – looking at price point per tier, as well as the number of minutes or users permitted per plan.Inbound communication – what features are available for incoming customer queries?Customer support – what options are available if something goes wrong?We chose these categories after extensive market research told us they were the three key areas for SMEs. But we also looked at external connections, security, customer score, and scalability to idnetify the providers catering for the more unique needs of today's small business owners. How do virtual landlines work?Virtual landlines offer the convenience of choosing your own number and the flexibility to use it wherever you have an internet connection. Since the phone number is hosted in the cloud, there is no need to worry about traditional line rental costs.Even for solo entrepreneurs, having a virtual landline can enhance their professional image. With a virtual landline, as long as your receiving device has a signal, your customers can always reach you.Additionally, if you happen to miss a call, voicemails can be conveniently forwarded to your email for easy access and management.Virtual landlines mean you have the freedom to choose your own number.You can use your cloud-based number wherever you have an internet connection.Because your phone number is cloud-hosted, you don’t need to think about line rental.Even if you're a one-man band, having a landline will bolster your professional image.As long as your receiving device has a signal, your customers can always reach you.If you miss a call, you can have voicemails sent straight to email.What virtual numbers are available?The number you choose could influence whether your customers get in touch with you or not. For example, you may receive more phone calls from your target area if the phone number you choose features the local area code.Toll-free numbers – UK 0800 and 0808 numbers are business phone numbers that your business is charged for, not your customersGeographical numbers – These are numbers that contain a specific area code for each UK city, for example, the area code for Leeds is 0113, while the area code for Coventry is 024National UK numbers – These numbers are not divided geographically, and are charged at normal local calling ratesMobile numbers – Telephone numbers that are capable of receiving instant text messages (SMS)Can I get a toll-free number on a virtual landline?Yes, you can. If you have an 0800 or 0808 number, people know that they can get in touch with your business for free (which is why they are defined as toll-free numbers).Virtual landline suppliers charge different rates depending on the number of inclusive inbound and outbound minutes you require, so it's a good idea to check out different provider deals before purchasing. Virtual landlines are suitable for various types of businesses. Small businesses and startups can benefit from virtual landlines as they offer a professional image and flexibility without the cost and maintenance associated with traditional landlines.Service-based businesses, such as consultants, freelancers, or home-based businesses, can use virtual landlines to project a local presence and separate personal and business calls. If your business has remote teams or multiple locations, they can help to enable seamless communication across different devices and locations.Virtual landlines can also benefit businesses that engage in international or long-distance communication, as they offer cost-effective calling options. Overall, virtual landlines provide a flexible and scalable communication solution for businesses across various industries. What features should a virtual landline service have?When it comes to choosing your virtual phone service provider, you should consider what features you need and whether the provider offers these as part of its service.Call management to set up your virtual landline so it tells you when someone is calling from your virtual landline number. You can then choose to reject or take that call.Call forwarding so you can choose to divert the incoming call to several numbers at the same time, meaning the call will be answered by the first person to pick up.Auto attendant to set up limited auto-attendant functionality with a virtual landline. Give your provider up to three separate numbers, and they can set up an auto-attendant that’ll give your callers three options when they phone up.Set time of day calls to turn your virtual landline on and off at set times. That way, you only receive certain calls when you want them.It’s always best to conduct thorough background research on your chosen provider. If you want to save time on research, our custom-built comparison tool can help pair you with the right service provider for your business needs. It only takes a few minutes to receive bespoke quotes, free of charge. Conclusion and next steps for getting startedOur best virtual landline provider for small businesses is 8×8. Its advanced inbound call features, maximal integration capacity, and reasonable pricing – which includes a free month’s trial – will bring users excellent value for money during the difficult months ahead.Dialpad is best for SMEs in professional services wanting access to a huge feature listVonage is best for those wanting an inexpensive and easy-to-use system, such as those running an online side hustleRing Central is best for those wanting to establish a high-quality helpline for customersbOnline is best for teams needing a virtual landline solution for short-term outreach, such as charities wanting to fundraiseOur recommendations are based on rigorous testing and analysis conducted in collaboration with an independent researcher.Despite this, we still advise that you always compare virtual landline providers before signing on the dotted line. The last thing you want is to be stuck in a contract with a service that doesn’t fulfil the needs of your business, even if you're 99% sure it's the right fit for your firm. Frequently Asked Questions Why should I use a virtual landline? Using a virtual landline number has a whole host of benefits: It can help you to avoid the monthly costs of a traditional landline; appeal to customers in a target location (using a local virtual landline number); and benefit from VoIP features, including an auto attendant, and call forwarding. What is the difference between VoIP and virtual landline systems? VoIPs are more sophisticated. They are usually linked to software that offers businesses things like an auto attendant and call management, and improve the customer journey. In comparison, virtual landline numbers are call-forwarding. This means they are linked to your mobile or your office number, and automatically forwards calls to your mobile or office phone system for a small charge. How do I set up a virtual landline voicemail? You’ll need to do this through your provider. It’s relatively simple, and should include accessing your voicemail, entering your account details, and creating a voicemail password. What is the difference between a virtual landline and a landline? Virtual landlines are a cloud-based telephone service. This means that they aren’t connected to a physical telephone line, as opposed to traditional landlines. With a virtual landline you only need a device that has an internet connection for people to reach you. What is the cheapest virtual landline provider? The cheapest virtual landline provider is bOnline, starting at £7 per user, per month. However, it isn’t the best value for money, and is better suited for quick, short term solutions. If you want more from it you’ll have to pay extra. You’ll get more for your money by paying slightly more with a provider like 8x8 (£19 per month, per user) or Vonage (£10 per month, per user). Can virtual landlines receive text messages? If you choose a mobile number for your virtual landline you will be able to receive text messages (SMS). Are virtual landlines cheaper? Virtual landlines can be cheaper because they use what you often already have, an internet connection. Depending on how many users you have on your virtual landline, it can also be cheaper per month than paying line rental on a traditional landline. Most virtual landlines cost around £10 per month per user, compared to around £25 per month for line rental. Get quotes from 8x8 today. Find out more about what payment plans our top-rated virtual landline offers. Get quotes It only takes a minute. Startups.co.uk is reader-supported. If you make a purchase through the links on our site, we may earn a commission from the retailers of the products we have reviewed. This helps Startups.co.uk to provide free reviews for our readers. It has no additional cost to you, and never affects the editorial independence of our reviews. Share this post facebook twitter linkedin Written by: Helena Young Lead Writer Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.