Most business VoIP cloud based phone providers (across the board)
recommend certain configuration settings on a customer's router and/or
firewall, regardless of the make or model. These settings include
that both SIP ALG (Session Initial Protocol Application Layer Gateway) and
SPI (Stateful Packet Inspection) need to be disabled. If the device does not
have the options to disable those settings, then in many cases the router
should probably be replaced for it would not be appropriate for hosted VoIP.
Another important need for a small business router is the ability to
prioritize traffic to and from a particular device, known as QoS (Quality of
Service), in this case phones. If your router does not offer configurable
QoS, then get another router.
Many providers, like Vonage, onsip, RingCentral, 8X8, Intermedia, etc. have a list of recommended routers and those that are specifically not recommended or have known issues. These lists vary according to the provider, as they suggest models depending on a history of support and/or customers having used them successfully. Some of the routers listed include models that are dated, but remain listed for good reason and will be top recommendations for 2019. More recent updated models from the same manufacturer with later revisions of firmware may behave even better. Routers in general have become more sophisticated in the past year or two, incorporating QoS (Quality of Service) features which are paramount for a good VoIP service in an office environment.
The Cisco Meraki MX64 Network & Security Appliance is an ideal solution for a business with several sites that want to eliminate the need for multiple devices and streamline security and VPN deployment. Built to handle security and network management for up to 50 clients, the MX64 uses SD-WAN to give voice and video the bandwidth they need and dynamically control the entire network's cloud applications. Cisco does require an optional additional license expense for an advanced suite of security features that include content filtering, Google SafeSearch, intrusion detection & prevention, and malware protection. They can be purchased in a 3 year license (best deal). With Zero-touch provisioning and intuitive cloud-based management the Meraki MX64 can be deployed in minutes rather than days. For a quick 3 minute overview look at this Meraki video. For the best prices on Meraki Appliance (with free shipping):
The Cisco 891 router/security appliance offers an easy to set up user-friendly and intuitive graphical user interface that includes a number of neat wizards. One of which the is a security audit function that runs through a list of best-practice security checks. The administrator can then review a list of items that the audit recommends and make configuration changes to correct the potential vulnerability. These wizards make management of this router well worth the price for admin. The router comes with QoS management and advanced features you would expect in a business router. For offices that have up to 50 users, this router is a cost effective solution that delivers secure, reliable WAN connectivity for your office and remote workers.
The very popular Netgear WNR3500L V2 wireless router is very low in cost and can be used right out of the box with just a few easy to do settings (disable SIP-ALG and SPI) and configure QoS for VoIP. Considered an entry level router and recommended by several service providers, it's a good choice for a very small business that will only need a limited number of phones. For ease of configuration Netgear offers a built-in SmartWizard and users will find its web interface is intuitive and easy to navigate. Another big plus for this router is that it can be flashed with Tomato, an open source free firmware that is very VoIP friendly and adds lots of extra capabilities, essentially turning the router into a $250.00 router.
The SoniceWall TZ SOHO, as well as the entire TZ series with the SonicOS Enhanced software, is a great small business appliance/router/firewall for businesses that want cloud based services, including VoIP and offers a Bandwidth Management system. Optional applications such as effective intrusion prevention, anti-malware, content/URL filtering and application control can be added at an extra cost for the additional licensing. This one device offers a encompassing solution for businesses. For VoIP, you'll need to create the necessary access rules, enable consistent NAT and disable ALG, which are called called SIP Transformations by SonicWall.
TP-Link has been known to make excellent routers. The Archer AC3200 uses 6 high-performance antennas with Beamforming to maximize coverage area and stability for multiple devices and runs a 1GHz dual-core processor. Tri-Band technology creates three separate Wi-Fi bands so more devices can connect to the network and SmartConnect uses technology to assign the best available channel, a feature that makes a huge difference.
Update 2/2019. We have removed our recommendation for the Linksys WRT1900ACM AC1900 due to some user's complaints of devices loosing wireless connectivity. At least one VoIP provider has done likewise. We have since added the TP-Link Archer AC3200.
Each of our five best business VoIP routers are recommended by at least one business VoIP provider (most of our choices come recommended by several providers) and none are included on anyone's incompatible list. The Dell SonicWall TZ SOHO, Cisco 891 and the Cisco Meraki MX64 are rated for up to 50 users. The TP-Link Archer AC3200 Tri-Band is rated for up to 30 users. Any one of the above routers would be a great choice for a business router/appliance, with the SonicWall and Meraki eliminating the need for multiple devices. As businesses move more services to the cloud the SonicWall with its network protection, as well as Meraki, with its SD-WAN capabilities and ease of setup are gaining in popularity. For the very cost conscience buyer the Netgear WNR3500L v2 is about as reasonable as one would hope for and would be a choice for a very small office with five to seven employees. In addition, it can accept Tomato, an excellent way to make this router equivalent to a more expensive router.
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