VoIP is one of the latest technologies creating a buzz…
Leading VoIP Vendors
The hosted VoIP market is pretty crowded at the moment and new services are being launched practically every other month. While this may be a good sign for the industry itself, it can be very confusing for organizations looking to upgrade their phone systems to VoIP. Not everyone understands the terminology involved – SIP versus VoIP, hosted versus on premise deployments, QoS settings and network optimization to name a few.
Even beyond understanding the technology, there is still the question of which provider to choose for getting VoIP service. This particular question becomes even more difficult when you factor in the number of vendors jostling with each other to get the attention of your business, not to mention a long-term contract. To help you with it, this article will compare three leading VoIP vendors for VoIP services – RingCentral Office, Microsoft Skype for Business and VoIP Studio.
VoIPstudio by Level 7 Systems is an enterprise focused hosted VoIP service that is one of the leading providers of VoIP around the world. There are three plans – the pay-as-you-go option at $4.99 per month for user, unlimited domestic calling at $19.99 and unlimited international calling at $39.99. In contrast to most of the competition, the plans are not differentiated on the basis of services included i.e each plan includes every feature offered by the vendor.
It is a fully featured enterprise VoIP solution that includes call hunt, call groups, auto attendant, call recording and many more advanced tools. Enterprises can purchase virtual numbers in more than 4000 cities worldwide. Like most hosted vendors, configuration is entirely through the web dashboard and getting started with a new VoIP number takes just five minutes. Since the service is based on the SIP protocol, there are no restrictions regarding hardware – most SIP phones will work with it.
SMS and fax gateways are built into the service which also features integration with external software like Salesforce. VoIPstudio does not offer a native app for mobile platforms, instead the service can be configured on any SIP client of the user’s choice. So customers mixfare not restricted to a bare-bones application, they can choose any client that offers the features they require. The flexibility offered by VoIPstudio is ideally suited for business organizations of any size, especially ones that would rather not have the hassle of configuring software or maintaining their own hardware.
RingCentral is a popular VoIP provider for small and medium businesses that offers extensive enterprise options. The company offers top-notch services and maintains its own infrastructure including data centers around the world. The prices for the business version start from $24.99 per user which includes unlimited calling, mobile applications and PBX functions.
Like many providers, there are additional tiers of service with extra features such as call recording which is not included in the starter plan. The service is based on SIP, which means that any SIP device can be used to make calls. Most aspects of the service can be edited, configured and changed via the web portal including the auto attendant, recording company information, adding users etc.
However it does have some drawbacks. For instance the mobile applications are extremely basic, especially when compared to competitors. Although RingCentral offers integrations with Salesforce, Zendesk and others, these are only included in the higher-level plans. Most PBX configuration is handled through helpful step-by-step wizards but it can become tedious if you need to add a lot of entries at once. Nevertheless RingCentral is a solid offering that can be suitable in many circumstances.
Microsoft Skype for Business
Although Skype is largely seen as a consumer tool, Microsoft has been promoting Skype for Business for a while now. Getting started with Skype for Business is pretty inexpensive with plans starting from just to $2 per user per month. The interface should be familiar for most users and navigation throughout the app is straightforward. It supports videoconferencing, HD calls, screen sharing and some of the plans boast integration with Microsoft’s Office suite and Outlook.
Although this should make it easy for most enterprises to get started with Skype, it may not actually fulfill the requirements of enterprises. The service does not have emergency calling or incoming SMS. Most VoIP features require on premise installation of Skype for Business Server, meaning it is not a true hosted solution.
Additionally navigating the maze of plans – each of which has a few features missing – can be time-consuming and frustrating. For instance some of the online plans will not work with hardware SIP devices, only with mobile applications and softphones. Others will not include integration with Outlook or Office, let alone external applications like Salesforce. Skype for Business is a step up from the consumer version but is mostly suitable for small businesses that are not yet ready for a complete VoIP solution.
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