ThinkBright, headquartered in New York, New York, was established in 2005 with the objective of providing small to medium size businesses with affordable PBX features and business quality SIP service.
The company name, ThinkBright, is reflects the quality of its support staff, which consists entirely of VoIP engineers. Therefore customers calling for either sales or technical support are assisted by professionals with the ability to answer all of their inquiries. As an added benefit, those engineers are based at their Manhattan location, eliminating the frustrations that can occur when dealing with outsourced call centers.
Customers that do not have a strong technical background are treated to the ThinkBright “white glove” service, in which the company custom designs, free of charge, the customer’s plan to fit their requirements.
ThinkBright’s innovation extends to their network architecture as well, which is fully redundant, interconnected via three tier-one backbone providers operating OC-3 links through OC-48 interconnections. The network is also managed utilizing two separate platforms in conjunction with the resources of at least three domestic and international carriers at all times, thus assuring the highest possible rates of call completion and quality of service. In addition, the headquarters is strategically located one block away from the data center that houses the infrastructure in case any emergencies arise. This attention to the technology has obviously been successful, with the company claiming to originate, transport, and terminate four billion domestic and international minutes annually.
ThinkBright’s service is offered globally to any customer with a high speed Internet connection, and has been deployed to serve customers in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Most of these customers have less than 50 employees, and can either choose to host their own VoIP capable PBX (i.e. Asterisk), purchasing carrier service from ThinkBright, or purchase a fully hosted solution, where ThinkBright handles the hardware. Customers that purchase carrier service only can utilize any SIP-compatible hardware.
ThinkBright also prides themselves in offering same-day installation service to customers that have their own SIP phones, and are receiving new telephone numbers. In those cases, the ThinkBright staff can have the customer’s plan activated the same day.
ThinkBright supports a wide variety of SIP phones—including those from Aastra, Cisco Systems, Grandstream, Linksys, and Polycom—and only require the 12-character MAC address on the back on the telephone in order to complete the installation process at their configuration server. As another service to their customers, the staff will configure the phones free of charge regardless of whether the customer purchased it from ThinkBright or on their own. For customers that also have ‘road warrior’ in their job description, ThinkBright offers free software-based phones, allowing mobile employees to stay connected from a hotel or cyber café.
ThinkBright is also very strong on network management systems, with a customer management system that allows administrators to create, edit, and delete auto attendants; as well as configure waiting rooms (queues), ring groups, time conditions, and many other PBX features.
Each extension also has a Web portal to enable basic call functions such as call forwarding, call waiting, e-mail voicemail notification, and the ability to check call history and voicemails. If a power or network failure were to occur, calls are then routed to a customer’s pre-designated number, such as a cell phone.
Security is another strong suit of ThinkBright, as the company has a security officer who constantly monitors network traffic for suspicious activity, as well as a company policy of using strong alphanumeric and symbol combinations for SIP passwords. The network infrastructure itself is also protected with several redundant Cisco PIX firewalls.
Pricing for the ThinkBright services are also somewhat innovative, as there are no contracts, no setup fees, no cancellation fees, and all pricing already includes taxes. What you see is what you get, with no hidden costs.
All the business packages include unlimited U.S. calls, and begin with a Standard package that goes for of $39.95 per seat per month and includes voicemail. The ten Plus packages, designated Plus1 through Plus 10, provide from one to ten outgoing lines, and range in price from $49.95 to $399.65 per month. The Plus packages add advanced PBX features, such as auto attendant, call queues, and conferencing, plus a free fax line with 200 minutes per month of usage.
The usage element is another interesting feature of ThinkBright, as they separate the incoming lines from the outgoing lines. In other words, most providers rate each channel or line on a bi-directional basis—when a customer purchases circuit, it doesn’t matter whether the call is incoming or outgoing, either way the line is in use. ThinkBright rates only the outgoing lines (e.g. the Plus5 package allows up to five simultaneous outgoing calls), but in addition, ThinkBright gives each of their customers incoming lines without charge.
Further information on the ThinkBright solutions can be found at www.thinkbright.net. Our next tutorial will continue our review of various service providers hosted voice solutions.
Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2009 DigiNet Corporation®, All Rights Reserved
Mark A. Miller, P.E. is President of DigiNet Corporation®, a Denver-based consulting engineering firm. He is the author of many books on networking technologies, including Voice over IP Technologies, and Internet Technologies Handbook, both published by John Wiley & Sons.