Jive Communications: Simple VoIP service plans for SMBs.

Jive Communications, Inc., headquartered in Provo, Utah, was established in 1999, and had its roots as a software engineering firm.

In 2005, the founders took that software background—especially their experience with business automation, user interface design, and distributed systems—and applied it to VoIP communications. The result was a voice communications system that the company describes as scalable, robust, redundant, and feature rich.

From that beginning, Jive has grown to serve thousands of business clients across all 50 states. Their network infrastructure is a voice-cluster model, with redundant data centers in Chicago and Salt Lake City, and backup capacity in Los Angeles.

Jive’s prime target customer is a small to medium sized business with between 5 and 30 end stations—although they serve companies that are both smaller and larger than this range. At the present time, the company serves about 4,000 active rate centers, which include about 97 percent of the United States population.

Key features of the Jive system include call transfer, custom hold with music or a message, advanced voice mail that can convert voicemail messages to e-mails, auto attendant, call queues, dial-in conference rooms, and take-anywhere extensions.

The Jive web management tools are compatible with a number of SIP telephones, including those from Aastra, Cisco/Linksys, Polycom, and Snom. These phones are purchased separately, not as part of the Jive system, but are all staged and pre-provisioned to Jive’s network configuration before shipping, which means that customer installation consists of taking the phones out of the boxes and plugging them in.

Of note, Jive services the manufacturer’s warranty on all devices they sell. This includes an advance replacement service, meaning that they will ship a new piece of hardware right away, instead of first waiting for the customer to return the defective unit.

Jive prides itself in having designed a system that is easy to use, and credits their “software engineering DNA” for these features. The key information for each extension is displayed in the Jive Dial Plan Editor, which provides a visual flowchart through the various functions and screens that anyone can understand. These include: attendant prompts (press 1 for sales, press 2 for accounting, and so on); voicemail options for extensions (busy or unavailable); caller ID modifications; conferencing, and directory services.

Compared with many other service providers in the marketplace, Jive’s pricing is amazingly straightforward, as they only have two pricing plans. For both of these plans or “models,” the pricing is very flat, with no additional fees for voicemail boxes, auto attendants, day/night mode, custom music on hold, or other features that frequently carry an additional price tag. The only additional fees are one-time charges for account setup.

Model A is price at $30.00 per handset per month—which includes 1,500 pooled minutes per device. Inbound calls to local numbers, or outbound calls to phone numbers that are part of a customer’s Jive account do not count against the number of included or additional outbound minutes. Additional minutes are priced at $0.02 within the lower 48 states and Canada (which they claim only affects 2 percent of their customers), with toll free minutes priced at $0.03. DIDs (either local or toll free) are priced at $5.00 per month.

Model B is a per-session pricing plan, where a session is similar to a standard analog line, and represents one concurrent call. This plan is priced at $35.00 per session, $5.00 per handset, $5.00 per DID, and includes 1,000 free outbound minutes per session, pooled across the account. Overages are billed at $0.02 per minute. Model A is recommended for high usage scenarios, while Model B is recommended for customers that have a low usage relative to the number of handsets.

In addition, Jive makes some highly useful reports available to their customers without additional charge. Jive calls these reports Call Analytics, and they include call details that break out the inbound/outbound calls by time of day, graphically illustrating the busy hour in a histogram; a summary of Direct Inward Dial (DID) calls, breaking them down by inbound number and graphing the split between local and toll-free calls; a summary of total calls by extension; so that you can know who is initiating and receiving the highest number of calls. In addition they have a graphic called a Heat Map, which displays either the number of calls or number of minutes within a particular region, shading the heaviest areas of usage in different hues.

Further information on the Jive solutions can be found at www.getjive.com. Our next tutorial will continue our review of various service providers hosted voice solutions.

Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2009 DigiNet Corporation®, All Rights Reserved

Author’s Biography
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.

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