RingCentral: Instant VoIP service for SMBs.

RingCentral, Inc., headquartered in San Mateo, California, is a venture capital-funded firm founded in 1999 that claims to have developed the first virtual phone system designed specifically to meet the needs of small businesses and mobile professionals.

The company’s objective is to be the market leader in cloud computing-based telephony, and help small businesses manage their mobile, fax, and e-mail communications.

The company has garnered numerous industry accolades, including a 2010 Technology Pioneer Award from the World Economic Forum, a 2009 Webware 100 Award from CNET, and a Red Herring Top 100 Finalist in 2008.

In the decade since inception, the firm has grown to a staff of over 300 employees worldwide, with additional offices in Manila, Philippines, Odessa, Ukraine, and St. Petersburg, Russia.

RingCentral presently provides service throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, and claims a customer list that numbers over 40,000 organizations.

RingCentral serves customers with 5 to 50 phone users, and combines a toll-free or local number with advanced call management, PBX, voicemail and Internet fax, enabling customers to set up multiple extensions with voicemail, automatically screen, forward, and place calls, take voicemail, send and receive faxes, and receive message alerts. In addition, a number of user devices are supported, including all SIP-enabled phones, standard phone with an ATA (analog telephone adapter), plus softphone and iPhone applications that are available as free downloads.

RingCentral’s service offerings include RingCentral Mobile, RingCentral Fax, and RingCentral Office.

RingCentral Mobile is designed for small business to allow calls to be answered on an existing mobile, home, or office phone—or the user’s PC. The system also allows outgoing and incoming faxes, automatically routes calls to any member of the team regardless of location, and provides callers with an auto attendant and a dial-by-name directory.

RingCentral Fax is an Internet faxing service that allows faxes to be sent by e-mail, Microsoft applications, and by phone. From e-mail, a fax is sent simply by entering the destination fax number in the e-mail address field, and then adding “@rcfax.com” to that number. Any text to appear on the cover page is then entered in the e-mail Subject field, and any documents to be sent are then attached.

Desktop applications can also be redirected to fax by opening any printable document, and invoking the RingCentral InternetFax tool. Road warriors can also use the service by logging into their RingCentral account, and opening the InternetFax tool. Incoming faxes can be sent to either a toll-free or local number, and then delivered to the users online account, where they are stored for 30 days, or can be downloaded to the user’s PC for permanent storage.

RingCentral Office delivers a virtual PBX, VoIP phone service, and full-featured IP phones as one complete system, but without the bulky hardware. Service can be activated instantly, with customers given the option to set up their service online, and then plug in pre-configured, ready-to-use IP phones.

The system has an impressive list of features, including: multiple extensions for both local and satellite offices, with individually configurable answering rules; auto-receptionist, which can locate team members based on extensions, departments, business hours, or user-defined routing; voicemail with e-mail delivery, that allows voicemails to be retrieved online; music and messages on hold; advanced call management and answering rules, with hunt groups, call queues with virtual departments, routing and answering rules, call screening and blocking, and click-to-call out; and calling features that include advanced call forwarding, multi-way calling and call conferencing.

RingCentral pricing is extremely straightforward. Each Office plan comes with unlimited calling and faxing anywhere in the United States and Canada, unlimited calls and faxes to the local number, one toll-free or local main company number, one toll-free or local fax number, plus one local number per user. Three plans are available: a one-line plan for $49.95 per month, a four-line plan for $99.99 per month, and an eight-line plan for $179.99 per month. Additional lines are $24.99 per month. (There are also metered plans starting at $9.99 per month.)

In summary, RingCentral’s service has the advanced features that would be expected from a company that has been in the VoIP business for over a decade: the ability to purchase and set up an account online in minutes; integrate mobile devices and existing phones into the system; connect teams in multiple locations with one system; manage and access calls, voice, and fax messages from a mobile phone; direct calls and faxes to any number, at any time, eliminating the worry of missing important communication.

Further information on the RingCentral solutions can be found at www.ringcentral.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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