sipgate Launches team Edition for Small Biz

Last month, we reported on the launch of an ultra-low-cost, self-service hosted VoIP service—-sipgate one—that has an established track (and a six-figure customer base) in Europe.

This week, sipgate announced the availability of sipgate team, the promised multi-user version of the service, aimed initially at small, distributed, “tech savvy” businesses no longer interested in managing or maintaining their own VoIP operations, according to CEO Thilo Salmon.

As with sipgate one, sipgate team provides users with free inbound phone numbers (DIDs) and what Salmon described to Enterprise VoIPplanet as a “rather fancy Web front end,” where users can manage their phone preferences, listen to voicemails, send and receive faxes, and—exclusive for sipgate team—communicate with their work colleagues.

“We like to think of ourselves as the Swiss Army Knife of services, Salmon told VoIPplanet, referring to the broad range of connection choices sipgate offers. These include the sipgate-supplied softphone, SIP-based IP phones, a number of mobile smartphones, and analog phones with a SIP-based ATA. What’s more, you can set up sipgate to ring any or all of your phones in parallel. “We route the call to whichever phone you pick up first,: Salmon said.

Salmon also emphasized that the product is easy to set up and deploy. “If you understand e-mail, you know enough to use sipgate,” is one oft-repeated company mantra. “We often describe it as equivalent to setting up a printer,” Salmon told VoIPplanet. “You may need to look in the manual to do that, but it’s quite do-able.” Once you’ve got your phones set up, the intuitive Web interface makes day-to-day operations—sending or receiving faxes, checking voicemail, querying call history, uploading new announcements, etc.—quick and easy, according to Salmon.

While each subscriber gets a free DID, you can also set up PBX-like auto-attendant functionality, whereby callers can be routed to various “extensions” with “push one for Alice, push two for Bill, push three for Ahmed”-style menu selections.

Collaboration tools are what put the “team” in sipgate team. The Web interface can be set up for multi-user access—if the customer so desires—and calls routed to multiple employees simultaneously. Customer service operations, in particular, will benefit from this feature. Employees can tag calls for quick categorization, and annotate them with comments on action taken.

“That’s bringing enterprise VoIP together with customer relationship management,” Salmon commented “—especially for small businesses that find it difficult to get [expensive, complex] business software going.”

The fax capability, though not free and not exclusive to the team product, helps to set sipgate apart from much of the competition. Having found that most IP based faxing is cumbersome—frequently involving the creation of PDAs—sipgate developers created a Web-based interface that users can simply type into to create fax documents. Faxes sent this way—by means of a single mouse click—can incorporate corporate letterhead images and signatures, uploaded in advance and stored on the Website.

Pricing for sipgate team begins at $2 per user per month, and does not involve long-term contracts, but rather a “rolling, month-to-month” contract. The service can be set up as a 30-day free trial, with no need to provide a credit card and no need to cancel should the company decide not to use the service.

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