Battle of the Business VoIP: Skype for Business vs. RingCentral

If you’re considering implementing a Voice-over-IP (VoIP) service, then there are several important things you need to consider. Which service offers the best pricing? Which service offers the most advanced feature set? Where will you get the best and fastest customer service? The best business VoIP services give you flexible and powerful solutions designed to mirror the capabilities of an on-premises private branch exchange (PBX) system. Such cloud PBX services provide not only a dial tone but also features such as managed voicemail, auto-attendants, call routing and grouping, call forwarding, and much more, depending on the usage scenario. They also offer something most on-premises PBXes can’t, namely, the ability to integrate with popular business software solutions, especially call-intensive ones such as customer relationship management (CRM) and helpdesk.

Two of the most popular systems we’ve reviewed are Microsoft Skype for Business and RingCentral Office. RingCentral Office ranks highly as a business VoIP package, while Microsoft Skype for Business trails closely behind, offering a package intended for large companies and businesses that have already bought into the Microsoft ecosystem. In this article, we’ll break down exactly what you’ll get with each vendor, at each price tier, and how they perform head to head.

Plans and Pricing
Anyone can launch a Skype video conference for free but, if you’re looking for a platform that integrates with document sharing, file storage, email, and large group meetings, then you’ll need a Skype for Business Enterprise E5 account. This includes a fully installed Office 365 Business suite, meeting broadcasts for up to 10,000 devices, voice conferencing, and the option to purchase a fully-managed cloud PBX plan (which lets you transfer calls, place calls on hold, provides call forwarding, and gives you a record of your company’s call history). This plan will begin at $35 per user per month but you’ll have to work with Microsoft directly to work out specific PBX pricing.

For simple video conferencing, plans begin at $5 per user per month, and include a full Office 365 Business Essentials package. This means your users are getting access to Microsoft PowerPoint, group calls up to 250 people, Office for the cloud, 50 gigabytes (GB) of Outlook email, and 1 terabyte (TB) of file storage. For $12.50 per user per month, you can upgrade to get fully installed Microsoft Office applications on your desktop or laptop. But, again, you’re not getting VoIP at these price tiers.

RingCentral comes in three different service tiers, all of which offer traditional VoIP: Standard, Premium, and Enterprise. Both the Standard and Premium offerings max out at 19 users for $24.99 and $34.99 per month, respectively, when paid annually. You can add additional users to these plans for slightly less per user (the more users you add, the lower your monthly per-user fee). The Enterprise plan offers you 99 users for a monthly price of $44.99 per user, when paid annually. At the Enterprise level, you’ll gain access to all of the bells and whistles RingCentral has to offer, including voicemail-to-text and 50-person video conferences. As with the Standard and Premium plans, the more users you add, the cheaper your plan becomes. All plans max out at 999 users.

Microsoft offers incredibly powerful video conferencing and VoIP functionality that let your team take advantage of the full suite of Microsoft apps. The E5 plan costs the same as RingCentral’s Premium plan but you’ll also get access to Office 365. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to state what Microsoft will charge you for adding PBX functionality so it’s hard to make a concrete recommendation either way. If you decide that you want a basic VoIP solution for a small team, then you should go with RingCentral Standard. Edge: Tie.

Features and Integrations
RingCentral offers integrations with Dropbox, Google Drive, and yes, even Microsoft Office 2016. At the Premium level, RingCentral integrates with Salesforce and Zendesk, all of which give your sales and service reps instant access to customer records. RingCentral offers developer application programming interface (API) accounts that let you tie legacy and custom apps to your RingCentral service.

Tying yourself to Skype for Business gives you access to a wide variety of Microsoft’s powerhouse solutions. You’ll get storage, email, productivity—all of which sit on top of your robust business VoIP service (if you choose to buy one). If Microsoft makes a product, then you can likely tie it to your Skype for Business Enterprise E5 plan. Unfortunately, if you don’t want to be shackled to Microsoft’s ecosystem, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by purchasing the E5 plan. With RingCentral’s plans, you’re giving yourself a bit of flexibility in working with third parties such as Google.

Having said that, Microsoft has started to do a better job of bringing third parties such as Salesforce into the Skype fold, and it now offers a developers program for integrating custom apps. Before making your purchase decision, though, it’s worth looking into whether or not your legacy apps are Skype-friendly. Edge: RingCentral.

Service and Support
RingCentral offers 24/7 phone support for customers with plans for two or more users. If you’re a single user, then you’ll only be able to get someone on the horn during 13-hour blocks, Monday through Friday. RingCentral also offers 24/7 live chat support.

Skype for Business provides 24/7 phone support for technical issues at all pricing levels. At the Enterprise level, billing questions and non-urgent requests are funneled through a web portal for Skype administrators, which is probably for the best as you don’t want to sit on hold for answers to questions you could get via email. Edge: Microsoft.

Our Recommendation
RingCentral is our top choice for small businesses and home offices and we stick by that recommendation. If you just want a one-off VoIP system that can tie in nicely to your existing suite of apps, then you’ll be better off implementing RingCentral. It does a better job of fitting into your workflow than does Skype, which is designed to entice you to convert to Microsoft’s app suite.

However, if your company is ready to scale and you’re still in the process of deciding which productivity and scheduling apps you’d like to use, then you should pick Skype for Business. With your Skype for Business package, you can get access to 24/7 support across all of your Office apps, which means you’re dealing with one vendor for most of your collaboration and conferencing needs. Unfortunately, this use case is applicable to only very large businesses that don’t already have a chosen VoIP and collaboration provider; this is a very small segment of the population. For most other companies, RingCentral will be the better bet. Recommendation: RingCentral.

Professional and in-depth Research on Global Business VoIP Industry 2016, Analysis, Trends and Forecast Report

ResearchMoz added Latest Research Report titled ” Global Business VoIP Industry 2016, Trends and Forecast Report ” to it’s Large Report database.
2016 Global Business VoIP Industry Report is a professional and in-depth research report on the world’s major regional market conditions of the Business VoIP industry, focusing on the main regions (North America, Europe and Asia) and the main countries (United States, Germany, Japan and China).

The report firstly introduced the Business VoIP basics: definitions, classifications, applications and industry chain overview; industry policies and plans; product specifications; manufacturing processes; cost structures and so on. Then it analyzed the world’s main region market conditions, including the product price, profit, capacity, production, capacity utilization, supply, demand and industry growth rate etc. In the end, the report introduced new project SWOT analysis, investment feasibility analysis, and investment return analysis.

The report includes six parts, dealing with: 1.) basic information; 2.) the Asia Business VoIP industry; 3.) the North American Business VoIP industry; 4.) the European Business VoIP industry; 5.) market entry and investment feasibility; and 6.) the report conclusion.
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Table of Contents

Part I Business VoIP Industry Overview

Chapter One Business VoIP Industry Overview1.1 Business VoIP Definition1.2 Business VoIP Classification Analysis1.2.1 Business VoIP Main Classification Analysis1.2.2 Business VoIP Main Classification Share Analysis1.3 Business VoIP Application Analysis1.3.1 Business VoIP Main Application Analysis1.3.2 Business VoIP Main Application Share Analysis1.4 Business VoIP Industry Chain Structure Analysis

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1.5 Business VoIP Industry Development Overview1.5.1 Business VoIP Product History Development Overview1.5.1 Business VoIP Product Market Development Overview1.6 Business VoIP Global Market Comparison Analysis1.6.1 Business VoIP Global Import Market Analysis1.6.2 Business VoIP Global Export Market Analysis1.6.3 Business VoIP Global Main Region Market Analysis1.6.4 Business VoIP Global Market Comparison Analysis1.6.5 Business VoIP Global Market Development Trend Analysis

Chapter Two Business VoIP Up and Down Stream Industry Analysis2.1 Upstream Raw Materials Analysis2.1.1 Upstream Raw Materials Price Analysis2.1.2 Upstream Raw Materials Market Analysis2.1.3 Upstream Raw Materials Market Trend2.2 Down Stream Market Analysis2.1.1 Down Stream Market Analysis2.2.2 Down Stream Demand Analysis2.2.3 Down Stream Market Trend Analysis

Part II Asia Business VoIP Industry (The Report Company Including the Below Listed But Not All)

Chapter Three Asia Business VoIP Market Analysis3.1 Asia Business VoIP Product Development History3.2 Asia Business VoIP Process Development History3.3 Asia Business VoIP Industry Policy and Plan Analysis3.4 Asia Business VoIP Competitive Landscape Analysis3.5 Asia Business VoIP Market Development Trend

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Servetel Brings Cloud Telephony Services to India

As the VoIP market continues to grow in power, more and more companies are starting to look toward business VoIP as a viable option. The number of organizations using business VoIP to keep their operations going at a low cost grows by the day. Servetel Communications Pvt. Ltd., a cloud-based telephony services provider, just added to this trend by announcing its official launch in the Indian market.

India has been seeing a rising demand for advanced communications capabilities recently, and Servetel hopes to meet that need by bringing a fresh new range of connectivity solutions into the field. It announced at the launch event that it currently offers cutting-edge cloud communication services such as toll-free numbers, virtual business numbers, bulk SMS, call broadcasting, and IVR. According to Servetel, its services are intended to help Indian businesses by supporting their customer outreach.

These services should prove to be beneficial in India, as they are all powered by cloud technology. Using the cloud will cut down on device dependencies and restrictions in terms of geographical location. The cloud communication service will also keep costs low, as there will be no need for physical servers anymore.

At the launch event, Karan Chhabra, the Director of Servetel, commented on how these solutions will help businesses in India, stating, “Every business has a simple ideology – to deliver quality with efficiency while keeping the budget limited…Our typical user base constitute of businesses and they are always on the prowl for an integrated cloud communication solution, which doesn’t compromise on operational quality and keeps operational expenditures low.”

He continued, “Using Servetel’s cloud technology services will allow businesses to enhance their customer communication experience to not only project a better business brand image but also to create a more loyal and robust customer base. And we are initially going to let the customer try, test and trust our services.”

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iiNet plans revamped mobile offering

iiNet has unveiled plans to move “beyond” the mobile virtual network operator model, consolidating existing carrier arrangements and deploying infrastructure to lower costs and differentiate its mobile voice services.

The service provider has 45,000 mobile subscribers among its customer base, largely on the Optus and Vodafone networks but rebadged as iiNet or one of its acquired brands.

Though these telco contracts would continue for existing customers, iiNet chief technology officer Greg Bader told iTnews the ISP wanted to leverage its core network and other infrastructure to provide a different offering.

“The commercial advantage I have in ADSL and VoIP I don’t have in mobile today,” he said.

The company would look to move “beyond MVNO”, Bader said, by following a similar trajectory to its DSLAM rollout over Telstra’s copper network.

“We build up a customer base via wholesale and we look to deploy our own infrastructure to either reduce the costs of operating or, just as importantly, add in differentiators.”

This would include integrating iiNet’s existing voice over IP networks, content and international internet links.

The company has also contemplated additional infrastructure such as back-end intelligence to provide more transparent roaming between fixed and mobile networks, off the back of an existing mobile network.

Though Bader would not share too many details on iiNet’s plans, he said some ideas revolved around products current mobile players had yet to broach for customers as well as options “that haven’t been invented yet”.

The plan would include consolidating its mobile infrastructure contracts with either Optus and Vodafone, ending more than 12 months of negotiations with both carriers.

The contracts, to be signed in the next two months, would likely lock out Telstra, which plans to wholesale a part of its Next G network from next year.

It is believed iiNet has continued talks with Telstra over the potential to resell its network but did not see sufficient potential for integration of business systems.

The competing carriers, he said, still had the potential to offer sufficient coverage and service for iiNet’s potential customer base, particularly due to Vodafone’s network upgrade plans.

Number two

iiNet’s increasing moves into the mobile space come as part of the company’s stated bid to sell an average of three products to customers by 2014, bundled with other offerings including DSL, managed business service, VoIP or its fetchTV IPTV offering.

It heavily advertises its current market position as number two behind Telstra in DSL coverage but has plans to expand the moniker to other market segments – at Optus’ expense.

“The voice stuff is interesting – quite clearly, we intend to be around for a long time and we would like to be number two in this country,” Bader said.

“We don’t believe it’s possible to do that without some mobile offering.”

The company’s core brand has to date relied on SIM-only plans to build its mobile customer base.

However, last week iiNet launched mobile handset bundling for small business customers.

iiNet would likely provide handset bundles to consumers in the future.

However, ploys so far had been experiments in the economics of handset bundling and the requirements of customer support in the field, according to Bader.

“We want to be the clear choice other than the incumbent in this country so we need to have a mobile product or solution,” he said.

“We don’t have the cost advantages of network ownership so we need to play with the cards we’ve got.”