Posted: 22 Mar 2019 12:00 AM PDT
VoIP has had a significant shift from a technology exclusively used by the early adopters or hobbyist to a widely adopted business form of communication. The industry expects an annual growth rate of 3.1% between 2019 to 2024 with a value ranging from 77.4 million USD in 2018 to 93.2 million USD by the end of 2024.
Undoubtedly, the business is exponentially growing at a breakneck pace, and VoIP providers are flocking in, offering packages that may or may not fit to what your business goals are. Hence, with our continued interest of unraveling the best VoIP provider, we are going to review key players in the industry and showcase opinions that will help businesses to determine solutions that work.
When it comes to the VoIP race, RingCentral is one of those providers that you won't miss out not to mention. Aside from its flexible pricing offers, the company has established a solid foundation in catering the communication needs of small-time businesses and large enterprises.
RingCentral was founded back in 1999 by Vlad Shmunis, and since then, the cloud-based company introduced new ways to connect and collaborate remotely. For almost 20 years of providing VoIP services, RingCentral has significantly banked on its easy VoIP setup, competitive prices, and cloud-based management system. In a sense, the VoIP provider established itself as one of the big names in the VoIP market.
As previously mentioned, RingCentral offers versatile and relatively competitive price packages. RingCentral starts things off with their Essential Plan that costs $19.99/month, which is suitable for small-time businesses with less than ten employees. The package supports up to 10 users with a four-person limit on its audio and video meeting feature.
The Essential Plan unlocks RingCentral 24/7 customer support lines and offers unlimited phone calling, 100 toll-free minutes, customer management and phone service administration, and other basic features necessary for small-time businesses.
The next tier that RingCentral offers is the Standard Plan which costs $24.99/month. The $5 difference from its Essential package provides businesses with a little more space to work with, especially with its zero-limit on the number of users. However, video and audio conferencing are still limited to four people at a time.
The RingCentral Standard Plan doesn't have much of a difference from its Essential plan, aside from getting 1,000 toll-free minutes per month. Further, the package credits you the same basic feature with a multi-level auto attendant that works as a virtual receptionist for routing calls to the right department. The Standard Plan also credits you internet fax and call log support that will come in handy during end-of-the-month business reporting.
If you think the previous offerings are small enough to fit your business needs, RingCentral has a Premium plan that costs $34.99/month. The package poses a vast amount of support for your business such as multi-site support, custom app development and deployment, and SalesForce, Zendesk, and Desk integration. The RingCentral Premium pushes the audio and video meeting limit to 100 people with toll-free minutes of up to 2,500/month. You'll also get Voicemail Transcription to Text support which converts voicemails to text for easy documentation.
The last tier that RingCentral offers is the Ultimate Plan for $49.99/month. The package provides the same amount of support as the Premium but boosts the number of minutes to 10,000 and the audio/video meeting bandwidth to 200 people.
How It Works?
Before starting things off with RingCentral, the first thing you need to know is if the service or the package fits your business goals. If the answer is yes, then there are two ways in installing RingCentral; its either you use your existing phones, or you purchase new equipment from RingCentral themselves.
If you opt to use your current desk phones, installing RingCentral is as easy as plug and play. Just plug your phones and computers to the internet jacks and install the RingCentral app to your employees' smartphones. After installation, you'll get to enjoy all the features based on the RingCentral package you opt to choose. And, since RingCentral is cloud-based, you can use its dedicated app for all your voice calls, faxing, audio/video conferencing needs.
With RingCentral's plethora of features, you don't have to rely on your traditional phone lines to handle all your business communication requirements. You'll get competitive management support, technology-forward IVRs, relaxing hold music, call management, and other basic features put in place so that you'll never miss a call again.
Comparison and Contrast
RingCentral is indeed one of the top tier VoIP providers in the market today. Its call management feature that enables businesses to customize their ways of communicating is one the best qualifier for RingCentral. You'll get call forwarding on the go with easy deployment based on your business or department's answering rules. You can easily configure automatic call recording and convert them to text for easy documentation. You'll also enjoy auto attendant, a feature that directs calls on the right department, to ensure that all requests go to the right person and provide solutions at first touch.
However, comparing RingCentral to other VoIP providers, there are noticeable differences that one cannot just disregard. Let's use Nextiva for example. Nextiva is also one to the leading VoIP players today, and statistically speaking, Nextiva is a highly-acclaimed cloud-based software provider with 99.99% reliability rate across NYC to Seattle.
Nextiva's VoIP plans provide consumers more flexibility at a more cheaper rate. For $20, Nextiva's Basic Plan equates to RingCentral's Standard Plan with more added features. You'll get additional support such as Advance Call Management and number porting for free.
Nextiva's Pro Plan steps the notch even higher. You'll get a customized greeting feature that works significantly in building your brand. Furthermore, you'll receive Text Messaging support that enables you to connect with your team and customers at your own pace and desire. Limitation towards the number of people allowed for conferencing is not much of a concern within Nextiva's VoIP packages. In a sense, you'll get more added support at a price relatively cheaper than what you get from RingCentral.
When setting up Nextiva, you can opt for Nextiva's professional installers to set up your VoIP lines for free. Through this installation method, you'll get to work with Nextiva on how you want to customize your VoIP solution. This method also eliminates common installation failure. But, with regards to the accessibility of installing Nextiva's VoIP, you'll get the same amount of convenience RingCentral offers.
RingCentral is, without a doubt, a competitive VoIP provider. However, the limitations on specific price plans are very concerning. Its Essential Plan lacks mobility and essential features like auto attendant and automatic call recording that are necessary for today's business needs; unless you pay $15 more to employ such elements.
While, if you compare it to companies like Nextiva, who are offering relatively the same or more amount of features on its basic plan, it enables businesses to manage communications with more flexibility without paying more than it should be. And, with today's competitive market, getting extra elements at a price lesser than the other, is a motivational factor to choose Nextiva aside from RingCentral.
More importantly, in choosing your cloud-based solution, you should understand what your business goals are, and see if the provider offer such features. Don't just settle with prices, and pick a solution that enables you to manage your calls and business needs on a much broader scale.
Posted: 21 Feb 2019 12:00 AM PST
If you have a kid, there's a possibility that you spent little over an hour scolding him for spending way too much time glued on his phone, tablet, or computer's screen. There's an even bigger possibility that it's because he's been playing Minecraft.
Minecraft is the younger generation's version of Pokémon. As a kid myself, I spent hours and hours a day trying to catch little creatures and trying to win badges at gym battles. Today, kids are spending their days in a more creative and constructive way, in my opinion, by building structures forged from their imagination.
Personally, I have played Minecraft for several nights straight, trying to complete my dream fortified mansion-slash-city-slash-world. There's no limit in what you can do in the game other than yourself. A few hours will fly by quickly as you see your imagination come to life, at least virtually. Think like an architect seeing his designs being built.
Microsoft Today revealed a teaser into how they're reintroducing Minecraft to the world. From the idea that built the phenomenon of Pokémon Go comes Minecraft Earth.
However, it is quite easy to say, based on reports, that Microsoft is taking an ambitious leap from Pokémon Go.
Comparably, like Pokémon Go, Minecraft Earth is built on the foundation of augmented reality. You will get to experience the world of Minecraft through your mobile phone's camera. Moreover, users will get to interact and establish relationships with other players.
But where Minecraft Earth stands out is that its a world where multiple players can create along the way. It's not like Pokémon Go where Pokémon are left conveniently along sidewalks or parks for players to find. Microsoft takes it further by allowing users to define and decide how their own Minecraft Earth will look like in the end.
They can accomplish this by playing the regular Minecraft game whether individually or with friends connected to the same Wi-Fi, or through a server that lets you play with an even larger group of 50 people or more.
"Minecraft Earth proposes to completely break the dogma that has lived with us in computing since the beginning: this idea of a single person that holds a single device to create a single experience," Alex Kipman, Microsoft's HoloLens and Kinect creator tells The Verge. "With Minecraft Earth, that's no longer the case. The content is in the real world."
Microsoft says that the mobile app will be like playing the original game since it's highly anchored by the basics to easily resemble the game we got so used to. They wanted to preserve the spirit of the game that's all about creating and collaborating.
Minecraft Earth will not be a player versus player kind of game. You cannot kill other players and claim their resources as that's not how Microsoft intends the game to be. But you can technically steal from other players when they allowed you to enter their builds, but you won't be doing it anonymously behind a computer but besides the person that you're stealing from. A little mischief to spice things up.
Just like the original, you will be spending your time chopping down trees and collecting resources that you can use in Build Mode to create your fortress. But with a real-to-life version of the original, you can scale your builds into actual size reaching to 200ft x 200ft. If you spent hours building it on your phone, I wonder how long Minecraft Earth will take you.
Moreover, you can have your builds stored personally by leaving it at the desired spot. From there, you can decide to share it with other players for them to help or collaborate on your work.
However, don't expect that every single tree or plot of land can be harvested. This is where the concept of Pokémon Go comes in, in order to collect resources, you will need to walk around the neighborhood or to the park to see 'tapables' that you can collect.
"We have covered the entire planet in Minecraft," Tori Olafsson, Minecraft Earth game director explains "Every lake is a place you can fish, every park is a place you can chop down trees. We've actually taken maps of the entire world and converted them to Minecraft."
There are also adventures in Minecraft Earth that vary from easy to difficult. Easy where it can take you by surprise as you fall into a castle filled by skeletons attacking you or difficult where you are knowingly entering the challenge risking all of your resources.
Definitely, Minecraft Earth is bringing a lot of things in the table, with augmented reality along its side, it will take over the world by storm and start a whole new phenomenon alongside its 91 million active players across the planet.
Minecraft Earth will be available in iOS and Android via beta on summer.
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