Sipgate Team review: Cost-conscious cloud calling
An affordable hosted service for small businesses, with flexible licensing plans and good call-handling features
If you’re looking for a simple, practical, cloud-hosted VoIP service, Sipgate Team could be your perfect solution. It comes with a solid track-record too, as Sipgate has been going strong since 2004.
One reason it’s lasted so long is value. A Light contract starts at £14.95 per month for three users, and can be upgraded in small increments, so your VoIP outgoings can scale organically with your business. To be clear, the headline price doesn’t include calls, which are charged on a pay-as-you-go basis; if you anticipate heavy usage, optional UK or EU add-on call packages can be added, with prices starting at £44.95 per month.
Another extra to consider is the £20 porting service, which migrates your existing landline numbers over to your new VoIP account. Alternatively, you can request local, 0845, 0870 and international numbers – or settle for whatever Sipgate assigns to you.
Making the switch isn’t quite instant: you need a “start code” to authorise the process, and for security reasons Sipgate insists on sending this by post. We only had to wait three days for ours, however, during which time we were able to get a head start on configuring our users and phones.
That’s just as well because Sipgate doesn’t offer an import function, which means you’ll need to create each individual user account by hand. It’s not too tedious, though, and whenever a user is registered the system will automatically send them an email with login details for their personal web portal.
The same applies when it comes to provisioning phones. Sipgate provides plenty of help with this – we were pleased to find clear screenshots showing exactly how to configure our Yealink handsets – but you’ll have to do the actual work yourself.
With this done, the main web portal offers a handy administration page for quick access to all features. In the customisation section, you can brand the portal by uploading your company logo and providing an MP3 file for hold music, and there are plenty of call-handling features, including forwarding and hunting.
To use these features you need to set up a user group, which gets its own phone number, voicemail and extension. You can then select whether you want all members’ phones to ring at once, or set them to ring in a specific order after a certain number of seconds has elapsed. For more advanced behaviours, you can configure multiple rules and set the time periods they should be active for. Voicemail and call forwarding can also be applied on a per-user basis with personal rules.
Another way to help callers reach the right person is by setting up an IVR (interactive voice response) service; this add-on feature, starting at £10 per month, can read out a list of up to ten options, to ensure calls are directed to the appropriate extension. You can create your own announcements either by uploading MP3 files, or by using the portal’s Click2Record feature, which lets you use a phone handset to record outgoing messages. Other optional features include group call queuing, presence (so you can see who is calling) and integration with Google’s G Suite.
If you want to take the app route, you should be aware that Sipgate doesn’t offer its own softphones, but the service works happily with a wide range of third-party products. For example, we found Zoiper quick and easy to configure and use on both Windows and iOS.
It all adds up to a hosted VoIP offering that’s well suited to small businesses. Don’t be put off by the manual phone provisioning and user setup – plenty of help is provided, and flexible licensing plans make Sipgate Team very cost-effective too.
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