First published on GIGAOM.
What You Get
OnSIP offers most of the features one would expect from such systems, including call routing, voicemail, business hours rules, and advanced features like on-demand conference bridging and text chat from your browser. The service doesn’t offer faxing, though.
OnSIP doesn’t sell IP phones. Instead, the company web site offers useful reviews of hardware you may wish to purchase, along with detailed instructionson how to set them up. You can also choose to use an analog telephone adapter (ATA) to make an connection between the Internet and a standard phone, or you can use a softphone to connect directly from your computer. Most web workers will find the setup process fairly simple, but OnSIP doesn’t offer pre-configured phones the way RingCentral does.
The folks at OnSIP kindly sent me a Polycom SoundPoint IP 450 to test the service. This is a very nice phone, and worked well with OnSIP. Like a number of other IP phones, it doesn’t include a standard headset jack, opting instead for an RJ-10 connection, meaning that headsets are more expensive than you may be used to. But the speakerphone quality on the Polycom is excellent, and I found that both my callers and I liked the results.
Options and Pricing
OnSIP has chosen to price its services differently than most of its competitors. It offers several plans, all of which offer unlimited users, extensions and users. However, none of the plans include any incoming or outgoing minutes. Customers pay $2.00 per month per incoming phone number, plus 2.9 cents per minute for all incoming and outgoing calls (except calls to other extensions on your company’s system, which are free). Incoming toll-free calls are 3.9 cents per minute in the contiguous US.
With most companies offering bundles of minutes, paying by the minute might raise red flags. But OnSIP justifies its policy this way:
“Most competing VoIP providers charge a high fixed fee for each employee in your company on a monthly basis. Generally, that fixed fee includes unlimited calling minutes and use of a fixed set of features. These services range in price from $49.95 per month and up. Seems attractive right? There is a far better option.
With OnSIP, the average user pays a total monthly bill of $18. That’s about $1 per business day per month; a cost savings of at least 65 percent over competitive services. What is this based on? There is no special pricing, discounts or gimmicks factored in. It’s simply a fact that we charge less than every competitor we know of.”
I used this system to make all my long-distance calls for about three weeks, and made about $10 worth of calls. I calculate that my three-person company would probably pay $60-70 per month, which isn’t bad. So maybe OnSIP is right to structure its packages the way it does. But when you do your calculations, make sure to figure in the other charges that you may have to pay for. If you read the fine print from most other companies, they charge for these items, too, but OnSIP is perhaps more upfront about it.
The online signup process is straightforward, and allows you to select the features you need. You can port existing phone numbers through the administrative web site for a one-time charge of $57. OnSIP offers a 30-day trial, requires no contracts, and allows upgrades, downgrades and cancellations at any time.
Managing Your Phone System
OnSIP provides two online portals for customers: an administrative site to manage extensions, groups and account data; and a user portal for individual extensions. The administrative site is a bit wonky, and it helps to know some basic Internet telephony terms, but the OnSIP knowledge base includes helpful step-by-step instructions and videos.
Quality and Reliability
As one would hope from a company catering to business, I found the quality and reliability of OnSIP connections to be excellent, even when I was also using my Internet connection for other purposes. I’m told that OnSIP owner Junction Networks is profitable and has been in business for five years, and serves thousands of customers, including some with over 100 users.
As Aliza wrote recently. you’ll want to consider a number of factors when choosing a phone system. For me, call quality, reliability, ease of use and pricing are paramount.
OnSIP will probably appeal to web workers who like flexibility, and are willing to do their own setup. I can also see OnSIP as being a supplement to a landline, which could be used for incoming calls and outgoing local calls. If you want a solution that takes less setting up, and you don’t want to worry about per-minute charges, you may prefer RingCentral. In any case, if you’re considering a business-grade phone system, you’ll want to do the math and see if OnSIP makes sense for you.
Have you tried OnSIP?