RingCentral is a cloud based virtual PBX, based in Belmont CA, which is both feature rich and cost effective. RingCentral is targeted at all sectors of the virtual telephone market from Solo entrepreneurs to enterprise sized companies. As such RingCentral has a vast array of VoIP voice, collaboration, productivity and call center features to meet the requirements of even large enterprise organizations.
As RingCentral is a cloud based PBX it can make all its inherent VoIP features available to any size of business through a selection of price and service plans. Consequently, RingCentral bases its service model on the number of users but some of their advanced collaboration and productivity tools are only available on the more expensive plans. However, there is nothing stopping even a small business of around 1 to 5 users subscribing to an advanced enterprise service plan to gain access to the advanced feature set.
Vonage Business Cloud
Vonage is a pioneer in VoIP as well as residential and small business virtual telephone services. It began over two decades ago back in 2001 in New Jersey USA as a supplier of residential telephone services. In subsequent years it spread its operations to Canada and then to the UK. However lately due to acquisitions Vonage has shifted its focus to virtual cloud-based PBX systems for small, medium and large companies. As a result of this has emerged the Vonage Business Cloud, which targets small medium businesses, while a larger sibling Vonage Enterprise focuses on large and enterprise organizations.
A primary difference between Vonage Business Cloud and Vonage Enterprise is that the former is delivered across public high speed internet connections. The latter, Vonage Enterprise on the other hand, is delivered across a private MLPS network, which provides additional redundancy, security and reliability. Of course most small medium businesses do not need that level of availability and reliability but they do need many of the same advanced features for omnichannel support that delivers upon a unified communications platform.
In the past decade Vonage has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a provider of bulk minutes to the residential market. Today, in 2020, it is a provider of a unified communication platform that brings multi-channel and unified communications as well as collaboration and productivity tools to small and medium businesses. Hence, no matter how small or large your business Vonage has a solution to suit your unified communication requirements.
Comparing RingCentral vs. Vonage Business Cloud
When it comes to comparing vendors’ products in the virtual telephone systems marketplace it is essential to make sure that we are comparing comparable systems. What this means is that we must select and compare service and price plans aimed at the same market sector, such as for small office-home office (SoHo) or small medium businesses (SMB), or small to medium enterprises (SME).
Comparing like-for-like services is especially valid when we consider making a comparison between an entrepreneurs, SoHo or SMB service such as Grasshopper’s virtual telephone system alongside an industry giant such as RingCentral’s cloud based virtual PBX.
As a result we have chosen to compare RingCentral’s Essentials, Standard and Premium service plans against Vonage Business Clouds service plans.
RingCentral takes a slightly different approach to pricing as it bases its plans on the number of users. Furthermore RingCentral offers both monthly and annual –in advance – payment models. As a result the entry-level Essential service plan is priced at:
Essentials – The cheapest entry price is from $29.99 per month per user paid annually in advance.
However, their service fee can be billed monthly or annually
- Billed Annually the fees can be as low as $19.99 for 2-19 users
Standard Service Plans
The Standard plan starts at $19.99 per month per user based on an annual contract basis:
- 1 user – $34.99 per month per user
- 2-19 users – $24.99 per user per month
- 20-99 users -$24.99 per user per month
- 100-999 users – $22.99 per user per month
When Billed Monthly in Advance
- Starts at $29.99 per month per user based on an monthly no contract basis
- 1 user – $49.99 per month per user
- 2-19 users – $34.99 per user per month
- 20-99 users -$34.99 per user per month
- 100-999 users – $32.99 per user per month
You will need to take the variance in the billing price into consideration when contemplating RingCentral as there can be considerable savings to be made if you are willing to pay annually.
Vonage is a cloud-hosted system that is bill monthly on a per-user basis. The service is focused primarily on small businesses but is still affordable for the entrepreneurs or SoHo businesses that want a feature rich phone service.
Vonage Business Cloud has three basic small business plans, Mobile, Premium, and Advanced, which we can use as a like-for- like comparison with Grasshopper’s Solo, Partner and Small Business service plans.
Vonage Business Cloud
Vonage is a cloud-hosted system that charges a monthly per-user fee so plan prices depend on the number of users. Vonage Business Cloud and is available in three service plans that target growing small businesses and all plans include the 40 standard features, unlimited calling and text messaging, as well as a free to download mobile and desktop app. Here’s how the plans differ:
- The Mobile plan is $19.99 per user per month for 1-4 users, $17.99 for 5-19 users, and $14.99 for 20-99 users.
- The Premium plan starts at $29.99 for 1-4 users, $27.99 for 5-19 users, and $24.99 for 20-99 users.
- The Advanced plan starts at $39.99 for 1-4 users, $37.99 for 5-19 users, and $34.99 for 20-99 users.
Prices for companies with more than 100 users should look to the Vonage Enterprise service plans.
RingCentral is a cloud based PBX and so has an extensive feature set that it delivers across 4 service plans that cater for all the marketplace from the smallest one person business to the largest of enterprises. Consequently, RingCentral is well placed within the market to fulfill not just all a business’s telephone requirements but also all its modern multichannel communication needs.
Businesses today have to handle many different types of customer communications and they need a unified platform that gives them the ability to handle these diverse channels. Where some competitors can handle voice and SMS texts and if you subscribe to the Connect service also some rudimentary contacts and email integration RingCentral provides the full gamut of multichannel support tools.
As we are comparing Phone.com with RingCentral’s Essentials and Standard service plan we will restrict the feature list to what is native to that plan – but be aware that RingCentral’s larger sibling service plans have considerably more Omni channel support tools.
The standard features found in Essentials are:
- Unlimited video and audio meetings with screen sharing (4 people per meeting)
- Unlimited phone calls
- Toll-free numbers 100 free minutes
- Unlimited Business SMS
- Call management & phone system administration
- Phone rental options: desk and conference phones
- Mobile apps for iOS® and Android™
- High-definition (HD) voice
- Visual voicemail and voicemail to email
- Team collaboration
- Integrations with Microsoft®, Google, Box, and Okta
- 24/7 Customer support
- Professional implementation
As can be seen from viewing the feature set from RingCentral’s entry—level service plan, Essentials is a far more comprehensive service than many of its competitors higher-level plans.
Vonage has over 50 build-in VoIP features that cover just about everything you could need in a unified communications platform for small businesses. The entry level Mobile service plan is aimed at the small business, that typically does not have an office or the need for desk phones and that is looking for a cost effective virtual PBX service that will run effectively on smartphones or mobile devices. The Mobile service plan comes with the standard 50+ VoIP features as standard, such as:
- Mobility and omnichannel: Mobile app, Follow Me, Call Forwarding, Paperless Fax, Business SMS, voicemail to email, Vonage visual voicemail as well as many devices on an extension
- Collaboration and Productivity: Call Conferencing Bridge, Call Monitoring, Call Announce, Call Groups, Team Meetings and Team Messaging
- Customer and employee experience: Call recording on-demand, Call screening, Call queues, Do Not Disturb, Call Continuity, Call Park and Spam shield
- Flexibility: Set Caller ID, Call Block, Smart Numbers, Local or geographic numbers, and an App center
The aim of Vonage Business Communications is to provide an advanced UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) platform for communication across many diverse channels, such as voice, video, SMS text messaging, chat and email to aid collaboration and boost productivity.
As a result of the desire to deliver unified communications to even small businesses the Mobile plan provides integrated calling and messaging via SMS using the virtual business number as the caller ID. However it does not support all those goals as it lacks several of its larger siblings’ features. The VoIP feature set is still very good for a SoHo or small business but it does lack some features such as voicemail to email and business application integration.
The Premium service plans prices (per user per month) start at $29.99 for 1-4 users, $27.99 for 5-19 users, and $24.99 for 20-99 users.
The Premium service plan comes with all the features in the Mobile plan but with some notable extras, such as:
- Video conferencing, chat & file sharing for up to 100 people
- Multi-level auto attendant
- CRM integrations
The Advanced service plan prices (per user per month) start at $39.99 for 1-4 users, $37.99 for 5-19 users, and $34.99 for 20-99 users.
The Advanced plan includes everything in the Premium and Mobile plans but it also has some extra specialist features such as call recording on-demand (15 hours per month), call groups, as well as visual voicemail.
Not all the features in Vonage are available through the standard service plans as some are bundled together in a supplemental offering called VonageFlow. Just like Grasshopper Connect, VonageFlow is a supplementary collaboration tools offered to all users and it provides group chat, video calls, and file and media sharing. The way it works is that SMS and social media messages to be routed directly into a team messaging location. This means that when customers make contact with an issue via SMS or Social Messaging, all team members associated with that extension or business inbox would receive the message in real-time, regardless of their current location.
In a similar way to Grasshopper’s partnership with Join.me, Vonage has also integrated with third parties to deliver enhanced features. In this regard Vonage teams up with Amazon Chime, which allows video conferencing for up to 100 people but the subscription is billed at an extra cost.
Mobile & Desktop Apps
The RingCentral mobile app and their computer softphone are designed to deliver the same full functionality as any other RingCentral extension. Hence running the RingCentral mobile app on a smartphone or the softphone will be pretty much indistinguishable from using the desk phone that is connected to RingCentral’s system. The main differential is that a desk phone or softphone cannot transition or fail-over to a carrier network like a smartphone.
Indeed with RingCentral mobile app you can choose which service to default to, whether it is network carrier or Wi-Fi using VoIP. As the RingCentral mobile app runs on Apple iOS as well as Google’s Android most phones will automatically handle the seamless transition from poor Wi-Fi (Internet) conditions to the mobile carrier’s data network.
Just like many other virtual phone systems Vonage supports a mobile app and desktop softphone. The concept is the same in that you create a Vonage extension and then link the virtual business phone number to your mobile device. This is all managed through the Vonage Business Communications Mobile App. Once the Mobile App is linked to a Vonage extension, your mobile phone then becomes a fully-functional extension which can not only make and receive business calls but can also utilize all of the Vonage features such as making video calls or integrating with business applications such as CRM when you are away from the office.
Types of Numbers Available
An important consideration when choosing a virtual telephone service is whether the vendor can supply the type of business number that you need. There are several types of virtual telephone numbers available;
- Local Number that matches your location or desired location or virtual business presence.
- Toll-Free Numbers
- Vanity Numbers
- International Numbers
- Existing Business Number
Almost all virtual telephone service vendors will support these types of numbers the difference is whether they charge for them or not.
RingCentral supports all categories of telephone numbers such as local, Toll-Free, Vanity, and International numbers as well as porting over an existing business number. Similar to other vendors the RingCentral features work on the virtual business number, such as business SMS, Confirmation Texts and outgoing caller ID amongst others. The number of business numbers available for use – of any type – is determined by the service plan. Additional numbers are available at a charge of $4.99 per month per number. Additional Vanity numbers have in addition to the $4.99 fee a one off setup fee of $30.
Additional charges for add-on services are also applied for large meetings and webinars, such as :
- RingCentral Webinar – 100 licenses – $40 each
- RingCentral Large Meeting – 100 participants – $14 each
- RingCentral Large Meeting – 300 participants – $140 each
- Additional International local number – tier 1- $4.99
- Additional International Local Number – tier 3 -$14.99
As you can see with both vendors there are some significant hidden charges, so make sure you read the service contracts carefully.
Vonage lets you choose from local and toll-free numbers. In addition you can port over your existing business number to Vonage. You can also transfer local voice and fax, toll-free voice and fax, and even wireless numbers.
- Local Number – $9.991
- Toll Free Number – $39.99
- International Local Numbers – $39.99
- Local or Geographic Number – $9.99
- Paperless Fax Number $14.99
- Toll Free Fax Number $19.99
An important factor when comparing vendor virtual telephone solutions is Customer Service. Each vendor approaches this area differently with some more focused on online material such as FAQ, Podcasts, and Blogs as well as website training videos. Whereas others aim for the personal contact via telephone, email or web forms. Whichever channel you prefer should be available to you from the vendor.
Another important factor is where the Support service is based. Generally a few years ago vendors took advantage of offshoring contact centers to Asia and other places to take advantage of lower costs. Unfortunately this often backfired resulting in poor customer experience and so recently there has been a shift back to on shoring Contact Centers in the USA.
RingCentral support is also 24/7 and based in the USA.
RingCentral supports the following channels:
- Telephone – 24/7
- Live Support – Chat
- Ticket System – Online Forms
- FAQ and online documentation
- Professional implementation
- VIP support for higher plans
Vonage support is during office hours ET time and based in the USA.
Vonage supports the following channels:
- Telephone – Vonage offers phone support between 8 a.m. and midnight (ET) Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (ET) on Saturday and Sunday.
- Live Support – Chat
- Ticket System – Online Forms
- Live Training
- FAQ and online documentation
As you might expect from a company of RingCentral’s size and scope they cover over 30 countries. Indeed RingCentral’s Global Office feature allows you to connect offices and employees around the globe by using international local numbers so calls between geographically dispersed locations count as local calls.
With a RingCentral Global Office account each location is given 1,000 minutes of in-region calling credits per month per user based on location that are pooled and shared with all users worldwide. On top of the 1,000 in-region calling credits per month, all users have unlimited extension-to-extension calling from anywhere in the world.
As Vonage Business Cloud is a virtual PBX so it can support diverse geographical locations thereby providing enhanced mobility by allowing companies to choose local phone numbers in over 40 countries. With Vonage your virtual business number can be chosen or customized to specific geographical or regional preferences. Vonage also offers international virtual business numbers that provide your business with a virtual in-country presence. In addition Vonage has regional offices in the US, Canada and the UK.
Cancelling the Service
A very important factor to consider is how you end the contract if things just don’t work out. After all no matter how affordable and well delivered a telephone service may be it just might not fit with your own business model or direction. Therefore you should be aware of any potential cancellation fees or contractual obligations before you subscribe to the vendor’s service.
The way to cancel with RingCentral is a bit more complex even if you are paying monthly on a non-contract basis. In this case so long as you do not have any RingCentral equipment i.e. phone headsets or VoIP phones, etc. you can simply call up the support number and cancel the service. If you do have RingCentral equipment then you must send back the hardware immediately and the cancellation only takes place upon RingCentral receiving it in good condition.
For annual subscriptions you can cancel the service by telephone and you will receive a rebate based on pro-rata months unused.
Unfortunately Vonage Business Cloud does not make it easy for customers to cancel their subscriptions. Indeed you will need an authorized system administrator to call Vonage Business as they provide no way to cancel online or through the admin portal.
The accepted cancellation process is that services may be cancelled by Customer only through the Superuser by contacting Vonage Customer Care by telephone during normal business hours or via email to [email protected]
Month-to-Month Services. For Services provided on a month-to-month basis, either Party may terminate the Services by providing at least 30-days’ notice, with termination being effective the following month.
Fixed Term Services. For any fixed term contractual agreements you must give 90 days’ notice of cancellation.
RingCentral is a behemoth in the virtual telephone industry and has developed a cloud PBX system packed with VoIP features that covers every aspect of voice, omnichannel, collaboration, productivity and contact center technologies. As such RingCentral is often the benchmark for comparing other vendors’ products against.
Vonage Business Cloud on the other hand is also a cloud based Virtual unified communication platform that is affordable and feature-rich. In addition Vonage Business Cloud like RingCentral also offers services out with the USA and Canada. Vonage is certainly a good match for RingCentral where it comes to functionality and features. However that is also one of its weaknesses as Vonage Business Cloud often bill extra for these features that RingCentral considers standard.
The only other slight issue with Vonage is that cancelling the service is not as easy as it should be.
With regards support both Vonage and RngCentral have diverse communication channels but RingCentral has a 24/7 telephone service compared to Vonage’s office hours.
In short, both of these unified communication services are excellent products but RingCentral probably just edges it as a comprehensive communications platform for small medium companies.