BT Readies VoIP for Small Business

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BT has partnered with a U.S. company, RingCentral, to offer an Internet-based phone system in the U.K. that's easy for small and medium-size businesses to configure and maintain.

RingCentral's software is designed to let small businesses set up their own phone system with a professional feel without needing to make significant investments in hardware. The software works with mobile, landline and VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls.

Businesses can configure a virtual PBX (Private Branch Exchange) through a Web-based interface, and perform tasks such as assigning voice lines, configuring voice mail and interactive menu options.

Customers can either use a real telephone to answer or make calls or their PC through RingCentral's "Desktop Call Controller." That interface lets users see call logs and launch calls with a single click by a contact's name, among other functions.

Voice mail messages can also be delivered to a user's email, and then played through a PC's speakers. Another feature is fax software that can send faxes from Microsoft's Office applications or from a mobile phone.

In the U.K., businesses get a "0800" or "0844" main phone number, and calls can be routed to up to 50 extensions.

Pricing starts at €15 (US$30), excluding VAT, per month. Calls are charged per minute, rounded up or down to the nearest 30-second increments, the companies said. A full table of charges is available on BT's Web site.

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