German company sipgate has launched a business version of its VoIP service for UK SMEs willing to take the jump into using an Internet-based telephony system.

Sipgate Team puts the phone system behind a web interface, which allows simple configuration of a range of features that in the PSTN world would often require service centre involvement.

This starts with basic features such as call holding, forwarding, conference calling, call recording (of up to 2 hours), and extends into more VoiP-like extras such as personal user inbox management for voicemail, fax traffic and SMS sending and receiving.

Another big advantage of sipgate team – and indeed of VoIP systems generally – is the ease with which extra virtual lines can be added. Any number of lines can be configured although Team is aimed at companies of up to 100 employees.

Calls and faxes can also be routed to multiple staff simultaneously. The service works to and from with Skype as well as the PSTN, mobiles and pure sipgate’s own VoIP.

"If you can use email, you know enough to run your company's corporate telephone system. We think this service will resonate particularly well with entrepreneurial companies and firms that have already realised the benefits from other web-based services like hosted CRM or email," said sipgate CEO, Thilo Salmon.

The system is designed to work over any SME-grade broadband link with quality of service defined by the customer’s router – most now include parameters for telephony. Depending on the model and setup, this will normally allow a backup WAN connection for redundancy in case of downtime. Sipgate also sells a range of VoIP-capable phones and other hardware.

As well as giving unified communications management, the benefits of VoIP relate mainly to cost. Fixed line UK calls cost 1 pence per minute, mobiles 9.9 pence per minute, and international calls vary from country to country. France and Germany are 1.7 pence per minute, the US 1.5 pence per minute for instance.

Line pricing varies from three users at up to three locations for £14.95 per month to 25 users at 10 locations for £79.95 per month. A 30-day free trial is being offered. Numbers are sold in blocks of 10 at £9.95 per month.