ThinkTel Reviews



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Thinktel Review by WhichVoIP

As one of Canada's leading SIP Trunking providers, ThinkTel has a great reputation serving high profile clientele such as Subaru. It is 100% Canadian owned with over 300 employees, and includes over 90% coverage of the total population. Originally founded in 2003, the company was acquired by Distributel in 2009 and became its business services division.

The Good

Though the central focus of the company is providing enterprise-grade SIP Trunking services, other services are offered such as hosted or managed Lync services, and wholesale VoIP services for resellers. Offered solutions serve everyone from small business to large, multi-office enterprises.

The SIP Trunking service is built with reliability in mind, featuring as many as 8 IP addresses to accommodate failover. Multiple codecs such as G.711, G.721, G.726 and G.729a/b are available to allow flexibility for different VoIP network designs. The service also supports VPN (Virtual Private Network) connections for added security and all services from the company are compliant with PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act).

The Hosted Lync plans are a great option for businesses that do not want to deal with building or maintaining an internal IP-PBX or on-premise Lync Servers. Plans start as low as $10 per user per month for the basic hosted Lync features (Instant Messaging, Online Presence, Multimedia Conferencing and Voice services). Note that the basic Lync features are based on a desktop client and therefore is for internal use to your company wide LAN (Local Area Network). Read our article on Microsoft Lync for more information about this service. Plans that include PSTN connectivity voice services (for external calls) start at $32 per user per month.

Small businesses that only need 1 or 2 lines also have the option of using the Digital Line service that is essentially a hosted voice solution. This includes features such as call waiting, call display, call forwarding, 3 way calling and more. Analog Telephone Adaptors (ATAs) are provisioned for this service allowing businesses to circumvent expenditures for IP phones. This also allows your business to enjoy the benefits of a VoIP phone system, like auto-attendants and fax to email, but still using your existing analog phones. Pricing starts at $25 per line per month for this option.

Other services such as Internet access are available for select regions in Canada, including DSL and FTTN (Fiber to the Node). Different tiers are available at different price points and do not require a fixed term contract. Many areas (mostly urban regions) have the option to select FTTN service - this is perhaps the most reliable connection method in the industry today. Businesses in more rural areas may have the option for this connection at extra cost.

A solid knowledgebase is available on Thinktel's website, covering SIP trunking, troubleshooting, provisioning devices, porting, fax services, phone services, Lync support, and FAQs. If you cant find an answer in the knowledgebase you can open a support ticket, or contact via email or a toll free number, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The company's website also displays network status for 6 provinces across Canada (for VoIP, Lync, Fax, Email, and Internet services). This information is also provided via an RSS feed so you can keep notified of any network issues.

The Bad

If you are looking purely for a hosted VoIP solution then this might not be the best option for your business. This is mainly because this service is based around Microsoft Lync and Unified Communications so you are paying for that plus voice services, making it a more expensive solution. Also, many small businesses may not need the benefits that Lync can provide. A "Digital Line" service offering is available but this is mainly aimed at 1 or 2 line setups.

We could not find any information on how many minutes per month are included in the pricing. SIP trunking and hosted VoIP providers typically set up plans for a given number of minutes to use per month or provide unlimited calling included in the fixed monthly rate. This was not clear on the website. UPDATE: The hosted Lync plans with voice services include unlimited local minutes, but long distance calling is billed per minute.

There is no pricing for SIP trunking services so you will need to contact ThinkTel directly to get this information. There is also no pricing information for the "Enterprise" services.

The Bottom Line

  • Hosted Lync Standard Plan: The standard user plan is $10 per user per month. This provides the capabilities of Lync but does not include PSTN connectivity (ability to make external phone calls).
  • Hosted Lync Voice Plan: Adding standard voice service increases the price to $32 per user per month.
  • Hosted Lync Enterprise Plan: The enterprise plan includes full voice, full conferencing capabilities plus Lync features for $42 per user per month.
  • Hosted Lync Premium Plan: The premium plan is $52 per user per month and includes Exchange email and Outlook as well as everything included in the enterprise plan.
  • Hosted Lync Additional Costs: Long distance calling is billed per minute and it is assumed that any International calls will be billed per minute also. Expect some regulatory fees and taxes to be added plus a fee for E911 service location setup. Many providers include a small charge for "porting" your existing phone numbers if that is required, to cover admin expenses.
  • SIP Trunking: There is no pricing information on the website so you will need to contact Thinktel directly.
  • Digital lines: A fully-featured voice line with voicemail is $25 per line per month. Additional features are available such as auto-attendant for $25, fax to email for $15, and print to fax for $5.
  • Internet Access: DSL6 (up to 6 Mbps) starts at $49.95 per month. FTTN10 (up to 10Mbps) starts at $54.95 and FTTN16 (up to 16Mbps) starts at $59.95. An additional charge of $7 per month is added for a "dry loop" (if you dont have a traditional phone line). Installation fee is $99.95.

Overall Thoughts

The broad array of services offered by Thinktel can supply a business with not just valuable communication tools but the Internet service to accommodate these solutions. The companies main strength lies in providing SIP trunking service and Hosted Lync service.

Utilizing Unified Communications (UC) at your business can positively impact productivity often in unseen ways. Canadian companies looking for a reputable UC solution should consider ThinkTel's Hosted Lync offering.

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