"Ring Groups" is a feature that can route, or distribute calls intended for your main phone number, to two or more alternate phone numbers, SIP URI's, extensions, or sub-accounts. In other words, a ring group is essentially a configurable feature that re-routs (simultaneously) a phone call to multiple phones and/or destinations that you specify in your ring group configuration list.
Ring groups is a very useful function to have at your disposal when you want to be reached at multiple locations, multiple phones and/or multiple numbers. These multiple locations and phones can be alternate landline phone numbers, mobile phone numbers, SIP URI's, or multiple sub-accounts and extensions connected to your main VoIP account.
In a previous article, I talked about sub-accounts and extensions. I'm a big fan of using BYOD DIY VoIP services that offer sub-accounts/extensions at no extra charge while still maintaining a very low operating cost.
So now, let's assume you have gone ahead and setup multiple sub-account extensions in your Main VoIP account and have setup multiple Softphones, ATA's, and/or IP Phones registered to each sub-account extension. In this scenario, each registered device is able to make outbound calls at will without any disruption or interference to the other registered phones.
But, what about inbound calls? How do inbound calls know how to reach each sub-account extension? After-all, each sub-account extension is essentially a different destination. By default, inbound calls routed through your primary account phone number will only connect to your primary registered VoIP device. The clear solution for simultaneously ringing to multiple devices is to use a ring groups feature or function. Not all BYOD DIY ITSP's (Internet Telephone Service Provider) offer this feature, but my primary VoIP providers do (and, at no extra cost).
For me, my greatest need for ring groups is to re-route all incoming calls from my main VoIP phone number (also known as a DID in the VoIP world) to all of my sub-accounts/extension lines. Because I have multiple VoIP devices around my home and office, I need to be able to answer a call from any of these phones or devices, depending on where in the house I am at the moment.
For example, sometimes I may want to answer a call via my PC Softphone using a USB headset. Other times, I want to answer from my desktop IP Phone using the Plantronics wireless headset so that I can talk hands-free. Other times I'm testing various other VoIP phones that are registered to one of my VoIP sub-account extensions. So, using ring groups is a fantastic way to integrate various phone devices into my phone system and all reachable via a single phone number and ring group.
As well, my ITSP allows me to setup and configure multiple ring groups. This allows me to redirect calls to different ring groups, depending on how I want things to work at different times.
So, to answer the question: "Is ring groups a frill or must have? " Well, in my case it is certainly a must have. And, I can imagine that for most small businesses, and some individuals, it would also be a requirement.