Phone.com: Self-service SMB and consumer VoIP from an industry pioneer
Part 48 of Phone for Rent: Understanding Hosted PBX Services Phone.com offerings include full-featured home phone service, managed virtual phone number, and hosted PBX for SMBs.
Phone.com, LLC, headquartered in Livingston, New Jersey, was founded in 2007 by VoIP industry veterans, including Alon Cohen, who is recognized as the inventor of the first VoIP product and company in the early 1990s.
Phone.com services are designed for three key markets: SOHO (small office/home office) businesses, VSB (very small business), and individuals.
Since its founding, the privately funded company has grown to a staff of 35, and added an operational center in Poway, California, plus a 24 x 7 in-house call center.
Of interest, the company announced the introduction of hosted High Definition (HD) business phone service in October 2009, and claims to be the first provider to have offered this capability. The enhancement allows their customers to enjoy professional welcome greetings, phone menus, extension dialing, sophisticated call routing, voicemail, fax, and many more features with HD quality.
Phone.com customers who purchase an HD enabled phone, such as the Polycom SoundPoint® IP desktop phone or Polycom SoundStation® IP conference phone, will be able to communicate with other customers who have an HD phone. Calls to users of other networks will require their adoption of HD voice capability; both parties will need to have an HD phone set in order to take advantage of the improved voice quality.
Phone.com offers plans for both individuals and small businesses, providing their service in all 50 of the United States, plus providing international customers who want service in the U.S. or U.S. customers who want to receive calls overseas. The company currently offers three Internet-based communications products: Phone.com Home Phone Plus for residential customers, Phone.com Virtual Number for individuals on the go, and Phone.com Virtual Office for small businesses.
For personal use, the company offers Home Phone Plus, which features one local number that will replace all the customers previous phone numbers, locate that customer at any of their phones (home, work, cell, or other) and keep all of their voicemails in one voicemail box. Voicemail-to-text transcription service is available as an extra-cost option. Home Phone Plus plans start as low as $9.88 per month, maxing out at $19.88 for unlimited usage.
Phone.com Virtual Number is billed as a personal communications tool for either home or business use. This interesting service is an answer to issues faced by many of us that have multiple phone numbers (some of which we may be reluctant to give out) such as our friends needing to remember all of those numbers (and needing to know where and when to chase us down), or business calls that come at the home office at bad times (such as during the dinner hour). The Virtual Number service solves all of these problems by hosting a single phone number at the Phone.com data center, which the customer gives out to all friends and business associates. The customer then has access to a configuration tool that allows callers that dial this single number to be routed to a cell phone, home phone, voicemail or other pre-configured destination, based upon time of day or other rules. Plans start at $4.88 per month, with a maximum of $18.88 per month with unlimited usage.
For small business and home businesses, Phone.com offers a Virtual Office solution that provides a local or toll-free number (including vanity numbers) for the business, plus many network configuration and management tools. In addition, the Virtual Office service includes custom greetings, auto attendant, voicemail with e-mail transcriptions, Internet fax, call transfer, and many more features are typically found in a premises-based communication system.
The Virtual Office suite also includes features to enable any small business to look and feel like a larger operation by setting up any phone number(s) to answer with custom greetings and direct callers to the appropriate extension(s), based on desired departments (even if all departments are one person), who the caller is, time of day, or your location.
All voicemails can be transcribed and sent directly to e-mail or SMS, and customers can also send or receive faxes online without a need to purchase a fax machine or have a dedicated fax line.
Optional features include conference call bridges, call blasting (sending a pre-recorded message to many destinations), and international phone numbers.
A web-based Customer Control Panel allows the configuration of extensions, numbers, greetings, and call logs. Pricing for the Virtual Office service ranges from $14.88 to $74.88 per month, depending upon the number of included minutes desired.
Further information on the Phone.com solutions can be found at www.phone.com. Our next tutorial will continue our review of various service providers hosted voice solutions.
Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2009 DigiNet Corporation®, All Rights Reserved
Mark A. Miller, P.E. is President of DigiNet Corporation®, a Denver-based consulting engineering firm. He is the author of many books on networking technologies, including Voice over IP Technologies, and Internet Technologies Handbook, both published by John Wiley & Sons.