Nextiva: Bringing the big biz phone experience to small business
Nextiva, Inc., headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, was founded in 2005 and has grown to become one of the country's leading providers of business VoIP communication solutions and hosted PBX for small business. The companys founders developed a philosophy that put the customer as their first priority, with a goal of creating products and services for small businesses that were previously only available to large enterprises.
Over the years, Nextiva has garnered a number of industry awards, including the Number 1 Business VoIP Provider from MyVoIPProvider.com, and an Editors Choice Award for 2008 from VoIPReview.org.
Nextiva claims to serve thousands of customers in over 85 markets nationwide.
Of interest: Nextiva located its primary data center in Phoenix, Arizona, because that area is not as prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, or earthquakes as other locations, and is therefore less likely to suffer a network outage created by these natural disasters. For redundancy, the firm also maintains data centers in Los Angeles and New York City. Moreover, Nextiva owns and operates its own telecommunication and data equipment, operates its own Autonomous System (AS) number assigned by the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), and runs all of its services on portable IP address blocks that have also been assigned by ARIN.
Nextiva's network connects with other networks using the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), and can also connect with both customers and carriers through redundant Session Border Controllers (SBCs) which provide additional security at the network edge.
Nextiva provides three service solutions that are targeted at small businesses with 25 or fewer employees: InTALK, Connect and Connect360.
Nextivas InTALK business plan is designed for the small or home office user who is looking for low cost, unlimited local and long distance calls within the United States, Canada ,and Puerto Rico. This service works with existing phones and provides advanced features such as find me/follow me, visual voicemail, three-way conferencing, call waiting, caller ID, and others. Pricing for the service starts at $16.25 per month with an annual contract, and include a free telephone adapter.
Nextiva Connect is designed for entrepreneurs, small businesses, and professionals, with a system that provides one central local or toll-free number to give out to clients. A simple on-line control panel determines how calls are handled, with a call optionally going to a cell phone, a home phone, a phone in a hotel, or another destination. Calls can also go to user-definable "department" voice mailboxes. Your company can be made to appear larger than it really is by allowing incoming calls to be routed to certain extensions or people using a dial-by-name directory. Other features are similar to functions of large PBXs, including conferencing, voicemail remote access, voice-mail-to-e-mail conversions, and a visual waiting indicator.
Three different service packages have been established: Connect 100 includes 100 minutes of use and 10 virtual extensions for $8.95 per month (with the annual payment option), Connect 500 includes 500 minutes of use and 20 virtual extensions for $19.95 per month; and Connect Unlimited offers an unlimited number of minutes of use, and 100 virtual extensions for $69.95 per month.
Nextivas Connect360 is a complete digital phone solution for any type of business; the company touts it as a big-business phone system that supports small businesses. This service is designed for companies with either single or satellite offices. It provides a long list of PBX features, including many auto attendant features such as a dial-by-name directory and music on hold. Two pricing options are available: the Connect360 Limited, which provides 500 incoming and 500 outgoing minutes of use for $19.95 per month (with the three month payment option), and the Connect360 Unlimited, which provides unlimited usage for $29.95 per month (with the three month payment option). Administration tools include the ability to configure a specific extension (Figure 1), and the company profile as a whole (Figure 2).
Nextiva is long on customer support, and makes available a number of installation videos on their website to facilitate network installation and configuration, including setup information for the supported Aastra, Cisco, Linksys, and Polycom peripherals and phones. The company claims that the average setup time for a four-person business is 30 minutes.
The company also claims to be one of the few providers holding a Better Business Bureau "A" rating, and, unlike other providers, do not charge extra for an automated attendant, visual voicemail, customized music on hold, remote and mobile employee capability, caller ID, call forwarding, or any of their other features. They also offer an unconditional 30 day money-back guarantee, with no contracts or termination fees, and a provision that allows customers to cancel at any time without penalties.
Further information on the Nextiva solutions can be found at www.nextiva.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.