UniVoIP: Hosted PBX, managed Internet, and fax for SMBs.
UniVoIP, Inc., headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., was founded in 2006 by a group of telecom veterans with over 30 years of industry experience, and today offers Internet connectivity, managed business VoIP, and hosted PBX solutions to small and medium-size companies.
The company provides subscribers in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, New York, and Tennessee with benefits from cost savings, extensive network management and control features, and full customization capabilities.
UniVoIP makes an interesting distinction between what they refer to as the the virtual PBX systems offered by some of their competitors, and the hosted PBX telephone systems that they provide. The company likens the virtual PBX to an automated answering service, which answers calls for a business, and then forwards those calls to employees or locations anywhere in the world. Each of the remote locations requires its own separate phone service, which cannot be connected with extension dialing, or utilize workgroup collaboration features such as unified messaging or presence.
In contrast, the hosted PBX is equivalent to a traditional phone system, complete with multiple lines, auto-attendant, voicemail, and extensive call control features. End users can be geographically dispersed anywhere in the world, and still take advantage of the advanced communications capabilities, such as call transfer and three way calling, within their universe of co-users.
UniVoIPs hosted PBX service includes a number of features to optimize business communications. These features are divided into three functional groups.
- The Company Level feature group includes global capabilities, such as voicemail with message waiting indication, direct inward/outward dialing, a company directory, click to call, call transfer, park and retrieve, three-way calling, and paging. An interesting element of this group is called mobile twinning, in which users can have all calls to their extension simultaneously ring on an external phone, such as a cell phone. Once the call has been answered on the external phone, the user can continue the call using their desktop handset without having to transfer the call to the handset.
- The User Level features include speed dial and redial functions, programmable keys on the user phones, multiple line appearances, intercom, call monitoring, and others.
- Voicemail features include recorded name announcement, personal greetings, message indication, message retrieval; sending and forwarding; e-mail integration of voicemail messages, which forward to a users e-mail account; and zero-out from voicemail, which allows callers to dial "0" and then return to a designated destination (auto-attendant, call group, or extension).
UniVoIP markets the Mitel line of VoIP phones, including the Model 5321 dual-mode speakerphone, the Model 5324 speakerphone with optional IP peripheralsincluding programmable key modules, conference units and line interface modulesand the Model 5340 executive telephone, which includes programmable keys, wideband audio for enhanced sound clarity, and a built-in HTML toolkit for desktop applications development. UniVoIP also provides a softphone application targeted at mobile users that want to use their laptop for both business applications and voice communications.
UniVoIP targets businesses with 5 to 200 end users, and provides two different pricing options for their customers.
- The Basic Plan is priced at $14.95 per user per month, and provides all of the popular hosted PBX features, unlimited local support, a lifetime warranty on all software and phones, and unlimited inbound calling. Outbound calls to the United States and Canada are priced at $0.02 per minute, with voicemail and phone lines available for an additional $5.00 per month each.
- The Unlimited Plan is priced at $34.95 per user per month, and offers all of the features from the Basic Plan, with the addition of unlimited inbound and outbound calling to the United States and Canada, plus voicemail and a phone line included in that price. Both service plans require a minimum of five users.
UniVoIP also offers an Internet fax service, which delivers faxes electronically from a users desktop, and can also send faxes from within applications including Microsoft Word and Excel. Incoming faxes are received as PDF attachments to e-mail. The service can also access document management systems to allow users to conveniently share, manage, and store faxes, as well as to preserve the confidentiality of sensitive documents. The cost of this service starts at $2.75 per month, when purchased in conjunction with a VoIP calling plan.
Further information on the UniVoIP solutions can be found at www.univoip.com. Our next tutorial will continue our review of various service providers hosted voice solutions.
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.