Bandwidth.com: Big VoIP Provider for the Smaller Biz

Part 6 of Phone for Rent: Understanding Hosted PBX Services — Bandwidth.com's Phonebooth service offers easy admin and end-user management through well-designed portals.

By Mark A. Miller | Posted Apr 21, 2009
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Bandwidth.com, headquartered in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, emerged as a startup in 1999 and has since grown to a complete communications provider, offering VoIP, hosted VoIP, Internet, and managed network services, powered by their nationwide, 100 percent IP voice network and supported by in-house, 24/7/365 customer service.

The privately held company has grown quickly to become the second largest VoIP provider in America, and in 2008, built a nation-wide CLEC (def.) network and remained profitable.

The firm has also been the recipient of a number of significant awards, including a spot on the Inc 500 ranking as the fastest growing telecom company three years running, has been ranked on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500, and also recognized by the Triangle Business Journal as one of the best places to work in the Research Triangle Park region. The firm considers itself to be the champion of small- and medium-size businesses, and claims to have helped over 3,500 customers save money on their voice and data services.

Bandwidth.com divides its service offerings into three broad categories: Voice Services, Internet Services, and BoxSet Business Bundles.

The Voice Services includes SIP Trunking, which provides unlimited local and long distance for $30.00 per month for one phone line, or metered plans that start at $17.50 per month; Enterprise Voice, a wholesale proxy offering Level 3, Global Crossing, Verizon, Qwest, and iBasis services that provide SIP origination in over 5,500 rate centers, plus SIP termination and a number management system; and Phonebooth, which is a hosted VoIP service for business.

The Internet Services offerings provide high speed Internet access for businesses, ranging in transmission rates from fractional T1 64 x n Kbps to the OC12 rate or 622 Mbps. In addition Gigabit Ethernet, private line, MPLS, and server co-location services are also available.

Finally the BoxSet Business Bundles provide a complete voice and Internet business communications package, starting at $179.00 per month, which includes SIP trunks, an Internet connection, a router, and 24/7/365 support. These are available in over 300 U.S. markets.

Of particular interest is Bandwidth.com’s Phonebooth offering, which provides hosted VoIP services for business. Phonebooth is a complete business phone system that can be used by companies of any size, but is currently targeted at companies that use between 5 and 30 phone lines, with typically 10 to 60 employees. Phonebooth is sold as part of the BoxSet Business Bundles offering, which includes phones and any other included devices that come pre-configured and ready to plug and play. Service plans start at $179.00 per month for five lines, and additional lines can be purchased for $25.00 per month. The Phonebooth system is hosted by Bandwidth.com in advanced data centers throughout the country, thus assuring that the customer information is secure and protected. Should a failure occur, the system can be enabled to fail-over to a POTS line for 911 calling if Internet connectivity is lost.

Phonebooth has been optimized around the Polycom line of IP telephones, which include a number of features, ranging from the simple call hold and redial, to the more complex 3-way calling, call transfer, and simultaneous ringing. Recommended for use with the Phonebooth system are the entry-level 2-line SoundPoint IP 330, the 4-line SoundPoint IP 550 and 6-line SoundPoint IP 650 which both feature HD voice technology (def.), or the SoundPoint IP 4000 conferencing phone that features Acoustic Clarity technology. Bandwidth.com is a supplier of these phones.

Phonebooth’s Administrative Portal provides comprehensive tools for managing the voice services through an Admin control panel that facilitates moves, adds, and changes for user accounts. Administrators can also manage phone numbers, set up auto-attendants, establish call groups, configure a company directory, and handle inbound conference management and call logs.

The User Portal provides tools that allow the end users to manage calls and contacts from anywhere, with features including voicemail, voicemail-to-email, call forwarding (find-me), contact list management, call logs, and conference call management—plus other capabilities.

The user interfaces that have been designed for Phonebooth are especially interesting, with a base screen that allows the user to determine ringing, call forwarding, and voicemail options (see Figure 1).

Of particular interest is the voicemail interface, which lets the user see the details of individual voicemail messages by time, number, and caller, and to listen to those voicemails through the telephone, or over the web (see Figure 2). The Phonebooth portals are useful and intuitive for administrators and users alike, and come from a firm that has an impressive history in VoIP.

Our next tutorial will continue our review of various service providers hosted voice solutions.

Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2009 DigiNet Corporation®, All Rights Reserved


Author's Biography
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.

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