Callis: Highly customized, turnkey voice services.
Part 68 of Phone for Rent: Understanding Hosted PBX Services This Southeast-based voice, data, and paging provider designs each customer's system, based on its unique needs.
Callis Communications, headquartered in Mobile, Alabama, was founded as the paging provider Allpage in the late 1990s, providing wide area communications services to first responders in the Gulf Coast region of the United States. After mastering that business, the company expanded into the hosted communications arena, becoming a hosted PBX provider in 2009.
Callis is also a founding member of the recently formed Cloud Communications Alliance, a consortium of eight hosted IP voice service providers that have banded together to provide a nationwide network of HD voice solutions, currently representing over $100 million in annual revenue from over 110,000 business customers on the United States.
Callis (pronounced "call us"), which is a Latin word meaning "path" or "pathway", provides Internet cloud communications pathways so companies can take advantage of the latest technologies to grow their businesses. The company is guided by three major objectives: building and maintaining a robust, reliable and redundant network; ensuring 100 percent customer satisfaction, and delivering simplified, tailored communication solutions to their customers.
The company currently employs 35 staff members, and claims to serve more than 450 customers with a 99 percent retention rate.
Callis Communications can deliver services nationwide, but the company primarily focuses on three markets: Mobile, Alabama, Pensacola, Florida, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Callis plans to expand into twelve markets across the Southeastern United States by 2014.
The firm serves customers with a mixture of paging, data, and voice services, with deployments ranging from 10 to several thousand user implementations.
The paging services include numeric-only, voice, and e-mail paging, at costs that range from $7.95 to $19.95 per month. The system supports the Standard Network Paging Protocol (SNPP), and offers a paging application that allows customers to send pages from any Windows 95 (or higher) desktop.
The data services are geared toward small and medium-size businesses, and include a number of broadband options including T-1, DS-3, OC-x, and Ethernet. In addition, the company offers a network management service that keeps track of network activity to ensure a more reliable connection. Hosting services are also available, including e-mail hosting for Microsoft Exchange and BlackBerry servers, plus firewall hosting, spam filtering, and storage area networks.
Callis voice service, named Voicepath Hosted PBX, provides customers access to the latest technology with no upfront capital outlay. Callis provides a turnkey package for each customer, with each design unique to that customer, including either SIP or analog phones as required. Callis claims that approximately 95 percent of the telephones that they install are Cisco devices, with other end stations available as necessary. The strong tie to the Cisco product line facilitates the availability of other services, including Cisco firewall and VPN applications; and other complementary applications, including eFax, remote backup, domains, and DNS services.
The Voicepath service has a long list of capabilities, including call control, which determines what happens when someone calls you (send all calls to voicemail, selectively let some calls ring through, etc.); voice mail to e-mail (converting voice mails into .wav files which are then sent to an e-mail account); anywhere number (where one number rings all of the users phones, either sequentially or simultaneously, as controlled by the Callis Web portal); call jump (which allows the user to change phones in the middle of a call, such as changing from a landline to a cell phone, without the caller hearing the switch); remote office (which turns a cell phone, home phone, or hotel phone into a users office phone, including the office caller ID information that is shown to the other party); console assistant (a PC-based console for receptionists or attendants to screen incoming calls); and easy conferencing (3-way conferencing, with the option to add up to five conference attendees on the fly). Other interesting features include the capabilities to block 976/900 calls, reject anonymous calls, set a do not disturb flag, provide for billing codes, define various classes of service, allow multi-call parking, selective call forwarding and rejection, and abbreviated 2-digit dialing.
Voicepath users are provided with a Web portal that allows them to easily modify call behavior, including call forwarding, anywhere number, and voicemail features (see Figure 1). The portal also includes the capability to log all calls with numbers, recipient, and duration, as well as a user directory.
ACD capabilities are also available with the Voicepath system, which provides a global view of the entire call center (calls waiting, active calls, waiting times, etc.), details of a particular agents statistics, plus aggregate statistics for the call center in general (see Figure 2).
Cost for the VoicePath service ranges from $29.95 to $49.95 per user, depending on the volume requirements, features provided, and other factors. Further information on the Callis solutions can be found at www.mycallis.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.