POP VOIP: Friendly neighborhood phone service for small businesses.
Part 97 of Phone for Rent: Understanding Hosted PBX Services A broad spectrum of IP telephony services with emphasis on simplicity and ease of use.
The Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York has a lot of character. So much, in fact, that it was featured in the 1974 movie Lords of the Flatbush, starring Henry Winkler (who later starred as Fonzie in the Happy Days sitcom), and Sylvester Stallone (immortalized as Rocky, the prizefighter, in the name-sake movies). The Lords were a group of adolescent guys that lived the good life of the 1950shanging at the local diner, playing pool and chasing girls.
Fast forward several decades, and Flatbush is again in the news, this time as the home of POP VOIP, a company that claims to be the fastest-growing telecommunications provider in the Flatbush Business District. And like their predecessors of the 1950s, this young company is attempting to rekindle for their customers the era when telecommunications services were more reliable, easier to use, and worry freethus allowing those customers to focus on running their business, not their telephone system.
POP VOIP focuses primarily on small business, with most of their customers having 50 employees or less. They do not sell to residential customers, or market to large businesses. Their goal is simple: eliminating the hassles that can accompany a communications systemand providing phone service with easy installation, low monthly rates, and zero maintenance fees.
POP VOIP concentrates their service area within the United States, but also services international destinations, as their customers needs dictate. The firm is also flexible in the choice of endpoints, including both SIP or analog (through an analog telephone adapter) phones, as well as the ability to work with existing customer hardware whenever possible. When POP VOIP supplies the phones, they are sent out pre-configured, thus simplifying installation.
POP VOIP offers four different communications services, which can be combined as the business requirements dictate.
The Hosted PBX functions remotely from the customers premises, providing enhanced call management functions of an on-site system, but without the wiring, maintenance or management challenges that typically accompany premises-based systems.
The Virtual PBX service provides a single phone number where an auto attendant or interactive voice response (IVR) system greets callers and routes their calls to the appropriate person or department.
Toll Free Numbers allow the customer to establish a nationwide business presence, with 800, 888, 877 and 866 prefixes available, along with an extensive database of vanity numbers. Existing toll free numbers can be transferred to a POP VOIP account, and should that customer choose to leave the POP VOIP fold, the number can be taken with them as they go out the door.
Virtual Phone Numbers allow customers to have a phone number with an area code of their choice, which then directly connects to their main phone number. This enables callers that reside outside of the area code (or outside of the country) to call without incurring long distance charges. This particular feature has been popular in the New York area, as it enables a client in Brooklyn to place and receive calls from a number with a Manhattan area code.
The Hosted PBX plan features a long list of call management features designed to improve office productivity. These include:
- Call Screening and Call Forwarding, which determine the PBX actions in response to a specific incoming call
- Push-to-Talk, which provides for instant access to the people on your network, even if they are in a remote location
- Holiday Voicemail, which includes a specialized message that can be played for calls that come in during holiday periods or after business hours
- Queued Calling, which implements an organized hold system that keeps track of customers until a representative is available
- Office Paging, an easy-to-use paging system that is based on office extensions
- Department Listings, that allow callers to input department or personal extension numbers and be re-directed to the appropriate location
- Call Recording, which produce real-time recordings that are playable from any computer
- Conference Calling, that provides group communication for two or more parties.
System management is provided through an easy-to-use Web interface that enables account information and features to be updated, plus call history to be monitored.
POP VOIP also offers two different faxing solutions: Fax2Email, which delivers the fax document to an e-mail inbox, and Fax over IP (FoIP), which is a hardline solution, based on internet connectivity.
Pricing for the POP VOIP services is based on a per-line charge, with incremental steps, and is quoted on a customer-specific basis. All packages feature unlimited extensions and mailboxes, thus maximizing the ability of the customer to expand and grow as business needs dictate.
Further information on the POP VOIP solutions can be found at www.popvoip.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.