VoiceNext: A businesslike approach to business telephony.
Part 19 of Phone for Rent: Understanding Hosted PBX Services VoiceNext analysis shows that its VPN-based PBX service offers both richer functionality and a cost advantage over the alternatives.
VoiceNext, LLC, headquartered in Old Bridge, New Jersey, was founded in 2003, with the vision of providing business class VoIP servicesin contrast to other firms that were content to provide residential-caliber call quality.
The firm sees itself as a new breed of telephone service provider, positioning itself as a PBX- and dialtone-replacement alternative, and focusing on five different attributes of hosted voice services:
- Enterprise Networking: supported by a multi-site, IP-based voice virtual private network (vVPN).
- Self-Service Management: allowing web-enabled end users to make changes to their own accounts.
- Unified Messaging: integrating both voice and fax services.
- Enhanced Services: including auto-attendant, interactive voice response, conferencing, call centers, mobility, follow me, and others.
- Desktop Collaboration: with tools such as Web conferencing, instant messaging, presence, document sharing, and desktop video.
The VoiceNEXT network architecture has a managed IP network at its core, with broadband access to that network provided to a number of tributary elements. These include:
- Integrated Access Devices (IADs) that consolidate analog phone or key telephone system (KTS) services
- Routers that connect IP Phones and PC clients
- Media gateways that provide links to the PSTN and the Signaling System Seven (SS7) network via softswitches
- Network gateways that can link with a local exchange switch through ISDN Primary Rate Interface (PRN) circuits
- The application server that runs the VoiceNEXT network operations center
VoiceNEXT also believes that hosted PBX services provide richer capabilities for their customers than the IP Centrex alternative. IP Centex, which certainly has it advocates, is focused on end user features, such as extension dialing and redialing, call hold, waiting, forward, and transfer, plus three-way calling and voicemail.
In contrast, hosted PBX services go beyond these end user capabilities, and include auto attendant with dial by name or dial by extension functions; account and authorization codes for financial accounting purposes; call center operations, including call queuing and distribution, plus call statistics; instant messaging and presence functions; find me/follow me service, with selective call forwarding, simultaneous ringing and call notify; unified messaging with voice mail and voicemail-to-email functions, plus remote office capabilities. In addition, the voice VPN on which the hosted PBX services are based includes a configurable private dial plan, PBX dialing transparency, enterprise network gateway routing and far-end hop-off capabilities.
Perhaps more important in these currently challenging times is VoiceNEXTs economic model of the benefits of hosted PBX service for the enterprise. The company's research has determined that the hosted solution provides several key advantages over IP PBX or Centrex based alternatives:
- Enterprise-wide solution: a self-paced migration plan for an IP network to link all employees and locations, without geographic limitations, integrating voice, data, and video media.
- Improved total cost of ownership: including the cost efficiencies from converged access and open standards that yield lower equipment costs. In addition, the web-based self service portal reduces the end user expenses associated with station set moves, adds, and changes.
- Improved service assurance: derived from the carrier-grade performance, survivability, and risk management provided by the network.
- Increased employee productivity: derived from collaborative services such as conferencing and find me/follow me functions, which improve customer response times.
VoiceNEXT compared eight key cost factors for both IP PBX and hosted PBX systems: voice equipment such as servers and software, carrier services, access trunks, usage minutes, LAN equipment required for the upgrade, end user phones, staff support costs, and productivity enhancements. Their study found that hosted PBX services produced savings in the access trunk, phone, and staff support categories, which more than compensated for the extra expense of the carrier services. The net result illustrated a hosted PBX solution with a total cost of ownership 15 percent less than a comparable IP PBX, without even considering the intangible benefits of greater interoperability, centralized service delivery, and the more efficient end user provisioning.
VoiceNext is based in the U.S., but offers service internationally, allowing a seamless connection between U.S. and foreign numbers, thus yielding a global communications network. The service works with any customer-provided SIP phone, and ranges in price from entry level service at $25.00 per month per seat to unlimited service at $40.00 per month.
Further information on the VoiceNext solutions can be found at www.voicenext.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.