fring Brings Mobility to Junction Networks' OnSIP

Users of Junction's hosted PBX service can now make, receive extension calls on their mobile phones.

By Adam Stone | Posted Nov 13, 2008
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New York-based ITSP Junction Networks has caught our eye before, first with the release of its OnSIP hosted PBX solution, and more recently with its certification as a service provider partner for Microsoft's Response Point SMB VoIP solution.

The company seems to have landed on a winning business model: A pay-as-you-go program that charges by usage rather than seats, on a platform that is feature rich and easily configured.

Now the company, which has been cash-flow positive for all of its five years, has hit a new milestone, teaming with mobile internet service fring, essentially a central switchboard for IM and IM-based VoIP that connects Skype, AIM, Yahoo, and various other providers—plus SIP-based services. fring doesn't care whether your Internet connection is via cellular data or Wi-Fi network.

Junction Networks CEO Mike Oeth says the incorporation of fring services into its network—made possible by its SIP stack—could give a mobile device full desk-phone functionality, easily and transparently.

Junction Networks courts the small- and mid-sized business market and therefore needs to make any new offering simple to implement. In this case users will need to download fring software and configure their user names and passwords. Once connected to the Internet, a user would enter his or her Junction Networks credentials.

OnSIP will then identify that device as part of the user’s network of devices that connect to the virtual PBX. Once recognized, users can use their mobile devices just as they would their desk phone, dialing extension-to-extension calls within their PBXs as well as making calls to the PSTN just as if they were using a traditional desk phone in an office.

Incoming calls to a given extension arrive at the mobile device, rather that being merely forwarded there. That’s a big advantage, Oeth said. There’s a big difference between forwarding your desk phone when you leave the office, and having to turn off forwarding when you get back, as compared to simply logging in and having the equivalent of a fully functioning desk phone right there beside you as you sip your latte and wait for the next call. "This way you don’t have to think about anything," Oeth said.

Just as important is the view at the other end of the line. Thanks to the fring-enabled connection, an outbound call from that cell phone will look as if it came from your desk phone. "They would see the outbound caller ID [with your desk phone information], not your cell phone, so you are not giving out your cell phone ID anybody. It appears that I am calling from my office," Oeth said.

The money is nice, too, since extension-to-extension calls using OnSIP and fring are free. Junction Networks does not charge for extension-to-extension calls, and if the call is over Wi-Fi rather than a cellular network, no mobile minutes are used.

The new mobile functionality augments Junctions Networks’ already substantial offering. Customers can add extensions, create call groups, configure call forwarding, all through a simple online portal interface.

The company has tried to price all that within the confines of the SMB budget. A $40 package buys three different auto-attendants, three ring groups, one dial by name directory and five voice mail boxes. The typical customer pays $18 per person per month.

The fring thing may help the bottom line, Oeth said, but it likely won’t set the world on fire.

"Of all the big problems that need to be solved for business communications, it’s not huge," he said. "On the other hand it is a problem for some people, and it is not something we have had to spend any resources developing."

More to the point, the successful interplay between OnSIP and fring’s own SIP coding gives Oeth confidence that his company is heading in the right direction for the long term.

"It validates our model of sticking with SIP standards," he said. "As more and more of these devices come together, they are going to fall right into the way we have everything set up. It is going to just work."

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