COMVOICE, Inc., headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, was founded in 2004 by a group of entrepreneurs with an extensive background in telephone system repair and a vision to start a CLEC (def.) that offered business communication solutions combining telephone equipment, local and long distance service, and advanced calling features.
In 2006, the firm expanded its service to the majority of United States markets, and since that time has developed a customer base in all 50 states and 20 countries.
The COMVOICE data center facilities are located in New Hampshire and Arizona, two locations that were selected because of their low catastrophic risk for earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, and hailstorms.
The company’s network includes redundant connections in multiple states, which the company claims yields a service level agreement (SLA) availability greater than 99.999 percent.
This year, COMVOICE was ranked as one of Arizona’s top telecommunication companies, with a growth rate of over 20 percent. Their typical business customer consists of ten to twenty phones per location, but also includes firms that require service to hundreds of phones per location. COMVOICE has sales offices in Phoenix, Tucson and Prescott, Arizona, with plans to open offices in California and Colorado in the next year.
As a company, COMVOICE is focused on providing high definition voice service (def.), which they claim distinguishes their offering from those of their competition. This service characteristic requires a multi-part solution, from the telephone codecs – which may included wideband codecs, if required – to the customer’s on-site “network conditioner.” (During the installation process, COMVOICE installs a conditioner at the head of the customer’s network, and then conducts a thorough network assessment to determine that the proper equipment is in place, such as switches and cabling.
In addition to running extensive tests on the end user’s network, COMVOICE connects the phones to the local provider prior to handing off to the Internet service provider (ISP), thus ensuring that the voice quality is clear and the traffic doesn’t leave that specific ISP, in effect creating the shortest path to the COMVOICE system. This attention to detail is designed to prevent the call from traveling across a long-haul backbone, which can lead to signal echo and call breakup, significantly degrading network performance and the customer’s quality of service.
COMVOICE provides four main voice communications solutions: My Green Fax, conference bridging, automatic call distribution (ACD), and business high definition telephone service.
My Green Fax is an interesting hybrid between e-mail and traditional fax solutions, that is designed to save 85 percent on fax paper and toner expenses. Incoming faxes are converted into e-mail attachments, which can be saved, viewed and searched at any time. Those faxes that require a hard copy can be selectively sent to the fax machine, and printed. Outgoing faxes are sent through the fax machine via the COMVOICE fax line, which is used only for outgoing transmissions.
Conference Bridging enables conference calls with up to 10 participants, and has no per minute charges – an inexpensive flat rate feature for COMVOICE telephone customers.
The Automatic Call Distributor is designed for inbound call centers that want to queue calls and visually manage their inbound call center. It offers call recording, call spying, call barging, and skills-based routing.
The Business High Definition Telephone Service includes most of the typical hosted PBX features such as an auto attendant, call forwarding, three-way calling, music on hold, and custom ring tones.
Of note, the COMVOICE solution allows each phone to take up to four phone calls at one time, which makes 10 phones equivalent to 40 lines. Optional 411 and 011 blocking is also available, to allow customers better control over communication costs and to prevent unauthorized use of the system.
COMVOICE supports the Cisco 79XX series and 9XX series telephones, as well as the Polycom line.
Two different domestic calling plans are available, which are custom-priced based upon the customer’s specific requirements. The Unlimited Plan includes unlimited domestic calling and unlimited calling to 38 other countries; while the Unlimited Local Plan includes unlimited local calling and 3.9 cents a domestic long distance. Voicemail, auto attendant, and DID (def.)service are provided with both of these options.
Further information on the COMVOICE solutions can be found at www.comvoice.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.