Press8 Telecom: Affordable VoIP with a la carte extras.

Press8 Telecom, headquartered in Austin, Texas, has unusual beginning for a hosted PBX provider. The founders earned their stripes by operating a Web hosting firm for more than ten years, opting to sell their company at a strategic time, when they had gathered over 30,000 customers worldwide. With that background, they then started Press8 Telecom.

(The company name has an interesting heritage as well. The “Press” part is familiar from voice response systems (as in “Press 3 for customer service”). The number “8” is associated with a great deal of symbolism, including the first mathematically cubic number; identified as the number of balance to the Egyptians; representing the totality of the universe to the Chinese; and mathematically representing infinity when the 8 is laid on its side. So “Press8” it was – tying together the world of telecommunications with some mathematical symbolism thrown in.)

Press8 has been offering hosted PBX services since 2006, has developed a data center in Austin, and currently employs 20 people located both in Austin and around the world.

Press8 targets several customer populations: small and medium-size businesses that are looking to replace an analog phone system; companies that are growing and need to seamlessly connect distributed locations; and startups that are looking to leverage next-generation telecommunication services as part of their business model.

The company presently offers service throughout the continental United States, with a typical customer having between 10 and 200 employees.

Press8 has developed an a la carte pricing strategy, which includes a selection of four basic packages plus a number of optional add-ons for enhanced services.

The Business Lite package, priced at $29.99 per month, is intended for offices with low call volume, It serves an unlimited number of users, but is limited to 500 minutes per month of included usage time.

The Business Silver plan costs $49.99 per month, and is designed for offices with one to three users, providing unlimited voice and fax services.

The Business Gold option is priced at $99.99 per month, supporting four to seven users, also with unlimited voice and fax capabilities.

The most expensive option, Business Platinum, priced at $179.99 per month, supports eight or more users.

Additional users that exceed the minimum number in the Silver, Gold or Platinum plans are can be added for a charge of $24.99 per month. Local inbound phone numbers are provided with all plans; the two upper-tier plans include a toll free number as well.

All Press 8 plans offer an extensive list of standard PBX features, including a virtual attendant; music on hold; dial-by-name directory; follow-me call routing; day, night and weekend modes; time-based routing; advanced call transfer features; caller ID and call preview; call blocking; voicemail access via the Web, and call reporting capabilities. In addition, a PC-based softphone is also available.

Press8 sells the Polycom line of desk phones, and also offers free Aastra phones for every user on a phone system for companies that are willing to sign a one-year agreement.

Optional add-ons can enhance the capabilities any of the four service plans. These include: Additional lines or Toll-free numbers ($9.99 per month each); Call Queue (which allows more callers than available destinations, with music on hold until a destination becomes available to take the call, priced at $14.99 per month); Conference Bridge (on a permanent or specific day/time basis, at $14.99 per month); Call Recording, at $4.99 per user per month; Voice Recognition, starting at $9.99 per line per month; T.38 Fax Connection, at $14.99 per month for up to two fax machines; and Voicemail to Text/Email Conversions, at $4.99 per user per month.

Two other add-ons are of particular note. The first, Skype Integration, is provided for firms that do a lot of international calling, and integrates the Press8 hosted PBX functions with Skype Connect without the need for additional hardware or software. This allows Skype calls to be made directly from Press8 PBX desk phones, and also allows “click to call” buttons to be added to Web pages and e-mails so that registered Skype users worldwide can reach the Press8 customer’s location. Secondly, Press8 offers an iPhone App, that includes multiple line calling; caller ID privacy (which does not reveal the iPhone ID); separate business and personal contact lists; voice and fax message forwarding and display; plus business call record details.

Press8’s administrative tools are also noteworthy (likely due to the founders’ vast experience with Web hosting). They include a Web-based control panel that customers can access at any time to make changes to their phone system configuration, plus secure password conventions that are used for the Web control panel, telephone extensions and telephone provisioning. Additional controls prevent the scenario of a compromised password from being able to limitlessly send calls to high-rate destinations.

Further information on the Press8 Telecom solutions can be found at |}{ Our next tutorial will continue our review of various service providers hosted voice solutions.

Author’s Biography
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.

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