MegaPath Launches Hosted PBX Package

An established provider of managed IP data, voice, and security services, MegaPath this week expanded its offerings, with the introduction of Duet Hosted.

Based in Costa Mesa, Calif, the company is looking to its new hosted IP PBX solution to fulfill customers’ needs for greater functionality and higher voice quality within a turnkey solution.

Company executives predict the all-in-one offering could have special appeal to small- and mid-size users. “They don’t want to go to one individual to maintain their phones, another to provide their broadband circuit, and another to provide their telephony,” said MegaPath’s VP of Voice Products, Paul Marra.

Beyond the turnkey nature of the hosted solution, MegaPath is putting emphasis on quality of service issues that it says are not uncommon in other hosted scenarios. “We have had customers come to us who are not happy with the quality of their hosted solutions. When they get a bunch a people on the phone, the quality suffers,” Marra said.

The problem has to do with prioritization. “A lot of hosted providers that are out there are simply selling telephony services going out over a broadband connection – the public Internet. We bundle our telephony services with a full quality-of-service private broadband connection,” Marra said. Through this mechanism, MegaPath is able to automatically sift and prioritize network traffic, giving voice communications top priority.

“Regardless of the size of the pipe, no matter what attachment or application is going through that pipe, that voice call is going to get whatever bandwidth it needs,” Marra said.

As a cloud solution, Duet Hosted also responds to a growing demand for business continuity. In a traditional system, “regardless of how sophisticated your phone system is, let’s say there is an outage, your power goes out, your T-1 goes out: You are essentially out of business,” Marra said. “As soon as you go to anything cloud based, your greeting is still going to work, you will still have all the options. We can set it up to do things like go directly to your cell phone. So to the rest of the world you essentially will still be up and running.”

It took MegaPath about four months to get Duet Hosted ready for prime time. While the company already had much of the needed infrastructure in place, Marra said, the company also worked with IP phone fulfillment houses and installation partners to ensure deliverability. MegaPath also put a series of Linksys and Polycom phones through their paces to confirm compatibility.

The resulting product sells for $25 to $35 per phone per month. Marra predicts the hosted VoIP service could account for up to a third of the company’s business within the next couple of years.

The new offering will bring with it new internal challenges, as MegaPath personnel gear up to support a new set of functionalities. They’ll have to answer to users who wish to activate phone features, or walk them through the integration with Outlook and “So there has been a lot of testing, and a lot of training. Training is the key for this to be successful,” Marra said.

In addition to channel-based sales through integrator and manufacturer partnerships, MegaPath plans to expand on its already substantial web-based marketing efforts. Marra said the company’s status as a nationwide player helps to make web advertising pay: Every inbound request for service can be placed within the umbrella.

While MegaPath is betting heavy on its hosted offering, company executives take the view that, even with its advantages of ease of use and heightened functionality, Duet Hosted won’t be the solution for all their customers.

“There are still customers who want SIP trunking to a premise based system, and that’s really the best fit for them,” Marra said. “This is really meant to address opportunities we couldn’t get to in the past. The hosted play is not going to make all the other technologies obsolete. If you have bought a new phone system in the last couple of years, this is probably not for you.”

New and prospective customers, on the other hand, may find a value proposition here. “The no-brainer is that business with 20 seats or less” with multiple locations, Marra said. “That’s where that total cost of ownership in this model really pays off.”

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